By / Mar 15

Israel’s war with Hamas began on Oct. 7, 2023, when an attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group marked a significant escalation in the long-standing conflict between the two groups. This attack was characterized by its scale and coordination, differing markedly from previous skirmishes or individual acts of aggression. As a result of these attacks, the Israeli military responded with air strikes and ground operations in Gaza.

Here is an update on what has recently happened in the war.

Ongoing military operations escalate in Israel’s war with Hamas

The ongoing military operations between Israel and Hamas have intensified with Israel conducting major bombing and ground campaigns in Gaza following deadly attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have expanded ground operations in the Gaza Strip, calling for evacuations in the northern region as they push into Gaza with tanks and troops.

These incursions have included localized raids, large-scale tank raids, and major ground incursions, leading to a near-total internet and cellular blackout in Gaza. The IDF’s actions have been met with vows of resistance from Hamas. The situation remains fluid, with Israel ramping up strikes and expanding ground operations while facing challenges in the conflict zone.

Israel’s overarching objective is:

  • to dismantle Hamas’ control of Gaza to prevent future attacks,
  • restore confidence in security,
  • and ensure long-term stability in the region.

The strategy involves a combination of military actions, diplomatic efforts, and rebuilding initiatives to address the complex challenges posed by the conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Cease-fire negotiations break down

For several weeks, the United States, Qatar, and Egypt have been engaged in negotiations to broker a deal between Hamas and Israel. This agreement proposes that Hamas would release approximately 40 hostages. In exchange, a six-week truce would be established, certain Palestinian prisoners would be freed, and there would be a significant increase in aid delivered to the geographically isolated region.

Despite these efforts, Hamas demands commitments for a more permanent cease-fire and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza for the release of all remaining hostages. But U.S. authorities have expressed doubts regarding Hamas’ genuine interest in reaching an agreement. Their skepticism stems from Hamas’ reluctance to comply with several requests that the U.S. and other nations consider reasonable. This includes the refusal to disclose the names of the hostages they propose to release.

The situation remains complex, with ongoing negotiations and tensions as both parties hold firm to their positions. The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which started on March 10, has added pressure as it often sees heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions over access to holy sites in Jerusalem. The talks are set to resume, but a truce before Ramadan failed to materialize.

Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu have been engaged in heated debates over the issue of invading Rafah. Biden has warned against Israel attacking Rafah, considering it a “red line” (i.e., a point beyond which no further advance will be accepted) due to the potential humanitarian consequences. Despite this, Netanyahu has expressed his intention to proceed with the invasion, emphasizing the need to prevent future terror attacks like the one on Oct. 7.

The White House has clarified that Biden did not set explicit red lines but reiterated concerns about civilian casualties and the need for protections for those in Rafah. The rift between Biden and Netanyahu has raised questions about U.S. weapons support to Israel, with potential implications for arms usage restrictions if Israel proceeds with the Rafah operation.

The debates reflect a broader disagreement between the two leaders, with Biden criticizing Netanyahu for his handling of the conflict and emphasizing the importance of minimizing civilian casualties. Despite these tensions, the U.S. administration remains committed to supporting Israel while also advocating for humanitarian aid delivery into Gaza to address the escalating crisis.

U.N. finds ‘convincing’ information that hostages taken by Hamas faced sexual abuse

Recent reports from the United Nations have revealed “clear and convincing” evidence of sexual abuse against hostages in Gaza, with indications of ongoing sexual violence. The UN team found reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, occurred during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in Israel.

The report highlighted instances of various forms of conflict-related sexual violence against hostages taken to Gaza and suggested that such violence may still be ongoing. Despite Hamas denying these allegations, the UN report detailed incidents of rape, sexualized torture, and cruel treatment against captives. The findings underscore the urgent need for a cease-fire to protect those still in captivity and address the humanitarian crisis in the region.

Gaza in risk of famine 

The Gaza Strip is facing a catastrophic-level food crisis with an increasing risk of famine, a widespread condition in which many people in a country or region are unable to access adequate food supplies.

Israeli airstrikes have destroyed vital food infrastructure like bakeries and flour mills, exacerbating the situation. Reports indicate that at least 576,000 people in Gaza, a quarter of the population, are one step away from famine, with aid trucks being looted and overwhelmed by hungry individuals. The dire conditions have led to severe food insecurity, with 1 in 6 children under the age of 2 in northern Gaza suffering from acute malnutrition and wasting

The World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that a famine is imminent in northern Gaza if critical food supplies cannot be brought in sufficient quantities due to ongoing hostilities and restrictions on aid deliveries. The UN and aid agencies are facing significant obstacles in providing essential supplies to Gaza, including crossing closures, restrictions on movement, and challenges in delivering aid due to unrest and damaged infrastructure.  

U.S. plans to build for a sea port to deliver aid into Gaza

A new plan for a sea port to deliver aid into Gaza involves the construction of a temporary port on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast by the U.S. military. Biden announced this initiative during his State of the Union speech, aiming to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid by sea to Gaza. This initiative comes amidst challenges in aid delivery into Gaza due to bureaucratic obstacles and insecurity at land crossings, prompting a shift toward alternative routes like sea and air drops.

The operation will be based on the island of Cyprus and will not involve the deployment of U.S. military personnel in Gaza. U.S. officials will collaborate with U.N. and humanitarian aid organizations to distribute the aid. While the temporary port will initially be military-run, there are plans for it to transition into a commercially run facility in the future. The operation is set to take several weeks to plan and execute, with required U.S. forces already in the region or soon moving there.

Southern Baptists continue relief efforts in Israel’s war with Hamas

Southern Baptists, particularly through organizations like Send Relief, have been actively engaged in providing aid and relief efforts in the Israel-Hamas conflict. SBC involvement includes:

  • offering temporary housing,
  • setting up bomb shelters for protection,
  • distributing medical supplies,
  • ensuring access to food and water,
  • and providing trauma counseling to those affected by the conflict. 

Through decades-long partnerships with local Christians, churches, and ministries in Israel and the region, Southern Baptists have been able to collaborate effectively in delivering aid. Working closely with Baptist Village, they have provided refuge for hundreds of individuals in need of urgent assistance. 

Currently, Send Relief has released funds to support Baptist representatives in their relief efforts and trauma-care initiatives for those affected by the conflict. Southern Baptists are urged to continue supporting these relief efforts through prayer and donations to Send Relief. Their focus remains on addressing the immediate needs of those impacted by the conflict and providing essential aid, support, and comfort during this challenging time in the region.

Additionally, Southern Baptists have been encouraging prayers for:

  • survivors,
  • injured individuals,
  • displaced families,
  • grieving loved ones,
  • and for the successful delivery of essential resources to impacted areas.
By / Nov 14

A month into the Israel-Hamas war, Evangelicals aren’t just helping fight antisemitism at home – they’re hosting fundraisers and sending volunteers and supplies to the Jewish state

Over a month into the Israel-Hamas war, American Evangelicals are providing moral and material support to Israel, hosting fundraisers and poster campaigns, and sending volunteers and supplies. With more than 100 million Evangelicals in the United States, it is a deep well from which to draw.

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing 200-250 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

That intensity was reflected on October 11, when the Ethics and Religion Liberty Commission (ERLC), which is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, issued an “Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel.”

We grieve the innocent lives that have been lost since October 7 in Israel and in Gaza. Whether Jewish, Muslim, or Christian, we know that for so many people caught in the midst of this battle, it is not a war of their choosing. Our concern for the loss of innocent life has no borders. Each and every casualty is a person made in God’s image.

Brent Leatherwood

Send Relief, part of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board, is distributing humanitarian aid on the ground in Israel. They are working with Baptist Village, a non-profit organization based in Tel Aviv.

Since October 7 it has funded more than $700,000 in aid for people in the affected areas, said Jason Cox, the vice president for international ministry at Send Relief. The money has helped provide housing for up to 400 individuals, tents with cooling and heating units and generators, cots and bedding, toilet and shower containers and trauma counseling from licensed professionals.

Some ministries are sending help to Palestinians in need, as well. TBM, the disaster relief ministry of the Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission, sent a team of volunteers on October 10 that has so far supplied thousands of meals to Israelis and Palestinians. The commission also established the “Israel-Hamas War Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Relief” fund, which will support humanitarian aid and crisis relief efforts.

Meanwhile, as various churches prepare to help long-term, Leatherwood said that it is Israel’s “moral responsibility” to end Hamas’s terror-making capabilities.

Hamas is the enemy in this, not just to Israel, but to the Palestinian people and everyone who desperately seeks peace in the Middle East.

Brent Leatherwood

Read The Times of Israel article here.

By / Oct 19

The Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7 when we woke up to the news that Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist group, launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing 1,400 people in what has been referred to as Israel’s 9/11. In the days following, we have seen the horrendous images, heard the horrifying stories, and learned more about the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. 

To help us understand these events and how we can think clearly about them is Paul D. Miller. Dr. Miller is a professor in the Practice of International Affairs at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He serves as co-chair of the Global Politics and Security concentration in the MSFS program. He is also a Senior Fellow with the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council and a research fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Dr. Miller previously served in the US Army (including a tour in Afghanistan), as an analyst with the CIA, and as Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan on the National Security Council staff. 

We’ll also talk with ERLC President Brent Leatherwood about the Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel and how Southern Baptists should continue to respond to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. 

Here is Dr. Miller’s most recent article at The Dispatch on the Israeli-Hamas war: “To Stand With the Palestinians, Support Israel Against Hamas”.

And just a reminder, we want to make sure you are kept up to date about the important work the ERLC is doing on behalf of Southern Baptists. The best way to do that 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. Become an email subscriber at ERLC.com/updates

The ERLC podcast is a production of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. It is produced by Jill Waggoner, Lindsay Nicolet, and Elizabeth Bristow. Technical production is provided by Owens Productions. It is edited and mixed by Mark Owens.

By / Oct 17

“Addressing policymakers at home and abroad, American evangelical Christian leaders responded Wednesday to the attacks on Israel by Hamas by issuing a letter calling for moral clarity, both supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and proclaiming the need to protect the lives of innocent civilians.

In the wake of the evil and indefensible atrocities now committed against the people of Israel by Hamas, we, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn the violence against the vulnerable, fully support Israel’s right and duty to defend itself against further attack, and urgently call all Christians to pray for the salvation and peace of the people of Israel and Palestine.

Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel

The letter, signed by 60 institutional leaders, will be delivered to the White House, Congress and leaders at the United Nations, said Brent Leatherwood, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which helped organize the letter.

In a phone interview, Leatherwood said the letter was prompted by what he said were responses to attacks on Israel that drew “false equivalence” between the attacks by Hamas, a group identified by the United States as a terrorist entity, and the actions of Israel’s military.”

It is time for clear-eyed thinking and moral certainty

Brent Leatherwood

Read The Washington Post article here.

By / Oct 13

Nearly 40 years ago, terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins made this claim, “The difficulty of defining terrorism has led to the cliché that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, implying that there can be no objective definition of terrorism, no universal standards of conduct in peace. That is not true.” Yet, this line of thinking remains a cliché thoughtlessly espoused to muddy the distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate forms of warfare. Even as recently as the past week, the terrorist organization Hamas has been referred to in similar language on a major news outlet in the United States in relation to the attack on Israel.

Freedom fighters and terrorists often do have many similarities. Both groups take part in a violent struggle to achieve a political goal, usually the overthrow or removal of an established government. Both groups tend to be non-state actors, that is, their political actions are not carried out on behalf of a sovereign nation-state.

What then separates a freedom fighter from a terrorist?

The moral requirements for going to war

The primary difference is how they align with the criteria of the just war tradition. First, let’s measure them against the jus ad bellum, the moral requirement for going to war:

1. Just Cause: Like nation-states, non-state actors may have just and proper reasons for going to war. For example, they may be acting in self-defense to prevent genocide or acting to restore human rights wrongly denied.

2. Proportionate Cause: Again, like established nation-states, non-state actors could go to war to prevent more evil and suffering than their warfare is expected to cause.

3. Right Intention: Non-state actors may also have the right intentions for going to war. They could, for instance, be motivated by Christian love and pursuit of justice instead of an illegitimate intention to go to war, such as revenge.

4. Right Authority: There is nothing inherently special about a nation-state that gives them a special status as the right authority. However, this criterion poses a special hurdle for non-state actors since what would constitute a right authority for them is often unclear. As Eric Patterson notes, one distinction between modern freedom fighters and terrorists is that freedom fighters  accept at least two forms of authority: “The first stems from customary international law and is now codified in the Geneva Conventions; the second is that they submit to some form of organized authority (i.e., ‘are under the command of a person responsible for his subordinates’).”

5. Reasonable Chance of Success: This is the primary criterion that works against the modern terrorist engaging in a just war. The use of terrorist tactics tends to lower the chances of success in warfare and offers specific challenges to establishing a just peace once the war is over. As historian Charles Townsend says, “Although the 20th century produced plenty of successful ‘wars of national liberation”, often with a significant terrorist dimension, none succeeded by terrorism alone.”

6. Last Resort: Another key difference between freedom fighters and terrorists is that the former almost always consider warfare to be the last reasonable and workable option for addressing their grievances. In contrast, terrorists rarely seek to exhaust reasonable peaceful alternatives, such as diplomacy or non-violent political pressure, before succumbing to violence.

Why terrorism is unjust

The jus ad bellum by itself offers distinctions between terrorists and freedom fighters. But most salient differences between freedom fighters and terrorists is in the criteria for jus in bello (criteria for just execution of war), particularly on the issue of discrimination.

The criterion of discrimination includes two key components: “innocence” and “deliberate attack.” The first rule of just warfare is that we do not target or intentionally kill the innocent. “Innocence,” says just war theorist Michael Walzer, means those non-combatants who are not materially engaged in the war effort. “These people are ‘innocent’ whatever their government and country are doing and whether or not they are in favor of what is being done.” Walzer explains that, “The opposite of ‘innocent’ is not ‘guilty,’ but ‘engaged.’ Disengaged civilians are innocent without regard to their personal morality or politics.”

This is precisely what makes terrorism wrong, since it is defined, says Walzer, as the random killing of innocent people, in the hope of creating pervasive fear. “Randomness and innocence are the crucial elements in the definition,” he says. “The critique of this kind of killing hangs especially on the idea of innocence, which is borrowed from ‘just war’ theory.”

Sadly, modern warfare almost always leads to innocent civilian casualties—especially in urban environments. The key distinction, therefore, is that terrorists target the innocent for deliberate attack while “freedom fighters”—and anyone else engaged in just warfare—never do. This provides both a moral and strategic challenge for nations fighting against terrorists, since we do not want to become like the evil we are opposing. “Terror must never be answered with terror,” says historian Caleb Carr, “but war can only be answered with war, and it is incumbent on us to devise a style of war more imaginative, more decisive, and yet more humane than anything terrorists can contrive.”

Like you, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) is grieved by the acts of terrorism perpetrated against those made in God’s image in the Middle East, and we are praying for peace. The ERLC has led an effort among Southern Baptist leaders and other evangelicals to organize support for Israel’s right to exist and defend itself and urge policymakers to confront evil, promote peace, and protect the vulnerable. We also ask Christians to pray for the preservation and salvation of those in the region and give toward their needs through SEND Relief. You can read and sign the Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel here

Click here to learn more about Just War Theory.

By / Oct 11

Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2023 The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has joined with SBC and other Christian leaders in developing an “Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel,” in response to the horrific atrocities committed against the people of Israel by Hamas. 

The statement has garnered more than 60 signatories from SBC leaders and a broad group of evangelicals to support Israel and advocate for the vulnerable involved with this ongoing conflict. 

ERLC President Brent Leatherwood commented on the statement.

“These repugnant atrocities by Hamas should shake us to our core. Hundreds of innocent Israeli lives have been struck down by a rampaging enemy. There should be no question that the Israeli government has the right to defend its citizens and sovereignty that have been so grossly violated. Our statement today, from leaders across denominational lines in evangelicalism and from various sectors of ministry, represents a significant show of solidarity with Israel as it responds to this evil.

“In the face of such wickedness, this is not the time for false equivalency or excuses by national leaders and policymakers, but clear-eyed moral leadership. Extremists and authoritarians are threatening lives across the globe, rendering countless individuals vulnerable. As we read in the 13th chapter of the Book of Romans, governments have a responsibility to thwart such evil—and that responsibility should translate to action. 

“At the same time, we must pray without ceasing for the families who have and continue to suffer from this attack. We pray that no additional innocent life be taken as Israel rightfully defends itself from this horror.”

The evangelical statement also calls on Christians across the globe to pray for the salvation and peace of the people in Israel and Palestine.  

Excerpts from the statement are below: 

“While our theological perspectives on Israel and the Church may vary, we are unified in calling attacks against Jewish people especially troubling as they have been often targeted by their neighbors since God called them as His people in the days of Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). . . . 

“The tragic events of October 7th further underscore the importance of democracy in our world and stand as a sober reminder that supporting Israel’s right to exist is both urgent and needed. . . . 

“Furthermore, we recognize the dignity and personhood of all persons living in the Middle East and affirm God’s love for them as well as His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ to all people. . . . 

“Finally, we call on American policymakers to use their power to take all forms of terrorism seriously and call governments and civil authorities to confront evil work to prevent future attacks so that the innocent and vulnerable will be protected.”

Daniel Darling, director of The Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, served as a key drafter for the evangelical statement and commented on the crisis in Israel.

“These despicable acts represent a second Holocaust against the Jewish people. As in every generation, Israel needs defenders. There can be no equivocation. This is the time for the church to speak clearly and with one voice that we not only condemn these barbarous acts of terrorism but that we support Israel’s right to defend itself. I’m grateful for the moral clarity of those who added their name to this document and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” 

Southern Baptists passed a resolution at the 2016 annual meeting titled, “On Prayer and Support For Israel” supporting the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state. 

The full statement can be found here

The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 13.6 million members and a network of over 47,000 cooperating churches and congregations. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.

To request an interview, contact Elizabeth Bristow
by email at [email protected] or call 202-547-0209
 Visit our website at www.erlc.com
Follow us on Twitter at @ERLC.

By / Oct 11

In the wake of the evil and indefensible atrocities now committed against the people of Israel by Hamas, we, the undersigned, unequivocally condemn the violence against the vulnerable, fully support Israel’s right and duty to defend itself against further attack, and urgently call all Christians to pray for the salvation and peace of the people of Israel and Palestine.

While our theological perspectives on Israel and the Church may vary, we are unified in calling attacks against Jewish people especially troubling as they have been often targeted by their neighbors since God called them as His people in the days of Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3).

Since the inception of the modern state of Israel in 1948, Israel has faced numerous attacks, incursions, and violations of its national sovereignty. The Jewish people have long endured genocidal attempts to eradicate them and to destroy the Jewish state. These antisemitic, deadly ideologies and terrorist actions must be opposed.

Israel stands as a rare example of democracy in a region dominated by authoritarian regimes. The tragic events of October 7th further underscore the importance of democracy in our world and stand as a sober reminder that supporting Israel’s right to exist is both urgent and needed.

In keeping with Christian Just War tradition, we also affirm the legitimacy of Israel’s right to respond against those who have initiated these attacks as Romans 13 grants governments the power to bear the sword against those who commit such evil acts against innocent life.

Furthermore, we recognize the dignity and personhood of all persons living in the Middle East and affirm God’s love for them as well as His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ to all people.

We also recognize the difficult ministry of Jewish and Palestinian believers who labor for the gospel. We pray for their protection and for God’s blessing on their gospel ministry.

Finally, we call on American policymakers to use their power to take all forms of terrorism seriously and call governments and civil authorities to confront evil work to prevent future attacks so that the innocent and vulnerable will be protected.

May God bring peace to the Middle East.

The signatures listed reflect a small portion of the over 2000 signatories who have added their names to the statement.

*Please note that the title and institution listed for each signatory is used for identification purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an official endorsement by the institution.

Brent Leatherwood
President
Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Daniel Darling
Director of Land Center for Cultural Engagement
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Bart Barber
President, Southern Baptist Convention
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Farmersville, TX

Albert Mohler
President
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Richard Land
Executive Editor, The Christian Post
President Emeritus, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Russell Moore
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today
Former President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Danny Akin
President
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jason Allen
President
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jamie Dew
President
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

David Dockery
President
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

O.S. Hawkins
Chancellor
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jonathan Howe
Interim President
SBC Executive Committee

Ronnie Floyd
Former President
Southern Baptist Convention

Steve Gaines
Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church; Memphis, TN
Former President, Southern Baptist Convention

Jack Graham
Senior Pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church; Plano, TX
Former President, Southern Baptist Convention

J.D. Greear
Pastor, The Summit Church; Raleigh-Durham, NC
Former President, Southern Baptist Convention

Ed Litton
Pastor, Redemption Church; Mobile, AL
Former President, Southern Baptist Convention

Fred Luter
Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church; New Orleans, LA
Former President, Southern Baptist Convention

James Merritt
Senior Pastor, Cross Pointe Church; Duluth, GA
Former President, Southern Baptist Convention

Bryant Wright
President, Send Relief
Former President, Southern Baptist Convention

Esther (Fleece) Allen
Senior Director of Communications
Alliance for The Peace of Jerusalem

Brian Autry
Executive Director
Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia

Marshall Blalock
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Charleston; Charleston, SC

Hunter Baker
Dean of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Political Science
Union University

Darrell Bock
Executive Director of Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies Dallas Theological Seminary

Victor Chayasirisobhon
Lead Pastor, First Southern Baptist Church of Anaheim
President, California Southern Baptist Convention

Randy Covington
Executive Director
Alaska Baptist Resource Network

Barry Creamer
President
Criswell College

Randy C. Davis
President and Executive Director
Tennessee Baptist Mission Board

Terry Dorsett
Executive Director
Baptist Churches of New England

Barrett Duke
Executive Director
Montana Southern Baptist Convention

Leo Endel
Executive Director
Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention

Erick Erickson
Host
The Erick Erickson Show

Tony Evans
Pastor
Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship; Dallas, TX

Gene Fant
President
North Greenville University

Nathan A. Finn
Executive Director, Institute for Transformational Leadership
North Greenville University

Charles Fowler
President, Carson Newman University

Katie Fruge
Director, The Christian Life Commission and Center for Cultural Engagement
Baptist General Convention of Texas

Mitch Glaser
President
Chosen People Ministries

Todd Gray
Executive Director
Kentucky Baptist Convention

Julio Guarneri
Executive Director-Elect
Baptist General Convention of Texas

Griffin Gulledge
Pastor
Madison Baptist Church; Madison, GA

Dean Inserra
Pastor
City Church; Tallahassee, FL

Randall Jackson
President, Montana Southern Baptist Convention
Pastor, Choteau Baptist Church; Choteau, Montana

Kenneth Keathley
Director of L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Greg Laurie
Senior Pastor
Harvest Christian Fellowship; Riverside, CA

Rob Lee
Executive Director
Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention

Nathan Lorick
Executive Director
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

Tim Lubinus
Executive Director
Baptist Convention of Iowa

Matt Markins
President and CEO
Awana

Gary Marx
President
The Concord Fund

Katie McCoy
Director of Women’s Ministries
Baptist General Convention of Texas

Fred MacDonald
Executive Director
Dakota Baptist Convention

David Manner
Executive Director
Kansas Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists

Philip Miller
Senior Pastor
The Moody Church

Miles Mullin
Vice President & Chief of Staff
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Herbie Newell
President & Executive Director
Lifeline Children’s Services

Robert Nicholson
President and Founder
The Philos Project

Samuel “Dub” Oliver
President
Union University

Ray Ortlund
President
Renewal Ministries

Shawn Parker
Executive Director
Mississippi Baptist Convention Board

Tim Patterson
Executive Director
Baptist State Convention of Michigan

Gregory Perkins
National President, National African American Fellowship, SBC
Lead Pastor, The View Church; Menifee, CA

J. Matthew Pinson 
President
Welch College and Divinity School

David Prince
Senior Pastor
Ashland Avenue Baptist Church; Lexington, KY

Mike Proud
Executive Director
Colorado Baptist General Convention

Joel Rainey
Lead Pastor
Covenant Church; Shepherdstown, WV

Eric Ramsey
Executive Director
West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists

Philip Robertson
Senior Pastor, Philadelphia Baptist Church; Pineville, LA
Chairman, SBC Executive Committee

Michael Rydelnik
VP and Academic Dean, Undergraduate School Professor of Jewish Studies and Bible 
Moody Bible Institute

Robert Sloan
President
Houston Christian University

Clay Smith
Senior Pastor
Johnson Ferry Baptist Church; Marietta, GA

Kevin Smith
Pastor, Family Church Village
Board Chair, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Robert Smith, Jr.
Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity
Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

David Sons
Pastor
Lake Murray Baptist Church; Lexington, SC

John Stonestreet
President
The Colson Center

Ryan Strother
Executive Director
State Convention of Baptists in Indiana

Don Sweeting
Chancellor, Colorado Christian University

Mark Tooley
President
The Institute for Religion and Democracy

David Trimble
Theologian and Policy Advisor
Washington, D.C.

A.B. Vines
Bishop, New Seasons Church; Spring Valley, CA
Former First Vice President, Southern Baptist Convention

Todd Unzicker
Executive Director
Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

Ray Van Neste
Dean, School of Theology & Missions, Professor of Biblical Studies
Union University

Kristen Waggoner
CEO and President
Alliance Defending Freedom

Andrew T. Walker
Director, Carl F.H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jared Wellman
Pastor
Tate Springs Baptist Church; Arlington, TX

Barry Whitworth
Executive Director
Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania-South Jersey

Tony Wolfe
Executive Director
South Carolina Baptist Convention

Malcolm B. Yarnell III
Research Professor of Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

John Mark Yeats
President, Corban University

John Yeats
Executive Director
Missouri Baptist Convention

Eric Zeller
President
Gulf Theological Seminary

Sign the Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel

We are asking policymakers to confront evil, promote peace, and protect the vulnerable. Sign below to add your name to this call to action for our nation’s leaders. 

Signers of the Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel will also receive occasional emails from the ERLC.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
By / Jun 4

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, a Christian response to Pride Month, a major leadership change in Israel, and recent news involving the ERLC. They also cover new ERLC content including a critical abortion case headed to the Supreme Court, questions about content moderation on social media, and one city’s approach to combatting abortion through local ordinances.

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. 100 Years since the Tulsa Race Massacre. Churches are leading on racial unity.
  2. June is “Pride” Month. How should Christians think about that?
  3. A major shake-up in Israel’s national leadership. What’s that mean for the Biden Administration?
  4. A leaked letter from Russell Moore sparks conversations within the SBC about race and sexual abuse.

Lunchroom

 Connect with us on Twitter

Sponsors

Love your church: This engaging book by Tony Merida explores what church is, why it’s exciting to be a part of it, and why it’s worthy of our love and commitment. | Find out more about this book at thegoodbook.com

By / May 28

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss Biden’s investigation of COVID origins, protests and violence in Belarus, Lebanon, Ohio’s abortion ban, William Shakespeare and Eric Carle passinng away, and eating cicadas. Lindsay gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including Jordan Wooten “What is religious liberty, and why is it important? An interview with Andrew Walker on Liberty for All,” Stephen Johnson with “Why I’m thankful I grew up in an elderly church: 3 ways older saints cared for me,” and Catherine Parks with “What we need most for hard choices in parenting: Smartphones, sports, and wisdom.”

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. Biden asks intelligence community to intensify investigation of COVID origins
  2. Intelligence on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Debate on Covid-19 Origin
  3. Belarus fighter jet intercepts Ryanair flight
  4. Protests, violent clashes in Belarus as ruler cracks down after contested vote
  5. Statement by President Joe Biden on Diversion of Ryanair Flight and Arrest of Journalist in Belarus
  6. Ohio city of Lebanon becomes 29th to ban abortion in nation
  7. William Shakespeare, the first man in Britain to receive an approved Covid vaccine, dies at 81.
  8. Author Eric Carle passes away at 91
  9. Can you eat cicadas? Yes, and here’s the best way to catch, cook and snack on them.

Lunchroom

  • Lindsay: “Your local epidemiologist” on Facebook
  • Josh: Gangster Capitalism, Season 3 Jerry 
  • Brent: Bill Haslam’s new book

 Connect with us on Twitter

Sponsors

Love your church: This engaging book by Tony Merida explores what church is, why it’s exciting to be a part of it, and why it’s worthy of our love and commitment. | Find out more about this book at thegoodbook.com

By / May 28

Antisemitic activity has been on the rise over the past few weeks. As The New York Times reports, there has been “an outbreak of anti-Semitic threats and violence across the United States, stoking fear among Jews in small towns and major cities. During the two weeks of clashes in Israel and Gaza this month, the Anti-Defamation League collected 222 reports of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and violence in the United States, compared with 127 over the previous two weeks.”

Incidents are “literally happening from coast to coast, and spreading like wildfire,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the A.D.L.’s chief executive. “The sheer audacity of these attacks feels very different.” The Times notes that, “The recent spike is occurring on top of a longer-term trend of high-profile incidents of anti-Semitism in the United States.”

While Jews make up only about 2% of the U.S. population, they are the target of 13% of the hate crimes perpetrated each year. In 2019, the FBI identified 7,314 hate crimes, of which 953 were against Jews.

What is antisemitism?

Antisemitism is hatred of and hostility toward the Jews as a religious or ethnic group, which often includes the belief that Jews pose a threat to society and should be eliminated.

The term was coined in 1879 by German journalist Wilhelm Marr, founder of the Antisemiten-Liga (Anti-Semitic League) in an 1879 pamphlet opposing the influence of Jews on German culture. (Later in life, Marr published another pamphlet, Testament of an Antisemite, renouncing his own hatred of the Jewish people, and expressing concern that antisemitism in Germany was becoming entangled with mysticism and nationalism.)

 Should it be spelled anti-Semitism or antisemitism?

Both ways are grammatically correct, though many Jewish groups prefer the non-hyphenated spelling. In 2015, a group of scholars issued a statement explaining why the term should be spelled without the hyphen:

[T]he hyphenated spelling allows for the possibility of something called “Semitism,” which not only legitimizes a form of pseudo- scientific racial classification that was thoroughly discredited by association with Nazi ideology, but also divides the term, stripping it from its meaning of opposition and hatred toward Jews.

The philological term “Semitic” referred to a family of languages originating in the Middle East whose descendant languages today are spoken by millions of people mostly across Western Asia and North Africa. Following this semantic logic, the conjunction of the prefix “anti” with “Semitism” indicates antisemitism as referring to all people who speak Semitic languages or to all those classified as “Semites.” The term has, however, since its inception referred to prejudice against Jews alone.

What constitutes antisemitism?

There is no universal agreement on what constitutes antisemitism. But the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by 31 countries, defines it in terms of 11 key areas:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government, or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g., gas chambers), or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

What is “Christian antisemitism”?

Christian antisemitism is antisemitic attitudes that are supposedly derived from or based on theological reasons. In actual practice, such antisemitism is often due more to cultural, ethnic, or nationalistic reasons than theology. ERLC president Russell Moore has said,

As Christians, we should have a clear message of rejection of every kind of bigotry and hatred, but we should especially note what anti-Semitism means for people who are followers of Jesus Christ. We should say clearly to anyone who would claim the name “Christian” the following truth: If you hate Jews, you hate Jesus.

Anti-Semitism is, by definition, a repudiation of Christianity as well as of Judaism. This ought to be obvious, but world history, even church history, shows us this is not the case. Christians reject anti-Semitism because we love Jesus.

What is the Southern Baptist position on antisemitism?

The Southern Baptist Convention has renounced antisemitism in resolutions in 1873, 1948, 1971, 1972, 1981, 2003, and 2008.

In the 2003 resolution titled, “On Anti-semitism,” the messengers of the SBC denounced all forms of anti-Semitism as “contrary to the teachings of our Messiah and an assault on the revelation of Holy Scripture”; affirmed to “Jewish people around the world that we stand with them against any harassment that violates our historic commitments to religious liberty and human dignity”; and called on “governmental and religious leaders across the world to stand against all forms of bigotry, hatred, or persecution.”