Open House at the new Baptist Joint Committee on Religious LibertyWritten by Don Byrd

Rev. Brent Walker is approaching retirement after 28 years with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. In a new column published by The Christian Citizen, he reflects on the advancements and declines the U.S. has made in religious liberty during his tenure, and lays out his concerns about the future of our first freedom.

Brent’s columns are always thoughtful, insightful, and concise, from a true Baptist perspective that values both religious freedom and the separation of church and state. Here, he offers a compelling overview of the state of religious liberty today with his “snapshot conclusions” of where we are and where we may be headed.

Here is an excerpt, looking ahead to the Trump administration:

One thing is indisputably true about President-elect Trump: love him or hate him, he is unpredictable. Based on positions he espoused during the campaign and in its aftermath, I am preparing for the worst, but hoping for something better.

President-elect Trump’s campaign rhetoric was most troubling. The gravamen of many of his pronouncements was hostility to Islam and Muslim immigration. He pandered to and exploited anti-Jewish stereotypes. He embraced measures that seemed to protect the exercise of religion but without careful attention to balancing the rights of others. This can be seen in his support for the First Amendment Defense Act, which purports to protect religiously based objections to same-sex marriage and gay rights, without the careful balancing of interests called for in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Finally, he has supported changing the tax law that bans electioneering by churches with tax-exempt dollars. President-elect Trump’s position on these and other issues shows a flimsy understanding of the plush religious pluralism in the United States, the importance of accommodating religious exercise without prejudicing the rights of others, and the indispensability of church-state separation.

Read the whole thing.