ERLC to open Mideast office, honors embattled florist

Via Baptist Press:

An international religious freedom office in the Mideast will be opened by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Russell Moore announced at the SBC annual meeting June 17.




Moore, speaking before introducing Stutzman during the ERLC report, stated that Baptist Christians have been comfortable in American culture for most of the past century.


But, he noted, “Baptist Christianity just doesn’t do well as a water carrier for anybody’s civil religion. Ours is a jailhouse religion, carried to us by heroes who were often outlaws: Paul of Tarsus, Thomas Helwys, Roger Williams, Isaac Backus, John Leland, Martin Luther King Jr.


Some heroes “went straight from the baptistery to the jail cell to the great cloud of witnesses,” Moore said. “We are their sons and their daughters, and we stand here again on the ‘wrong’ side of history, right where we started.”


In the modern struggle for religious liberty, Stutzman’s story stands out, Moore said.


“Barronelle had a difficult choice,” he recounted. “She wanted to be kind to her friend and she wanted to honor him, but as a Christian she didn’t want to violate her conscience by participating in a ceremony that she believed to be wrong.”


Stutzman was found guilty in February of violating a gay couple’s U.S. and state civil rights and was held personally liable for damages and their attorney fees, putting her at risk of losing her business and personal holdings. Backed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, Stutzman is appealing the case and is prepared to take it to the Supreme Court.