The National Association of Evangelicals has advocated for religious liberty in America and around the world since the NAE was founded in 1942. The issues have ranged from severe religious persecution in other countries to matters of taxation, expressions of worship and freedom from government control of religious institutions in the United States.

In early 21st century America, there has been an intensifying conflict between protection of individual and organizational religious liberty and the civil rights of LGBT persons. Both sides of this polarization have factions calling for laws that are perceived as oppressive and discriminatory by others. Some have sought solutions acceptable to all.

The primary approaches to the debate have been judicial (i.e., let the courts decide), legislative (i.e., let the Congress decide) and cultural (i.e., let public opinion decide).

The large and diverse NAE Board of Directors has explored the different approaches for several years, always seeking protections of religious liberty for schools, rescue missions, adoption agencies, retirement communities, churches, hospitals, small businesses, individuals and others. There are different opinions and commitments among our board members and the constituencies they represent.

Acknowledging these differences and respecting the opinions and convictions of the NAE board and constituencies, the National Association of Evangelicals will continue to work for the protection of religious freedom in a changing environment with regular updates to our board. We will meet with parties with whom we agree and with whom we disagree. This will include engaging our staff and designated leaders to represent the NAE in legislative negotiations and judicial and cultural options.

As we pray, discuss, advise, negotiate and advocate on these issues we will seek to be biblical, civil, thoughtful and wise. We will avoid criticizing those who criticize us. Our highest priority is to honor God as we represent the broad diversity of the National Association of Evangelicals. We desire to appropriately acknowledge and respect differences among evangelicals as we take our place at the tables of advocacy.

Leith Anderson
Leith Anderson is president emeritus of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor emeritus of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He served as NAE president from 2007-2019, after twice serving as interim president. He served as senior pastor of Wooddale Church for 35 years before retiring in 2011. He has been published in many periodicals and has written over 20 books. Anderson has a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Bradley University and Denver Seminary.