NASHVILLE—Trustees of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission approved a seminary president and a courtroom advocate as recipients of the Southern Baptist entity's 2018 awards Sept. 5.
Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was selected for the Distinguished Christian Service Award and Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom was awarded the Religious Liberty Award.
Russell Moore, who has completed five years as the ERLC's president, commended Mohler's leadership as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and his statesmanship in the SBC in recommending him for the Distinguished Service Award. Mohler is marking his 25th anniversary as Southern Seminary's president.
Mohler labored to return the seminary to its "theologically orthodox foundations," Moore said in his written recommendation to the trustees.
He has guided Southern "to become a leading institution for evangelical theological education," said Moore, who served as dean of the seminary's school of theology before taking his current post. Mohler's work "with the current and next generation of pastors has shaped the future of evangelical Christianity in no small measure," Moore said.
Mohler "has been a clear and consistent voice proclaiming the truth of the Gospel and its implications for every area of life" while addressing both Christian and secular audiences, Moore said.
Waggoner, ADF's senior vice president of its U.S. legal division and communications, "has distinguished herself as a true champion of religious liberty and rights of conscience," Moore said in his written recommendation of her for the religious liberty award.
Waggoner argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop in an important religious freedom case in the last term. The justices ruled in a 7-2 decision that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the religious free exercise clause of the First Amendment by penalizing Phillips for declining to design and decorate a cake for the wedding of two men.
She also has represented Barronelle Stutzman, a Southern Baptist florist who has been involved in a lengthy legal battle after she declined to design flowers for a same-sex wedding. In late June, the Supreme Court annulled a Washington Supreme Court ruling against Stutzman and ordered it to reconsider its previous decision in light of the justices' Masterpiece Cakeshop opinion.
The Distinguished Service Award is named after Richard Land, who served as the ERLC's president from 1988-2013. The Religious Liberty Award is named in honor of John Leland, a Baptist pastor in Colonial America who was instrumental in helping secure religious freedom in the Constitution's First Amendment.
In other action, the board reelected Trevor Atwood, pastor of City Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn., as chairman, and approved David Prince, pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., as vice chairman. (BP)