By / Mar 3

On this episode, Brent Leatherwood and Lindsay Nicolet talk to Jason Thacker about his new book, “The Digital Public Square,” and how Christian ethics apply in a technological society. They discuss the importance of Christians engaging various technological tools with wisdom and the motivation to love God and love our neighbors. 

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  • 2023 Public Policy Agenda | The first session of the 118th Congress is now underway, and it begins as the nation is grappling with war around the world, inflation at home, and deep division across our nation. This also begins a new era of divided government with a Democratic president, a narrow Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, and a slim Republican majority in the House. This dynamic ensures legislating and governing will be a difficult task. We recently released the 2023 ERLC Public Policy agenda which includes our priorities for religious liberty, sanctity of life, marriage and family, and human dignity. Download the full agenda and learn how your Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is advocating for issues important to Southern Baptists at ERLC.com/policy.
  • 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 ERLC.com/updates. 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 ERLC.com/updates.
By / Feb 17

This week marks the end of what can be considered the loneliest season of the year. 

The lonely season unofficially starts around Thanksgiving, extends through the Christmas season, peaks in the cold, dark days of January, and then finishes on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, for many people the loneliness they experience continues long after this season has passed. 

Loneliness occurs when there is a significant mismatch or discrepancy between a person’s actual social relations and relationships they need or desire. A person may experience loneliness because they are alone or isolated (known as social loneliness), but they may also experience loneliness while surrounded by people if those relations lack an intimate attachment (known as emotional loneliness). 

While loneliness has always been a part of the human condition, the current age is facing what has been described as an “epidemic of loneliness.” And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic led to even more social isolation. Today, more than half of U.S. adults (58%) are considered lonely.

Here are three ways we can serve those who are suffering from loneliness.

1. Know which groups are most likely to be lonely

Almost everyone experiences loneliness at certain times of the year or at specific times throughout their lives. But there are times during the human lifespan when loneliness is more likely to be acute.

Age: A study published in 2020 found that levels of loneliness were highest for people in their 20s and lowest in the 60s with another peak in the mid-40s. More than 2 in 5 adults (42%) aged 18 to 34 report “always” feeling “left out,” compared to just 16% of people aged 55 or older who say the same. 

Race: People from underrepresented racial groups are more likely to be lonely compared to the total adult population.

Income: Those with lower incomes are lonelier than those with higher incomes. Nearly two-thirds of adults (63%) earning less than $50,000 per year are classified as lonely—10 points higher than those earning $50,000 or more.

Parents: Parents are also likely to be lonely. About 65% of parents and guardians are classified as lonely, a 10-point gap compared to non-parents (55%). They also report a strong sense of feeling left out, as 42% of lonely parents always feel this way compared to 24% lonely non-parents.

Mothers are especially likely to be considered lonely (69%)—seven points higher than the rate of loneliness among fathers (62%). Single parents are particularly likely to struggle with loneliness, as more than 77% classify as lonely.

Christians can get lonely too. Just because we have Jesus does not mean that we don’t desire other relationships. “It would be cruel to suggest that human friendship is irrelevant once one has befriended by Christ,” Dane Ortlund writes in his book Gentle and Lowly. “God has made us for fellowship, for union on heart, with other people. Everyone gets lonely—including introverts.”

2. Recognize that social media is likely to cause more loneliness than it cures

One of the reasons people in their 20s may feel more lonely is because they are becoming increasingly socially isolated compared to earlier periods of their life, such as high school or college.

Social media may heighten the effect, since it can make other people appear—whether true or not—to have richer and more meaningful social lives than the person who feels lonely. Engaging with people on social media can also give us a false sense of intimacy, making us feel as if we have a relationship with people we don’t really know. The result of this “Instagram illusion” is that we can eventually feel even more emotionally lonely than we did before. 

If someone has higher than normal levels of engagement on social media, it is likely that they are suffering from social isolation, emotional loneliness, or both. Make an effort to engage with them as directly as possible, preferably in person. Encourage or invite them to participate in offline activities either with you or with a group.

Churches can also help by sponsoring activities that facilitate engagement between people who might not know each other. Too often, our default setting is to host events where church people interact primarily with their own friends and family. Make an extra effort to reach out to those who are struggling to find connection.

3. Help the lonely find their “family.”

Psalm 68:6 tells us, “God sets the lonely in families” (NIV). While this may sometimes be true of the natural family, it should always be true for the family of God.

“In biblical terms, the people in the pews around us are our family,” says Megan Hill. “Like the members of our biological family, we haven’t chosen them for ourselves, but they have been chosen for us, and we are therefore inseparably bound to them. Because we belong to Christ, we belong to his family.” 

One of the most helpful ways to serve the lonely is by helping them find the community of believers who will help them establish the relationships they truly need. Invite the lonely to church, and show them where they can find a family in Christ that will be with them for all eternity. 

By / Feb 10

In this episode, Brent and Lindsay talk about racial unity in the SBC. They also disucss a recap of the State of the Union address, the devastating earthquake in Turkey, and J.D. Greear’s article responding to comments Andy Stanley made about homosexuality. 

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  • 2023 Public Policy Agenda | The first session of the 118th Congress is now underway, and it begins as the nation is grappling with war around the world, inflation at home, and deep division across our nation. This also begins a new era of divided government with a Democratic president, a narrow Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, and a slim Republican majority in the House. This dynamic ensures legislating and governing will be a difficult task. We recently released the 2023 ERLC Public Policy agenda which includes our priorities for religious liberty, sanctity of life, marriage and family, and human dignity. Download the full agenda and learn how your Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is advocating for issues important to Southern Baptists at ERLC.com/policy.
  • 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 ERLC.com/updates. 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 ERLC.com/updates.
By / Feb 2

Since the fall, people build culture on the basis of many varied and competing authorities. Gone are the simple days of Genesis 1 and 2. Now the cultural canvas is stained with sin, and until eternity human culture will not perfectly reflect the will of God. This is why our response to culture is so important. It is one of our primary moral struggles. Teenagers need to grow up understanding this and being prepared for it.

The struggle with culture is inescapable, and it is always moral. People always interact with the world in a spirit of submission to God and his Word or in rebellion against him and dependence on their own minds. The cultural struggle is always about right and wrong, true and false, good and bad, belief and unbelief, human desire and God’s will. Isolation is impossible. Assimilation is capitulation. We need a better way.

The need for protection

You can see the influence of culture in the way we dress. Few of us wear the same style of clothing we wore ten years ago or maybe even five. Skirt lengths go up and down, and tie widths go from narrow to wide and back again. Have you ever looked at a family photo album and said, “I can’t believe I wore that!”? Fashion is a pointed example of the influence of culture. It shapes not only what we do but also the way we think and the way we see. 

The example I used with my teenagers to capture the insidious influence of the surrounding culture on them (and us) is air. Like the air we constantly breathe, culture is the spiritual air that our hearts constantly absorb. Many of the pollutants in the physical air are unseen. The same is true with culture.

We as parents have made a great error in our tendency to emphasize obvious issues (sex, drugs, violence, abortion, and so on) while neglecting the more deceptive, unseen pollutants in the cultural air around us. The result is that although our children may not participate in the “biggies,” they end up serving the idols of the surrounding culture.

(See the figure at the bottom for examples of these idols, their impact on our teenagers, and their biblical alternatives.)

Surely, these idols are more to be feared because they creep up on us unseen, appearing harmless and attractive (see Col. 2:8). They also powerfully play to the desires of the sinful nature—that is, they feed the very thing that God, by his Spirit, seeks to destroy.

Another error we have tended to make as parents is to blame the vehicle rather than focus on the idol themes these vehicles promote. A variety of vehicles—internet, social media, government, music, movies, education, television—all transmit and promote the philosophy of the culture. None of these vehicles are in themselves bad or dangerous. The danger is in the way they are used to promote the things they promote. 

The point is not to slay the messenger—these vehicles are used for both good and evil. We must be aware of the power of the media to transmit a culture’s ideas, but it is the ideas that are dangerous, so it is the ideas that must be the focus of our attention. For example, many Christian parents will not let their teenage children go to R-rated movies but will permit them to scroll for hours through social media, which is also a vehicle that transmits the perspectives, relationships, and values of the surrounding culture.

This is where the pollution metaphor helps us. When there are poisons in the physical air, people wear protective equipment that filters them out. In the same way our teenagers need spiritual filters against the unseen poisons in the cultural air. They need the protection of a biblical world- and life-view, and, as parents, we want to begin giving them one from the very earliest moments of their lives. We also want to have eyes of faith to see that every situation, relationship, and problem in their lives is an opportunity for us to encourage them to rethink and carefully apply a biblical view of life to concrete situations.

Talking to your teenager about culture

In light of this, don’t be hesitant to talk, talk, talk to your teenager. This cannot be a time when your relationship grows distant. Your child needs your parenting as much as ever, so seek him or her out.

Let me suggest some strategies for these conversations.

  • Don’t wait for your teenager to talk to you. Seek your child out in a way that is warm, friendly, and affirming. Teenagers who are on the defensive won’t talk freely and won’t listen well.
  • Don’t settle for non-answers. Follow up the yeses and nos. Ask questions that your teenager cannot answer with a yes or no and that require him to disclose what he is thinking, feeling, and doing.
  • Be positive. Don’t be like a detective hunting for what is wrong. The purpose of these talks is not to “catch” the teenager but to help her to understand, desire, and do what is right. So much of the talking that goes on between teenagers and their parents is negative and discouraging to the teenager.
  • Lovingly seek to expose the faults in your teenager’s thinking without making him feel ignorant or stupid. Teach him, in an affirming way, to see where he has breathed in the pollutants of his culture.
  • Become a partner in your teenager’s struggle by sharing your own struggle to live a godly life in an ungodly culture. Admit to the places where you have been influenced. Ask your teenager to pray for you as you promise to pray for her in her struggle.
  • Always point your teenager to Christ. Remind your child that Christ daily gives us mercy and grace in our moments of need and patiently continues to work in us until his work is complete.
  • Always keep in mind that you cannot protect your children from culture. The only effective strategy is to prepare them to deal with culture in a biblical fashion. This will take years of loving commitment on your part.
  • Model the character of Christ. Don’t be drawn into negative verbal power struggles. Greet anger, negativity, and accusation with soft-spoken strength. Don’t beat your teenager with words but win him with Christlike love.

Excerpt taken from Chapter 9: Life in the Real World, Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, Revised and Expanded by Paul David Tripp.

By / Jan 27

We didn’t need to see it. 

The sorrow expressed by law enforcement officials. The pleas from community leaders to not riot in response. The labels of “appalling” and “inhumane” used to describe the footage. All of these comments told us what we were about to see would be revolting.

They were right.

Video footage from the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols during a police confrontation is now public. It ought to sicken all who care about the city or work for racial unity or simply seek the wellbeing of our neighbors.

It now sits before us. Enraging us. Dispiriting us. Condemning us. Challenging us. Even questioning us: asking what we intend to do about such an act of brutality.

Memphis has been asking itself that for weeks. The city has been on edge waiting for this moment. Colleagues in Memphis have described the palpable tension in the air. A close friend has been worried about his hometown for the last several weeks.

Officials have been quick to act. Last week, the police chief fired the officers involved in Mr. Nichols’ death, and, yesterday, their arrests were announced. Each of them was charged with murder, along with several other crimes. The breadth of the charges was another sign of the appalling nature of what took place during the arrest. 

Some will read about this case and say we cannot jump to conclusions. Others, upon learning that the officers involved were Black, will feel relieved, thinking that at least the racial element of a white officer and an unarmed Black man is absent from this tragedy. Still, others will think they are too far removed from Memphis to spend much time thinking about this.

But if you see this footage, all of that will fade away as you view the sheer horror inflicted upon Tyre Nichols.

I am stirred to anger because another life has been lost in this way. That the officers happened to be Black serves as confirmation that this is a systemic problem in our justice system requiring real reform. The distance of this atrocity does not matter, because my faith places no geographic qualification on who is my neighbor (Luke 10). We should pray, in this instance, that evil will be exposed in the course of the investigation and punished (Rom. 13).

The result of our collective devaluing of life

But as with other tragedies, deeper reflection is required.

There will be unhelpful voices which call us to ignore this as a single case of bad apples, already dealt with by a system working as it should. There will be those who call for radical proposals such as eliminating the police and defunding them, a proposal that ignores the very real benefit that officers and government bring when they are doing their duty to promote order and protect citizens from evildoers. Both of these extremes must be avoided if we are to address the real problems at this moment. 

No, the real solution for this actually goes beyond law enforcement. It calls us to consider both the societal and individual results of a culture of death.

It should be abundantly clear to all that we have witnessed a devaluing of human life across our society in nearly every sector. 

A nation that has so easily eradicated the unborn for generations spawns a culture where a man can be pulverized to death mere yards from his home by those who should be there to serve and protect. 

A nation that separates children from their mothers in the name of border security creates a culture where security officials eagerly take on the role of executioner without thinking to involve the judge and jury in the equation.

A nation that views elderly life as discardable enables a culture where no one dares to intercede as a bludgeoned man cries out for his mother in his final moments.

We should resist the temptation to decouple any of these things. They are all connected because they reveal that we do not fully see, fully appreciate, or fully comprehend the awesome responsibilities we have toward one another because each of us is made in the image of God (Gen. 1). This principle spans across fields of occupation. The doctor, the educator, and, yes, the law enforcement officer all have as much responsibility as every pastor and minister to see the inherent dignity and value the immeasurable worth of every individual.

When we fail to do so, it leads to tragedies like this in Memphis.

But it is precisely because of this city that I have some optimism that real action will come from this moment. The faith community there is strong––and resilient. They’ve faced adversity like few cities. The ministers of the gospel there have been forged in the fires of previous tragedy. There’s a bond that ties together the churches and ministries in Shelby County that I have personally witnessed and worked alongside. If there is any community that can come back from the devastation of this video, it will be Memphis.

We should pray for this outcome. We desperately need an example of the Church shepherding a community and leading broken, sin-torn hearts to the suffering Savior. And we need leaders and activists responding with real reforms that bolster the police force and work toward safer neighborhoods. This will ensure the weighty calling of protecting a community begins with the vital foundation that every person has value and will be treated accordingly throughout our justice system.

I long for a day when we have moved beyond events like this. Where every individual feels respected and protected by every officer of the law. The evidence that our culture has moved to a better place will be that life itself is seen as invaluable throughout our society.

We all should long and plead that God would usher in that day, because repulsive and heartbreaking videos like this are almost too much to bear. The grief is so heavy. It shows that day is very far off indeed, and that now is a time for weeping. 

By / Jan 27

In this episode, Lindsay and Brent discuss this year’s March for Life, George Santos’ deception, and the classified documents debacle. 

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  • Dobbs Resource Page | The release of the Dobbs decision marks a true turning point in the pro-life movement, a moment that Christians, advocates and many others have worked toward tirelessly for 50 years. Let us rejoice that we live in a nation where past injustices can still be corrected, as we also roll our sleeves up to save preborn lives, serve vulnerable mothers, and support families in our communities. To get more resources on this case, visit ERLC.com/Dobbs.
  • Sexual Ethics Resource Page | Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of entertainment and messages that challenge the Bible’s teachings on sexual ethics? It often feels like we’re walking through uncharted territory. But no matter what we face in our ever-shifting culture, God’s design for human sexuality has never changed. The ERLC’s new sexual ethics resource page is full of helpful articles, videos, and explainers that will equip you to navigate these important issues with truth and grace. Get these free resources at ERLC.com/sexualethics.
By / Jan 25

Last Friday, thousands of enthusiastic individuals from every corner of the pro-life movement gathered on the National Mall for the March for Life. This year was my first March, but many around me had traveled hundreds of miles each January for 50 years. This time, they gathered with a sense of victory in light of the overturning of Roe—but also with a solemn awareness that there will always be reason to keep going. 

Now that the movement’s igniting cause has been settled, many wondered if the March would continue. On Friday, the organization’s leader Jeanne Mancini asked the eager attendees, “Should we still march?” The crowd responded with cheers and excitement because most are all too aware of the work left to be done. Conversations throughout the day centered on the tragedy of increasing access to abortion pills that undermines state-level abortion bans, the newfound importance of pro-life state legislators, and ultimately, the task of affecting “hearts and minds” of our neighbors who are blind to the innate value of a human life.

I came away from this moving experience with three important reminders.

Praise God for our freedoms: I’m thankful that the ERLC is present in conversations about preserving religious freedom. 

No matter what happens next, we are free to raise our voices to defend the defenseless. Looking around at friends and strangers lifting up their voices as well as their banners was a moving experience. One of the most powerful moments was when a woman named Casey who has Down syndrome spoke on stage about the amazing opportunities she has had and the love and joy in her family. “I love my life!”, she exclaimed. In our global context, petitioning the government with hope and joy is a rare sight, and one to be treasured. 

Embrace interfaith and interdenominational efforts: The pro-life movement is a team effort and an opportunity to unite with our neighbors. 

The March for Life embodies unity among differences—it is a tapestry of diverse yet allied voices from many religions, and especially many Christian denominations. As I walked next to Jesuit, Catholic, and Lutheran brothers and sisters, just to name a few, I was inspired to learn more about their beliefs and lifestyles. I was challenged to see them as teammates instead of strangers with whom I see differently on important theological matters.

We may have different approaches to defending the defenseless, but it is our collective efforts at the local level that affect individual decisions for life.

Proceed faithfully: Our pro-life work should reflect our Savior.

One reason I was hesitant about coming to the March for Life in years’ past is because I feared being associated with messages that didn’t represent the truth, grace, and mercy of Jesus. My friends who counsel post-abortive women have seen the harm of shameful messaging targeted at women who chose abortion. However, my worries about insensitivity at the March proved largely untrue, at least in 2023.

Like any collaboration of imperfect humans, there is going to be some messiness, and to those in our churches who have been shamed pre- or post-abortion, I am truly sorry. Together we must proceed faithfully, holding tightly to Jesus’ example when he interacted with those considered by society to be the worst of sinners, like in this powerful scene: 

“And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’” (Mark 2:16-17 ESV).

It was 49 years ago that that the first March for Life was held on Capitol Hill following the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, a case that fabricated a Constitutional “right to abortion” and led to abortion access in every state. Since then, the pro-life community has opened pregnancy care centers, called on members of Congress to enact policies that help inform mothers about abortion and its alternatives, adopted children who were born into adversity, and faithfully marched. Every single year, whether in deep snow, rain, or cold, thousands have marched to stand up for the rights of the voiceless in the United States.  

Throughout my lifetime, I hope to see many victories for the preborn, for the disabled community, for those at the end of life, and others who are silenced and prevented from living the life God gave them. When the decisions don’t go our way, we must continue to exercise our freedoms to assemble and petition. When enemies try to divide our movement and our churches with strife, we must remain unified and focused. When we make judgements and mistakes in the process, we must proceed faithfully, centered on the compassion of Christ.

Moving forward, the movement will change with policy and culture, and the essential work of Southern Baptist churches and the broader pro-life movement must continue. My experience at the March inspired me to keep going until abortion is unthinkable in America and around the world, and I hope you will too.

By / Jan 6

In this episode, Lindsay and Brent discuss the latest development with abortion pills, the ongoing deliberations regarding Speaker of the House, and Damar Hamlin’s terrifying collapse on the football field. They also talk about the latest issue of Light magazine. 

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  • Dobbs Resource Page | The release of the Dobbs decision marks a true turning point in the pro-life movement, a moment that Christians, advocates and many others have worked toward tirelessly for 50 years. Let us rejoice that we live in a nation where past injustices can still be corrected, as we also roll our sleeves up to save preborn lives, serve vulnerable mothers, and support families in our communities. To get more resources on this case, visit ERLC.com/Dobbs.
  • Sexual Ethics Resource Page | Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of entertainment and messages that challenge the Bible’s teachings on sexual ethics? It often feels like we’re walking through uncharted territory. But no matter what we face in our ever-shifting culture, God’s design for human sexuality has never changed. The ERLC’s new sexual ethics resource page is full of helpful articles, videos, and explainers that will equip you to navigate these important issues with truth and grace. Get these free resources at ERLC.com/sexualethics.
By / Jan 6

The events of 2022 had an effect on many issues that we will be dealing with in this new year. Four stories related to ERLC concerns that you should watch in 2023 are:

  1. Abortion after Roe v. Wade
  2. Legislation in a divided government
  3. A religious liberty Supreme Court case
  4. The SBC’s formal response to sexual abuse

Find out more below.

Abortion after Roe v. Wade

The overturning of Roe v. Wade in last year’s Dobbs decision marked a true turning point for the pro-life movement, a moment that Christians, advocates, and many others worked toward tirelessly for 50 years. 

Now, the pro-life movement will be faced with other challenges to protect life in the womb. 

A key issue is how we will deal with “medication” abortion. 

In 2020, abortion via pills rather than surgery accounted for the majority of all United States abortions for the first time in the pills’ 20-year history. Reinforcing access to these medication abortions was one of the Biden administration’s first responses to the fall of Roe. President Joe Biden “directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to identify all ways to ensure that mifepristone [one of the two drugs used in pill-based abortions] is as widely accessible as possible.” 

This week, the Justice Department cleared the U.S. Postal Service to deliver abortion drugs to states that have strict limits on abortion. But states may be able to fight back by prosecuting people who send abortion pills through such mailings. In addition, as Jason Thacker explains, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a regulatory change this week that allows pharmacy chains and local pharmacies to distribute the first of the two-stage abortion pill regiment known as Mifepristone

Legislation in a divided government

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the GOP controls the majority by only 10 votes (222-213), while in the Senate the split is 49-49 with independents who caucus with the Democrats. 

The result is that neither party will be able to pass any major partisan pieces of legislation this year. 

Lack of bipartisan support will also prevent anything from being passed other than funding requirements (debt ceiling, farm bill, government funding, etc.). 

One possible long-shot exception is immigration reform. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) have proposed legislation that would increase spending on border security by more than $25 billion, provide pay raises to Border Patrol agents, extending Title 42 for at least a year, creating regional centers to swiftly process asylum claims, and provide a pathway to citizenship for 2 million immigrant “Dreamers” who came to the U.S. as children. 

(Note: A key part of ERLC’s policy agenda is support of a permanent solution for Dreamers, the young immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents and that remain without permanent legal status despite having broken no laws.) 

A religious liberty Supreme Court case 

This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue its ruling in 303 Creative v. Elenis, an important case for free speech and religious liberty. 

The case involves Lorie Smith, founder of the web design firm 303 Creative, who challenged a Colorado law that violates her First Amendment rights. It is the same law that was used to target Jack Phillips and which led to the 2018 Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case. In that case, the Court ruled favorably for Jack Phillips on narrow grounds but failed to address the underlying conflict between anti-discrimination laws and free speech rights. 

This case has significant implications for the free speech of all people. If the court rules against Smith, it would establish a precedent that artists can be forced to create and communicate messages that violate their beliefs.  

The SBC’s formal response to sexual abuse

At the 2022 SBC annual meeting, a 288-page report was released by a task force commissioned to address allegations of sexual abuse by senior members of the denomination’s Executive Committee, mishandling of abuse allegations, and mistreatment of victims.

During the annual meeting in New Orleans this June, SBC messengers will likely be asked to address some or all of the recommendations outlined in the report. 

Some of the recommendations are:

  • Forming an Independent Commission and later establishing a permanent Administrative Entity to oversee comprehensive long-term reforms concerning sexual abuse and related misconduct within the SBC.
  • Creating and maintaining an Offender Information System to alert the community to known offenders. Make the OIS available to churches on a voluntary basis.
  • Providing a comprehensive Resource Toolbox including protocols, training, education, and practical information.
  • Creating a voluntary self-certification program for churches, local associations, state conventions, and entities based on the implementation of “best practices” to bring awareness to, and enhance prevention of, sexual abuse.
  • Improving governance controls, including the use of enhanced background checks, Letters of Good Standing, and Codes of Conduct to voluntarily strengthen hiring standards and improve governance.
By / Dec 29

In the modern era of the 24/7 news cycle, it’s easy to begin each day looking for the latest breaking tidbit. The amount of information we all digest is unimaginable to previous generations, and much of what we take in we simply forget. But the people of God are those who are called to ponder and discern (Psa 101:2; Rom. 12:2). As we close the book on 2022, some of the ERLC staff have reflected on the stories that they don’t want to forget because of their significance. Whether they mark truly historical moments, consider important ethical questions, or reflect the priorities of a particular season of life, all are meaningful and help us recognize our deep need for our Sovereign God. May this exercise encourage you to prayerful reflection and humble dependence on the Lord, as well. 

“The invasion of Ukraine is what stands out for me in 2022. A good college friend of mine has served as a missionary there since 2005, so I watched news updates with a personal lens. What I remember being struck by is how it felt like history books had come alive. Studying history you read about past wars and which country invaded who, but you don’t expect (or at least I didn’t) to see that happening in real time. And however doom and gloom the news seemed about Ukraine, there was always an element of hope that sprung up. Whether it was watching Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy post a video on social media about his commitment to stay and fight or a pianist playing her piano in a bombed-out home, hope seemed to remain, despite all the tragedy. This is exactly what I want to focus on as we approach the end of 2022 and the holiday season: hope brought by an incarnate Savior 2,000 years ago will always reign supreme.” – Julie Masson, Director of External Engagement

“One of my favorite stories from the past year has been the emergence of a number of pro-family policies from lawmakers in the wake of the Dobbs decision. That was such a historic moment and the culmination of decades of dedicated advocacy, but it also really opened the eyes of many to the gaps in support for vulnerable women and families. To that end, this summer at the SBC annual meeting, messengers affirmed ‘pro-life and pro-family policies that serve and support vulnerable women, children, and families.’ Over the fall, I worked to develop some guiding principles for ERLC’s engagement on this issue, and I was able to lay out those principles and make the case for our support in this article of ERLC’s Light Magazine, ‘A vision for a pro-family world: Why policies that help families foster a pro-life culture.’”Hannah Daniel, Policy Manager 

“Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to talk with Gretchen Smeltzer who founded a ministry called, Into the Light, that combats human trafficking. This issue is one that we don’t like to think about and often feels far removed from us. But in reality, many in our country and abroad are being exploited and abused by predators in this horrifying industry. I don’t want to lose sight of the important calling God has placed on our lives as believers to protect and advocate for the vulnerable among us.” – Elizabeth Bristow, Press Secretary

“My daughter was in speech therapy this year because of a delay, so the story, ‘“Parentese” Is Truly a Lingua Franca, Global Study Finds’ hit me at the right time. It says that across the world people, no matter their language, speak to babies in the same kind of cadence and tone. It reminded me of the truth that children are a universal gift from God, and that parenting and the family are a universal feature of humanity.” – Alex Ward, Lead Researcher

“I think of two articles, ‘Is the Lesser of Two Evils the Right Question’ by Dana McCain and ‘What Makes a Vote Moral or Immoral? The Ethics of Voting’ by Jonathan Leeman. I commend them both along the same lines, that as Christians, our standard of righteousness must be weighed and measured by what God says in his word. All other scales of righteousness fail, and as Dana McCain says, ‘When we misrepresent our imperfect choices as truly righteous, we compromise our integrity and misrepresent our Savior before a lost and dying world. We make it harder for the people we’re called to evangelize to believe us about the most important thing—the gospel of Jesus Christ.’” – Mark Owens, ERLC Podcast Producer

“Every day at nearly every turn, we’re faced with new challenges as we are bombarded with content, entertainment, and messages that challenge a faithful understanding of the biblical sexual ethic. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as we walk through what seems like uncharted territory. But no matter what we face in our ever-shifting culture, God’s design for human sexuality has never changed. The event, ‘Discipling Your Church for a World in Sexual Crisis,’ that we hosted back in June helped remind the Church how we can navigate these challenges with both the truth of God’s Word and design as well as the grace found in the gospel message. We all need to be reminded that our sexuality is not the defining aspect of our humanity, but it is central to what it means to be human.” – Jason Thacker,  Director of the Research Institute and Chair of Research in Technology Ethics

“I have spent many hours over the last year speaking with pro-life leaders in settings both professional and private. Yet, my conversation with Karen Ellison, founder of Deeper Still, brought to the forefront for me the millions of Americans, men and women, who are still dealing with the effects of an abortion years and decades later. She said, ‘There is a huge population of Christians who are abortion-wounded, and they are not talking about it.’ So many of those are anticipating judgment from fellow believers, and I believe the Church must grapple with this reputation. It is my prayer that our churches will do the hard work required to have both a culture of life and a culture of healing, so that they can welcome those in the depths of their brokenness and help them find freedom.” – Jill Waggoner, Content Editor

“I’m not sure how I could ever forget it, but the astounding pro-life victory in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the story that stands out to me. The overturning of Roe v. Wade was almost 50 years in the making and a reminder that sometimes good, worthwhile work takes years. The victory magnifies the tireless and bold work of so many who were driven by their conviction that God created every individual, no matter how young and helpless, with innate dignity. It reminds me that nothing is too hard for the Lord and that our times are in his hands. It’s a shot of adrenaline in the arm of the pro-life movement that, by God’s grace, will sustain many, many more years of advocating for the preborn and vulnerable moms at the state level. Lest we doubt that our work matters, all we have to do is recall what wonderful things God did through those committed to advocating for the smallest among us.”  – Lindsay Nicolet, Director of Content