Under the motto “Faith. Freedom. For All,” the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) brings people together to tackle three threats to religious liberty in America: “The targeting of religious minorities. The rise of Christian nationalism. The politicization of houses of worship.”
As part of this program on June 26 the BJC hosted a “national conversation” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.on white supremacy and American Christianity.
At the virtual event, which was broadcast live, BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler called for the dismantling of “white supremacy from society, our religion, from ourselves.”
Tyler spoke in response to a presentation during the conference by Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, and author of a book, White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, expected to be published July 28. Nearly 1,000 participants viewed the presentation, according to Tyler.
The BJC also runs an impressive SCOTUS blog, which details key decisions, opinions, petitions and statistics from the U.S. Supreme Court. “As the only national faith-based group solely focused on protecting religious freedom for all,” says the organization on the home page of its website, “we file briefs on pivotal Supreme Court cases, advocate for and against legislation, testify in Congress and unite with others across faiths to ensure that every American has—and always will have—the right to follow his or her spiritual beliefs.”
Replete with live blogging, podcasts, videos and other special features, the blog has won numerous awards, including the National Press Club Award and the prestigious Peabody Award for Excellence in Electronic Media.
In addition to engaging with the U.S. Congress, the BJC conducts an innovative educational program. The organization invites everyone from “news junkies for controversies involving religion” to those simply “worried about threats to the First Amendment” to come and see “what it’s like to make change in Washington, D.C., as advocates for religious freedom.”
The Baptist organization regularly conducts highly informative First Amendment-related events and posts religious liberty podcasts and videos. On July 23, for example, it has scheduled a webinar titled, “Navigating Freedom in a Multi-Religious Democracy: The Promises and the Limits of Religious Freedom.”
The BJC also invites an exchange of ideas from those who have suffered religious discrimination or witnessed it in their communities. And it offers fall, spring and summer internships to college or graduate students as well as those with degrees interested in standing “on the front lines of defending religious liberty right now,” offering them an opportunity to work with BJC’s legal, communications and development staff on campaigns and to participate in the group’s activities on Capitol Hill. Besides a monthly stipend, interns are given free housing in Washington, D.C.
Young professionals with a passion for advocating for religious freedom can apply to the BJC Fellows Program, which not only offers intensive training in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, but also the opportunity to develop and implement their own projects. BJC fellows have included clergy, lawyers, entrepreneurs and doctoral students “from a wide variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds.”
For younger folks, such as high school students, BJC has an essay contest. Titled the “Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest,” it has a different topic every year and is aimed at engaging students in church-state issues by encouraging them to express a point of view on a religious liberty topic. Details of the 2021 contest are scheduled to be released in the fall of 2020. The grand prize: a $2,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, D.C.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.