The 86th Legislative Session in Review
by Kathryn Freeman on July 19, 2019 in clc
The 86th Legislative Session has ended and most lawmakers have returned home. Here is a recap of some of their legislative accomplishments and failures of key legislation related to the 2018-2019 CLC legislative priorities. ...
Kathryn Freeman leaving CLC after five years of service
It is with both sadness and excitement that I write to let you know we are losing a valued employee of the past five years -- Kathryn Freeman.
Kathryn will be leaving our staff the end of July in order to pursue her Master of Divinity degree full time at Baylor University's Truett Seminary. She also will be working with Truett.
Kathryn has led our public policy efforts since joining us in August 2014. She came to us as a practicing attorney with legislative staff experience, and she used her experience and abilities to further Texas Baptists's work in Austin. Kathryn especially brought a Matthew 25 emphasis on caring for "the least of these" through her policy work. The CLC has seen great success in advancing policy initiatives and blocking ill-conceived policy proposals...
Texas schools on track to receive financial infusion
by Guest Author on May 9, 2019 in clc
By Girien Salazar
One of the top bipartisan legislative priorities, this session, has been improving the Texas public school system by increasing funding. As we approach the end of the session, Texas public schools are on track to receive a major financial investment. While both parties agree on the need to increase school funding, there are still many differences to work out between what the House and Senate want to see in the school finance bill.
Currently, HB 3 is in conference committee where select members will work together to hash out the differences between the House and Senate version of the bill. Texas voters still have the opportunity to encourage their elected officials to support an equitable school finance system.
More than 90 percent of Texas school children will attend Texas public schools. Increasing quality and funding for public schools is critical to having a highly skilled workforce and building a healthy Texas economy.
HB 3 would increase the basic per-pupil allotment for all school districts (from $5,140 to $5,880), which will inject $9 billion dollars into the school finance system. Texas needs a school finance system that propels students out of poverty and helps all students reach their full potential...
Donna Burney shows that everyone can advocate
by Kathryn Freeman on March 22, 2019 in clc
Donna Burney is not your typical advocate, after serving as an English professor and then with Woman's Missionary Union, she retired. But, a few years ago, Donna became aware of the uncertainty facing women just released from prison.
The Lord gave Donna a heart for these women and a few years ago, she began “Light in the Gap” ministry. Volunteers literally meet women in the gap of time between their old lives as prisoners and their new lives in their communities.
Since its founding only a few years ago, Light in the Gap volunteers have met some 4,000 recently release women at the bus stops in their towns. They bring cookies and bags filled with toiletries and a devotional. During the winter they bring coats. But mostly, they bring Christ’s love and hope to women who feel forgotten and a deep sense of shame about their pasts.
Donna saw through her ministry an injustice, one that the hugs and prayers, while powerful, could not correct.
She reached out to the Christian Life Commission and asked for our help. The women Donna was ministering to needed an advocate to stand in the gap for them. The women needed their elected officials to step in and get the government agency responsible to change its policy. Donna met me in Austin, and we went to meet the men and women with the power to change the policy.
Before our first meeting, we prayed for God, our advocate, to stand in the gap for us, to give our words power and to give us favor with those we were to meet. And He did!...
Texas children are dying in unsafe Texas homes
by Ferrell Foster on March 4, 2019 in clc
Our Texas governor said something during his State of the State address in January that should not have been shocking, but still it is. “Last year, more than 100 children died in our Child Protective System.”
It should not have shocked us because this is not new. In fiscal year 2017, Texas had “172 confirmed child abuse and neglect-related fatalities,” according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. And that was a decrease from 2016, when 222 died.
Here are the death totals from 2010-2015: 227, 231, 212, 156, 151, and 171. That’s 1,542 deaths from 2010 until the end of the Texas fiscal year Aug. 31, 2017. We are now 18 months beyond that point.
As Gov. Abbott said, “The primary goal of government is to keep its citizens safe and secure.”
We are not doing that well enough. In 2017, 238,600 children were assigned for investigation or “alternative response” by Child Protective Services. That is a lot of children. That’s 3.18 percent of the 7.5 million Texas children....
Encouraged by pro-life events in D.C. and Austin
Two events on two successive weekends have encouraged me. In mid-January, I witnessed busloads of people streaming into Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life. One week later, I listened to thousands of people cheer during Austin’s Rally for Life.
Both events attracted large numbers of students and young adults. There’s an enormous concern evidenced by the thousands of students lifting up the importance and value of life.
A message can be gleaned from this -- pro-life supporters are not going away. And more and more pro-lifers understand that it is not just about abortion; we want to promote the value of human life from conception to natural death.
Children before birth are among the most vulnerable among us, but many women who are carrying these children are in vulnerable positions, as well. We need broad cultural understanding, support systems, and legal frameworks within which we promote the health of all children and their mothers.
In speaking at the Austin event, I noted that Texas Baptists believe every person is created in the image of God and, therefore, deserves our respect and honor from conception.
After reading Psalms 139:13-16 in both English and Spanish, I called for all Texans to work together in . . ...
Heavenly citizenship extends to our earthly political engagement
by Kathryn Freeman on January 3, 2019 in clc
uring his keynote at our 2017 Advocacy Day, Dr. Vincent Bacote, a Christian ethicist and professor at Wheaton College, said, “people’s lives as disciples ought to matter every hour of the week.” Dr. Bacote argued that our Christian discipleship should include every aspect of our lives including our political engagement, but many of us struggle to bring our politics under the full authority of Jesus Christ and Scripture.
We often compartmentalize our lives as Christians. We give the Lord dominion over our lives for two hours on Sunday, but our money, our votes, our families belong to us. Even as we declare Jesus Christ as Lord, we treat Him as if the boundaries of His kingdom extend only as far as we are comfortable. But, citizens do not declare national boundaries, the boundaries of our country are determined by those in elected authority. Christians are citizens of a heavenly kingdom, and if we declare Jesus Christ is Lord, He determines the boundaries (Colossians 1).
Scottish missiologist, Lesslie Newbigin puts its this way, “[t]he confession ‘Jesus is Lord’ implies a commitment to make good that confession in relation to the whole life of the world — its philosophy, its culture, and its politics no less than the personal lives of its people.”
While our citizenship is ultimately in heaven, our heavenly citizenship should inform our earthly one. This is not a plea for theocracy; it is a plea for Christian principles to inform how you think about policy issues and political engagement. America is not a Christian nation, our Founding Fathers intentionally included language in the Constitution prohibiting a religious test for federal elected office...
Seeking asylum: The migrant caravan and the crisis along the border
by Kathryn Freeman on November 21, 2018 in clc
In the book of Exodus, a caravan of Israelites set out from Egypt to their new home in Canaan. They faced many challenges on their journey. Some groups along the way met them with kindness, while others failed to offer any grace.
In Deuteronomy 23:4, God bans Ammonites and Moabites from entering the assembly because of their failure to meet the Israelites with food and water in the desert. In Deuteronomy 10, God reminds the Israelites of His love for the foreigner and commands them to love the foreigner because they were once foreigners in Egypt.
Obviously, America is not Israel, and the same prescriptions placed on followers of Christ do not apply to a sovereign nation. Still, we presently face our own caravans. We can apply biblical principles to our personal responses as we seek to think biblically and consider just policy solutions.
Before discussing policy reforms, it is important to understand some basics about the immigration system. As followers of Christ we should not to bear false witness in our speech. Over the last several weeks we have been bombarded with news stories about a “diseased” migrants, “invading hordes,” “terrorists,” and “drug dealers.” These news reports have sensationalized this issue to stoke fear on this side of the border.
This blog post includes basic facts about the process for seeking asylum in the U.S. and how some of those in the migrant caravan might be allowed to legally stay in the U.S. In a second post, I will include some policy ideas that enhance border security and improve the process for seeking asylum...
Red Church, Blue Church: Why Christians Need to Avoid Hyper Partisanship
by Kathryn Freeman on September 6, 2018 in clc
During the Texas Baptist Family Gathering, I led a workshop about how Christians can steward their public witness in an age of increasing tribalism. While the workshop room was packed, I think there are lessons from my workshop that deserve a broader audience because I am increasingly alarmed by the polarization in the church and what it is doing to our ability to make disciples. Many Christians are struggling within themselves to keep their partisan identities secondary to their identities as followers of Jesus Christ and it has lead to increased conflicts among believers.
According to a recent report by Lifeway, more than half of Protestant churchgoers under age 50 say they prefer to attend church with people who share their political views and few churchgoers say they attend services with people of a different political persuasion.
The increased partisan rancor in our country will have dire consequences. The church is following the culture rather than modeling how those of different political inclinations, races, genders, socioeconomic backgrounds can work together for the common good.Christians are increasingly moving to opposing corners based on politics, and our churches and our gospel witness is suffering because we have put our allegiance to our political parties before our allegiance to Christ and each other.
Unity does not mean uniformity. Democrats and Republicans -- not to mention partisans from Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America -- will be in heaven. Civic engagement and advocacy are important parts of what it means to be an American citizen, but we are first citizens of another kingdom, and must keep things in their proper order.
My pastor’s wife puts it this way, “Keep the main thing the main thing.” We are so beholden to our respective political parties we have lost sight of the main thing, namely the kingdom of God and our responsibility to make disciples.
Here are four pitfalls of the partisan trap for Christians and some suggestions for avoiding them...
Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission Explained
by Kathryn Freeman on June 5, 2018 in clc
Monday, the Supreme Court decided Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission in a 7-2 decision in favor of Masterpiece and its owner, Jack Phillips. While Phillips asked the Supreme Court to consider his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion, the Court actually only addressed his free exercise claim. ...
MURPHY VS NCAA: ¿SE LEGALIZARÁN LAS APUESTAS DEPORTIVAS EN TEXAS?
by Guest Author on May 23, 2018 in clc
En una resolución histórica el lunes bajo el rubro Murphy vs NCAA, la Corte Suprema de los EE.UU. abolió la ley de Apuestas en Deportes Profesionales y Amateur (PASPA, por sus siglas en inglés), una ley que de manera efectiva prohibía las apuestas deportivas en la mayoría de los estados alrededor del país desde hace 25 años....
Murphy v. NCAA: Is Sports Gambling Coming to Texas?
by Guest Author on May 18, 2018 in clc
By Caleb Seibert
In a landmark decision Monday entitled Murphy v. NCAA, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Betting Act (PASPA), a law that effectively eliminated legal sports betting in most states around the country for 25 years.
The case pitted the State of New Jersey (Gov. Philip Murphy) against the National Collegiate Athletic Association and three professional sports leagues.
The court found that the law violated the “anti-commandeering” principle drawn from the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. This principle holds that Congress may pass laws that must be upheld by states, but it may not issue direct orders to state governments requiring them to take certain state legislative action.
This decision does not immediately legalize sports betting across the country, but it does allow states to legalize such activity in their state if they wish to do so.
As for the effect in Texas, Rob Kohler, a Christian Life Commission consultant, says, "The recent decision by the Supreme Court regarding gambling on sporting events really has no effect on the current gambling regulations in the State of Texas.” The current leadership of Texas has repeatedly rejected efforts to expand gambling in our state. Kohler concludes: “it will however, energize proponents of this, and other forms of gambling expansion in Texas in the upcoming legislative session in January 2019...
From Revolving Door to Highway of Redemption: The Church’s Response to 'Second Chance Month'
by Guest Author on April 23, 2018 in clc
By Caleb Seibert
This month, the Christian Life Commission joined Gov. Greg Abbott and several groups to declare April “Second Chance Month” for formerly incarcerated individuals. Second Chance Month is an opportunity to highlight the challenges of formerly incarcerated individuals and their families and to share stories of redemption for those who have successfully overcome their criminal pasts.
Nearly 70,000 people are released from Texas state prisons every year, but most churches have little to no interaction with them. These people and their families often face a mountain of obstacles to re-entry ranging from work barriers and criminal debt to the deep stigmatization that comes with their past experiences.
Research by Lifeway Publishing in Nashville seems to echo this sentiment. After polling 1,000 Protestant churches, Lifeway found that 31 percent said no former inmates attended their church, 36 percent said one or two former inmates attended, and only 33 percent indicated three or more former inmates attending their church.
Hebrews 13:3 says to “remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them.” How can Christians remember those who are in prison and those who have been released?
Here are four practical suggestions for ministry . . ...
Our First Freedom: What You Need To Know About Religious Liberty
by Guest Author on March 5, 2018 in clc
By John Litzler
Religious liberty is a bedrock American freedom, but a number of legal issues related to this freedom are being sorted out in the courts and news media today.
In some ways, the Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States raised more questions than it provided answers. In its opinion the Court concluded that “same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry” and also said “the First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faith.” What happens when these two liberties appear at odds with one another?
One example of this conflict between freedoms occurred in both California and Colorado. In each place, a same-sex couple, exercising their right to marry, sought to hire a baker to create a cake for the couple’s wedding and in each case the baker declined asserting that the baker’s religious beliefs prevented the baker from making a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage...
Johnson Amendment protects churches from political manipulation
by Ferrell Foster on November 30, 2017 in clc
The tax bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and the version now being considered by the Senate would roll back the 1954 law prohibiting partisan political involvement by nonprofit organizations, including churches. This effort to repeal the Johnson Amendment would harm both churches and the American political process. Currently, pastors can speak to any issue that is important to them and their community, but they cannot push particular candidates in their role as pastor. In other words, from the pulpit, pastors can deal with any issue, but not with candidates. And, away from the church, ministers can work for a candidate, but not as part of their work for the church. Any Christian, including any pastor, can endorse and work for any candidate or cause; he or she simply cannot do it as the church organization without the church paying taxes...
Caring for All God’s Children: Children’s Health Insurance Program needs authorization
by Caleb Seibert on October 25, 2017 in clc
On Sept. 30, Congress allowed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire throughout the United States. CHIP provides coverage to children and families who have too much income to qualify for Medicaid but not enough money to pay for health insurance. Many policymakers in Washington have assured the public that the program will be refunded soon, but disagreements in Congress threaten to prolong the issue.
The subsequent waiting period and program insecurity have significant implications for Texas and the thousands of women and children reliant on CHIP-funded healthcare. One of the CLC’s human life...
Dreamers need our compassion
by Jesús Romero on September 29, 2017 in clc
Edith Franco was only 8 years old when her family crossed from Mexico into the United States to find work and a better future 17 years ago. She has lived in the U.S. most of her life, and in 2012 she received an immigration benefit known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). DACA provided a work permit that enabled them to get a job, obtain a driver's license and a Social Security card. It was not a pathway to citizenship, but it was temporary legal status.
DACA is the benefit granted to dreamers, or children who, through no fault of their own, had come to the United States with their parents and have remained in the...
85th Legislative Session is Officially Over: A Special Session Report
by Kathryn Freeman on September 29, 2017 in clc
Gov. Abbott called for a special session, which began July 18 and ended Aug. 15. The special session agenda covered 20 items that the Legislature neglected or ran out of time to pass during the 140-day regular session earlier this Spring. Click here for a list of special session agenda items.
The Christian Life Commission focused primarily on three issues in line with the public policy objectives set by our commissioners last Fall.
In accordance with Genesis 1:26-31, we believe every person has an innate dignity and worth given to them by their creator and as such are entitled to abundant life. While this does not...
Bills Are Moving; Help Them Across the Finish Line
by Kathryn Freeman on May 12, 2017 in clc
The end of the 85th Legislature is rapidly approaching. Several CLC priority bills are still moving, but we need your help to ensure they make it to the governor’s desk.
HB 4: Kinship Care
Families whose incomes are less than or equal to 300 percent of the poverty level would be eligible for a monthly payment not more than 50 percent of the reimbursement rate for foster families. HB 4 helps keep kids with their extended families by increasing financial support for kinship caregivers.
HB 4 is a wise investment in kinship care. Research has shown that children placed with relatives go through fewer placement disruptions...
Nine-member Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Missouri playground case
by John Litzler on April 19, 2017 in church admin
Today (April 19), the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is hearing oral arguments in one of the most important religious liberty cases of the last few decades. SCOTUS, which only had an eight-member court since Justice Antonin Scalia passed away last February, has a full bench for the first time in over a year. In January, President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. On April 7, Justice Gorsuch was confirmed just in time to begin hearing cases on April 17. This term will end in late June or early July when the Court recesses for the summer before its new term begins...
by Kathryn Freeman on March 9, 2017 in clc
This week, I’d like to highlight two bills the CLC is supporting relating our legislative priorities. To review the CLC legislative priorities, click here.
HB 132 expands eligibility for the one-time $1,000 cash assistance payment to aunts, uncles, and siblings of the child and reduces the age requirement from 45 to 25. About 30 percent of kinship placements in Texas are with relatives other than grandparents.
Research has shown that kids placed with relatives go through fewer placement disruptions, fewer behavioral problems, fewer mental health disorders, all while maintaining a sense of continuity in family...
Last Week Today: A Dispatch from the Capitol
by Kathryn Freeman on February 24, 2017 in clc
On Monday, I was privileged to testify before the House Human Services Committee on HB 4.
HB 4 authored by Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Mesquite) would increase financial support for relatives who take in children who must be removed from their birth parents--kinship care.
One way to improve our child welfare system is to help kids stay with their extended families. Strengthening kinship care is one of the solutions developed by the Texas House Child Welfare Working Group, which had been tasked by Speaker Straus to come up with recommendations for improving our child welfare system.
Research has shown that children who are placed...
Bacote: Some practical help to sustain your public witness
by Ferrell Foster on February 3, 2017 in clc
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. -- Apostle Paul (Galatians 6:7-10)
Paul encouraged the church in Galatia to not grow weary because he probably knew weariness can so easily overtake those who seek to do what is good and...
Johnson Amendment protects interests of both church and government
by Kathryn Freeman on February 2, 2017 in clc
Kathryn Freeman, public policy director of the Christian Life Commission, released the following statement in response to President Trump's announced intention to do away with the Johnson Amendment:
“President Trump said Thursday he would destroy a centerpiece of church-state separation in the the United States -- the Johnson Amendment. This 1954 amendment has clearly protected the tax-exempt status of churches as non-political entities dedicated to the common good of our communities, states and nation. Pastors are free now to express their views on political issues, but they cannot endorse political candidates as a function
CLC staff: Perspective on refugee resettlement program changes
by Kathryn Freeman on January 30, 2017 in clc
By Kathryn Freeman and Ferrell Foster
We are praying for President Trump and his administration as they are making many vital decisions that affect the lives of those here and abroad. We prayerfully request that President Trump reconsider the scope and effect of this order and work with congressional leadership to devise a solution that bolsters American security without causing unnecessary delays for refugees fleeing violence or disregarding traditional American values.
Here are our concerns regarding Section 5 of his Executive Order impacting refugee resettlement:
● The order places a 120-day moratorium on the U.S. Refugee...
How to Be An Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate
by Tomi L. Grover, Ph.D. on January 24, 2017 in clc
January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. In conjunction with this, advocates from across Texas are preparing to address their 85th session legislative representatives and senators on the issues pertaining to human trafficking. According to the online Texas Legislature resources, there appear to be 17 bills that have already been introduced. This is an opportune time to help our elected leaders understand the concerns of their constituency related to human trafficking and which bills on which to focus.
Here are some easy tips for becoming an anti-human trafficking advocate this session.
Vouchers pose a threat to religious liberty
by Kathryn Freeman on September 14, 2016 in clc
During the time between legislative sessions, the Texas legislators have a series of committee meetings to review previously passed legislation and examine potential legislative issues for the upcoming session. On Wednesday, Sept. 14, the Senate Committee on Education met to discuss various school choice proposals that would divert public funds from public schools to private educational institutions. Historically, the CLC has opposed vouchers over religious liberty and educational inequality concerns.
As Dr. Pinson noted in “Baptists Oppose the Constitution,” religious freedom is central to our identity as Baptists. Vouchers...
Texas’ Child Protection System is Failing our Children
by Guest Author on August 24, 2016 in clc
By Vicki Spriggs
Texas is in the midst of a crisis that, if not addressed with the highest urgency, will create lasting damage for generations to come. Children removed from their homes are placed in a structurally unsound system that is meant to protect them, but in reality often subjects them to further trauma, abuse, and neglect.
News articles continue to expose the failings of our state’s child protection system — and the system shows little indication of improvement. From excessive caseworker turnover and management flaws, to a shortage of placements due to increased removals, the system has reached a breaking point that is...
Advocacy Alert: #StoptheDebtTrap with CFPB
by Kathryn Freeman on August 4, 2016 in clc
Many of you have followed our work to reform the payday and auto-title lending industry, some have called their legislators and spoken at city council meetings in support of local payday ordinances, and there is still important work to do. Today, we are asking our network to support a new rule by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau aimed at cracking down on some of the most abusive practices in this industry.
The CFPB is designed to a “provide a single point of accountability for enforcing federal consumer financial laws and protecting consumers in the financial marketplace.” The CFPB is structured to insulate it, and...
Beware of payday loan wolves
by Guest Author on July 7, 2016 in clc
By Anyra Cano-Valencia
(Adapted from a piece that originally appeared in Christianity Today.)
In the Spring of 2013, my husband, Pastor Carlos Valencia, and I had just finished dinner when we got one of those heart wrenching visits at home, where a church member or neighbor appears broken and suffering. Mrs. Mendoza (not her real name) was desperate, defeated, and ashamed. She didn’t know who to turn to other than her pastor, someone she trusted.
In tears, she said was responsible for her family losing their home, and she was about to lose her car: She was too frightened to tell her husband. We were shocked, confused, and angry....
Education inequity should concern Christians
by Ferrell Foster on May 10, 2016 in clc
Some things are simply wrong. They harm people; they dishonor God. And, it is wrong what we are doing to children in Texas. We are failing to educate many of them during a time in which education is essential to their future well-being.
As Christians, we care not only for our own children and the kids in our church; we have a deep concern for all children because they contain the very image of God. Just as our “pro-life” stance causes us to care for the lives of unborn children, we are called to care for them after their birth. ( Christianity Today recently published another article I wrote on this subject, which also deals...
A Christian Response to Reentry
by Douglas Smith on April 27, 2016 in clc
I walked out of prison more resilient than I was at intake, a miracle considering the harsh nature of prison. At intake, I was completely defeated. My addiction had progressed to criminality, and everything in my life that had any value to me was stripped away. I was filled with shame. The Christian volunteers I met while in prison helped me see that I am not defined by the worse thing I ever did. None of us are. They helped me to chart a path to forgiveness and hope.
Along the way, I embraced the limited opportunities available to me. I earned excellent performance reviews in my job as a clerk, and I volunteered as a peer...
Now What? What to do the Day After A Life-Changing Experience
by Kathryn Freeman on April 7, 2016 in clc
We have all been there. We’ve gone to a life changing conference or heard an amazing sermon or even just had a really amazing quiet time to start our day and afterwards, we are super charged and ready to do amazing things for God. We are going to change the world!
And then, we step outside our door or return home or enter our churches, and we aren’t quite as sure. We don’t know how to get started, or we do start and are met with obstacles or roadblocks. Other people aren’t excited; the pastor doesn’t want to implement your new missions strategy; your husband doesn’t want to sell all of your possessions and move to an immigrant...
Predatory lending is unjust because it traps borrowers
by Stephen Reeves on February 17, 2016 in clc
(Stephen Reeves will lead a workshop titled "Predatory Lending and the Church: Morality, Missions and Advocacy" during the CLC's Micah 6:8 Conference March 31-April 1 at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio.)
Through the prophet Micah, God commands us to do justice. Doing justice is not extra credit; it is not bonus activity or tangential to the Gospel. The work of justice is at the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came proclaiming release to those held captive.
Millions of our neighbors are held captive by modern debt-slavery. Predatory lending, in the form of payday and auto title loans, ensnares many...
It's January, but March 1 is coming
by Ferrell Foster on January 5, 2016 in clc
Things are about to get crazy in Texas – or crazier. It is less than two months before the Republican and Democratic primary elections here (March 1), and early voting begins Feb. 16.
No party speaks for God. There will be committed Christians, as well as others, running in both parties. Some of them will actually use language that connects deeply with those of us who seek to follow Christ.
Language is a powerful tool for good or evil, right or wrong. As a result, we Christians need to listen with all the intelligence and wisdom we can muster through the help of the Holy Spirit. We listen with the ears of Texans and Americans, but...
Reyes to testify in support of House Bill 3567
by Kathryn Freeman on April 22, 2015 in clc
AUSTIN–This morning, Gus Reyes, director of the Christian Life Commission, will be testifying in support of a bill by Rep. Scott Sanford (Executive Pastor at Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church in Allen). The bill will be heard in Texas House State Affairs.
HB 3567 protects religious organizations, or entities controlled by religious organization (such as schools) or pastors and staff from having to solemnize or participate in anyway with any marriage that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Below is the testimony Reyes will be giving:
I am Gus Reyes, Executive Director Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission and I am for...
CLC opens doors for advocates to interact at the Capitol
by Kalie Lowrie on April 21, 2015 in news
AUSTIN - Advocates work for the best interest of all, the voiceless, or marginalized, Kathryn Freeman, director of public policy for the Christian Life Commission, shared with attendees at CLC Advocacy Day.
The event was hosted on April 9, at the First United Methodist Church in Austin, across the street from the State Capitol building. Listen to a review of the day here:
Executive Director David Hardage was in attendance for the day, giving a welcome to Advocacy Day attendees. Hardage was encouraged by the response for the day, noting, "Anybody who is here who isn't familiar with the CLC will learn more about...
Texas RFRA Is Both Necessary and Working
by Kathryn Freeman on April 8, 2015 in faith
Given the current media firestorm around proposed RFRA laws in Indiana and Arkansas, the Christian Life Commission would like to give a brief history of RFRA laws and reiterate our support for state RFRA laws that mirror the federal law.
The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed in 1993 in response to the Supreme Court decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which held that generally applicable laws that conflict with religious beliefs do not violate the First Amendment. The Smith ruling meant that any law, as long as it was not intended to prohibit the free exercise of religion, is valid even if it restricted...
States need RFRA matching federal model, like Texas
by Gus Reyes, Kathryn Freeman and Ferrell Foster on April 2, 2015 in clc
The Christian Life Commission staff believes it is wise for each state to pass RFRA laws or constitutional amendments that mirror the federal RFRA language. The Texas RFRA mirrors the federal RFRA, both passed with bipartisan support and reflecting an appropriate balance between religious freedom and government interests.
The CLC is proud to have worked on passage of the Texas RFRA 16 years ago. We believe respect for religious freedom is an important part of our democracy, and separation of church and state is a foundational Baptist distinctive.
Religious freedom is not a partisan issue. We believe it is possible to...
The Cavalry Has Arrived: How the Federal Government Plays an Important Role in Protecting the Poor
by Kathryn Freeman on April 2, 2015 in culture
Have you ever heard the phrase "send in the cavalry?" It's a colloquialism, but historically its a military term for the regiment of an army that fights on horseback. The cavalry historically was the most easily mobilized unit of an army and men fighting on horseback were at a greater advantage than those fighting on foot. For one they had greater height and speed than their opponents on the ground and the improved mobility helped them outflank and overpower their opponents more easily. In the movies, the moment the cavalry arrives is usually the moment the enemy is overpowered and the battle ends for the good guys.
Well, this week...
Did You Know It Pays to Prey on the Poor In Texas?
by Kathryn Freeman on February 26, 2015 in clc
An unexpected medical bill, car trouble, buying school supplies, a funeral or a summer utility bill—one or many of these expenses have pushed countless Texans to the financial brink. Needing a way to meet the unexpected expense, many families turn to payday and auto title lenders who are all too happy to profit off of people's misfortune.
Usually payday and auto-title borrowers are already financially fragile and rather than being a lifesaver these loans become an anchor. Payday loans are unsecured short-term loans that simply require a job and access to a bank account. Payday lenders are not required to determine the...
Anti Human Trafficking Rally
by Jordan Corona on February 19, 2015 in clc
In case you missed it. Here's a look at the anti human trafficking rally last week.
When Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) took to the steps Thursday morning, February 12, at the south end of the state Capitol, she addressed individuals who share a common concern; seeing the end of slavery once and for all in the United States.
She talked about human trafficking, which the State Department of Public Safety defines as the: "Recruitment, harboring, transporting or procurement of a person for labor or services for the purpose of involuntary servitude, slavery or forced commercial sex acts."
Nationally, Texas ranks...
Freedom for captives: The CLC is working to end trafficking
by Kathryn Freeman on February 5, 2015 in clc
As the 84th Legislative Session has begun, the CLC staff wants to provide an overview of our public policy priorities. Last week, we talked about advocacy in general, and this week we explore human trafficking.
Many people assume the 13th amendment ended slavery in America, but there are still slaves among us. Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transporting or procurement of a person for labor or services for the purpose of involuntary servitude or commercial sex acts. Everyday men, women and children are forced into manual labor or commercial sexual acts against their will. This modern day slavery exists in...
New opportunities in a new year
by Kathryn Freeman on January 8, 2015 in clc
In Isaiah, the Lord tells the Israelites that His servants will faithfully bring forth justice to the nations and describes them as a light to the nations capable of opening blind eyes, breaking the chains of the oppressed, and setting captives free (Isaiah 42:1-9, Isaiah 58). As the 84th Legislative Session is set to begin next Tuesday, we have a new opportunity to engage in this kingdom work at the Capitol. Here are just a few of the policy priorities the Christian Life Commission will be focused on in the upcoming session:
- Ending the financial exploitation of the poor
- Protecting victims of human trafficking
- Advocating for a "just"
Election Day provides opportunity to express citizenship
by Kathryn Freeman on October 30, 2014 in uncategorized
The Bible exhorts Christians to be good citizens while on earth (Romans 13:1-8). Voting is one of the foundational requirements to good citizenship. With Election Day quickly approaching it is important to head to the polls. We, as believers, should actively engage in understanding the policy issues affecting our communities and neighbors. We should vote in accordance to God's agenda for this world and not just on blind allegiance to a political party or person.
To that end, we should evaluate for ourselves, in accordance with Scripture, which candidates''stated priorities best align with the Word of God. These are some good...