Protection of human life and preparation of parents have been among the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s (ERLC) priorities during the last year, Russell Moore told messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention June 14.
Photo by Matt Jones
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), presents the ERLC report June 14 in the closing session of the two-day Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center. He highlighted the commission’s efforts to contend for life, engage the culture and foster racial reconciliation.
In his annual report to the convention, Moore, the ERLC’s president, said the entity’s efforts during the past year have included:
– Defending life primarily by seeking federal defunding of Planned Parenthood, the scandal-ridden, leading abortion provider in the United States.
The release of undercover videos that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing a trade in aborted baby body parts and sickening admissions about late-term abortion practices has continued.
“And over the last year, if there is one thing that has become more clear, it is that Planned Parenthood is no friend to women, no friend to children and no friend to life and human dignity,” Moore told messengers. “[W]e live in an age in which our own government subsidizes the piracy and grave-robbing of defenseless infants who have no voice at all.”
The ERLC launched a national campaign to persuade members of Congress that Planned Parenthood should not receive “a single cent of taxpayer money now or ever,” Moore said. The ERLC has delivered thousands of signatures to congressional leaders calling for defunding.
Also in defense of life, the ERLC has continued to host the Evangelicals for Life conference in January and to proclaim the “liberating word of the gospel,” Moore said.
– Equipping parents who must address complex questions in child rearing.
Parents are called on to answer questions “that to previous generations of Christians might have seemed like science fiction,” Moore told messengers.
Parents now have to answer questions from children about their gender, Moore said. They also must speak to children “who sometimes seem powerless before the technological pull of screens, of social media and of a weaponized pornography industry,” he said.
The ERLC has partnered with LifeWay Christian Resources to develop a unique curriculum to help parents, Moore told messengers.
In addition, Christ-centered parenting will be the theme of the ERLC’s 2017 national conference, which is scheduled Aug. 24-26 in Nashville.
– Investing deeply in the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) seminaries.
The ERLC has doubled the size of its ERLC Academy, week-long ethics training for seminary students and others, he said. “[W]e recognize that a new generation will face new questions with old consequences. We must get them ready to stand with gospel clarity and gospel courage.”
– Preparing for MLK50, a racial unity conference scheduled for next April in Memphis on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
“When the rest of the world wants to retreat into ethnic silos, we should make it clear that those of us in Christ are part of one family, that we are one body and that an attack on one part of the body is an attack on the whole, including the head, the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said during the same session in which messengers overwhelming approved a resolution denouncing “alt-right” white supremacy.
The ERLC is devoted to speaking to Southern Baptists, while also declaring a message to the world, Moore told messengers.
“[W]hat unites us as a denomination is the truth that all of us are the evangelism department of the SBC,” he said. “We can speak in the public square on all sorts of issues, but until we can point people to the ultimate good, the atonement and resurrection found in Jesus Christ alone, we do not have a distinctive word to say.”
In a presentation following the report, the ERLC demonstrated how it is defending religious freedom and combating persecution overseas and in this country:
– A video showed Malaysian Christians living under repressive Islamic law and reported the ERLC is working to defeat a legislative proposal that would permit amputation of limbs as a form of punishment.
– Chicago pastor Nathan Carter told Moore in an on-stage interview it “has been a huge encouragement to me and to our church to know that we have the ERLC in our corner” in challenging a city ordinance that treats churches inequitably.
Immanuel Baptist Church was preparing last year to close on purchasing the building it has met in for six years when it learned a city ordinance prevented the purchase. After exhausting all other options, the church filed a lawsuit because the ordinance “treats religious assemblies with regard to parking on less than equal terms with non-religious assemblies” and thereby violates federal law, Carter told Moore.
Carter described the suit as a friendly one. “[W]e tried to make it clear throughout the whole process that we’re not trying to embarrass the city,” he said. “That’s not our intention. We’re not trying to stick it to the city. We’re here to serve the city.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)