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ERLC releases 2024 public policy agenda

U.S. Capitol (Baptist Press file photo)


WASHINGTON (BP) – The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) announced the organization’s policy priorities for the upcoming year through the entity’s annual federal public policy agenda, released Wednesday (Jan. 24).

The ERLC’s 2024 Public Policy Agenda is again divided into four key focus areas: Life, Religious Liberty, Marriage and Family, and Human Dignity.

The agenda was authored by ERLC President Brent Leatherwood and ERLC Public Policy Director Hannah Daniel. It is the second one Leatherwood has overseen since being named ERLC president in September of 2022.

The document’s introduction reads: “The first session of this Congress proved to be wildly unproductive and crippled by intraparty fighting, culminating in the historic ouster of a Speaker of the House. Congress left 2023 without funding the government and with little progress made on dozens of priorities.

“We have the opportunity to bear witness, to seek to persuade, and to build the bridges necessary to make a difference. It is through this consistent advocacy that we can effectively represent our churches while bringing the hope of the gospel to Washington, D.C.”

Daniel said the agenda outlines how the ERLC plans to push forward in its policy goals despite the current political state.

“The ERLC will continue its mission on Capitol Hill throughout 2024 — loving our neighbors and seeking their flourishing through public policy,” Daniel said in a press release.

“Grounded in Scripture and guided by the SBC’s resolutions, this document outlines how our advocacy will take shape this year. Despite deep divisions across our nation and dysfunction in Washington, we must find a way to press forward on these issues of missional importance: protecting life, safeguarding religious liberty, bolstering marriage and families and upholding human dignity.”

Leatherwood said is one way the ERLC helps Southern Baptists influence society.

“Our team spends a substantial number of hours researching and creating this thoughtful report to bring awareness to Southern Baptists about issues related to life, religious liberty, marriage and family, and human dignity,” Leatherwood said in a press release.

“As stated in our Baptist Faith and Message, ‘Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love.’ In other words, we want our neighbors to flourish. That objective is at the very heart of this important document.”

There are 43 total items listed in the agenda among the four categories. The opening of each section begins with a quotation from the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 addressing said topic before identifying policy items of focus for the year in that category. After each item is a listing of a past SBC resolution where messengers spoke to the issue at hand.

The following are a sample of items from each section:

Life

  • End the Proliferation of Chemical Abortions
  • Support Federal Abortion Restrictions
  • Expand Hyde Protections to Prohibit Taxpayer-Funded Abortion Travel
  • Oppose the Biden Administration’s Pro-Abortion Regulatory Agenda
  • Support the Work of Pregnancy Resource Centers
  • Strengthen International Pro-Life Work

Religious Liberty

  • Oppose The Equality Act, a bill that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under federal civil rights law
  • Oppose attacks on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – The ERLC opposes the so-called Do No Harm Act, which would essentially hollow out the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), gutting its most central purpose.
  • Support a Two-year Universal Charitable Deduction to Encourage Giving to Charities
  • Combat Global Antisemitism
  • Support Protections for the Uyghur People in China
  • Support the designation of Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC): The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in 2023 named Nigeria the most dangerous place to be a Christian with thousands killed for their faith each year. Despite this intense persecution, the State Department has ignored USCIRF’s recommendations and not designated Nigeria as a CPC the past three years. The ERLC will continue to urge the State Department to take this vital action.

Marriage and Family

  • Support Adoption and Foster Care Policies
  • Ensure Intercountry Adoption Remains a Viable Option
  • Support Pro-Family Policy in a Post-Roe World
  • Oppose Taxpayer Funding for “Gender Transition” Surgeries and Procedures
  • Support Protections for Children Online

Human Dignity

  • Rebuild Refugee Resettlement Program
  • Support Border Security Enhancements and Asylum Reforms – The ERLC will continue to urge Congress to pass needed immigration reforms that uphold the ideals of order, the rule of law and compassion.
  • Combat the Epidemic of Mass Shootings and Gun Violence
  • Advocate for Anti-Human Trafficking Laws
  • Support Efforts to Shape Artificial Intelligence and Technology that Emphasize Human Dignity

The full agenda can be found here.