Sam Ericsson passed away last Friday after an 11-year battle with cancer. Sam had served as Director of Christian Legal Society‘s Center for Law & Religious Freedom from 1980 to 1985 and as CLS’s Executive Director from 1985 to 1991 before founding Advocates International, a global network of attorneys dedicated to religious liberty and the rule of law.
Kim Colby, Senior Counsel at the CLS Center, wrote as follows:
Sam wholeheartedly loved the Lord and life. He was a mentor and friend to many, but particularly to lawyers. As a Bible teacher, he brought to life Psalm 37, the Good Samaritan parable, Nehemiah, and so many other scriptures. Constantly, he challenged us with their practical application to everyday life.
But Sam never lived an everyday life. With a huge smile, he would beam, “How can anyone not be an optimist after the Resurrection?” A passionate and enthusiastic man, he strove to do good for his Neighbor, whether that was the person next door or a stranger in a distant land.
Fortunately for CLS, religious liberty was one of Sam’s primary passions. He was the engine behind the passage of the federal Equal Access Act in 1984. As a result, millions of public schoolchildren have had the opportunity to hear the Gospel in Bible studies after school. Countless people around the world enjoy greater religious liberty thanks to Sam’s efforts. After the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and Russia, Sam helped attorneys in numerous countries write constitutional protection for religious liberty into their new constitutions.
Sam constantly preached thankfulness, taking seriously the injunction to give thanks to God in all things. When we suffered a setback on a case or legislation, Sam would insist that we give thanks and even celebrate with an impromptu party, trusting in God’s perfect will for an eventual positive outcome.
And he was a man of integrity. During my last visit with Sam, while praying for healing, he gave God heartfelt thanks for the lessons he was learning from his pain.
Quite simply, Sam lived Micah 6:8, a verse he quoted frequently: “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Already missing him, we give great thanks to God for his life. Please keep his wife Bobby, daughter Monica, and sons Ryan and Nick in your prayers.
Sam was a pioneer in the fight for religious freedom on campus. Those who enjoy that freedom — or who continue the fight to protect it — are in Sam’s great debt.