Ethics & Religious Liberty 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. As of June 1, 2013, the ERLC is headed by Russell D. Moore and is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, with additional offices in Washington, D.C. and Cyprus.
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. Russell D. Moore filled the post afterwards.
The stated vision of the ERLC is an "American society that affirms and practices Judeo-Christian values rooted in biblical authority". Its stated mission is to "awaken, inform, energize, equip, and mobilize Christians to be the catalysts for the Biblically-based transformation of their families, churches, communities, and the nation".
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
- Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
- Richard Land
- Southern Baptist Convention conservative resurgence
- 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", Associated Baptist Press, 2014-04-11.
- "The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission: About", Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
- Hastings, Dwayne (12 August 2004). "Focus on the Family signs on to ERLC's iVoteValues initiative". Baptist Press.
- "ERLC Research Institute"
- "The Psalm 139 Project: About", 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". Washington Post.
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