Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

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Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
ERLC-Final-Logo Text.png
FounderSouthern Baptist Convention
TypePublic policy agency[citation needed]
Area served
United States
Key people
vacant, President
25 Edit this at Wikidata
Formerly called
Christian Life Commission

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) is the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the second-largest Christian denomination in the United States, with over 16 million members in over 43,000 independent churches.[1] President Russell D. Moore left office on June 1, 2021, leaving the position vacant. The commission is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, with additional offices in Washington, D.C. and Cyprus.


ERLC logo, 1997-2013

Formerly known as the Christian Life Commission (1953-1997), the entity with organizational predecessors dating back to 1907[2] received its current name in the course of a broad reorganization of multiple Southern Baptist entities in 1997 (Sutton, p 335).[2] The Southern Baptist Convention terminated its participation with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in 1992[2] (Sutton, p. 300) due to conflicts over separation of church and state and whether Baptist organizations should play a role in partisan politics. It was led by Richard Land from 1988 to 2013. Land announced his intention to retire effective October 23, 2013, after the uproar that ensued from his controversial comments about the Trayvon Martin case that resulted in an official reprimand by the ERLC's executive committee.[3][4] Russell D. Moore filled the post afterwards.[5] Moore is an outspoken critic of then-Republican Presidential candidate, Donald Trump. His criticism of Trump has been controversial with several Southern Baptist leaders.[6]

The stated vision of the ERLC is an organization "dedicated to engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ and speaking to issues in the public square for the protection of religious liberty and human flourishing. Our vision can be summed up in three words: kingdom, culture and mission. Since its inception, the ERLC has been defined around a holistic vision of the kingdom of God, leading the culture to change within the church itself and then as the church addresses the world."[7]

At the Convention's 2018 annual meeting, a motion to defund the ERLC was rejected.[8]


The agency has many ministries to carry out its stated missions, including voter registration,[9] a think tank called the Research Institute,[10] and the Psalm 139 Project, which donates sonogram machines to crisis pregnancy centers.[11]

ERLC is involved in legislative advocacy. Its achievements include:

Leadership history[2][edit]

Title Organizational name
Russell Moore 2013–2021 President Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Richard Land 1997-2013 President Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Richard Land 1988-1997 Executive Director-Treasurer Christian Life Commission
Nathan Larry Baker 1987-1988 Executive Secretary Christian Life Commission
Foy Valentine 1960-1987 Executive Secretary Christian Life Commission
Acker Calvin Miller 1953-1960 Executive Secretary Christian Life Commission
Hugh Alexander Brimm 1947-1952 Executive Secretary Social Service Commission
Southern Baptist organized civic engagement prior to Cooperative Program funding beginning 1947
Arthur James Barton 1920-1942 Chairman Committee on Temperance
Arthur James Barton 1914-1920 Chairman Committee on Temperance and Social Service
Arthur James Barton 1910-1914 Chairman Social Service Commission

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d Sutton, Jerry (2008). A Matter of Conviction: A History of Southern Baptist Engagement with the Culture. B&H Publishing Group. ISBN 9780805447552.
  3. ^ Adelle M. Banks, "Richard Land To Retire: Southern Baptist Leader Will Step Down Following Ethics Probe", Huffington Post, 1 August 2012, Religion News Service
  4. ^
  5. ^ Allen, Bob. "SBC leader says evangelicals paying price for 'narrow vision' of religious freedom" Archived 2014-04-13 at the Wayback Machine, Associated Baptist Press, 2014-04-11.
  6. ^ "Former SBC leader says ERLC out of touch with mainstream – Baptist News Global".
  7. ^ "ERLC: About". Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  8. ^ Merritt, Jonathan (16 June 2018). "Southern Baptists Call Off the Culture War". The Atlantic. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  9. ^ Hastings, Dwayne (12 August 2004). "Focus on the Family signs on to ERLC's iVoteValues initiative". Baptist Press.
  10. ^ "ERLC Research Institute". Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
  11. ^ "The Psalm 139 Project: About" Archived 2014-06-06 at the Wayback Machine, Psalm 139 Project website
  12. ^ Ortiz, Cindy (5 October 2009). "Report: U.S. Officials Unaware of Child Sex-Trafficking Problem". Baptist Press.
  13. ^ Strode, Tom (22 October 2002). "President Signs Sudan Peace Act Seeking End to Regime's Atrocities". Baptist Press.
  14. ^ Tucker, Neely (27 July 2003). "Government Aims to Halt Prison Rape: Disparate Groups Unite in Backing New Reforms". The Washington Post.

External links[edit]