Thursday, October 7, 2010

Defending Religious Liberty

I serve on the Board of Directors of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. I participated in our annual Board Meeting earlier this week. The BJC's mission 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.

Primarily an education and advocacy organization, the Baptist Joint Committee is a leading voice in Washington, D.C., fighting to uphold the historic Baptist principle of religious freedom. It stands guard at the intersection of church and state, defending the first freedom of the First Amendment.

Churchnet (or the Baptist General Convention of Missouri) is one of 15 national, state and regional bodies in the United States which are a part of the BJC. Our work is supported by thousands of churches and individuals across the country. The BJC works with a wide range of religious organizations providing education about and advocacy for religious liberty. The BJC is the only religious agency devoted solely to religious liberty and the institutional separation of church and state. While primarily supported by Baptists, the BJC fights for religious liberty for all, including Jewish, Muslim and a host of Christian groups, who count on the BJC for leadership.

A proven bridge-builder, the BJC provides reliable leadership on church-state issues as it leads key coalitions of religious and civil liberties groups striving to protect both the free exercise of religion and to defend against its establishment by government.

On Monday afternoon our board had the privilege to meet with Barry Clayton Black, U.S. Senate Chaplain. Chaplain Black, a retired Rear Admiral, Chief of Navy Chaplains, and twenty-seven year veteran of the U.S. Navy, was elected the 62nd Chaplain of the Senate on June 27, 2003. It was incredibly interesting to hear Chaplain Black describe his work and ministry to a Senate family of approximately 7,000 people including some of the most powerful leaders in our country.

He affirmed his belief in and commitment to defending our religious liberties and the principles of the first amendment--Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Our Religious Liberty requires a delicate balance between these two principles of non-establishment and free exercise. I am grateful for the privilege of serving on the board for the BJC. I encourage you to visit the website to learn more about the work of the Baptist Joint Committee.

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