I know the “B” in “BJC” stands for Baptist. What kind of Baptist are you?
Good question. Baptists are a remarkably diverse group. There is no one “Baptist church,” but instead it is best described as the Baptist movement or the Baptist family. Our coalition currently includes 16 Baptist bodies in the U.S., as well as thousands of churches and individuals, Baptists and non-Baptists. Our faith-based identity is important to us: we’re the only faith-based group working exclusively on protecting religious freedom for all and the separation of church and state working on the national level.
Why do Baptists care so much about religious liberty?
You could say it’s in our DNA. Since the founding of the Baptist movement in the early 17th century, defending religious liberty for all has been a core distinction of the faith. It comes from a theology that leaves it to each person to build a relationship with God — a radical concept called soul freedom. Any government interference with that relationship is a threat to faith. Baptists have defended someone’s right to say “no” to God as forcefully as we’ve fought for someone’s right to say “yes.” Interested in learning more? Check out the Baptist Freedom Fighters.
But I’m not Baptist. Is there a place for me at BJC?
Yes! Though we come at our work from the Baptist perspective, our mission is to defend religious liberty for all people — those who claim a specific religious tradition and those who do not. We regularly work in coalition with other religious, civil rights, and civil society groups. We have donors, BJC Fellows, interns, and staff members who are not Baptist or Christian. Everyone has a role to play in protecting faith freedom for all. Join us.
Is BJC a liberal or conservative organization? Is it associated with a political party?
BJC is nonpartisan. Our sole focus is on protecting religious liberty. That means, in some cases our position might fall on the more conservative side; in other cases, on the more liberal side. We feel strongly that the issue of religious freedom transcends Republican and Democratic party lines and offers an opportunity for people on all parts of the political spectrum to work together. That’s one reason we’ve been such staunch advocates for the Johnson Amendment and keeping partisan campaigning out of houses of worship.
What do the letters “BJC” stand for?
The legal name of BJC is “Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.” In 2019, we re-branded to be just “BJC” — allowing us to get quickly to the work we do of defending faith freedom for ALL. Learn more on this episode of the BJC Podcast.
Does BJC have any affiliation with Project Blitz or other evangelical groups promoting religious freedom for Christians?
No! This is an important point because there’s a lot of confusion around the meaning of religious freedom today. Project Blitz is a new and coordinated effort to enshrine Christian nationalism in state laws across the country. And they have strategically co-opted the term “religious freedom” to mean “religious freedom for my agenda.” BJC adamantly opposes Project Blitz and other efforts to promote Christian nationalism. Find out more about why we’re alarmed and how we are taking action here.
Does BJC support gay marriage?
We do not take stands on issues other than religious liberty. However when laws protecting religious freedom clash with those protecting LGBT rights, we do weigh in. In 2018 we filed a brief in the Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, concerning the right of a business owner to refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple based on his religious beliefs. The answer might seem simple, except for the Colorado state law that forbids discrimination (based on sexual orientation, marital status, and religion among other things) in the commercial marketplace. Looking at the big picture, BJC argued that the baker did not have the right to refuse making that cake: Granting an exemption in his case would open the door for other business owners to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs. For example, another commercial baker could use these same arguments to refuse to create a cake for an interfaith couple, an interracial couple, or a couple where one had been previously divorced. The issues arising in this case are among the toughest questions out there. It’s hard to summarize quickly so read more about the case and BJC’s involvement here.
What is BJC’s position on reproductive rights?
As with gay marriage, we don’t take a stand or have a position on the issue. However, when reproductive rights come up in a religious freedom case, we use the lens of: What is the best outcome for protecting our First Amendment right? One example is Zubik v. Burwell. In that 2016 Supreme Court case, religious nonprofits were objecting to the religious exemption provided to them in the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. The nonprofits claimed that even agreeing to the opt-out option violated their rights. BJC argued that they should take the opt-out because all-or-nothing thinking is dangerous to religious liberty. Read more about the case and BJC’s involvement here.
How is BJC funded?
As a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3), we are supported by the generous donations of individuals, family foundations, denominations, and churches. We also are fortunate to have an endowment, funded in part by friends of BJC who made legacy gifts in their wills and estates, that helps support our ongoing work. We can’t do this important work without the generous support of freedom fighters like you. Invest in freedom today.