By BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler

Happy New Year! I’ve waited months to say those words to you!

Thank you for giving generously at the end of the year. Your continuing support not only propels our work into this new year, but it also provides a tangible expression of your commitment to and investment in promoting our shared values of protecting everyone’s faith freedom. And if you missed giving at year-end or want to make a gift to launch us into this year, please give online now.

As we embark hopefully into 2021 and consider our work in the context of a new Congress, Administration and Supreme Court, I want to share our plans with you. The year 2020 taught us that we can’t guess what this year might hold, though we know we are still faced with many of the same challenges — a global pandemic, systemic racism, deep polarization and divisions in American society. We have our work cut out for us, and we at BJC are ready to do our part!

Religious Freedom has been white too long. What does this mean and how do we address it? BJC will continue and redouble our efforts to expand perspectives on faith freedom, hosting speakers and programs specifically highlighting scholars, theologians and faith leaders who are Black, Latino, Native American and from other communities of color. We will also be examining our institutional history and making reparations, including reimagining our work at the intersection of religious liberty and racial justice.

We’ve spent the past 18 months taking a deep dive into understanding Christian nationalism. We believe the best way to combat this insidious ideology and the myth of a “Christian nation” is to build a Faith Freedom Nation. As Americans, we don’t share a common religion, and not all of us claim a faith tradition. But we do share a constitutional system that says there are no second-class faiths. We all have an equal right and responsibility to engage constructively in the public square, regardless of our religion.

We champion Faith Freedom For All, a concept that considers everyone’s religious liberty and not just the freedom of a privileged few. Protecting “our religious liberty” can look very different from looking out only for “my religious liberty.” We believe that this expansive vision for religious freedom has the power to unify our communities.

Throughout the coming weeks and months, we’ll be introducing each of these areas of focus in more detail and inviting you to imagine how you might be called to connect and contribute to our shared efforts in your community.

Amanda Tyler is Executive Director of BJC.

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