For the Love of Christ and Love of Others

Eunie Smith’s life of public service fueled by her faith

Meredith Flynn

Eunie Smith has dedicated decades of her life to promoting biblical convictions in the public square. As president of Eagle Forum of Alabama, she lobbies leaders on behalf of families, advocating for conservative principles. She also served eight years as a trustee of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), including one term as the board’s first-ever female chair. 

The country has seen sweeping changes during Smith’s years of public service, but her commitment to God’s Word remains. ”I don’t see that God’s commandments have any cutoff,” Smith said. “His commands are for all times, and we are placed here in this time to strive to live according to his principles. And to see that they’re upheld for future generations.”

A calling, then and now

Smith’s early work focused on promoting democratic American ideals after she and her husband, Albert Lee, were alerted to the threat communism posed to those ideals through a study group. He would later serve in the U.S. House of Representatives for Alabama’s 6th district, but in their early years, he worked as an insurance salesman, and she was involved in education reform through the Freedom Education Foundation.

“We had speakers and materials that we took into the classrooms on the threat of communism and the merits of the American system, freedom, and opportunity for all,” she said. The experience educated her. “I had received an education, but I hadn’t been motivated to look into the constitutional principles. Like most Americans, I had taken it for granted.”

Lee was elected to Congress in 1980, which Smith described as a hopeful time to go to Washington. The Jesus Revolution of the 1970s had shown the nation a move of the Holy Spirit, awakening many to personal faith in Christ for the first time. In the speeches her husband gave during his campaign, he ended with 2 Chronicles 7:14, encouraging Christians to be salt and light, to engage in political processes, and to share their faith—all in hopes that others would turn to Christ. The verse was on his wall in Washington, she said. 

The couple realized Lee would maximize his time at home and in Washington if their family stayed in Alabama, so Smith and their three children joined him in Washington in the summer. It was a challenge with young children, she said, one that required asking God to keep her priorities straight.

By that time, she was a leader of Eagle Forum of Alabama, which formed as a state member of the national effort to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment. She still serves as president and is currently leading a push to influence school curriculum. She served as Eagle Forum’s national president for two years and still sits on its board.

“It was a calling, and I think it still is,” Smith said, when asked what has kept her going. “Once you have been involved and you see how, when, and where you can try to make a difference, then I think you have an obligation to keep trying, until the Lord closes the door.  

“And, of course, the results are always in His hand.”

Speak out and speak up

When Smith was asked to serve on the ERLC’s board of trustees, she knew Lee would have been pleased. Her husband, who passed away in 1997, had served on the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs and also chaired the Southern Baptist Convention’s Public Affairs Committee, which preceded the ERLC. 

It was a blessing to serve on the ERLC board while Richard Land was the ERLC president, Smith said. During her eight years of service from 2005 to 2013, the country experienced massive shifts which are mirrored in ERLC reports from that time. Abortion, stem cell research, cloning, gambling, immigration reform, racial reconciliation, human trafficking, creation care, healthcare reform, and the definition of marriage were some of the major issues addressed by the ERLC. 

The agency also continued to shine a light on human rights violations and religious persecution around the world. At home, the ERLC opposed a healthcare mandate that required employers to cover abortion-causing drugs in their insurance plans. 

Through various print and online resources, the ERLC equipped Christians to use their own voices to address these issues. “The need is ever-growing for men and women who trust Christ to proclaim His Truth in the public square, in the marketplace, and in their homes,” reads the ERLC’s report to the Southern Baptist Convention from 2011, the year Smith served as board chair. 

Proclaiming truth in the public square is still a need today, she said. During the Jesus Revolution years, she noted, theologian Francis Schaeffer’s books and videos brought a lot of people out of the pews and into public policy. “I think we desperately need that again,” she said.

“I’d like to think that more evangelical Christians would recognize the need to speak out and speak up and stand for God’s principles everywhere,” Smith said. She urged older generations to teach those who are younger the value of our constitutional principles—which she believes align with biblical principles—so that they understand the merits of our country.

There is much we’ve lost sight of in the U.S., she said—the Golden Rule, loving one another, and disagreeing agreeably while standing up for what you believe is right. “That’s a real challenge, especially today. We’re so polarized as a country that we seldom hear instructive debates.” They don’t just degenerate into name calling, she said; many debates start that way. 

That tone isn’t good for our body politic, she said, or for our witness as Christians. “We want to be loving so that we can be used of Him,” Smith said. 

“You have to remember why am I doing this. It’s not out of hate. It’s out of love, love of Christ and love of others.”

Meredith Flynn is the Managing Editor for Illinois Baptist State Association.

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24