Each of the agenda’s five categories opens with an excerpt from The Baptist Faith and Message, the SBC’s confessional statement.
The ERLC’s 2022 agenda consists of 41 items, including:
- Defense of religious liberty during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ERLC “will continue to advocate that the government treat churches the same as similar activities, businesses, and spaces, while recognizing that First Amendment protections are not shed by churches during a health emergency,” Leatherwood and Sobolik wrote. The ERLC also recognizes “God has given the state the authority to manage activities, businesses, and spaces during a national health crisis,” they said.
- Assistance for states if the Supreme Court overrules the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The high court is expected to rule by this summer in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case regarding Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation. The ERLC and others have urged the justices to uphold the law and reverse Roe. If Roe is overturned, abortion policy would return to the states.
- Opposition to the Equality Act, legislation that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the classifications protected in federal civil rights law. The proposal “represents the most significant threat to religious liberty ever considered” by Congress, Leatherwood and Sobolik wrote. Among its problems, the bill would “ultimately steamroll the consciences of millions of Americans,” they said. The House of Representatives passed the measure in 2021, but the Senate has not acted on it.
- Protection of the Hyde Amendment and other pro-life riders in spending bills. Congress must pass the Hyde Amendment, which has barred Medicaid funding of abortion since 1976, and similar prohibitions each year.
- Opposition to the transgender mandate. Federal agencies have interpreted federal law to require medical professionals to perform or provide insurance for gender-transition procedures. The ERLC “will work to oppose this harmful mandate that violates the consciences and religious liberty” of health-care providers, according to the agenda.
- Promotion of policies designed to encourage adoption and foster care and to protect faith-based child welfare agencies from government discrimination. These include working “to ensure that intercountry adoption remains a viable option for families and vulnerable children around the world,” Leatherwood and Sobolik wrote.
- Support of a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought into the United States as children and with no permanent legal status.
- Advocacy for rebuilding a strong refugee resettlement program to aid people fleeing religious persecution or other repression in their countries.
- Championing international religious liberty as a priority in American foreign policy and a potent Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department.
This article was originally published at Baptist Press.