Commentary: Legislators to be recognized for protecting life, religious freedom and children


Georgia Baptists are once again looking forward to recognizing our “Legislators of the Year” at the 10th Annual Georgia Baptist Pastors Day at the State Capitol on February 6.

Each year, Georgia Baptists recognize a Senate and House member with an award, thanking them for their extraordinary service to Georgia and God’s Kingdom here on earth.

This year we will be giving our 2023 Legislator of the Year Awards to Sen. Ed Setzler (District 37, Acworth, Ga.) and Rep. Will Wade (District 9, Dawsonville, Ga.). These men are exemplary leaders on standing for the right principles in government. The statement on the plaque they will be given reads: "Given in grateful appreciation for your leadership and commitment to Godly principles as you represent your constituents at the State Capitol."

Sen. Ed Setzler

Sen. Ed Setzler, a Republican, has served the communities of Cobb and Bartow Counties in the Georgia Senate since January 2023. He previously served 18 years in the House of Representatives.

He has always been a champion for life and was the author in 2019 of House Bill 481 – the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act (The LIFE Act), known as the heartbeat law.

Last year he introduced Senate Bill 180, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, known as RFRA. This bill is still alive in the Senate and will hopefully be passed this year. This legislation is very simple – it merely provides that the RFRA protections from federal law will also apply to religious-liberty questions arising under Georgia law.

Sen. Setzler is a legislator who is committed to the principles of human dignity and constitutionally limited government. He serves on the Senate Judiciary, Health & Human Services, Education, and Science & Technology Committees.

Throughout his time in the legislature, he has worked in a full-time job as a leader in the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industry for more than 20 years. A graduate of the US Army Ranger School, he earned a BS in Physics from Furman University in 1992 and served on active duty for nine years as a US Army officer with leadership assignments in Europe, the US, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf.

Sen. Setzler and his wife Tracie, a high school teacher, are parents of four children and attend the St. Stephen Orthodox Christian Church in Hiram, GA.

Re. Will Wade

Rep. Will Wade is a Republican and has been a member of the House of Representatives, since 2021. This district represents Dawson, Lumpkin and White counties.

He is a native of Dawsonville and a graduate of Dawson County High School. After graduating from the University of North Georgia, he began his career as a community banker. He also served for 15 years on the Dawson County Board of Education.

He currently serves as a House Floor Leader for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. He also serves on the House Appropriations, Banks and Banking, Education, Juvenile Justice, State Planning and Community Affairs Committees.

Rep. Wade has been a noted advocate for parental rights and child protection. In 2022, he was the author of HB 1084, which was a ban on teaching critical race theory in public schools. It passed the legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Kemp.

HB 1084 was important legislation that helped children to know that they are all “image bearers,” and they should not be made to feel ashamed of who they are and be distrustful of their neighbor. This bill also helped children to know that they do not need to feel as though they are inherently oppressed or inherently oppressors based on their race.

It has been his support for legislation that protects our parents, children and schools. Even in the face of attacks, he has never backed down and always stands up to protect kids from radical agendas that harm them.

Rep. Wade is married to Jennifer, who is an educator for Lumpkin County Schools, and they have two children. They are members of Mill Creek Baptist Church in Dahlonega, Ga.

We need to thank the Lord for such men as these in the Georgia Legislature.  We also need to be praying that more people like them will run for office and get elected. We need more of God’s “salt and light” in leadership around our state and nation.

Please make plans now to attend the Pastors Day at the State Capitol this year. It is not just for pastors. It is for all leaders and church members in our state. Please check out this information and registration link:


Mike Griffin is the Public Affairs Representative of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.