Article  Human Dignity  Life  Marriage and Family  Religious Liberty  Combat Global Antisemitism  Oppose Harmful "Gender Transition” Surgeries and Procedures  Oppose the Biden Administration’s Anti-Religious Liberty Regulatory Actions  Oppose the Biden Administration’s Pro-Abortion Regulatory Agenda  Oppose the Equality Act  Oppose the Proliferation of Chemical Abortions  Support Parental Rights  Urge the Court to Protect Life in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA  Southern Baptist Convention

Bringing hope to a fractured public square

Remarks to the 2024 Southern Baptist Convention

Fellow Baptists, this is my third address I have had the privilege of making before you at one of these gatherings. In each of those previous moments that we’ve been together, I recall with fondness what it revealed: the strength of our voice as a Convention. A strength that stems from the unceasing cooperation of our churches.

A cooperation that ensures the hope of the gospel may be brought to the uttermost ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)—which includes the public square.

And I don’t say that lightly.

One only need to read the newspaper, turn on the television, open social media to see the vitriol, the despair, and the conspiracies as proof that the Light of the world (John 8:12) is needed as much in the public arena as it is on the international mission field. And these gatherings demonstrate how deeply we understand that. 

They consistently show how unified this far-reaching and diverse collection of churches is about the essentials, be it in theology, or, for our purposes, public policy. This matters a great deal.

The fruit of cooperation

Some examples leap to mind from the last few years:

Opposition to the Equality Act

You’ve made clear, in previous resolutions, that opposing the spread of transgender ideologies that are harming children and vulnerable individuals must be a priority. 

Because of that clear stand, we, the ERLC, were able to stop the advance of the misnamed Equality Act in Congress that sought to impose extreme concepts of gender and steamroll religious liberty protections. 

You spoke. We acted. 

Resources for navigating current challenges

At last year’s meeting, in a survey of messengers, you told us that the issues of greatest concern to your churches were questions about culture’s ever-changing definition of sexuality and this November’s upcoming election. 

Because of that, we convened experts and ethicists and church leaders to create resources that can aid your ministry. 

I hope that you have, by now, looked at The Nations Belong to God, a Christian Guide to Political Engagement, and God’s Good Design: A Practical Guide for Answering Gender Confusion

Again you spoke. We acted.

Support for Israel 

The work of this Commission is not just rooted in this Convention, it is responsive to this Convention.

As such, last fall, immediately after the heinous attack by Hamas terrorists against the nation of Israel, we jumped into action alongside our dear friend, Dan Darling from our sister entity Southwestern Seminary, to create an Evangelical Statement in Support for Israel

This document, signed by thousands of Southern Baptist pastors and leaders, was steadfast in displaying our belief that Israel not only has a right to defend itself but the right to exist. 

We delivered this document to Congress, the White House, and the United Nations.This Convention has never wavered from its support of Israel, and I am grateful for that.

Helping the vulnerable 

You confirmed that once more. You confirmed it here again: Whenever vulnerable lives or religious freedom is imperiled by tyrants or terrorists, this Convention moves.

International aid: Because of that, in 2024, the ERLC publicly supported critical legislation aiding Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan in their heroic efforts to stand strong against evildoers. 

In doing so, we were able to come alongside fellow Baptists doing difficult ministry in Ukraine, as well as the Southern Baptist Speaker of our U.S. House, Mike Johnson, as he made the morally clear and correct choice to move that law forward.

Life at the Supreme Court: Closer to home, even though we live in a post-Roe world, it is clear the abortion industry’s appetite for death has not abated. That cruel reality led us to support a brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case, FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine laying out the dangers posed by chemical abortion drugs—the ones that take preborn lives and target vulnerable mothers.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating again: if we are to establish a culture of life, lawmakers must stop those who profit from a culture of death—the abortionists, the abortion mills, and the abortion chemical manufacturers.

The Psalm 139 Project: To support those mothers targeted by Planned Parenthood and others, our Psalm 139 Project continues to serve. This year, 12 new life-saving ultrasound machines were placed in locations near and far, including our second international placement in Southeast Asia through a partnership with the IMB. 

Beyond the issue of life, we have continued efforts to help the vulnerable elsewhere.

Pushing back at the federal level: Last year alone, the Biden administration sought to change or impose rules about a host of issues ranging from abortion tourism to conscience rights to women’s sports. In each of these 19 instances, the ERLC filed official public opinions registering our vehement disagreement with these actions. To put that into perspective, we historically have only had to file two to three per year.

State-level policy work: We have a new State Policy Agenda that was released in coordination with our state executives, highlighting helpful proposals about life, stopping harmful gender practices, and protecting religious freedom.

Combatting sexual abuse: And we continued to address the sexual abuse catastrophe that plagues our Convention by providing $250,000 to the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF). After yesterday’s vote, we will now work with the Executive Committee to further implement the work handed over by the task force. 

In all of these matters, you have spoken, and we have acted. And that will guide our work moving forward.

In all this work, in all that we strive to do, we do so without malice or despair, but instead, with hope.

A few weeks ago, a dear friend called me  in tears. She and her husband were talking about how fearful it is to be Jewish in America right now because of: 

  • Antisemitic protests on campuses,
  • nazi-sympathizing all over social media, and
  • actual attacks on Israel.

But the tears she was crying were tears of joy, for she had read about the previously mentioned efforts of this Commission, on behalf of this Convention, to oppose the awful actions of hateful activists and Hamas sympathizers.

“You give us hope,” she said.

In a fractured moment, in a fallen world, I can think of no better endorsement of our work.

Photo credit: Baptist Press photos

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