FBB Supports Baptist Organization

The Foundation Beyond Belief, for whom I am the media relations coordinator, has chosen the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty as the recipient of its 2nd quarter 2014 Challenge the Gap grant. A humanist foundation supporting a Baptist group? Yep. And for good reason.

Even as many prominent Baptists have become the worst violators of church-state separation today, other Baptists work tirelessly alongside secularists to preserve the wall of separation. One of the strongest such voices is the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC). Foundation Beyond Belief is proud to feature BJC as our Challenge the Gap beneficiary for the second quarter of 2014.

Many atheists and humanists feel that the best way to oppose harmful expressions of religion is by supporting and encouraging the more positive expressions. Challenge the Gap is an innovative program that finds and features progressive, non-proselytizing religious charities that share common values with humanists and atheists. Since 2011, the nontheistic members of FBB have raised nearly $100,000 for religious charities that meet these requirements.

“The Baptist Joint Committee is delighted to partner with Foundation Beyond Belief,” said Brent Walker, executive director of BJC. “As Baptist Christians, we believe in religious liberty as a gift from God and the separation of church and state as a means of protecting it. We also affirm the rights of secular conscience and freedom from state-sponsored religion. Although our presuppositions and motivations may differ, we often find many areas of common ground on which to stand and work. Just as people of faith and the scions of the Enlightenment joined forces to pass the First Amendment more than two centuries ago, believers and non-believers alike can work together today to help protect it, for all of us.”

We actually got completely fair coverage of this in the Christian Post, which published an unbiased article on it quoting Dale McGowan and Brent Walker. I strongly support this grant. The BJC has been doing excellent work in favor of church/state separation for nearly 80 years now and this is an issue on which atheists and Christians alike can agree and should work together.

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  • http://heb712.blogspot.com heddle

    Most excellent.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Seems I read somewhere that Baptist preachers were a force in keeping the SOCAS in the Constitution. As in that they were afraid that if a state religion were instituted, it wouldn’t be theirs.

  • Kevin Kehres

    @2: That’s because Baptists were subjected to a great deal of discrimination/bigotry back then.

    Baptists who advocate a position towards a more-theocratic society do not know their own church’s history. And how vital it was for them to have church-state separation codified as a right.

  • Al Dente

    Roger Williams invented Rhode Island in order for Baptists to have a place where they could worship without being legally prosecuted by the Massachusetts Puritans.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend, Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden


    I haven’t been so pleasantly surprised by a religious group since I discovered the pro-queer Americans for Servicing their Friends Committee.*

    *Yes, despite scant evidence of its existence online these days, they did exist and were active in the late nineties/early noughties.

  • Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    That group’s name is an obvious joke on the American Friends Service Committee, the humanitarian-works arm of American Quakers. The AFSC, for the record, accepted the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize (together with its British counterpart), on behalf of the larger religious movement and the other historical “peace churches.”

    I am amused.

    I also quite support this award going to the BJC! While I don’t personally “get” the idea of faith, I’ve got no problem with people who have faith, so long as they don’t try to use that faith to browbeat me or impinge upon me.

  • mikeyb

    Baptists historically used to be one of the strongest proponents of Church-State separation from Roger Williams on down the line, an actual virtue they once had. It is nice to see that at least a remnant still thinks this way.

  • http://mostlyrational.net tacitus

    The Christian Post is a weird one. It’s about 99% crap — their editorials and columns are typical right-wing Christian nonsense, and their sports coverage appears to be limited to providing links to well known pirate streaming sites (seriously!), and they are obsessed with Duck Dynasty, but every once in a while I’ll come across a news report that’s so balanced I have to check to make sure it’s not a syndicated piece from the AP or something.

    I guess they might have a reporter or two on the staff who actually wants to be a real journalist.

  • Michael Heath

    I went to the BJC site to learn more about them. My initial reaction was that their arguments were smart, predominately confronted controversies rather than avoiding or denying such, and their assumptions were supportive of secularism.

    According to the Wikipedia page on the group, the BJC doesn’t claim to speak for Baptists, but instead are speaking “to them”. That same wiki page notes how the Southern Baptist Convention attempted to kill off the group’s liberalism in the 1980’s, including a desire to advocate for the nomination of a theocrat Bob Bork.

    I can’t really discern whether the BJC currently gets funding from entities within the SBC or not. The top organization ended contributions in 1991. The BJC’s website has a page on supporting bodies that doesn’t include the SBC. We know the SBC does not support the BJC’s arguments and positions but instead are on the opposite side.

    Here’s their press release for their:

    friend-of-the-court brief in Town of Greece v. Galloway, opposing the practice of opening municipal meetings with prayer. Kudos to them for their position and the quality of their argument.

    They didn’t take a position in the Hobby Lobby case. But at least they acknowledged the threat faced by women, and employees in general, if Hobby Lobby wins.

  • John Pieret
  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    I’m pretty much with Esteleth @ 6, re: how I feel about people of faith and I tell them that. I’m pretty sure that the reasonable Christians I say it too accept it (in some cases with a heavy heart) but the rest just nod their heads while thinking, “We’ll you my pretty, and your little dog, too!*”.

    @ Michael Heath:

    It appears that Hobby Lobby has some other issues, such as the fact that some of their investments are in stocks issued by companies that develop contraceptive drugs/the morning after pill AND they do business, a LOT of business with CHINA which doesn’t allow abortions but REQUIRES their citizens to have them under the “One child” program.

    * FWIW, Buddy the Wonderdog looks a bit like Toto but he fights like a WOLVERINE!