Leadership Series: The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
The Evangelical Immigration Table is a coalition of 10 Christian organizations that have come together to encourage distinctly biblical thinking about issues of immigration, provide discipleship resources and advocate for public policies consistent with biblical values. Each of these organizations brings a unique perspective and focus to the Table. Over the next several months, each of our EIT leadership organizations will be answering some questions to help us better understand who they are, what they do, why they care about immigration issues and how they came to be involved in the EIT. Today, we continue this series with an interview from The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Can you tell us a little bit about The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission?
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention. The ERLC is 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, serving our churches by equipping them to think biblically about complex topics in our culture. The ERLC works on a number of issues that involve human dignity, religious liberty, marriage and family, and justice issues. We believe that immigration is an issue that reaches into each of those categories.
Why does your organization believe that it is important to care about immigrants and immigration issues?
Southern Baptists believe that all men and women are created in the image of God and possess inherent dignity and value, regardless of their country of origin or legal status (Gen. 1:26). God has called Christians to care for the vulnerable both at home and abroad and frequently chastises those who fail to protect the widow, orphan, immigrant, and the poor (Matthew 25:35-40; James 1:27).
Based on these biblical convictions, in 2018 Southern Baptists passed a resolution affirming that God commands his people to treat immigrants with the same respect and dignity as those native born (Leviticus 19:33–34; Jeremiah 7:5–7; Ezekiel 47:22; Zechariah 7:9–10). Additionally, that resolution declared that any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Southern Baptists encourage all elected officials to do everything in their power to advocate for a just and equitable immigration system. This and previous resolutions have given the ERLC the authority to speak on behalf of Southern Baptists on this issue and to advocate for an immigration system that better reflects our biblical values.
How did your organization get involved in the EIT?
The ERLC originally partnered with EIT under the leadership of then-president Richard Land, partly in response to the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2011 resolution, “On Immigration and the Gospel,” which called for a just and compassionate solution to immigration reform. Messengers to the 2018 SBC annual meeting likewise passed a resolution “On Immigration,” and former ERLC president Russell Moore remained part of the coalition, advocating for immigration reform as stated in both the 2011 and 2018 resolutions.
What do you hope to see the EIT bring to the immigration conversation?
While many groups advocate for immigrants, the EIT brings a distinctly biblical view to the issue. In addition to its advocacy work with the administration and on Capitol Hill, the EIT provides resources and content that help disciple Christians towards thinking biblically on a complex and polarizing topic.
The EIT brings together a unique coalition of evangelical organizations and allows them to speak with a unified voice on this issue. Our hope is that the EIT continues to bring unity and conviction to these complex conversations.
Anything else you would like to share about your work with immigrants and refugees?
Many Southern Baptist churches and other Southern Baptist entities are on the ground providing direct services to migrants and refugees both at home and abroad. It is our hope that our work on a national level can further empower and resource our churches and entities to serve these vulnerable populations.