WASHINGTON (BP) – Life, religious liberty, conscience protections and opposition to gender transition are among top priorities the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission advocated to Congress approaching the 2024 funding cycle.
On behalf of Southern Baptists, the ERLC urged leaders of the Senate and House appropriations committees to keep taxpayer dollars from causes objectionable to Southern Baptists in a Sept. 19 letter, accompanied by a detailed list of ERLC areas of support and areas of concern as Congress debates 2024 appropriation bills.
“As a nation, our values and priorities are most clearly displayed through the allocation of our resources,” ERLC President Brent Leatherwood wrote in the letter. “It is our desire for those resources to be used in a way that promotes life, religious liberty, and the flourishing of all our neighbors.”
The letter followed a Sept. 14 letter appealing to the Senate and House armed services committees to prevent the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) from funding abortion and gender transition procedures and to prioritize parental leave policies.
“As you weigh many important matters in the final NDAA negotiations, we urge you to prioritize addressing these issues that deeply matter to Southern Baptists,” Leatherwood wrote Sept. 14, “and to millions of American taxpayers who share our convictions regarding the sanctity of life, the fundamental realities of gender and sexuality, and support for families.”
Bible-based beliefs that life begins at conception, religious freedom as an inalienable human right, conscience protections for healthcare workers and others, and the view of gender transitions as a direct assault on God’s created order were among key points of ERLC’s advocacy.
Among areas of concern in various congressional legislation already drafted in the House and Senate, ERLC cited:
- A bill that would require prisons to transmit female inmates to abortion clinics upon request;
- Denying the use of public funding to prevent certain states and territories from implementing medical marijuana laws;
- A family planning bill that supports organizations that facilitate and perform abortions; and a bill that supports teen pregnancy prevention through groups that provide abortions;
- Funding allowing “dangerous in vitro fertilization procedures and assisted reproductive technologies” for veterans suffering military service-related infertility;
- Veterans Administration funding that could pay for abortions for veterans;
- Funding for the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund that would support abortion as “reproductive health;”
- The use of global funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, research and treatment to support abortion providers;
Among key areas of support in various Congressional legislation already drafted in the House and Senate, ERLC cited:
- Prohibiting Food and Drug Administration funding for genetic modification of embryos;
- Nullifying recent Biden administration rules that weakened safety precautions for the abortion pill mifepristone;
- Prohibiting certain funding to challenge speech or acts related to religious beliefs surrounding the biblical definition of marriage;
- Supporting the Hyde Amendment, denying public funding for abortions except to save the lives of mothers, or in cases of rape or incest; and denying federal funding to Planned Parenthood;
- Denying the use of funds to investigate or prosecute religious institutions because of their religious beliefs;
- Preventing the use of federal funding to pay the salaries of certain convicted sex abusers;
- Prohibiting funding to support such programs as drag queen story hour for children or the use of drag queens as military recruiters;
- The inclusion of private, religious schools in Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act funding;
- Contraception and abortion coverage exemptions for carriers based on religious beliefs;
- Repealing Washington’s 2016 Death with Dignity Act allowing assisted suicide in D.C.;
- Funding for abstinence-based sex education in public schools;
- Funding to protect international religious freedom programs.
The full Sept. 19 letter and supporting documents are available here.
Read the Sept. 14 letter to Armed Services Committee members here.