WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 13, 2022—The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has released its 2022 Public Policy Agenda, highlighting various legislative and policy priorities that the organization plans to address this year in the areas of religious liberty, sanctity of human life, family and marriage, justice and international engagement.
“Our 2022 public policy agenda focuses on the ways the ERLC represents and advocates for the policy interests of Southern Baptists before Congress, the courts and the administration,” said ERLC director of public policy, Chelsea Sobolik. “The second session of the 117th Congress opens as we’re still grappling with a global pandemic, supply chain issues and economic uncertainty. But we will continue to defend the vulnerable, protect religious liberty, advance the cause of justice and work towards a day when abortion is unthinkable and unnecessary.”
The following agenda outlines the ERLC’s key policy initiatives for 2022.
1. Defend Religious Freedom during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The ongoing pandemic has raised a number of religious freedom issues around our country. The ERLC will continue to advocate that the government treat churches the same as similar activities, businesses and spaces, while recognizing that First Amendment protections are not shed by churches during a health emergency.
2. Oppose The Equality Act: The Equality Act is a bill that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under federal civil rights law. The ERLC believes that this bill represents the most significant threat to religious liberty ever considered in the United States Congress. We will continue to lead efforts to oppose the Equality Act and any similar legislation introduced this Congress. As we do so, we will advocate for a public square solution that protects and upholds the dignity of all people and their rights, while ensuring that religiously motivated individuals and institutions are free to live and act according to their deeply held convictions.
Sanctity of Human Life
1. Protect Pro-life Riders in the Congressional Appropriations Process: The ERLC will work to preserve the Hyde Amendment not only because it prevents government-funded violence against preborn children, but also because it prevents the government from coercing citizens to act against their consciences in the taxpayer incentivization.
2. Respond to the Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: In 2021, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the most consequential abortion case in a generation. This summer the Supreme Court will issue its decision in that case, potentially overturning the disastrous decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey and ultimately sending the issue of abortion back to the states. The ERLC joined an amicus brief in this case, asking the court to overturn those harmful precedents, and will work to ensure that abortion is unthinkable and unnecessary. We will work to ensure that states are equipped to respond if and when abortion is sent back to the states.
Family and Marriage
1. Support Adoption and Foster Care Policies: The ERLC’s defense of vulnerable children is woven through a wide variety of priorities. The ERLC is committed to exploring several policies aimed at promoting and supporting adoption and foster care in the United States.
2. Ensure Intercountry Adoption Remains a Viable Option: In 2019, only 2,971 children were welcomed into families through intercountry adoption. The ERLC is working with like-minded partners and the U.S. Department of State to ensure that intercountry adoption remains a viable option for families and vulnerable children around the world.
1. Support a Permanent Solution for Dreamers: After multiple attempts to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, followed by more than a year of litigation and a Supreme Court decision, those young immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents remain in an unstable situation. The ERLC will continue to work closely with Congress and the Biden administration to deliver a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers.
2. Support Further Criminal Justice Reform: Following on the heels of the historic First Step Act, which was passed at the end of 2018, the ERLC will continue to advocate for reforms that focus on transformation and rehabilitation for previously incarcerated individuals.
1. Advocate for a Strong Office of International Religious Freedom: The Office of International Religious Freedom at the Department of State is one of the most effective government institutions for protecting religious minorities, including persecuted Christians. The ERLC will continue to advocate for international religious freedom to remain a top U.S. foreign policy priority.
2. Support the Implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act: The CCP systematically subjects Uyghurs to forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and throughout China. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act prohibits goods made with forced labor in the XUAR or by entities using Uyghur labor forcibly transferred from the XUAR from entering the U.S. market. This legislation also instructs the U.S. government to impose sanctions against any foreign person who knowingly engages in the forced labor of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in the XUAR. The ERLC supported this important bill and will work to ensure it’s properly implemented.
The entire 2022 ERLC Legislative Agenda can be accessed here.