In document, ERLC says it will continue defense against ‘liberal attacks’ in 2010

WASHINGTON (BP)--The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission expects to continue to defend biblical values "from liberal attacks" in 2010 after a year in which it believes those ideals largely prevailed.

Officials of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) described the public policy battles of 2009 and its legislative agenda of this year in a new, six-page document. The joint statement came from Richard Land, the ERLC's president, and Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research.

"As we predicted, we spent most of last year resisting liberal efforts to undermine biblical values," Land and Duke said. "Considering the daunting challenges we faced at the beginning of 2009, we believe traditional Judeo-Christian values won out in most cases. It is likely that we will be defending these values from liberal attacks in 2010 as well."

They commended the response of Southern Baptists to the public policy challenges.

"Southern Baptists were instrumental in stopping many" of the primary, congressional objectives of liberals, Land and Duke wrote. "We are encouraged by the response of Southern Baptists in this past year to our calls to action. As we look at 2010, we know Southern Baptists must continue their diligent advocacy for biblical values in our nation's public policy."

While the ERLC will seek to defend current policies under attack, it "will continue to look for ways to move responsible, God-honoring measures forward," they said.

Land and Duke expressed particular disappointment in U.S. policy during the last year regarding human rights and religious freedom overseas, saying "it is difficult to find a significant human rights situation where we can commend" Congress or the Obama administration.

"In the beginning of last year, we held great hope that the Obama Administration would work tirelessly to promote a broad human rights agenda," they said in the statement released Feb. 5. "Rather, we have seen numerous instances of U.S. policy statements that have weakened our nation's commitment to human rights and that have emboldened some of the world's worst human rights violators."

They cited the Obama administration's:

-- Failure to link human rights with other issues regarding China;

-- "[O]bvious effort to equate human rights problems in Israel with the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Palestinian authorities;"

-- Compelling of Honduras to reseat a president "who was obviously intent on subverting that nation's constitution;"

-- "[A]pparent total lack of meaningful engagement on behalf of the people of Darfur" in western Sudan;

-- "[T]imid and tepid response to the democratic protests in Iran."

The sanctity of human life "received several blows in the last year," Land and Duke said. Among these, they said, were the president's repeal of the Mexico City Policy, which had barred federal funding of organizations that perform or promote abortions overseas, and Obama's revocation of President Bush's ban on money for stem cell research that destroys human embryos.

The ERLC joined with other pro-life organizations in what, for now, appears to be a successful effort to halt health-care reform that includes funding for abortions. The battle, however, "reveals the shaky ground on which pro-life protection rests. ... [I]t is clear that the pro-abortion supporters want to secure this policy. We will remain vigilant in our watch and our opposition to this agenda," they said.

In the year ahead, Land and Duke said, the ERLC anticipates:

-- Defending such pro-life policies as the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which authorizes the president to block funds for organizations that support coercive abortion policies, and the Hyde Amendment, which bars most abortion funding through the Department of Health and Human Services;

-- Promoting the Pregnant Women Support Act, a package of measures to aid women in crisis pregnancies;

-- Fighting efforts to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples;

-- Opposing attempts to expand the "homosexual special rights agenda" by means of passage of the Employment Non-discrimination Act and repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy;

-- Supporting health-care reform "that will help to preserve the best of U.S. health care, while diminishing its worst aspects;"

-- Working for passage of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, which would especially aid pro-life, health-care workers.

-- Protecting Americans "from the imposition of draconian [Environmental Protection Agency] rules that will destroy jobs and weaken families," while encouraging responsible use of the earth's resources.

The document, titled "Legislative Agenda for 2010," may be accessed online at http://erlc.com/documents/pdf/2010-legislative-agenda.pdf.


Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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