By Elizabeth Bristow, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has partnered with Alliance Defending Freedom to create a legal guide for churches, schools and nonprofit organizations to use for their organizational structure in light of changes in the culture concerning marriage.
The resource, titled, “Protecting Your Ministry,” includes checklists to ensure ministries have the broadest religious liberty protections under constitutional law. It also offers real life examples of organizations and ministries who have had their religious liberties challenged in the public square.
“Without soul freedom we have no other liberties,” said ERLC President, Russell Moore. “The church cannot outsource its convictions to the state. I am grateful to partner with the Alliance Defending Freedom to produce this resource to help equip churches on how to remain faithful to our mission in a culture that often disagrees with our message.”
The goal of the document is to prepare individuals and institutions legally to present the Gospel clearly and effectively to their communities.
“The ERLC is an indispensable champion for religious freedom and human dignity and a strong, steady voice of hope,” said ADF CEO, Alan Sears. “ADF is honored to partner with the ERLC as fellow servants of churches and Gospel ministers across America who are looking for answers to the challenges against our fundamental freedoms of religion, speech and conscience.”
Dean Inserra, senior pastor of City Church in Tallahassee Fla., commented on the importance of this legal resource.
“The Church must exist in the culture of today, not yesterday,” said Inserra. “As same-sex marriage continues to be normalized, local churches must take every legal step they can to help protect themselves and their religious liberty. These are new waters for many pastors, and we must equip ourselves with the resources available to do ministry in the 21st century without compromising our convictions and protecting the rights to actively maintain those convictions.”
Among its many offerings, the resource provides model language and templates pertaining to membership policies, statements of faith, facility use policies and other relevant information pertaining to churches, schools and other ministries.
The guide will available for free at ERLC.com/store. It will be available as a resource for individuals to pick up at the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting, June 16-17.
The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.8 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.