Although I have interviewed Melissa Rogers on her book, Faith in American Public Life, this episode will be the first in an ongoing conversation with The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, now called BJC.
The purpose of this series is to do two things. First it is to keep before you that there have always been certain Baptists who have, since their beginnings, argued for/advocated for/championed religious liberty for all people and the separation of church and state. These Baptists have done so because of their fundamental conviction that ‘soul freedom’ is a gift from God that enables everyone to have an active relationship with God. For these Baptists, for faith to a true faith, it must be embraced without any coercion of any kind. Since governments and religious bodies have often been the source of coerced faith, these Baptists have insisted that there must be a separation from government and institutional religious bodies.
The reason I want to keep before you the awareness of ‘these certain Baptists’ is for two reasons. The first is that many who are Baptist and, of course, most non-Baptists are unaware of the history of Baptist’s contribution to and advocacy for religious liberty for all and the separation of church and state. The second is that there are a growing number of Baptists who are a part of what is being called Christian Nationalism that have sought and continue to seek to undermine religious liberty for all and the separation of church and state.
The second reason for this series is to make you aware and educate you on specific challenges to religious liberty in government. The BJC is an excellent source for keeping you apprised of these challenges. In addition, the BJC seeks to challenge and thwart these aggression on religious liberty by actions in The Supreme Court and in Congress.
You can find the BJC at: bjconline.org
An excellent video introducing the BJC can be found on their website and here.
My guest is Amanda Tyler. Amanda is the Executive Director of the BJC. She is a member of the Texas and United States Supreme Court Bar. After graduating with a degree in foreign service from Georgetown University, Amanda worked for the BJC as an assistant to the general counsel. She left the BJC to earn her law degree from the University of Texas. Before returning to the BJC, Amanda has worked in private practice, as a law clerk for a U.S. district court judge in Dallas, and on the staff of U.S. Representative Lloyd Dogget, where she served as his district director and counsel for the Ways and Means Committee.
In addition to the resources provided by the BJC about the history of Baptists’ contribution to religious liberty and the separation of church and state, numerous links can be found by Googling ‘Baptists and Religious Liberty.’ An excellent link is Middle Tennessee State University’s The Free Speech Center: First Amendment News and Insights from MTSU. One of the resources of The Free Speech Center is The First Amendment Encyclopedia that has an article on Baptist contributions to the first amendment. That article is found here.
The music for this episode is from a clip of a song called ‘Father Let Your Kingdom Come’ which is found on The Porter’s Gate Worship Project Work Songs album and is used by permission by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project. You can learn more about the album and the Worship Project at theportersgate.com.