Thursday, October 9, 2008

Promoting & Defending Religious Liberty

On Monday and Tuesday of this week I had the privilege of representing the Baptist General Convention of Missouri at the Board Meeting of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Our convention became a member of the BJC last year, and I was elected the serve on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee.

The BJC serves 14 Baptist denominations and conferences. They also receive support from local churches and individuals, foundations and endowment funds. If you believe that separation of church and state is the best way to protect and extend religious liberty in the new millennium, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty is your voice in Washington. Serving fourteen Baptist bodies, the Baptist Joint Committee is a non-profit 501(c)(3) education and advocacy organization that has worked for nearly seventy years promoting religious liberty for all and upholding the principle of church-state separation. Baptists have always understood that the two must go together.

The mission of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty is to defend and extend God-given religious liberty for all, furthering the Baptist heritage that champions the principle that religion must be freely exercised, neither advanced nor inhibited by government. The work of the Baptist Joint Committee has been somewhat handicapped through the years, because we did have our own facilities. Over the pass few years the BJC has been conducting a Capital Campaign to provide the resources needed for a Center for Religious Liberty. Momentum has been building for the Center for Religious Liberty on Capitol Hill and many have made gifts and commitments toward the effort. This summer a generous donor issued a challenge and offered to match up to $300,000 in gifts and pledges received by October 31, 2008. That means if you make a gift or a pledge to the BJC campaign this month it will be matched. You can fulfill you pledge over then next three years. Bettie Jo and I are making a pledge to take advantage of this generous offer and because we believe in Religious Liberty. You can learn more about the Baptist Joint Committee at their website. You can download the Baptist Joint Committee campaign pledge form here. I hope you will consider making a commitment to this important. I also want to encourage you to invite your church to make a commitment. Remember all pledges received by the end of October will be matched.