A motion to abolish the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission failed as the June 15 morning session of the SBC Annual Meeting concluded.
Messengers defeated the motion put forth by Joshua Scruggs of North Carolina. Scruggs defended his position, stating the ERLC’s ministry assignment to speak for Southern Baptists on moral, ethical and religious liberty concerns “inevitably” creates division in the denomination.
Brent Leatherwood, acting president of the ERLC, said that while Baptists have had “frustrations with different personalities and stances” of the ERLC over the years, this is not a time to retreat from public policy advocacy.
Leatherwood said the Supreme Court ruling in the Dobbs case, expected to come before the end of June, could return the battle for life to the states and “require a state-by-state approach” to the issue. That is exactly what the ERLC has been doing at the federal level, he said, and the ERLC will do it at the state level as well.
“To turn our back on the public square at a time when it is needed most would be to move away from the gospel,” Leatherwood told messengers.
Former ERLC president Richard Land also spoke against the effort, citing similar concerns.
“I cannot imagine a more damaging moment for the Southern Baptist Convention to defund the ERLC,” Land said from the convention floor. “We are on the verge of having Roe v. Wade overturned [and] that will immediately lead to a battle in all 50 states. Southern Baptists will be leading that charge, and the ERLC is perfectly primed to be a resource, to be a help and to share information among the 50 states.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — For more coverage on the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting, visit thebaptistpaper.org/sbc2022.