The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC), an Americans United ally, has hired Amanda Tyler to be its executive director beginning in 2017.
Tyler began her BJC career as a volunteer while attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., for her undergraduate studies. After graduating with honors from Georgetown, she was hired by BJC as an assistant to the general counsel. She later left the group to attend law school at the University of Texas, then worked as an attorney in private practice and clerked for a U.S. district court judge in Texas. Afterward, she worked for U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) in both Austin and Washington, D.C.
Although Tyler was not employed by BJC at the time of her hiring, she remained heavily involved with the organization by serving on its board of directors from 2010-2016.
“There are many challenges and opportunities surrounding our First Freedom, such as increasing religious pluralism and the unease it can bring,” Tyler said in a statement. “The Baptist Joint Committee, with its rich history and deep expertise, is uniquely positioned to be a voice for all people who want to defend and extend God-given religious liberty for generations to come. I truly believe that our entire world has never needed the BJC as much as it does right now….”
Melissa Rogers, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and former general counsel of the BJC, hailed the appointment.
“Amanda is deeply committed to the mission of the Baptist Joint Committee,” Rogers said. “She is known and loved by Baptists of all ages. Amanda will help ensure that the BJC is fully embraced by younger generations. Given her Washington experience and positive relationships with a wide array of D.C. leaders, she will hit the ground running. I’m thrilled that the BJC has chosen such a talented leader to defend and extend religious liberty for all people.”
Tyler will replace J. Brent Walker, who will retire at the end of 2016. Walker spent 27 years with BJC, including 17 years as its executive director. In October he received Americans United’s Person of the Year Award for his decades of dedication to the cause of protecting religious liberty and was featured in a Q&A in last month’s issue of Church & State.
The BJC represents the interests of several moderate Baptist bodies in Washington, D.C. Although the largest Baptist group in the country, the Southern Baptist Convention, doesn’t support the BJC, individual members of that denomination who hold to traditional Baptist principles, such as support for separation of church and state, remain involved with the group.
Founded in 1936, the BJC has had a close working relationship with Americans United since the formation of the latter organization in 1947. BJC officials were instrumental in launching AU and have worked alongside the group ever since.