Top Policies that Matter to Southern Baptists in 2023

The 2023 ERLC Public Policy Agenda

What matters to Southern Baptists:

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.

Just as our government is entering a new season, so too is the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). Though we have been through a season of transition, we continue to carry out our ministry assignment to serve the public policy interests of Southern Baptists. Whether that is in our nation’s capital, before the courts, or in our larger culture, we consider it a privilege to continue on this mission this year under a new administration and with an expanded team. The following agenda is not an exhaustive blueprint but an outline of the core public policy priorities for the next year for this Commission.

Our Baptist ancestors in the United States were instrumental in the crafting and adoption of the First Amendment to our Constitution, which guarantees free exercise of religion, for all, and forbids the establishment of a state-driven religion. The ERLC will continue this legacy in our moral education but also in our advocacy: a legacy of religious freedom for all people, not just for those who share our beliefs. Recent years have seen simultaneous gains for religious freedom in the courts and threats from administrative and legislative action. We expect some of the following to be issues of particular concern in 2023.

The ERLC’s Work on Religious Liberty

Read more about our work on these issues below or view our Religious Liberty Resource Library.

2022 proved to be a history-making year for the cause of life with the overturning of the disastrous precedents set in Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. This decision was the culmination of 50 years of dedicated work by Southern Baptists and other pro-life advocates. For the first time in generations, abortion policy can be determined by states, ushering in new opportunities for the pro-life movement. This moment was not the end of our advocacy for life, but in many ways, the beginning of a new chapter. In an ever-changing landscape, we must continue to advocate for life both at the federal and state level while also taking on new frontiers such as “abortion tourism,” the increasing accessibility of the abortion pill, and supporting abortion-vulnerable women. We will continue to work towards a day where abortion is, as stated by multiple resolutions from the Southern Baptist, not only illegal but also unthinkable.

The ERLC’s Work on the Sanctity of Human Life

Read more about our work on these issues below or view our Sanctity of Human Life Resource Library.

The ERLC’s Work on Marriage and Family

The Baptist Faith and Message affirms the biblical teaching of marriage and family as creation ordinances and blessings from God, foundational to human flourishing. We will continue to advocate for policies that maintain and protect these essential aspects of life together. Some aspects of this advocacy of particular interest in 2023 include the following:

Read more about our work on these issues below or view our Marriage and Family Resource Library.

The ERLC’s Work on Human Dignity

Every person bears the image of God, and thus, is worthy of protection and dignity, regardless of age, level of ability, or stage of development and echoes the biblical mandate to seek justice and righteousness, especially for those who are vulnerable. God revealed in the words of the prophet Micah: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (6:8) In our advocacy for fair and impartial judgment, and equitable treatment of the unjustly oppressed and marginalized, we bear witness to a God who is ultimately the just Judge, and a gospel that saves all who believe without partiality. This reality that all bear the image of God and hold immeasurable dignity and value spurs on our commitment to the following priorities for this year:

Read more about our work on these issues below or view our Human Dignity Resource Library.

In addition to our work with the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, the ERLC will continue our advocacy before the judicial branch on matters consistent with our mission and will continue to work in partnership with state conventions and state advocacy groups on issues of missional priority that are of national importance.

This agenda is not an exhaustive blueprint, but a sketch of the core public policy priorities for the next year through the cooperation of congregations throughout the Southern Baptist Convention.