Finding your role as a BJC advocate
As we head into this holiday season, I am reflecting on BJC’s work this year. In 2019, we embarked on a new way of fulfilling our mission to defend religious liberty: not only being your voice in Washington, but equipping you to be advocates for faith freedom for all.
This additional aspect of our work has been a new strategic focus, and now we are putting our dreams and plans into action.
During the past couple of months, the BJC team conducted advocacy trainings in Washington and across the country for hundreds of individuals who are passionate about religious freedom and eager to share their support with their elected representatives, communities and social media networks.
I’m inspired by these advocates who take several hours out of their busy lives to attend a session, allowing them to learn together, share tips and use their newfound skills with a visit to their local congressional office. At a time when our Congress, and indeed our country, is deeply divided, I believe that BJC advocates have a powerful opportunity to provide a witness of how people of faith can engage constructively in the public square. If we are to keep religious liberty from being misused and politicized in our polarized society, we will need many more people to join us in this cause. This matters not just for the sake of principle, but for those whose religious freedom is under threat — in this country and around the world.
Being involved with the legislative process is just one way to make a difference. Some advocates are more comfortable engaging in digital advocacy by sharing information with their social media networks. Others prefer leading the conversation in personal settings, such as their houses of worship, workplaces, small groups or even around the holiday dinner table. Our next generation of advocates may feel called to apply to be a BJC Fellow or BJC Intern.
We advocate not just with our voices and our actions but with how we steward our resources. One way that all supporters of BJC’s mission can engage in advocacy is with a donation to fund our advocacy trainings and other programs. While BJC was once entirely funded by denominational gifts, our budget increasingly relies on the generosity of individuals — Baptists and others — who care about preserving religious liberty for generations to come. This year, we have a goal of raising $500,000 — about a quarter of BJC’s overall budget — with gifts from individuals like you. Every gift is important and deeply appreciated.
As you reflect on your year and consider the ways you want to be more involved in the work of defending faith freedom for all, I hope you will consider partnering and advocating with BJC. Your involvement makes a difference in the lives of our neighbors. I asked a few of our friends to share what our advocacy this year has meant to them.
“BJC stands up for me when it calls out attempts to ban Muslims as unconstitutional and un-American.”
—Bayan Al-Fathi, BJC monthly donor
“I’m thankful for BJC’s initiative to confront Christian nationalism through the truth of genuine Christian teaching and faithful constitutional study, both springing from our rich Baptist history.”
—Rev. Preston Clegg, pastor of BJC-supporting church
“BJC is the best friend of the Jewish community as it advocates for religious freedom for all. This stance is important now more than ever, in the wake of unthinkable tragedies at synagogues and growing anti-Semitism.”
—Skip Newman, BJC donor
“BJC shines a light on how Christian nationalism and racism have been intertwined for centuries and calls people to have courageous conversations about ways in which the church has been complicit.”
—Rev. Darrell Hamilton, BJC monthly donor and 2017 Intern
“The threats to religious liberty for my neighbors are too numerous for me to stay silent now. I’m grateful to find others who share my concerns and a community where we can join our efforts to make a difference.”
—Dr. Kristen Nielsen Donnelly, BJC Fellow and monthly donor
I am grateful for the advocacy of Bayan, Preston, Skip, Darrell, Kristen and many others who have invested themselves and their gifts in faith freedom for all — not just for their own freedom, but to stand with their neighbors. I hope you will join them in finding your role as a BJC advocate.