Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

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Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
ERLC-Final-Logo Text.png
FounderRichard Land
TypePublic policy agency[citation needed]
Area served
United States
Key people
Russell D. Moore, President
Formerly called
Christian Life Commission

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) is the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest non-Catholic Christian denomination in the United States, with over 16 million members in over 43,000 independent churches.[1] As of June 1, 2013, the ERLC is headed by Russell D. Moore[2] and is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, with additional offices in Washington, D.C. and Cyprus.


ERLC logo until September 2013

Formerly known as the Christian Life Commission, the agency was founded in 1988 when the Southern Baptist Convention began reducing its involvement in the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty due to conflicts over separation of church and state and whether Baptist organizations should play a role in partisan politics. It was led at its inception in 1988 by Richard Land. 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:

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  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", Associated Baptist Press, 2014-04-11.
  6. ^
  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"
  11. ^ "The Psalm 139 Project: About", 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". Washington Post.