WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 31, 2018—The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention announced its 2018 Legislative Agenda today, highlighting various legislative and policy initiatives the organization plans to engage in the coming year.
At the top of the list, the ERLC plans to address the sanctity of human life and religious liberty, by working to advocate for pro-life legislation that protects the vulnerable. Other items are also included in the agenda.
“Each year, our legislative priorities reflect our mission as gospel Christians and Southern Baptists,” said ERLC President, Russell Moore. “There is both real need and real opportunity to engage on important issues and see them through to legislative achievements. Whether it’s dealing with issues of religious freedom, human dignity, family stability or any other area of focus, we exist to serve churches and to stand for the common good. As always, our goal is to be faithful in our witness and tireless in our advocacy, and I’m eager to join our team in engaging these issues in the year ahead.”
Some key priorities Moore and ERLC staff plan to address in 2018 include:
- Conscience Protection Act
The ERLC was pleased to see the establishment of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights at the beginning of this year. This new initiative will help curb the abuses of healthcare consciences across the country. At the same time, the ERLC will continue to advocate for the Conscience Protection Act—federal legislation that will finally codify the Hyde and Weldon amendments and provide a legal right of action for professionals who face undue burden of conscience in the healthcare field.
- The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act
Federal law does not adequately protect a born child who survives a failed abortion. In that moment, such children deserve all the medical care possible. The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would amend the federal criminal code to require any health care practitioner present when a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion to, first, exercise the same degree of care as reasonably provided to any other child born alive at the same gestational age, and, second, ensure the child is immediately admitted to a hospital.
- Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act
This act would prohibit the federal government and any state receiving certain federal funding from discriminating against service providers on the grounds that the provider declines to participate in a child welfare social service in ways or under circumstances which conflict with their sincerely held beliefs.
- Support HHS Conscience Protection Rules & Conscience and Religious Freedom Division
The ERLC supports the new rules from HHS aimed at protecting life and conscience rights, titled, “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care.” These proposed rules in addition to the founding of a new HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division are important to maintain the core American freedom for citizens to live and act in accordance with their own deeply held beliefs.
- Responding to the opioid crisis
For the second year in a row, life expectancy in the United States has decreased—a direct result of the opioid epidemic ravaging the United States. The drivers for the epidemic are complex, and the ERLC is engaging with House leadership and the Department of Health and Human Services on a range of responses including poverty and welfare programs, engagement and training for the faith community and drug prescription practices and regulation.
The entire ERLC Legislative Agenda can be accessed here.