Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
|Founder||Southern Baptist Convention|
|Type||Public policy agency|
|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. 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.
Formerly known as the Christian Life Commission (1953-1997), the entity with organizational predecessors dating back to 1907 received its current name in the course of a broad reorganization of multiple Southern Baptist entities in 1997 (Sutton, p 335). The Southern Baptist Convention terminated its participation with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in 1992 (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. Russell D. Moore filled the post afterwards. Moore is an outspoken critic of then-Republican Presidential candidate, Donald Trump. His criticism of Trump has been controversial with several Southern Baptist leaders.
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."
At the Convention's 2018 annual meeting, a motion to defund the ERLC was rejected.
The agency has many ministries to carry out its stated missions, including voter registration, a think tank called the Research Institute, and the Psalm 139 Project, which donates sonogram machines to crisis pregnancy centers.
ERLC is involved in legislative advocacy. Its achievements include:
- The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)
- The Sudan Peace Act of 2002
- The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA)
- The North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004
|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|
- Sutton, Jerry (2008). A Matter of Conviction: A History of Southern Baptist Engagement with the Culture. B&H Publishing Group. ISBN 9780805447552.
- Adelle M. Banks, "Richard Land To Retire: Southern Baptist Leader Will Step Down Following Ethics Probe", Huffington Post, 1 August 2012, Religion News Service
- 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.
- "Former SBC leader says ERLC out of touch with mainstream – Baptist News Global".
- "ERLC: About". erlc.com. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
- Merritt, Jonathan (16 June 2018). "Southern Baptists Call Off the Culture War". The Atlantic. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
- Hastings, Dwayne (12 August 2004). "Focus on the Family signs on to ERLC's iVoteValues initiative". Baptist Press.
- "ERLC Research Institute". Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
- "The Psalm 139 Project: About" Archived 2014-06-06 at the Wayback Machine, Psalm 139 Project website
- Ortiz, Cindy (5 October 2009). "Report: U.S. Officials Unaware of Child Sex-Trafficking Problem". Baptist Press.
- Strode, Tom (22 October 2002). "President Signs Sudan Peace Act Seeking End to Regime's Atrocities". Baptist Press.
- Tucker, Neely (27 July 2003). "Government Aims to Halt Prison Rape: Disparate Groups Unite in Backing New Reforms". The Washington Post.