Preserving Religious Liberty

October 18, 2007

My latest column came out today in the BGCM Message, the newsletter page of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri that appears in the Word&Way. It is entitled "Preserving Religious Liberty" and reflects on the recent acceptance of the BGCM as a member of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Here are a couple of excerpts:

A recent report about the sale of a building by a Baptist organization mentioned that the contract was contingent upon a piece of the facade being removed to see if the building can be restored to its original condition and character. As a result of the report, I wondered about what would happen if someone was able to chip away at the facade of Baptist life and see how it looks underneath.

I wonder if the pretense and public image of Baptists has not only covered up some historic Baptist principles but perhaps even destroyed the original character of Baptists. One aspect of Baptist life that has been in such danger is the commitment to religious liberty. Although originally a strong Baptist belief, some Baptists today seem determined to undermine the separation between church and state.

... Many of our Baptist ancestors literally suffered for their faith and for allowing freedom of faith to others. Throughout Baptist history there have been courageous individuals who attempted to maintain religious freedom. One group of such Baptists has been the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC).

... Thanks to the efforts of the BJC, the facade that some Baptists have put up has not been able to destroy our essential Baptist character. The rich heritage of preserving religious freedoms has been passed down through generations of Baptists, and for the last 71 years the BJC has spearheaded that effort. Missouri Baptists should be proud of the work of the BJC and that the BGCM is now one of fifteen member bodies. Join us as we work with our Baptist brothers and sisters to preserve our religious liberty and Baptist heritage.
To learn more about the work of the BJC, visit their website.