By / Nov 15

SOMERSET, Ky. (KT) – The theme of the 2023 Kentucky Pastors’ Conference was “Contend: The unchanging gospel for an everchanging world.” Speakers were tasked to discuss the cultural issues facing the church from a biblical perspective.

The president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission addressed politics, identity and the Christian’s true allegiance. 

“In so many communities across our country we are falling short of discipling our people how to think politically in ways that are informed by Scripture,” Leatherwood said.

He noted that partisan identity can take command and drive the lives of many believers, overruling their spiritual identity in Christ.

“I submit that this, in short, is idolatry,” Leatherwood said, because the heart of the Christian faith is the declaration that Jesus is Lord.

“This simple statement is incredibly political because when it was written, to say (it) meant that Caesar is not,” he added. “Saying Jesus is Lord today means that the Democratic or Republican party is not. Saying Jesus is Lord today means that Andy Beshear is not. Saying Jesus is Lord today means that Mitch McConnell is not. Saying Jesus is lord today means that Joe Biden is note. Saying that Jesus is lord today means that Donald Trump is not.”

When Christians confess this truth and conduct their lives in accordance with the gospel, they will find themselves in opposition to partisan dogmas.

And we can do that because our identity is not found primarily in who we voted for, but in who we believe will reign at the end of the age and that actually frees us up…to be the best citizens we can be…because our first allegiance…is to the principles of truth, goodness and justice as exemplified in the life of Christ and commanded in Scripture.

Brent Leatherwood

Leatherwood added that political priorities for the Christian, whether pastor or lay member, are shaped by Scripture. He noted 1 Peter 2 as a practical example.

“Part of what it means to declare Jesus is Lord is to care about the things our Lord cares about…go about politics in a way that is right and honoring to him.”

Ultimately, believers are to be a people who know where the true power lies, Leatherwood said: “In a gospel that transforms the heart and changes lives, spreading from individual to individual through the work of the Holy Spirit, and in that work, we know that the Lord’s arm, indeed, is not too short.”

Read the Kentucky Today full article here.

By / Aug 31

We’ve been working behind the scenes and are excited to announce an all new ERLC Podcast. While the format is new, our goal for the podcast remains the same. The ERLC seeks to help you think biblically about today’s cultural issues.

We’ve been listening to you to better understand the questions you’re facing and how the ERLC can help on matters related to marriage and family, life, religious liberty, and human dignity. 

On this updated format of the ERLC Podcast, we want to give you brief, informed, practical, and biblically-based answers to important cultural issues.

You are not the only one asking these questions. Just like you, we want to hold fast to the teachings of Scripture as we seek to raise our families, serve our churches, and love our neighbors in an ever-evolving and often challenging cultural landscape. 

Join us starting in September as we look to the Bible for wisdom, hear from trusted voices, and break down complex issues so that we can live in the world, but not of it—all for the sake of the gospel.

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By / Aug 9

Life is hard. I’m not sure any three words better encapsulate what many people feel on a daily basis. The statistics are staggering. We are among the most anxious, most depressed, most stressed, most overwhelmed, and even hopeless groups of people who have ever lived—at least in the last several hundred years. Despite all the so-called progress we’ve made, all the advancements in science and technology, all the wealth and convenience and relative ease we enjoy, the fact remains: life sometimes feels like a burden too great to bear. Some days, it’s hard to even claw ourselves out of bed.

And life’s difficulties are not reserved for a select few. They are universal, and they are universally hard. Even for Christians, whether we like to admit it or not. That’s why Alan Noble’s new book On Getting Out of Bed: The Burden and Gift of Living is so timely; because for many, the burden of living feels heavier now than it ever has.

In On Getting Out of Bed, Noble takes on a tender topic and does so with both candor and compassion, with sensitivity and sincerity. Life can feel overwhelming, but Noble reminds readers that “life is a good gift from a loving God, even when subjectively it doesn’t feel good or like a gift.” 

The burden of living

“There’s a kind of unspoken conspiracy to ignore how difficult life is,” Noble says. Like most conspiracies, this one diverts our attention from what’s plainly true. We can ignore life’s difficulties in any number of ways—by trying to numb the pain, by reframing them “as something romantic” or “heroic,” or by trying “to hide our scars from those closest to us and even from ourselves.” But sooner or later, the unspoken conspiracy will no longer hold. The truth emerges, the dam breaks, and we are forced to admit that “Life is far more difficult than we let on.”

One of the unfortunate realities about the moment in which we find ourselves is that our society is “governed by technique.” It’s a society that prizes maximum efficiency. We see this, as Noble points out, in our “time-saving technolog[ies], apps that maximize our workouts, drugs that drown out our anxiety, ubiquitous entertainment in our pockets, and scientifically proven methods for parenting, working, eating, shopping, budgeting, folding clothes, sleeping, sex, dating, and buying a car.” Of course, none of these things are necessarily bad, but all of them together have conditioned us to expect efficiency over inefficiency, ease over difficulty, now over later. And life just doesn’t work that way. Life in this fallen world is inefficient, difficult, and slow.

Our techniques will not deliver us from the burdens we bear as humans. In fact, when they fail to deliver it’ll send us down a spiral of shame. We’ll be left thinking that it’s our fault when we can’t move past the grief we feel or that there’s something wrong with us when the darkness won’t ever seem to lift. “If life doesn’t have to be this hard,” we think, “then it really is my fault that I’m overwhelmed or a failure.” This is the burden of living in the 21st century when technique is expected to solve every problem we face. And however we choose to “explain the difficulty of living in the modern world” or attempt to cope with it, we’re still “stuck with the reality that a normal life includes a great deal of suffering. 

The gift of living

But life in the modern world is not chiefly a burden; it is a gift. Despite the challenges, the difficulty, the heartbreak, the suffering, and the anguish that awaits us all, “life is good and worth preserving.” 

One of the stories Noble uses to illustrate this point is Cormac McCarthy’s heart-wrenching novel The Road. In the novel, a father and son struggle to survive at what appears to be civilization’s end. Facing unthinkable conditions, this father and son press on for survival because they recognize “the goodness of life,” even though their circumstances are bleak. Life testifies to God’s goodness, the father says, “even in a world with few other signs of goodness.” And the choice to go on living in the face of hardship testifies that life is good, that life is worth living. 

Think about our lives, and all the little joys—the evidences of God’s grace—we get to enjoy every day: “beauty, love, a good meal, [and] laughter.” What are these “but the means of grace through which God nurtures us?” What are they but gifts that testify to the gift of life and love of the Father? Sure, life is hard—it can be brutal sometimes. But Noble is rightly insistent that life is good regardless, despite all the pain, despite all the loss, despite all the hardship. “Life is worth living despite the risk and uncertainty and the inevitability of suffering,” because life is a gift. 

Noble’s plea

In his book, Noble is clear-eyed and plain-spoken about the burden and gift of living. Both are true. Neither negates the other. He stares the hardships of life in the face and names them, which is important for those of us given to “the conspiracy to ignore how difficult life is;” and for those of us who want to grin and bear it or tough it out. He gives credence to the mental suffering we all feel at one time or another. But he argues against the primacy of life’s inherent burden by reminding us that life is a good gift from a good Father who wants good things for us (Gen. 1 and 2; Rom. 8:28). And in that, he helps to redirect our focus to what’s most true: that life is a gift.

Throughout the book, Noble gives readers some important directives that are both sensitive and stern. Recognizing the difficulties that many face, he encourages readers to press on, to do the next thing God puts in front of us, and to do everything we can to claw ourselves out of bed every morning. “The decision to get out of bed is the decision to live,” he says. “It is a claim that life is worth living.” The world needs you. Your neighbors need you. Your friends need you. Your family needs you.

The importance of community and relationships, which includes our contributions to the community around us and the benefits we derive from it, cannot be overstated. And belonging to a community—really belonging—can be the difference between getting out of bed or not. So, if you do struggle to get out of bed in the morning, give those closest to you the privilege of bearing your burdens with you. Give them the chance to hold you up, to remind you “of the truth that is truer than [y]our deepest misery . . . that our lives are good even when we do not feel that goodness at all.” 

The bravest thing

In reading On Getting Out of Bed, I couldn’t help but think of a poem by John Blase that has meant a lot to me over the years. It’s titled “the bravest thing:”

“Maybe the bravest thing,
Is opening your eyes in the
Morning and placing your
Two feet on the cold floor and
Rising up against the gravity
Of the night. Maybe that’s the
Brave thing from which all other
Bravery flows, the brave to
Seek ye first. Maybe that’s the
Single thing God requires of you,
The spiritual discipline that takes
All your will to muster. Swallow
Down the fear, my child, and face
The dawning day for what the
Surface of the world needs most
Of all is bravery skipping and
You, yes you are the stone.”

Maybe the bravest thing we can do daily is to conquer the temptation we face each morning to stay in bed. Maybe the first step to bearing the heavy burden we feel is to stare the inevitable hardships we’ll encounter in the face and put our two feet on the floor anyway, recognizing that life is a gift. Maybe the first step to a life of faithfulness lies in the simple act of getting out of bed and doing the next thing God puts in front of us. In doing so, Noble argues, we’ll “bear witness to the goodness of this existence God has given us.”

By / Jul 21

The Southern Baptist publication Light magazine was launched 75 years ago in 1948. It was relaunched in 1964, again in 1978, and yet again in 2015. Light may be the most relaunched denominational publication in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Throughout its history, one thing has remained the same: the publication has been dedicated to providing insightful articles, commentaries, and reviews on various topics such as moral and social issues, cultural trends, and biblical principles.

Light has featured contributions from some of the most prominent voices in evangelicalism, including Richard Land, Russell D. Moore, and Albert Mohler Jr. Today, under the leadership of ERLC President Brent Leatherwood, the magazine remains committed to exploring the intersection of faith and culture, promoting Christian thinking on ethical issues, and advocating for religious freedom and human dignity.

In addition to its print edition, Light also offers an online presence through the ERLC website, where archived articles and issues can be read online or downloaded as a PDF for free.

The history of Light

Light was first published by the Social Services Commission (SSC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), a forerunner of the ERLC, in 1948. The newsletter was published on an irregular schedule throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, as the SSC (1947–1952) became the Christian Life Commission (CLC, 1953–1997). It was relaunched in 1964 as “an occasional bulletin in Chrisitian social ethics,” but ceased publication again from 1967–1977.

The publication resumed in 1978 on a regular schedule, until it ceased publication once again from 2013–2014. The publication has occasionally held alternate titles including Christian Life Bulletin (1955–1958), For Faith and Family Light magazine (May–December 2004), and For Faith & Family magazine (2005–2012). Light magazine was relaunched as a print and online magazine by the ERLC in the summer of 2015. 

Notable articles and issues from Light’s history

Here is a sampling of some of the noteworthy issues and articles from previous decades.

May 1948: A Conference of Christians on World Peace

The inagural issue of Light began with a statement by individuals “concerned about the serious drift toward war” with the Soviet Union. The issue also claimed that “The Military of this country [the United States] is in an all out campaign to dominate the total life of America” and that “While the Military beat the drums of war and call men to worship the power of the atom bomb it is an hour for Christians to call men to the God of All Power, whose redeeming love can unite the world in brotherhood and peace.”

November 1957: A Pastor Looks at Integration in Little Rock

During the early civil rights era, Light published a sermon by an SBC pastor in Little Rock where racial integration of public schools was about to begin. “There are those who base their extreme opposition to integration upon their interpretation of the Scriptures,” says Dr. Dale Cowling. “These individuals are sincere beyond question. They are simply greatly mistaken in their efforts to prove that God has marked the Negro race and relegated it to the role of servant.”

November 1978: Hunger Relief

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, numerous articles in Light focused on the issue of hunger, both in the U.S. and around the globe (the SBC passed six resolutions on global hunger between 1975 and 1982). This issue provides an example of how the issue was covered by the CLC. 

January 1985: Prosecuting Porn 

The scourge of pornography didn’t begin with the internet. And as this 1985 interview reminds us, the problem isn’t about technology but with the human heart: “There’s no problem with the [anti-obscenity] law. The problem is waking up apathetic Americans and getting prosecutors to do something about pornography. ”

July/August 1999: Who Wins? The Real Cost of Legalized Gambling

Gambling has always been opposed by Southern Baptists. But in 1999, a new form of technology related gambling was becoming prominent—day trading.

March/April 2004: The Connected Generation

Technology wasn’t an issue that gained much attention in the magazine during its first three decades. But beginning in the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s, the publication began to include more ethical consideration of tech in the Christian life. This issue on family and the internet is a prime example. 

Summer 2015: Marriage Redefined? 

Light was relaunched in the summer that the Supreme Court’s issued a ruling declaring same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right. This issue considered the various ways that redefining marriage would affect America and discussed how Christians should respond. 

The ERLC is committed to ensuring that Light remains a trusted source of biblically-informed guidance for Christians, helping Southern Baptists live out their faith in a rapidly changing world. 

See also: The Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives maintains an online archive of issues from 1948-2004. Issues since 2018 can be found on the ERLC website

By / May 6

On this episode, Lindsay Nicolet gives an update about exciting things coming for the ERLC Podcast!

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  • Racial unity | If we, as Southern Baptists, can be willing to listen and have good conversations about race, we will see fruit that will draw us closer together. That’s why we believe that A Conversation with Pastor Jon Nelson will be a helpful resource for you and your congregation. Watch this NEW video at and listen as Jon candidly shares his thoughts on how we can meaningfully partner together on this work within our churches and communities. Again that link is
  • Email updates | Now that 2023 is fully underway, we want to make sure you are kept up to date about the important work we are doing on behalf of Southern Baptists. Whether it’s our 2023 Public Policy Agenda or another ultrasound machine placement, we want to make sure you know how we are serving our churches and acting as missionaries to the public square. As we move forward in 2023, know that first in our hearts and at the top of our minds are our churches. And we are taking those next steps with a Mark 10:44 mindset: to be a servant of all. The best way to learn more is by joining us at Signing up for email updates allows you to hear directly from us about our work and ways we are serving you on the issues that matter most to Southern Baptists. You’ll learn about our work on your behalf in our nation’s capital, about exciting new partnerships with our state conventions and the ways we are working across the convention with our sister entities. Become an email subscriber at
By / Apr 28

On this episode, Lindsay Nicolets talks with Palmer Williams about her work at the ERLC, the realities of politics, and future Supreme Court rulings. They also discuss Palmer’s hopes for the SBC. 

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  • Racial unity | If we, as Southern Baptists, can be willing to listen and have good conversations about race, we will see fruit that will draw us closer together. That’s why we believe that A Conversation with Pastor Jon Nelson will be a helpful resource for you and your congregation. Watch this NEW video at and listen as Jon candidly shares his thoughts on how we can meaningfully partner together on this work within our churches and communities. Again that link is
  • Email updates | Now that 2023 is fully underway, we want to make sure you are kept up to date about the important work we are doing on behalf of Southern Baptists. Whether it’s our 2023 Public Policy Agenda or another ultrasound machine placement, we want to make sure you know how we are serving our churches and acting as missionaries to the public square. As we move forward in 2023, know that first in our hearts and at the top of our minds are our churches. And we are taking those next steps with a Mark 10:44 mindset: to be a servant of all. The best way to learn more is by joining us at Signing up for email updates allows you to hear directly from us about our work and ways we are serving you on the issues that matter most to Southern Baptists. You’ll learn about our work on your behalf in our nation’s capital, about exciting new partnerships with our state conventions and the ways we are working across the convention with our sister entities. Become an email subscriber at
By / Apr 6

I came across a Facebook “memory” a few days ago, reminding me of a sad and haunting Easter three years ago where, for the first time in our lives, we couldn’t leave our homes because a deadly virus was on the prowl. I recall the uncertainty and sadness of that moment. Yet, there was a sober confidence that Easter was just what we needed. 

I’m writing this with a similar sense of grief and sadness, lamenting so much brokenness. The recent Nashville mass shooting, so near to our family after having spent a decade in Music City, has left us aching for our friends and a community shattered by violence. 

It is finished

Holy Week exposes us to the full range of emotions, from the injustice and mob action that led to Jesus’ unjust death, to the grisly beating and inhumane crucifixion. Now a symbol of hope, the cross was originally an ignominious instrument of torture and death. And sitting at the foot of the cross was Mary, the mother who whispered her quiet acceptance back in Bethlehem, taking on the task of birthing and mothering the Son of God. Now she was at Calvary, gazing up at the disfigured face of her son, who, in his final words, cries, “It is finished.” 

What is finished? The long battle, predicted in Eden, where the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent would violently clash. Sin, marbling its way into every aspect of human existence, ushered in death—of relationships, of intimacy with God, and much too often, death itself. We live in a violent world. What we feel right now, after Nashville, after war and disease and famine and natural disaster, is what they felt on Good Friday. 

It didn’t seem good in that moment. The disciples mostly ran, fearing for their lives, wondering if the movement they’d given their lives to support was a mirage. We would have run too. 

Yet we know that Good Friday was good because it really was finished. Jesus took on the Father’s wrath for sin, bearing the sins of the world—my sin, your sin. Satan, so falsely jubilant at Jesus’ last breath, was defeated. The Savior would walk out of his borrowed tomb three days later. 

Jesus’ resurrection is not just validation of his Messianic claims. It is. But it’s more than that. The empty tomb is a signal that this world, enmeshed in blood and death, is not all there is. Jesus’ resurrection rescues human hearts from the sin that leads us to turn in on each other, and his resurrection rescues human bodies from the ravages of the curse. Because he lives, we will also live. Because he lives, we can, as the hymn reminds us, face tomorrow with hope. 

Awaiting resurrection

This is why Holy Week is both grim and full of lament and also bright and full of joy. The horror of Calvary gave way to the hope of the empty grave, and the horror of our sinful world will, one day, give way to our own resurrection and the renewal of the world. 

So we grieve—deep, loud, anguished lament—at the death around us. But we grieve not as those who don’t have hope. Easter reminds us that Sunday is coming. A grave is empty. Jesus is alive. And we can be reconciled to the One who made us in his image. 

The truth of Easter empowers us in our in-between, as we await our final resurrection. It’s why we go out into the world and tell people—alienated from God, created for glory—that this is not all there is and that Jesus can make them new. There is another, better world coming. And it is why we go out into the world and come alongside the most vulnerable among us. We show the world a glimpse of God’s Kingdom. 

The resurrection is everything. Without it, Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15, we have no hope. But, because Jesus is alive, at the right hand of the Father, we have a hope that cannot be shaken. In the midst of violence, in pandemics, in death, and in life, our Hope has a name and a glorified body that we will one day embrace for an eternity filled with joy .

By / Mar 31

Lent is a season of the Christian year that occurs during the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday (excluding Sundays). The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word lencten, which means “springtime,” and it is a time when Christians focus on spiritual renewal and growth. Lent is seen as a time of fasting, prayer, and penance, which allows Christians to reflect on our own mortality and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross.

The 40-day period of Lent is also symbolic of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry. During this time, Jesus fasted and prayed, and was tempted by Satan (Matt. 4:1-11). For centuries, Christians have used this time to reflect on their own temptations and struggles and to draw closer to God through prayer and fasting.

How is Lent associated with Ash Wednesday?

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls 40 days—counting only Monday through Saturday—before Easter Sunday. The obervance is a day of repentance and mourning for sin. Many Christians attend a special church service on this day, during which they receive ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. This is meant to be a symbol of their mortality and a reminder of how Jesus died on the cross to reconcile us to God (1 Pet. 3:18). 

How is Lent associated with Holy Week?

The final week of Lent is known as Holy Week, a time of intense reflection and prayer. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (John 12:12-19, et al.), and it ends with Easter Sunday, which celebrates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (John 20:1-18, et al.).

Many churches hold special services during Holy Week, including Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. Maundy Thursday is a commemoration of the Last Supper, during which Jesus shared a last meal with his disciples and told them to do this in remembrance of him. Good Friday is a solemn day of mourning and reflection, as Christians remember Jesus’ crucifixion and death. 

Easter Sunday marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the Easter season. Easter is a day of joy and celebration, as Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Why do observers of Lent give things up?

One of the most common practices during Lent is fasting. Historically, one of the most common forms of fasting during this period was to give up meat on Fridays. This is a tradition that dates back to the early days of the Church, when meat was considered a luxury item and abstaining was therefore seen as a way to show sacrifice and penance.

Today, many Protestant Christians also choose to give up other indulgences during Lent as a way to focus on their spiritual lives.

What other practices are associated with Lent?

In addition to fasting, Lent is a time for focused prayer and reflection. Many churches that observe Lent hold special services and Bible studies during this time, and believers are encouraged to spend more time in prayer and meditation on Scripture. Some also choose to participate in acts of service or charity during Lent as a way to give back to their communities and to show God’s love to others.

Do Southern Baptists observe Lent?

As with most issues that are not directly commanded by the Bible, the observance of Lent is seen by most Southern Baptists as a matter of personal conviction and conscience. Lent is not a tradition that is as prominent within the SBC as it is for other Protestant traditions, such as Anglicanism. However, Lent is still a meaningful time for many Southern Baptists who choose to participate in this season of reflection and repentance. 

For Southern Baptists, the focus of Lent is not on giving up something for the sake of giving it up. Instead, the focus is on spiritual growth and drawing closer to God. Many Baptists choose to participate in Lent by giving up something that distracts them from their relationship with God, such as social media or junk food. This act of self-denial serves as a reminder to turn our attention back to God and to focus on our growth in him.

As Southern Baptists, we are called to live out our faith every day, not just during the Lenten season. However, Lent may provide us an opportunity to renew our commitment to God and to focus on the things that truly matter. By using this season to draw near to God and to serve others, we are able to live out the gospel message before a watching world (Col. 4:5-6).

By / Mar 3

Last month, the government of Canada introduced legislation to extend the temporary exclusion of eligibility for medical assistance in dying (MAID) where a person’s sole medical condition is a mental illness until March 17, 2024. The legislation (Bill C-39) passed the House of Commons and has been introduced in the Senate.

Here is what you should know about Canada’s law that allows for voluntary euthanasia.

What is Canada’s MAID law?

MAID is the acronym for Canada’s medical assistance in dying law. The laws allows physicians and nurse practitioners (in provinces where this is allowed) to help a person commit suicide by either directly administering a substance that will end their life or prescribing such as substance so that it can be self-administered.

The law provides exemptions from the criminal law concerning suicide and provides protection from liability to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians/assistants, healthcare providers who help physicians or nurse practitioners, and family members or other people who have been asked to participate. They are able to assist in the suicide process without being charged under criminal law as long as they follow the legal requirements. 

This legal right to voluntary euthanasia has been in effect since March 17, 2021. Prior to that, the Supreme Court of Canada had ruled that a prohibition on medical assistance in dying violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

What should Christians think about medically assisted suicide?

Medically assisted suicide is a form of euthanasia, the intentional act of taking a human life for the purpose of relieving pain and suffering. Christians should reject euthanasia because it denies the inherent dignity that God has given human beings and seeks to take the place of God in determining the end of life.

While those seeking MAID and those participating in the practice may want to eliminate suffering, what they are doing is actually undermining the objective value of life. Although the Bible does not speak about euthanasia directly, it teaches that we must regard life as belonging to God and approach issues of suffering with a critical and biblically-based approach. As Mary Wurster has written, “The value of human life in all its forms and at all stages is the central theme of the gospel, for it is the very purpose of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. To fail to respect human life at any point mocks the very essence of Christ’s mission to humanity.”

See also: How would you counsel someone interested in assisted suicide?

How many people are being legally euthanized under Canada’s MAID law?

In the five years since the law was adopted, there have been 31,664 medically assisted suicides. As the Canadian government notes, “annual growth in MAID provision continues to increase steadily each year.” In 2021, the total number of MAID deaths increased by 32.4% (2021 over 2020), compared to 34.3% (2020 over 2019) and 26.4% (2019 over 2018).

In 2021 there were 10,064 MAID related suicides, an average of 28 per day. MAID suicides account for 3.3% of all deaths in Canada. Across Canada, fewer than seven deaths were from self-administered MAID.

What is the reason people in Canada choose MAID?

According to the Canadian government, the most commonly cited intolerable physical or psychological suffering reported by individuals receiving MAID in 2021 was the loss of ability to engage in meaningful activities (86.3%), followed closely by the loss of ability to perform activities of daily living (83.4%).

Who is eligible for medically assisted suicide under MAID?

To qualify under MAID, a person wanting to take their own life must satisfy all the following criteria:

  • Be eligible for government-funded health insurance in Canada.
  • Be 18 years of age or older and have decision-making capacity.
  • Have made a voluntary request for MAID that was not a result of external pressure.
  • Give informed consent to receive MAID after having received all information needed to make this decision, including a medical diagnosis, available forms of treatment, and options to relieve suffering (including palliative care).
  • Have a “grievous and irremediable condition,” meaning they have a serious illness, disease, or disability (excluding a mental illness until March 17, 2023), be in an advanced state of decline that cannot be reversed, and experience unbearable physical or mental suffering from an illness, disease, disability, or state of decline that cannot be relieved under conditions that the person considers acceptable.

Does a person have to have a terminal illness to qualify for medically assisted suicide?

No. The diagnosis has to be considered “serious” but not necessarily “terminal” (i.e., a condition that cannot be cured and is likely to lead to someone’s death).

Does a person with a mental illness qualify for medically assisted suicide?

If the sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness, they are not currently eligible for MAID. However, this exclusion is only in effect until next March, at which time it will be automatically repealed.

This exclusion also only applies to conditions that are primarily within the domain of psychiatry, such as depression and personality disorders, and does not include neurocognitive and neurodevelopmental disorders, or other conditions that may affect cognitive abilities. For instance, a person who has dementia, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, or Parkinson’s are all able to receive medical assistance in their suicide. In 2021, 12.4% of MAID deaths were for neurological conditions.

Are medical practitioners able to refuse to participate in Canada’s MAID law?

The MAID law does not itself compel doctors or physician assistants to participate in the medical killing of another person. However, various Canadian provinces have issued guidelines that “strongly encourage” medical practitioners who are unwilling to provide MAID to refer their patients to other institutions or providers.

Some provinces violate the conscience rights of doctors and physician assistants by requiring transfer of care or referral  to a medical provider who will participate in the suicide. For example in the province of Ontario, objecting providers must make an “effective referral” to an available, accessible physician or agency willing to facilitate a request for assisted dying.