BJC internships: Working for religious liberty in Washington, D.C.

by Adam McDuffie

The Baptist Joint Committee offers fall, spring and summer internships to undergraduate and graduate students as well as individuals who have completed a degree. For an inside look at the program, we asked Adam McDuffie to write about his experience. Now a senior at Wake Forest University, McDuffie was an intern with the BJC in the summer of 2014.

I consider my time as a Baptist Joint Committee intern to have been one of the most enjoyable and memorable experiences of my life. The program is structured in such a way that you are able to work with all of the departments on a variety of projects. As a BJC intern, you have the unique opportunity to conduct legal research, assist in educational efforts and experience the day-to-day operations of a D.C. advocacy organization. The chance to work with a staff that treats you like a member of the family in an office right across the street from the Supreme Court is one you should not pass up.

Even after returning to Wake Forest, I have continued to utilize what I learned during my time at the BJC. As a student in the Religion and Public Engagement program, my understanding of the relationship between religion and politics, as well as what I learned regarding legislation such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, has proven invaluable. In addition, I have used the research skills I gained time and again in preparing my senior honors thesis.

I also feel that my internship with the BJC will benefit me as someone preparing for seminary and a career in hospital chaplaincy. As a Baptist, it is important to live into our heritage of preserving religious liberty for all. In chaplaincy, one encounters people from a broad range of traditions, and it is important to embrace that plurality and the way it positively contributes to our society.

I would strongly encourage anyone even considering this internship to apply. There are very few internships like this one with the ample opportunities it provides. If you want to learn about religious liberty and the First Amendment, there is no better place to be than the BJC.

In the heart of our nation’s capital, I had the chance to take part in a discussion of various traditions’ usage of sacred texts at the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, hear Rep. Keith Ellison address a coalition of faith-based advocacy groups, attend a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the state of religious liberty, sit in the Senate gallery during a vote, and be in the Supreme Court building when the decision came down in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

A paid internship in Washington, D.C., complete with housing provided on the Hill just a few blocks from the Capitol building, is a rare gem, and yet that is exactly what you find in an internship with the BJC.

The internship application process is competitive. For more information, visit

From the March 2015 Report from the Capital. Click here to read the next article.