William Burton, TBMB’s ethnic church planting & evangelism specialist, shares some really good news about the explosive growth we’ve seen in ethnic church ministry here in Tennessee.
How dangerous is the Equality Act that’s currently before the U.S. Senate to religious liberty? In this episode of Radio B&R an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom explains all you need to know about how this act, if made law, could have far reaching implications in how Christians and churches could be deeply affected.
“As the most significant thing to say about the equality act is that it is, uh, the most significant threat to the religious Liberty of the church and of individual believers, perhaps in the history of the United States, certainly in our lifetimes. And what it would do is that it would sort of essentially impose a radical sexual ideology, gender ideology on virtually the entire country.”
Chris Turner (00:34):
Hello and welcome into this edition of radio. B&R I’m your host, Chris Turner director of communications at the Tennessee Baptist mission board. And we actually have two guests with us today, both from the organization Alliance, defending freedom. We’ll get into a little bit more about what exactly Alliance defending freedom is in just a moment. But our first guest is Greg Baylor. He is the director for the center for religious schools and senior counsel at the center for legislative advocacy. And our other guests is Harrison Smith, regional Alliance director with the ADF church and ministry Alliance team guys. Welcome in today’s edition.
Greg & Harrison:
Thanks for having me.
Well, Harrison, let’s just jump in because a lot of people may not be familiar with Alliance defending freedom, and we definitely want them by the end of this podcast to understand what ADF is and how it will help them, but just give us an overview of what ADF is and what the organization’s mission is.
Sure. So while, uh, people may not know the organization Alliance defending freedom, I guarantee you, they are familiar with some of our work. So we are the world’s largest religious Liberty law firm. We were founded in early nineties by over 30 different ministry leaders and kind of national ministries focused on the family campus crusade for Christ now, crew crown financial, et cetera, et cetera. And those ministry leaders back then, they got together because they were running into problems in ministry that were coming through the legal system. The easiest example is, uh, bill bright and campus crusade for Christ. They were being physically removed from campuses for so-called separation of church and state. So they were, they were physically being removed from the people that God had called them to minister to. And Dr. Brice said, you know, we have a first amendment, right to be here.
We have a freedom of speech. We have freedom of religion and yet no one’s defending it. And so it’s literally getting in the way of, and preventing us from being able to minister and all the other ministries had similar types of issues. So they found it Alliance defending freedom, then Alliance percent fund two to stand in the gap and help fight to keep the doors open for the gospel. So Chris that’s been, that’s been our ministry since one is fighting so that the church can continue to speak the truth freely, which obviously in our day is more important than ever. And so, um, the church and ministry Alliance team that directly impacts the pastors that will be listening to this podcast, um, that, that specific legal team underlined spinning freedom was formed back in 2016, kind of on the coattails of the Obergerfell same-sex marriage decision at the U S Supreme court.
And then, you know, following that, the gender identity issues that started cropping up everywhere. We started having hundreds of pastors calling in saying, Hey, ATF, we don’t, we don’t have a legal situation yet, but we see where the culture’s going. And we know that it’s only a matter of time before we, we run into problems because we’re not going to cave to, you know, what the culture saying. We need to believe on these issues. We’re going to stand on the word of God and we want to be vocal about his love and his truth. And we just know that’s, it’s, it’s, we’re going to run into some problems. So what do we need to do to prepare for that day? And frankly, at the time ADF, we didn’t have an answer by, by, by the nature of being a law firm and a ministry, we were reactive, right?
Our, historically, if you had a problem, you got sued, you called ADF and we would represent you, um, in court. And that was our ministry, but this was a proactive step. And so we founded the church and ministry Alliance to be able to help pastors proactively prepare and navigate, uh, the many cultural changes for the purpose of again, keeping the doors open for the gospel. So that’s a very quick overview of kind of who we are. And I know later in the podcast we’ll get into specifically what that looks like and how we can help.
Yeah, absolutely. Because this does have a very tangible benefit, uh, to our, our pastors in our churches, uh, here in Tennessee, obviously across America. But, uh, there is a opportunity for churches to get involved and we’ll get into that. And just a little bit, Greg people may not know of ADF as Harrison mentioned, but there’s definitely some high profile cases that have, uh, been in the headlines over the past two, three, four years that, uh, ADF has been involved with just mention one or two of those that, that people probably heard of.
Well, ADF represented Jack Phillips, who is a cake artist in Colorado. Um, he is willing to create cakes that for on behalf of anyone, but he’s not willing to create cakes that reflect all messages. And he had a situation that’s unfortunately, continuing to this day where certain individuals in the community wanted to confront him and challenge him. Uh, it started a request that
He create, uh, an artistic cake celebrating a same-sex wedding ceremony, and Jack, uh, again, would be, would have been perfectly happy to sell those who sought this, anything he had in the store. But when it came to creating a custom cake, uh, creating new arts, celebrating this event, his faith precluded him from doing that. And one, one would of hope that, uh, folks who came to him would have understood that and, uh, simply gotten the cake from another, uh, another bakery, which is what happened. But instead they elected to Sue Jack under a state law that forbid sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in places of public accommodation. And that case, as many of your listeners, uh, undoubtedly know, made it, made its way all the way to the U S Supreme court, where, where Jack prevailed. Uh, but he continues to face the challenges from other individuals who are kind of bent on harassing him. So ADF is continuing to serve him.
Well, you know, when you think about that, uh, specific thing, you know, there is, um, you know, so much of what we see in culture is not just, uh, the, the merging of ideas, but there is an aggressive attempt to, um, impose ideas on other people, especially when it comes to religious liberties. And, you know, one of the things that’s before us right now is the equality act, uh, that has passed the house still being debated in the Senate, but certainly has implications. Greg, if you could just give us an overview, a layman’s understanding of what the equality act is and how that potentially could impact us, uh, that would be, you know, something that our listeners need to definitely have on their radar.
Yeah. I mean, right off the bat, I think the most significant thing to say about the equality act is that it is the most significant threat to the religious Liberty of the church and of individual believers, perhaps in the history of the United States, certainly in our lifetimes. And what it would do is that it would sort of essentially impose a radical sexual ideology, gender ideology on virtually the entire country. And it would do that by taking existing laws, laws that forbid discrimination, for example, on the basis of race that apply to various contexts like operation of businesses or employment or educational institutions or housing, and in those elevate sexual orientation and gender identity to protect class status, just like race. So to give some of the ways that it kind of would play out in real life, um, the equality adds, sexual orientation, gender identities, protected classes to title to the civil rights act of 1964.
Now, what does that do? Well, it forbids discrimination in, “places of public accommodation.” And right now that was completely unproblematic for churches for religious individuals, because it doesn’t forbid or compel them to do anything in violation of their faith. Uh, virtually nobody in this day and age, thankfully running around discriminating on the basis of race or color or national origin, uh, when they’re running their business. Uh, but it is the case as Jack Phillips situation, uh, showed us that there are some who run, you know, they’re creative professionals, they run small businesses who are, who are happily willing to serve everyone, but unwilling to create all messages and laws like the one in California, I’m sorry, in Colorado, that Jack was, uh, prosecuted under the equality act resembles then. So the equality act would take the situation that Jack experienced in Colorado and spread it around to the entire country.
One of the other concerns about this aspect of the law is that it takes a relatively narrow definition of what counts as a place of public accommodation and dramatically expands it. Right now, it’s limited to things like restaurants and hotels. It could be interpreted if it passes to reach at least some of the functions of churches. And I don’t think it’s the case that they’d face a lawsuit for member discipline or membership decisions. But if a church opens up its facilities or holds up events for the community, it could in that circumstance becomes subject to this, uh, to the equality act and its restrictions. And what might that mean in real life? Well, one of the things that folks who support this law believe is that bans on gender identity discrimination require those who are subject to the law to open up sex, separated private spaces, like locker rooms, dressing rooms, you know, things like that.
There were privacy and safety and separation of the biological sexist is important, but the equality they think the equality act would mean that you can’t separate those things by biology, that you have to separate them by gender identity. And what that means specifically is a man who identifies as a woman under the equality act might have probably would have access to spaces set aside for women. You know, this applies outside the church context as well. It’s pretty clear that the drafters of the act want this rule to apply to things like women’s shelters. Um, ADF has had the privilege of representing the downtown hope center in Alaska. Uh, they confronted a situation where a man who identified as a woman shows up one night, uh, intoxicated, injured, and he wants access to the sleeping facility that kind of communal sleeping area, the emergency overnight shelter that the downtown hope center ran.
And he demanded access to that. Think about who the women are in that place. Many of them have been, uh, been, been raped subjected to domestic violence, sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and it’s, it’s unkind in the very least unkind and, and at the most really kind of horrifying for them to have biological males sleeping in a cot, you know, two or three, four or five feet away from them. We have thought testimony when this became a legal dispute from some of the women who stay at the downtown hope center. And they said, you know what, I’d rather sleep outside in the Alaskan cold, then have biological males inside. So it would recreate the equality it could recreate that sort of situation all over the country, not just in Anchorage. There are a lot of other consequences we can discuss. Um, as we go along with things that, you know, what affects the employment context, it affects education, it affects providers of housing. It’s firstly, unlimited the negative impacts that the equality would have.
Yeah. It, you know, as you’re talking, I’m just, I’m seeing dominos in my head topple over, uh, that once that, that first one goes, because I’m just thinking about a lot of ministries that churches here in Tennessee have specifically, uh, in, in like Nashville, I’m sure other urban centers where we work with room at the inn, and a lot of churches have, you know, a room at the inn that, uh, you know, may accommodate, might only be able to accommodate one gender or another. Um, and when they, you know, have, uh, you know, multiple genders, they have different areas of the church that are, are marked off for that, but it goes beyond ministries like that. I mean, this, this, uh, potentially sounds like it could significantly affect the very heart of what our calling is in, uh, reaching beyond our church walls, into our community for the advancement of the gospel. So, you know, one of the ways that, that we do that is through various ministries and it sounds like this could have some significant impact on the outreach ministries, very tangible, compassion type ministries that our churches have.
Yeah. That that is absolutely correct. And, uh, one of the contexts in which the equality act would have a devastating effect would be the child service contact context, you know, adoption agencies, uh, uh, social service agencies that connect, uh, uh, uh, children in need with, uh, foster families that are willing to serve these children while they’re looking for a forever family and laws, similar to the equality act have been adopted in specific places around the country, whether it be States or municipalities. And those laws have created this conflict under which the supporters of these laws and LGBT rights are saying, look, if you’re unwilling to treat a child consistent with their professed gender identity, you can’t be part of this. We don’t want your help go away. They’re also saying that if an agency, it believes that a child will do best in a family with a married mom and dad, that they should be ineligible, that they should be excluded that they’re beyond the pale and that their services are not wanted.
Um, you know, it’s just not the case that same-sex couples who are looking to foster or adopt have no options. They have plenty of options. Uh, that’s the rule, rather than the exception, the faith-based entities that want to follow their religious convictions in the child service area are the exception. And they do great work. You know, they, they, some of these entities have been around for a century and they have a long history of handling some of the toughest cases, older children, children with special needs siblings that need to stay together. And apparently none of that matters to the supporters of the equality act and things like it. They would rather that these, uh, wonderful entities have been doing great work for kids and for families for decades, uh, should be just pushed out well, then left outside and, you know, they’re going to suffer. The kids are the ones who are going to suffer.
It sounds almost like there is, and I don’t want to read too much into it. Um, but it does sound like there is an intention to, uh, target those specific information, those, those significant, sorry, those specific entities, because as you said, it’s not as if there is no access to organizations that can accommodate the various needs. It’s going out of the way to focus specifically on a faith-based type of organization to break that organization.
I, you know, I think that’s exactly right. I mean, every, everyone with eyes to seek and see that, uh, the, uh, the, um, you know, many of the goals of the LGBT rights activists have been achieved. It’s just not the case that very often where, um, you know, a person who identifies as gay or trans, you know, goes into a restaurant and gets told they can’t eat there because of their, uh, because of their sexual identity or how they present themselves. That just doesn’t happen. So you ask yourself, what is this really about? And I think it’s largely about, uh, what, uh, uh, LGBT activist organization donor Tim Gill said is punishing the wicked. Uh, this is not a mistake that these, uh, religious entities are the ones who were primarily suffer under the equality act. And think about this, the equality act unlike a lot of state and local SOGI, sexual orientation, gender identity laws has no religious exemptions, not at all.
And to make things worse. It actually takes away the best legal protection that we as believers and as, uh, and that churches and other institutions, religious institutions have, it takes away our best legal defense from claims that will be brought under the equality act. That’s a, that, that legal defense, by the way, is a 1993 statute called the religious freedom restoration act. The grafters of the equality act know that we would use that statute to try to defend ourselves so that we can continue to serve needy people in the community to continue to educate children consistent with our religious beliefs and to run our churches in consistent with our convictions. That’s why they’re going after the religious Liberty.
Yeah. Yeah. Harrison, I was going to jump in and ask you one question that relates to that. We see that in the public marketplace with, with what Greg is talking about, these different organizations, what are you seeing from the church side, uh, how, how this is impacting or could potentially impact, uh, you know, the churches that you’re connecting with.
Yeah, that’s a great question. It, our attorneys often explain, um, the threat to religious Liberty, uh, almost as a target. If you think of concentric circles getting smaller and smaller, the, the outer circle being Christian owned businesses. So think Jack Philips fair now, Stutzman hobby lobby, et cetera, right? Those are kind of the first, if you think of our opponents working their way in, that’s kind of the outer ring that they can hit first. Cause those groups have the least amount of religious Liberty because they’re, for-profit their business, et cetera.
The next, the next concentric circle in the smaller one is Christian, uh, Christian ministry. So, uh, Christian universities K through 12 schools, women’s shelters, adoption services, et cetera. So those are what we’re really seeing taken a, taken a hit now where the businesses a few years ago, those began. So it’s kind of working its way in and to, to bring in a point that you mentioned, Chris is, and, and that Greg mentioned is a lot of these times, these ministries, there’s not even an issue. The government just finds out that have these beliefs and go after them. So there, there wasn’t a, a complaint there. So new hope family services, uh, is an adoption ministry in New York. They just found out that they, how they operate and that they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and they’re seeking to shut them down.
Bethel ministries is a Christian school, uh, up in the Northeast. And they found out again, shocker, as a Christian ministry, they believe in Christian, biblical ethics, like marriage between man and woman, and they’re going after them. And so it’s, it’s, we’re not talking about some boogeyman out there as like, Oh, they’re going to come in to get it’s no, we have examples of where they’re being proactive and trying to shut these ministries down and to put a fine spiritual point on it that you you’ve mentioned in a comment or question earlier, Chris is the point of all of this spiritually is to silence us. I mean, spiritually, our, our, our, our spiritual opponents can’t do anything to touch our faith. Satan knows that, right. But what he can do is prevent us from multiplying. He can, he can keep us, you know, keep it to yourself, keep it in your head and your heart.
That’s fine. You’re not a threat. But as soon as you start going out into the community, as soon as you leave the four walls of the church and take what you’re hearing on Sunday morning and living that out and in your school or in your workplace, or et cetera, that’s when there’s a problem. And that’s why we’re seeing this. It’s all spiritual. It’s certainly political and legislative, et cetera, et cetera. But ultimately it’s keeping it, keep it to yourself, keep the truth to yourself. And you won’t have any problems, but if you start to speak out or live it out, you’re going to get problems. And in our day and age, that looks like legal problems.
Man. You know, the thing that just came to my mind as you’re talking about, that was the verse in Ephesians that talks about the, uh, the, the church is the manifold wisdom of God. Um, you know, is revealed in Christ and, you know, thinking about your concentric circles, kind of moving inwards to the target, you know, with really the church being at the, at the center of that, obviously, you know, being populated by, uh, believers that make up the body of Christ. But, you know, if, if the church is the manifold wisdom of God, um, and the you’re moving in on those concentric circles is so obvious that it’s a spiritual attack against the very epicenter of the entity that is to proliferate the manifold wisdom of God. As we know it in the person and work of Jesus Christ,
That’s it. And Christ says what don’t be surprised. Don’t be surprised when this happens. It shouldn’t sh the stuff that’s going on. Everything Greg’s mentioning while it is shocking, it, you know, on its face. It, ultimately we should say it, it shouldn’t surprise us that the darkness is trying to attack and silence the light. And to fully answer your question, Chris, with that, and you mentioned it, the church is at the center. So what are we seeing with churches? As far as attacks goes is what it’s going to look like is with legislation like the equality act. And Greg mentioned that briefly earlier is you’re going to see facilities issues. Um, you’re going to see employment issues. Um, all of those things are, would be very public accommodation, right? If you have a public, uh, you have a spaghetti dinner, that’s open to the public, which all of our churches are open to the public.
That’s the point, right? But the government may say, well, if you’re open to the public for your spaghetti dinner, we’ll then you are now subject to this public accommodation law that says you’re not allowed to discriminate against someone’s gender identity. Therefore, if a biological male starts heading into the female’s restroom during that spaghetti dinner, you can’t do anything. Yeah. And so that’s, that’s, we’re not quite there, but this, the equality act is really our opponent showing their hand saying, this is where we want to go. We don’t want you to have an exemption. We don’t want you to be able to do and operate your ministries according to your beliefs on pivotal things like marriage and sexuality and family, et cetera. And if you do, we’re just going to come and shut you down. And this is how, this is the means by which they’re going to do it.
And we didn’t to give some examples. I mean, we’re already having, I live in Atlanta, we’re having Georgia Baptist churches call in almost weekly saying they’re having issues with, uh, these, those types of scenarios. And there, there isn’t that there’s not a current law in Georgia and the inequality act hasn’t passed yet. So there’s, there’s not really any legal recourse yet for, uh, those individuals who are coming in, um, whether they’re looking for trouble or not. Um, but it’s, as soon as these types of laws passed, that’s when we, we would have an issue, as, as Greg mentioned, it would instantly turn the entire country into a Jack Phillips scenario.
Yeah. So, Greg, let me, let me come back and just ask you, um, you know, first of all, as I’m kind of listening and processing this, cause, you know, on the one hand, it’s like, this is crazy and unbelievable at the same time, it’s like watching a slow motion, train wreck. So, and all these issues, these are not just one-off cases. I mean, they really are all related and part of a larger whole. So when, when we look at this as, as believers as, and we don’t even have to be believers, we just, you know, even, even people that are, would not be, um, supportive of this type of legislation, is this just a foregone conclusion that it’s going to eventually, or is there, is there some way to prevent this from, from becoming, uh, codified, not only nationally, but within our States?
Yeah. I, I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion. Um, you know, the first thing is, uh, we, we can’t tell the future. We can read the tea leaves and make our educated guesses about things. Uh, but we have a sovereign God who has a tendency to show up.
I’m not going to say God, they got a plot twist. Yeah,
That’s right. But when, when, when, when you said that, uh, we shouldn’t be surprised. Yeah. The other thing that struck me as you were saying that is how many times does the Bible tells us to not be afraid? And there’s a lot of fear that is around us. I think it’s legitimate to be concerned about what’s happening. Uh, but what do you do with that concern? Do you respond in fear and hide and try to lay low? Or do you boldly proclaim the gospel and defend our rights as believers and as Americans and I, I, I would humbly submit that it’s the latter of those two, but, but the question about whether the equality act is inevitable and inevitability, I don’t think that’s the case. Let’s talk about the situation right now and then kind of extrapolate into the future. Yes. The equality act has passed the house of representatives, mostly on a party line vote.
Uh, the president, uh, has indicated that he will sign it. He made that part of his campaign for the presidency. So what about the Senate? You know, the Senate has 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats and, uh, it’s just, it’s a reality that this is a largely partisan issue with Republicans, much more inclined to support religious Liberty and be concerned about the negative impacts of these kinds of laws. Uh, whereas, uh, members of the democratic party are, would kind of subordinate religious Liberty into, and again, I’m speaking generally with subordinate, religious Liberty interest is sort of LGBT objectives. Um, so 50 50, well, right now in the Senate takes 60 votes to pass a law like this because of that filibuster that we keep hearing about on in the news, there aren’t 60 votes for this, but what if they did abolish the filibuster? Well, then you need 50 votes.
Are there 50 votes? I’m not sure there are 50 votes. Believe it or not for the equality act, there are 50 Democrats and only 49 of them have sponsored the equality act. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has declined to be a sponsor, not only in this Congress, but in previous congresses as well and significantly different from the last Congress, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who’s a moderate or liberal, Republican, whatever label you want to fix to her. She, you know, she sponsored the equality act in the last Congress and she didn’t sponsor the equality act in this Congress. So it’s not a given, certainly it’s going to pass in this Congress, the other phenomenon that’s happening. And this speaks more to the future because people might say, well, you’re just talking about the next year and a half, two years. What about after that? And are things getting worse at school?
Yeah, lots of things are getting worse. But think about this, one of the most significant, uh, negative impacts of the equality act, frankly, is not the religious Liberty issues. I mean, I’m, I’m no one is a more adamant defender of religious Liberty than me, and is more concerned about the equality act and its impact on religious Liberty than I am. And that ADF is, but it has consequences that people who haven’t perhaps no faith or a different faith, they, that they care about. Think about situation involving women’s sports. You know, Connecticut adopted a policy similar to the equality act and its impact. And under that policy, boys who identify as girls are just destroying the competition when they compete in girls’ athletics. Uh, we have clients in Connecticut who lost out on 85 opportunities to advance to the next level of competition, where they can demonstrate their skill in front of Scouts and perhaps get scholarships.
Uh, people are becoming increasingly concerned about the medicalization of gender dysphoria, you know, taking kids eight, nine, 10, 11 years old, sticking them full of puberty blockers, or cross sex hormones or surgically removing healthy body parts. You know, the outrage and well, the knowledge of this is growing and the outrage about it is growing. And we’re starting to see the people respond and legislatures respond. So I think as those issues become more front and center, as people become more aware of them, that the opposition to things like the equality act, won’t be just from the religious community. It will be from, you know, people of Goodwill who have common sense and who care about children who are suffering, who care about female athletes and, uh, so many other victims of the equality act.
Yeah. Well, you know, the implications again, I just go back, I see a room full of dominoes that are toppling over, you know, when the first one falls. So it really is important for us to stay informed, to be engaged, um, to not just let the culture wash over us. You know, part of being salt and light is, is as, uh, you know, John Stott talks about that. You know, the, the light is the proclamation of the gospel and the salt is that thing that preserves culture, um, and slows decay. It doesn’t prevent it, but it slows it while we simultaneously, uh, uh, advance the gospel. Harrison, one of the things that I’ve heard you talk about and that I’ve heard others mention, uh, you know, one, the direct impacts that this has on the church is it’s unlikely that while it could happen, it’s unlikely that a lawsuit is going to be brought against a two, three, 4,000, 5,000 member church with endless resources, both human and financial, but that, uh, probably smaller churches would be more likely targeted when it comes to a lawsuit.
Uh, unbeknowing of, of opening the church for a spaghetti supper and having the same type of thing happened that you mentioned earlier. Uh, and you know, we look across Tennessee and you take out our largest churches. Um, really the average size of a church in Tennessee is about a hundred members, uh, which really makes them vulnerable in situation like this because they don’t have the resources. So this is where ADF intersect, intersects directly with being able to support our local churches through the partnership we have with the Tennessee Baptist mission board and Tennessee Baptist convention. Explain a little bit about what that partnership is and why our churches need to get involved in this partnership.
Yeah, you make a great point as far as from a legal strategy standpoint. If, if you’re the opposition, if you’re, if you’re wanting to find that one case that one church, uh, th that you can work all the way up to the U S Supreme court to get a major decision, you’re probably not going to go to downtown Nashville and find the biggest church that has a ton of money and probably has got attorneys on their board, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. You’re, you’re going to go after the little guy. And that makes, that makes a lot of sense, right? And so oftentimes a lot of our Southern churches, they think, Oh, I’m out in the country, Oh, I’ve only got 50 people that, you know, that’s not going to happen here. But that, that if you, Jack Phillips is a great, um, example of, I mean, he’s a wonderful man, but he he’s a nobody.
As far as the, you know, the cake world goes, he operates a Mom & Pop cake shop out of a strip mall. And yet his one case that one situation was the case that made its way up to the U S Supreme court to decide are Christians are people of faith or people with convictions going to be able to operate and create, uh, messages according to their faith or three to not create certain messages. Right? So all that to say there, from, from ADF’s perspective, from a legal perspective, we have to get every church buttoned up and prepared. Cause it’s the weakest link that, that causes the chain to break, right? So it’s not, uh, it’s it’s we got to make sure every Tennessee Baptist church is prepared. So what does that look like? What does that mean? And how can ADF actually come in and help you do that?
Well, the first thing, the most important thing is, is, um, we need to update your documents and my documents. I mean, your constitution, your bylaws, your facilities, policies, hiring, and firing HR, et cetera, et cetera. Why, why is that important? Well, your documents tell the court who you are, why you do what you do, why you did what you did. And so if, if you don’t have documents, which a lot of our churches don’t a lot of our smaller churches have operated for decades without, um, or if you don’t know where they are, or you don’t know what they say, or if they haven’t been updated to reflect the current times on things like marriage, gender, sexuality, et cetera, it could, you could be in a very tough position if something happens because your document or evidence import that’s. If, if, if the pastors listening to this, don’t hear anything else, hear me say your, your documents or evidence in court. So we have to get those updated. Do you know where your documents are? Can you find them? I mean, oftentimes pastors, like, I don’t even know where they, where they are,
You know, for some of our churches, I mean, they’re locked in a filing cabinet, you know, in a dusty room someplace. So, uh, documents that are vitally important that have not been reviewed some in cases for years, possibly decades, this is something that needs to be done. Like this is fundamental, correct?
It is. And, and listen, we realize that talking about reviewing and updating documents is kind of like, Hey, we need to do your taxes or you need a root canal. Like no one likes to do that. Right. We understand. So we try to make it as easy as possible. So if you become a member of the church Alliance, you send in what you have and then ADF does the rest. It’s, it’s that simple. You don’t have to create a committee or subcommittee to take months to review. All you gotta do is find them and send them in. And ADF will give you the most up-to-date language offering you the greatest protections. And then you can sleep well at night, knowing you’re protected, knowing that you are set up for success, should something happen. And it’s, it’s not just, you know, filling in these blanks and getting specific documents filled in necessarily.
We also help walk you through why these are important. What’s the messaging. When you have somebody had a Georgia Baptist church, call me the other day and say, we have a gentleman who’s homosexual. He’s been visiting us for, for weeks, which is wonderful. Praise God, what an opportunity. But this is a Monday, and he called me, uh, he said yesterday that gentlemen showed up in full female dress. What do you do? How do you navigate that? How do you talk about that? And, you know, talk with that person. And when some way, what happens when they start heading towards the female’s bathroom, we help walk you through these scenarios so that if, and when they happen, you know how to handle them winsomely and in a Christ-like way, but also not caving to the culture. And then you also have on the backend, the documents to show why you did what you did, why you said what you said, et cetera. So that’s, that’s one of the most proactive things you can do. And pastors, we can, we can get that done for you within a few weeks so we can get it knocked out pretty quick.
And, and, um, that information, you know, if certainly if Tennessee Baptist pastors are wanting that information, I mean, there is a specific page that they can go to ADF’s website is ADFlegal.org, but, um, there is a specific page set up where you, uh, Tennessee Baptist pastors can go when they get there. There is a video greeting from, uh, Randy Davis, our executive director of the Tennessee Baptist mission board, and some other information, uh, can, do you have that website and can give that?
Yes, it’s just A D F as in Alliance, defending freedom, ADF church alliance.org, and then forward slash T B M B as in Tennessee Baptist mission board, ADF church Alliance that org forward slash TB MB. (https://www.adfchurchalliance.org/partners/tennessee-baptist-mission-board)
We’ll put that code or that address also in the show notes, and then in the transcript that posts with this. But, uh, there’s also a benefit once you get there and tell us what that benefit is.
Yeah. So we, the program is not just the document review. I mean that if we were just doing a one and done document review per Greg’s comments earlier, these things are changing often and they’re changing quickly. So if, even if you did a document review and updated everything back in 2015, 2016, after the same-sex marriage decision came down, there’s already things that have changed that you would need to update. And so what we’re trying to do is really form an Alliance, hence our name of churches and ministries, so that we can keep these communication lines open because one and done, isn’t going to cut it by next year. There’s going to be other things that we’re going to need to help you with. So not only do you get the document review is a part of being a member of the church Alliance, but you get a few other things.
One is, is unlimited access to our attorneys. Once you come on board, you can call ADF. Anytime you have a religious Liberty issue, you have a question you hear about something, you get that phone call, you can call ADF and you’re, you’re not charged by the hour. You can talk to them as long as you want, which if you’ve ever paid for an attorney, those hours and dollars rack up pretty quick. So you get unlimited access to our attorneys. Third, we have a online member portal that has tons of resources, legal documents, legal guides, updates on cases. It’s, it’s our, it’s our one-stop shop for you as a pastor to be able to understand and navigate these issues, uh, so that you can, you can be prepared. And then finally, and this is one of the big ones, at least from a financial standpoint, um, is as a member, if you got into a religious Liberty scenario and, uh, got sued and it was prudent for us to step in, it was prayerfully considered by both parties. It made sense from a legal strategy standpoint, if you were to be represented by ADF, you would not be charged a dime. So Jack Philips, five years after the Supreme court for the, his first case, let alone a second, a third case, never paid ADF. A penny. That is, that is from our donors. And so as a member, you get access to that same legal benefit and should there be an issue.
So let’s just think about this, uh, have no idea what it would cost to go through a court case like this. However, uh, the costs for our churches really is based on size and the smaller the church, the less that those churches paid relative, like one of our mega churches here in the state. So for literally hundreds of dollars in a year, uh, God willing, they would never face that situation and where they’d wind up in court, but for a couple of hundred dollars, the quote insurance benefit of having a partner like ADF in the corner would, would more than cover the cost of what legal fees would cost if they did not have that type of support
Oh, by, uh, by a long shot. I mean, if you get a major case, you’re, you’re hundreds of thousands, if not multiple millions of dollars in legal fees. So this is all on the ADF church alliance.org website. Um, but if you’re under 150 people on a given Sunday as a Tennessee Baptist church and, and the Tennessee Baptist convention paid for a 20% discount. So this is including that for 12 months, the document review access to the attorneys, the resources and representation for 12 months, it’s $200. And most people, most people are mind blown by that and say, how, how is that even possible? And it’s by our generous donors, we’re a hundred percent donor funded. Um, and so they subsidize most of that cost.
Yeah. Yeah. Well kind of as we land the plane here, Greg, is there one last word that, that you would offer to, uh, our pastors as they lead their churches and really just all of us as we, uh, go through our day, recognizing that, you know, we, we, we don’t live in a vacuum. We have a larger part to play in this as believers, but, uh, we also have to, you know, pay attention what’s going around us. W what final word would you give to us that would just, um, uh, keep us vigilant?
Sure. Well, given the magnitude of the threats that we’re facing, um, I, I, I think we need to be prepared in every way, uh, mentally, spiritually, logistically you name it, uh, for the challenges that are coming and that are not just coming, but here right now. And what does that translate into? I think it means that churches, religious institutions, religious organizations, who are confronting an aggressive culture needs to be more prepared than ever to participate in more political activity. Legislative, I’m not talking about endorsing candidates, but I’m talking about making your views known on issues. I can assure you that when, uh, the folks on the other side of these issues show up in state houses and congresses and Congress, they do not lack for resources. They do not lack for energy. Uh, they do not lack for people. And, um, our, our perspective is not adequately represented.
It’s one thing, you know, for someone who’s with ADF to go and talk to a staffer on Capitol Hill about the impact of the equality act. That’s great. I’m glad I come out. I have the honor and the privilege of doing that sort of thing, but you know, what really matters is if they get phone calls, emails, letters, meetings from constituents, and who’s that, that’s you, I think we need to do much better and much more to share our views with our elected representatives on this issue. They need to, I hate to put it this way, but they need to be concerned about keeping their jobs. They do things that are against the common good and against religious Liberty. Also, I think we’d be, need to be more prepared than ever for the possibility that we’re going to be involved in legal disputes. I’m not suggesting that litigation is the answer to everything, but sometimes we have to defend ourselves. Sometimes we have to go out on a limb and, uh, take a chance and, uh, be, uh, you know, forthright and trying to defend our views, defend our values, defend our beliefs. I think those two things need to change in the church in Tennessee. And more generally, we need to be more willing to speak out and assert our rights
Well, and you alluded to it, both, both of y’all did earlier, actually more than alluded to it specifically said it, um, you know, uh, we, we do have a, um, ace in the hole, so to speak, and that is God. Um, and that, you know, he listens to the prayers of his people. Um, and so, you know, the, the other side is not, um, seeking, uh, you know, something for, from a, a spiritual perspective in terms of a benefit for everyone. Uh, whereas, you know, the believer does have the opportunity to, um, look out really in love and see that, uh, beyond this, these are people who, who desperately need to hear the gospel desperately need to hear an encounter with Jesus Christ, uh, have an encounter with Jesus Christ. And it is our job beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. So, uh, you know, it’s one of those things that we need to be diligent fight, uh, you know, uh, be as wise as serpent gentle as doves, but at the same time, we also need to, um, be proclaiming gospel in love because ultimately, uh, the more people that we can win to Christ and, and have the Holy spirit changed their lives, uh, fewer people there are out there to advance an agenda. That’s contrary to what God’s designed for our world is so
Nailed it, that, that that’s, uh, love finishing on that note, Chris it’s it’s, it’s about keeping the doors open for the gospel. It’s about being able to proclaim the truth. And I just want pastors in light of the fact that a lot of this was, you know, dark sounding. Um, it, we should have hope that one Christ is, is over all of this, put all of us in place for such a time as this, but that also we have such an opportunity. I mean, where there is darkness, there is opportunity for light. And I believe that we have a greater opportunity now than ever to, to shine the light of Christ and share truth in a culture that just keeps getting darker and darker, what an opportunity. So let us, let us be encouraged with where Christ has the church. And as Greg mentioned, let’s not cower. Let’s not hide, let’s not be silent, let’s be all the more vigilant, all of the more, uh, out there with our love and the gospel. And we want you to have a confidence that ADF is behind you as you do that.
Yeah. That’s a great, great place to end it, you know, it’s, um, the antidote to what else the world is, uh, the cross of Christ and the resurrection. And that’s what, uh, we are called to advance. Well, well guys, thanks so much for being with us has been a very important, uh, conversation. I’m sure that as we go through, we’ll have some, uh, updates because obviously we need to keep people informed. And in our pastors that lead, our churches need this information. So we’ll look forward to having you guys on, in the future
Thank you for listening to Radio B&R, a podcast production of the Baptist and Reflector, the official news journal of the Tennessee Baptist mission board. This and other episodes can be downloaded at baptistandreflector.org/radioBR the ministries of the Tennessee Baptist mission board are supported through the cooperative program and gifts received through the golden offering for Tennessee missions. For more information, visit TNbaptist.org.
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