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Open Door: Being a voice on social issues

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The reinvention of the convention introduced new concepts and new opportunities to multiply the ministries of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. One of those innovations was the employing of field-based practitioners who would join our full time staff in strengthening our ministries.

We recently employed our first field-based practitioner. Tom Rush, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Social Circle, agreed to serve with Mike Griffin at the State Capitol during this legislative session. Tom is serving as Public Affairs Representative Assistant. He is well equipped for this responsibility and actually assisted us last year by testifying before a committee under the Gold Dome. Tom is completely aware of the policies and practices of our Georgia Baptist Mission Board, having served as a member of our Executive Committee and our Administration Committee, where he also served as chairman.

We are grateful for the seemingly tireless work of Mike Griffin as our representative, lobbying on behalf of Georgia Baptist concerns. Despite a recent fall while hunting and a resulting injury to his foot, Mike displays an amazing level of energy and commitment to representing the concerns expressed by Georgia Baptists in our annual meetings. He speaks to those matters where we have legitimate concerns through resolutions passed in our annual meeting or through other actions of our convention.

There are more things going on at the Capitol than one person is able to cover by himself. Therefore, Tom’s assistance is extremely helpful in representing us in the complicated political process.

I think most folks understand why it is important for us to lobby at the Capitol for the moral integrity of our State. There are some, however, who ask, “Why do we even need to do that? We elect our legislators and trust them to do the right thing. That’s sufficient, isn’t it?”

You surely would hope so, but unfortunately every session we find new bills being initiated that are not good for our children, youth, or adults. Casino gambling and horse racing, among other pieces of legislation, are touted as ways to help our children by strengthening education. Is any consideration given to how much children and families are hurt by addictions to gambling that take money from those who can least afford to throw it away? This is lost money that should be used to provide food, clothing, and medical care for their families.

This, of course, is just one of the problems introduced by the gambling industry. Wherever casino gambling and horse racing is legalized, the door is opened to other vices including human sex trafficking and prostitution. We will stand against legalizing gambling in Georgia until the cows come home. That should not surprise anyone.

There is a move to legalize the cultivation of marijuana in Georgia, which we oppose. It is argued that the marijuana would be used only for medicinal purposes to help children with seizures and for other medical reasons far less compelling. It is already legal for children to have cannabis oil, a marijuana extract that helps children with seizures. It doesn’t take a college degree in rocket science to know what will happen if we begin growing marijuana in Georgia. We will quickly be faced with the problem of marijuana being used for recreational purposes, which will result in more deaths on the highways of Georgia, more violence in our homes, more murders on our streets, pot parties resulting is sexual assaults and juvenile use of pot, leading to incarcerations and destroyed lives.

I’m sorry that there are people who don’t understand why we Baptists have to get involved in social issues. They are probably unaware that we are under a mandate from Jesus Christ. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

Before the days of refrigeration, salt was used as a preservative. Jesus mandated that His followers have a function to fulfill in the culture. We are to preserve our society. He also makes it clear that if we have lost our saltiness, our influence for good, we are good for nothing, but to be walked over by others. That we cannot allow.

We will continue to speak for those things that are good for Georgia and challenge those things that are not good for Georgia. So, you may ask, “Who made you judge of such things?” To this, I would say what I said earlier, it doesn’t take a degree in rocket science.

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