ERLC Panel: Religious Freedom ‘Will Be Civil Rights Issue of the 21st Century,’ Samuel Rodriguez Says

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission held a panel discussion June 9 at the Baltimore Hilton in Baltimore. Panelists included (left to right): Phillip Bethancourt, director of strategic initiatives at the ERLC; Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.; David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.; and Russell Moore, president of the ERLC. (Paul W. Lee)
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission held a panel discussion June 9 at the Baltimore Hilton in Baltimore. Panelists included (left to right): Phillip Bethancourt, director of strategic initiatives at the ERLC; Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.; David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.; and Russell Moore, president of the ERLC. (Paul W. Lee)

American Christians’ recognition of the threat to religious freedom means they not only may be persecuted but they may be culpable as persecutors, Russell D. Moore said in a panel session sponsored by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission on the eve of the 2014 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Rick Warren, David Platt and Samuel Rodriguez joined Moore, the ERLC’s president, in addressing June 9 the current status and future of religious freedom in the United States.

Many Christians “shrug off” the issue because they don’t understand they are accountable for religious liberty in the American form of government, Moore told an audience of about 260 people.

“The question,” he said, “is not only, ‘Are we going to be persecuted?’ The question is, ‘Are we going to be persecutors?’ And so if we shrug this off, what we’re doing is we’re consigning future generations, we’re consigning people’s consciences to a tyranny that we are going to be held accountable for.”

Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said that religious freedom “will be the civil rights issue of the 21st century.”

“Today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity,” he said, adding, “The firewall against secular totalitarianism is religious liberty and religious pluralism.”

Christians “need to fight for religious pluralism, religious liberty across the board,” Rodriguez said. “If not, the voice of religious liberty, religious freedom, conscience will be silenced in the 21st century.”

Warren, popular author and pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., said he does not fear freedom in a pluralistic society. He believes in pluralism, not relativism.

“In other words, I believe in a free market world,” Warren said. “The Gospel is going to win because it’s got the better story to tell. So I’m not afraid of a free market.

“I do not believe in religious coercion. I do believe in religious persuasion.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Tom Strode

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