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

Yesterday, we lost a powerful and iconic voice for religious liberty. James Dunn (1932-2015), former Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee, passed away at the age of 83 years young. Current Director Brent Walker responded in the Baptist News Global obituary:

“James was my mentor, colleague and friend. I stand in his shoes and on his shoulders every day. We are all impoverished by his death, but heaven is enriched. How fitting that he died — like fellow freedom advocates Thomas Jefferson and John Adams — on the Fourth of July.”

The BJC has posted a great tribute. You can also watch his address at the 2011 Religious Liberty Council Luncheon at this video (he is introduced at 23:55). I also highly recommend reading the remarks of his friend Bill Moyers, who followed President Bill Clinton at Dunn’s retirement ceremony in 1999.

I will have a lot more tributes, memories, and celebrations of his life and work in the coming days. James Dunn was a fiercely inspiring watchdog on the wall of separation between church and state. He didn’t just know how to fight for religious liberty; he knew why. I will miss his wisdom, delivered as only he could, and will treasure his words of personal encouragement. Rest in peace, my friend.