Southern Baptists will continue to promote protections of “life, religious liberty and marriage” through the political arm

Brent Leatherwood, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public affairs branch, said Thursday that the group’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission will continue to advocate for policies “that protect life, that protect liberty religious”. [and] that protect marriage.

He also promised an evangelistic approach to projecting this message.

“We will speak and defend the truth,” Mr Leatherwood told an online press conference. “But we will do it in a way that invites people to know our Lord and Savior on a better and deeper level.”

On sexual abuse, in which church leaders revealed earlier this year that reports of abuse had been suppressed by senior church officials for two decades, Mr Leatherwood said the ERLC would work with the current task force to “have a number of individuals and leaders who can help get things done,” expanding on actions already taken, including allocating $3 million as an initial figure to provide counseling and support for victims.

He said a “bigger update” on how the denomination is handling the abuse issue is expected to come “in the coming months.”

The leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention said last month that the church was being investigated by the Department of Justice in the matter and would “cooperate fully and completely”.

The ERLC, a public face of the 13.7million-member denomination, has weathered a difficult 16 months since the departure of former leader Russell Moore, who left the post after eight years in office and also quit the baptist church.

Mr. Moore’s departure from the denomination was seen by many as a voice against Southern Baptists who still support former President Donald Trump, even after the Jan. 6, 2021 protests at the U.S. Capitol.

“It’s not my job to bind anyone’s conscience on how to vote,” Mr Leatherwood said.

Other Baptist leaders have been more direct about voting priorities. Speaking this week at a ‘Pray Vote Stand’ summit hosted by the Family Research Council, the Reverend Albert Mohler, head of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said Christians who ‘do not vote or vote wrongly are infidels because the vote is a powerful stewardship.

Mr Leatherwood said he had not heard Mr Mohler’s remarks and would not comment until he did.

When asked how he would bridge the rifts between those who think the ERLC has gone too far or not far enough, Mr Leatherwood said the commission’s work is viewed more positively than the reports suggest. social media posts.

“If you just look on social media, you’ll see there are people with varying opinions on everything we do with the ERLC,” he said. “We are the only entity whose work is done largely in the public sphere and in the public eye.”

He said stepping away from social media, “my sense of things there right now [is] there is a renewed sense of Baptist cooperation and growing Baptist unity.

Mr. Leatherwood addressed other current issues at the press conference, saying that the transportation of illegal immigrants to places such as Martha’s Vineyard and outside the official residence of Vice President Kamala Harris” seems to be more of a public relations issue.”

He said Southern Baptists, who “are adamant in our view of human dignity,” “rather want to try to…bring people together from either political party and say there is solutions that can be found”.

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