By Norman Jameson // Baptist News Global
Below is an excerpt. Visit the Baptist News Global website to read the full article.
Amanda Tyler’s work plan for 2017 fell off the truck like one pumpkin too many on election night 2016.
Tyler was elected in September 2016 as executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and immediately started planning her course of work for when she would take office Jan. 3.
Her plan did not include responding to the newly elected president’s travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries and his pledge to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment that threatens the tax-exempt status of churches that engage in political activity.
Those pronouncements “really changed the direction of what I thought my work was going to be,” says Tyler, who brought extensive experience in religion, law and government into her role, including a degree in foreign service from Georgetown University and a stint as the BJC’s assistant to the general counsel. She came to the organization from the office of U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), where she was his counsel on the Ways and Means Committee. She has worked in Congress and in private legal practice, and has clerked for a federal judge.
A native of Austin, Texas, Tyler lives in Washington with her husband, Robert Behrendt, and toddler son, Phelps.
“Religious liberty is our client,” said Tyler in a September interview in her office, from which she can see the U.S. Capitol. When the liberty to practice any religion — or to decline to practice religion — is threatened, the Baptist Joint Committee works to defend the principle.
The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty was once known as the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs. Today 15 Baptist organizations “that span the spectrum of Baptist life” support the organization, as well as a number of individuals and foundations.
“That jointness gives us a lot of strength,” said Tyler. “These Baptists have come together to agree that religious liberty is foundational to our faith.”