2014 ERLC Legislative Agenda

February 03, 2014

Today, we released our legislative agenda for 2014. The agenda is organized principally along three major topics—Sanctity of Human Life, Religious Freedom and Marriage and Family. The most important legislative issues we need to engage this year are related to these topics.

The sanctity of life is first on the Agenda. Of all the issues we engage in Washington, we believe the sanctity of life is the most important. God created humans in his image (Gen. 1:26-27). That makes humans unique and worthy of protection in itself. Yet there is so much more. God has demonstrated his love for people through the saving work of his son Jesus Christ (Jn. 3:16). Every person matters to God, and should to us as well. Additionally, there is the matter of compassion. Human decency demands that we seek to protect the unborn. These innocent, vulnerable people should be protected by law, not abandoned as nothing more than scrap. Abortion kills humans in their earliest stages of life, harms women in many ways, coarsens our culture, and offends the God who made us.

The second major topic deals with religious freedom. Religious freedom is God’s gift to humanity. God calls every person in many ways to come to him and to live in obedience to him, but ultimately, he leaves the choice to them (Lk. 13:34). Human authorities should do the same. Today, in some parts of the world, people of minority faiths are not finding that level of respect. Persecution of Christians and other minority faith groups is on the rise. Personal faith decisions are even being challenged by our government. We are very concerned for the impact restrictions on religious expression are having on the military and our chaplains. Additionally, the HHS mandate to provide contraceptives and abortion causing drugs and devices in health care plans contrary to people’s personal faith convictions is not only a prolife affront; it is also a violation of religious freedom. We are engaged in a struggle with our government about who gets to determine the boundaries of religious freedom. We must not grant to the government what God has granted to the individual.

The third topic deals with marriage and family. This is another area of great importance. God instituted the family. He is the creator of marriage (Gen. 2:24). The family, organized around the marriage of one man and one woman, is the foundational unit of society. If marriage is weakened, the family is weakened, and society itself pays the price. Legitimizing homosexuality and same-sex marriage will further erode this essential social institution ordained by God. Our position on homosexual behavior is not driven by animus toward homosexuals. We do not hate homosexuals. We are seeking to protect marriage and the family as God designed them.

Our legislative agenda speaks to other areas as well. We have a section for immigration reform. We believe our nation must deal with this issue, once and for all. It is possible to respect the rule of law and the dignity of every person. We are working to help our government come up with a workable solution to accomplish those two goals.

A host of other matters will occupy us as well. This isn’t only a matter of human affairs. God is watching. For the sake of individuals and God’s blessing, we will bring Southern Baptist biblical convictions to as many conversations and policy decisions as possible. We hope you will join us through prayer and action in this gospel-centered ministry and help bring God’s salt and light into the public square for the benefit of all humanity.

View the full agenda here.

Barrett Duke

Barrett Duke is the former Vice President for Public Policy and Research, at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He is now the executive director of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention. Read More by this Author