The addition of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) lead ethicist and religious freedom advocate to the board of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) is the latest step in an ongoing, cooperative effort.
The NHCLC announced the selection of Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), as a member of its board of directors June 5.
For Moore and NHCLC President Samuel Rodriguez, the move is important for evangelistic and religious freedom reasons.
In a NHCLC release announcing his appointment, Moore said he prays God “would enable us, together, to raise up a new generation of gospel-centered Hispanic leaders to evangelize the Americas and the rest of the world for the glory of Jesus Christ.”
Rodriguez, meanwhile, said in the written release Moore’s selection “emphasizes one of our most important directives and goals of the immediate future – the cause of religious liberty and freedom here in the United States and around the world. We look forward to having him join our efforts to spread [the] fight for justice during this critical time.”
The action brings together in a fashion two leading evangelical organizations. The ERLC addresses moral and church-state issues as the public policy entity of the SBC, the country’s largest Protestant denomination. The SBC has nearly 16 million members in more than 46,000 churches. The NHCLC is America’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, representing more than 40,000 churches in the United States.
It is only the most recent in a series of partnerships between Moore and Rodriguez, as well as the ERLC and NHCLC, since Moore became president in June 2013.
Among those collaborations:
Moore spoke at the NHCLC’s national convention in late April.
Moore participated in the NHCLC’s 21 Martyrs campaign, which encouraged prayer for persecuted Christians in the wake of the February beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya by the Islamic State.
Moore spoke at the NHCLC’s Justice Summit in November 2013.
Rodriguez will speak at the ERLC’s National Conference on “The Gospel and Politics” Aug. 5 in Nashville.
Rodriguez joined Moore as a panelist in January at the Washington, D.C., unveiling of Evangelicals for Life by the ERLC and Focus on the Family.
Rodriguez was a member of an ERLC-sponsored panel with Moore and others regarding religious liberty on the eve of the 2014 SBC meeting in Baltimore.
At this year’s national convention, the NHCLC presented its first immigration advocacy award to Barrett Duke, the ERLC’s vice president for public policy and research.
The ERLC and NHCLC also have been active for years in promoting reform of the country’s immigration system. Both are members of the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT), a broad coalition of evangelicals supporting biblically based immigration reform. Flaws in the system and its enforcement have resulted in an estimated 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants living illegally in the United States.
While EIT members vary at times on policy details, the legislative principles they have endorsed include family unity, secure national borders, respect for the law, justice for taxpayers and a path to legal status or citizenship.
The ERLC has called for reform that would provide border and workplace security, uphold the rule of law, respect family unity and establish a path to legal status to those who want to live in this country permanently and are willing to pay penalties and meet the requirements.
In 2011, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix approved a resolution on immigration reform that called for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus while pursuing justice and compassion. The measure urged the government to make a priority of border security and holding businesses accountable in their hiring. It also requested public officials establish after securing the borders “a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country.” It specified the resolution was not to be interpreted as supporting amnesty.
Among the more than 100 members of the NHCLC’s board of directors is Gus Reyes, director of the Christian Life Commission at the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief of Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)