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Why Russell Moore Matters

You may have seen by now the Wall Street Journal story [1] talking about how in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, a number of pastors and others in the Southern Baptist Convention are coming out hard against Russell Moore, the leader of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which is the public policy arm of the 16 million-member church. They’re angry that he took such a strong public stance against Trump during the campaign. Here’s a short passage from the piece that stands out:

Yet some pastors fear Mr. Moore’s criticisms of President-elect Trump mean he can’t be an effective advocate within the Trump White House, thereby costing Baptists a chance to capitalize on a victory for the religious right.

“He’s going to have no access, basically, to President Trump,” said Mr. Graham, the Texas pastor.

That comment inadvertently highlights for me the real value of Russell Moore to Christian witness in public life. I say that even though I don’t agree with all the positions he takes. Let me explain.

I’m a religious conservative who concluded some years back that our tribe had become way too involved with politics. I don’t worry at all about the church corrupting the state. I worry about the pursuit of state power corrupting the church. We got way too cozy with the Republican Party. In 2006, David Kuo, an Evangelical who had worked in the Bush White House on faith-based initiatives, blew the whistle [2]on how emissaries from the Religious Right were seen within the White House. Excerpts from what he told 60 Minutes about his then-new book:

In his book, Kuo wrote that White House staffers would roll their eyes at evangelicals, calling them “nuts” and “goofy.”

Asked if that was really the attitude, Kuo tells Stahl, “Oh, absolutely. You name the important Christian leader and I have heard them mocked by serious people in serious places.”

Specifically, Kuo says people in the White House political affairs office referred to Pat Robertson as “insane,” Jerry Falwell as “ridiculous,” and that James Dobson “had to be controlled.” And President Bush, he writes, talked about his compassion agenda, but never really fought for it.

“The President of the United States promised he would be the leading lobbying on behalf of the poor. What better lobbyist could anybody get?” Kuo wonders.

What happened?

“The lobbyist didn’t follow through,” he claims.

“What about 9/11?” Stahl asks. “All the priorities got turned about.”

“I was there before 9/11. I know what happened before 9/11 … The trend before 9/11 was…president makes a big announcement and nothing happens,” Kuo replies.

Kuo speaks as an insider. Even before he became the number two guy in the White House faith-based office, he had a long resume in the world of Christian conservatives.

Kuo says he took candidate Bush at his word during the 2000 campaign.

At the time, Bush proposed for the first time that he would spend $8 billion dollars on programs for the poor.

“I think it’s one of the most important political speeches given in the last generation. I really do,” says Kuo. “It laid out a whole new philosophy for Republicans.”

After the election, to much fanfare, President Bush created the office of faith-based initiatives to increase funds to religious charities.

But Kuo says there were problems right off the bat. For one, he says the office dropped very quickly down the list of priorities.

Asked how much money finally went to them, Kuo says laughing, “Oh, in the first two years, first two years I think $60 million.”

“When you hold it up to a promise of $8 billion, I don’t know how good I am at math, but I know that’s less than one percent of a promise,” says Kuo.

Part of the problem, he says, was indifference from “the base,” the religious right. He took 60 Minutes to a convention of evangelical groups – his old stomping ground – and walked around the display booths, looking for any reference to the poor.

“You’ve got homosexuality in your kid’s school, and you’ve got human cloning, and partial birth abortion and divorce and stem cell,” Kuo remarked. “Not a mention of the poor.”

“This message that has been sent out to Christians for a long time now: that Jesus came primarily for a political agenda, and recently primarily a right-wing political agenda – as if this culture war is a war for God. And it’s not a war for God, it’s a war for politics. And that’s a huge difference,” says Kuo.

David Kuo died from cancer a few years back, but I’ve thought about him time to time this year, wondering of what he would have made of leading Evangelical pastors and other figures rushing to embrace Trump. On David’s telling, even in a White House led by a believing Evangelical, George W. Bush, conservative Evangelicals weren’t taken seriously. The progressive Evangelical academic David Gushee writes this week [3] that Christian leaders who think having access to the White House means they will be taken seriously in policy decisions are fooling themselves. He should know: he was one of the religious leaders brought in to the circles around President Obama, but says now that the value of this exercise was not to their causes, but to the cause of keeping the Religious Left fired up for Obama. Gushee now contends that religious leaders who fall for the allure of access to political power are “useful idiots” for politicians.

Russell Moore is many things, but he is not a useful idiot for the Republican Party, or the Democratic Party. I don’t agree with him on everything (e.g., I think I’m more of an immigration restrictionist than he is, but I completely support his advocacy for humane treatment of immigrants [4], illegal and otherwise), but he has undoubtedly become the most prominent and credible spokesman for small-o orthodox Christianity in the public square than any other church leader, including Catholics and other non-Protestants. Why? Because he’s nobody’s man but Christ’s — and what a rare thing that is among senior Christian leaders who engage in politics and public policy.

I’ve talked with a few secular liberals over the past couple of years — some who have met Moore, others who haven’t — who have told me that Russell Moore is the first conservative Christian pastor they’ve felt like would listen to them. In the past, they wrote off all of us as stooges for the GOP. The thing is, Moore does not water down his witness; on the hot-button issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, he unapologetically preaches and teaches the traditional Gospel. But when he speaks, even if you disagree with him, you know that you’re talking to a real person, not an ordained advocate for a political agenda.

This became clear during the 2016 election, when he began speaking out against Donald Trump. Here’s something Moore told fellow Baptists back in June. He was talking like this all year, back when Trump was a seeming long shot, till the very day of his election:

Yes, I will be writing in a candidate this year and the reason for that is simple. The life issue can not flourish in a culture of misogyny and sexual degradation. The life issue can not flourish when you have people calling for the torture and murder of innocent non-combatants. The life issue can not flourish when you have people who have given up on the idea that character matters. If you lose an election you can live to fight another day and move on, but if you lose an election while giving up your very soul then you have really lost it all, and so I think the stakes are really high.

And I think the issue, particularly, when you have people who have said, and we have said, and I have said for twenty years the life issue matters, and the life issue is important… When you have someone who is standing up race baiting, racist speech, using immigrants and others in our communities in the most horrific ways and we say ‘that doesn’t matter’ and we are part of the global body of Christ simply for the sake of American politics, and we expect that we are going to be able to reach the nations for Christ? I don’t think so, and so I think we need to let our yes be yes and our no be no and our never be never.

He was right about Trump’s character and behavior. I can understand orthodox Christians voting for Trump as the lesser of two serious evils, but in that case, for believers, it ought to have been a sackcloth-and-ashes moment. I saw somewhere a link to this 1998 Resolution on the Moral Character of Public Officials [5], passed by the Southern Baptist Convention in the wake of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment over the Lewinsky affair. It says, in part:

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 9-11, 1998, in Salt Lake City, Utah, affirm that moral character matters to God and should matter to all citizens, especially God’s people, when choosing public leaders; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we implore our government leaders to live by the highest standards of morality both in their private actions and in their public duties, and thereby serve as models of moral excellence and character; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we urge all citizens, including those who serve in public office, to submit themselves respectfully to governing authorities and to the rule of law; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists and other Christians to fulfill their spiritual duty to pray regularly for the leaders of our nation (1 Timothy 2:1-4 [6]); and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That we urge all Americans to embrace and act on the conviction that character does count in public office, and to elect those officials and candidates who, although imperfect, demonstrate consistent honesty, moral purity and the highest character.

Seems to me that Russell Moore, in speaking out against Trump on the basis of Trump’s public character, was being faithful to Southern Baptist policy — which, one must hope, applies equally to Republican candidates for office as it does to Democratic ones.

Earlier this fall, in his Erasmus Lecture at First Things [7], Moore focused on the future of the Religious Right. Here’s how it begins:

I am an heir of Bible Belt America, but also a survivor of Bible Belt America. I was reared in an ecosystem of Evangelical Christianity, informed by a large Catholic segment of my family and a Catholic majority in my community. I memorized Bible verses through “sword drill” competitions, a kind of Evangelical spelling bee in which children compete to see who can find, say, Habakkuk 3:3 the fastest. The songs that floated through my mind as I went to sleep at night were hymns and praise choruses and Bible verses set to music. Nonetheless, from the ages of fifteen through nineteen, I experienced a deep spiritual crisis that was grounded, at least partially, in, of all things, politics.

The cultural Christianity around me seemed increasingly artificial and cynical and even violent. I saw some Christians who preached against profanity use jarring racial epithets. I saw a cultural Christianity that preached hellfire and brimstone about sexual immorality and cultural decadence. And yet, in the church where the major tither was having an affair everyone in the community knew about, there he was, in our neighbor congregation’s “special music” time, singing “If It Wasn’t for That Lighthouse, Where Would This Ship Be?” I saw a cultural Christianity with preachers who often gained audiences, locally in church meetings or globally on television, by saying crazy and buffoonish things, simply to stir up the base and to gain attention from the world, whether that was claiming to know why God sent hurricanes and terrorist attacks or claiming that American founders, one of whom possibly impregnated his own human slaves and literally cut the New Testament apart, were orthodox, Evangelical Christians who, like us, stood up for traditional family values.

I saw a cultural Christianity cut off from the deep theology of the Bible and enamored with books and audio and sermon series tying current events to Bible prophecy—supermarket scanners as the mark of the Beast, Gog and Magog as the Soviet Union or, later, Saddam Hussein or al-Qaeda or the Islamic State as direct fulfillments of Bible prophecy. When these prophecies were not fulfilled, these teachers never retreated in shame. They waited to claim a new word from God and sold more products, whether books or emergency preparation kits for the Y2K global shutdown and the resulting dark age the Bible clearly told us would happen.

And then there were the voter guides. A religious right activist group from Washington placed them in our church’s vestibule, outlining the Christian position on issues. Even as a teenager, I could recognize that the issues just happened to be the same as the talking points of the Republican National Committee. With many of these issues, there did seem to be a clear Christian position—on the abortion of unborn children, for instance, and on the need to stabilize families. But why was there a “Christian” position on congressional term limits, a balanced budget amendment, and the line item veto? Why was there no word on racial justice and unity for those of us in the historical shadow of Jim Crow?

I was left with the increasingly cynical feeling—an existential threat to my entire sense of myself and the world—that Christianity was just a means to an end. My faith was being used as a way to shore up Southern honor culture, mobilize voters for political allies, and market products to a gullible audience. I was ready to escape—and I did. But I didn’t flee the way so many have, through the back door of the Church into secularism. I found a wardrobe in a spare room that delivered me from the Bible Belt back to where I started, to the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

He’s talking about reading C.S. Lewis, and coming to understand that there was a lot more to Christianity than the Southern white middle class at prayer. Later in the lecture, Moore said:

The question of moral credibility is real, but a loss of moral credibility is not the most traumatic wound of 2016. Some Christian leaders and publications pronounce a self-described unrepentant man a “baby Christian” or as representing “Christian values and family values.” With this, we have left far behind quibbles about which candidate is the lesser of two evils or about the future of the Supreme Court or even whether we should support candidates we never could have imagined supporting before. This is instead a first-order question of theology—overheard by the world of our mission field—a question of the very definition of the Gospel itself, and what it means to be saved or lost.

In the twentieth century, a fundamentalist leader defined a “compromising Evangelical” as “a fundamentalist who says to a liberal, ‘I’ll call you a Christian if you’ll call me a scholar.’” It seems now that we have some Evangelicals who are willing to say to politicians, “I’ll call you a Christian if you’ll just call me.” Garry Wills, a harsh and sometimes caricaturing critic of those of us who are religious conservatives, once said that the failure of Evangelical political activism is that it is not Evangelical enough. “The problem with evangelical religion,” Wills said, “is not (so much) that it encroaches on politics, but that it has so carelessly neglected its own sources of wisdom.” He warned, “It cannot contribute what it no longer possesses.” That may or may not have been true when Wills wrote those words, but who can ignore the fact that his words now ring true?

Further in the lecture, he said:

I understand why some, including some devout religious conservatives, argue that they recognize the moral and temperamental unfitness of a man such as Trump for the nation’s highest office, but feel they must cast their ballots for him in an effort to forestall the very real perils of a Supreme Court increasingly hostile to the most basic of religious freedoms and constitutional restraints. While I disagree with my religious conservative friends who think this way, that is a respectable and defensible view. They are not provoking the crisis we face today.

Instead:

the crisis comes from the fact that the old-guard religious right political establishment normalized an awful candidate—some offering outright support in theological terms, others hedging their bets and whispering advice behind closed doors. The situation is more dire still because, following the release of the Access Hollywood tapes, it was religious conservatives who were about the only group in America willing to defend serious moral problems, in high-flying moral terms no less.

To be clear, the 2016 campaign did not provoke this crisis. This was a pre-existing condition. The religious right turns out to be the people the religious right warned us about.

Moore points out that the Religious Right as a political force is quickly surpassing its sell-by date. Among Evangelicals, he says, the young seminarians who are going to be tomorrow’s pastors are theologically orthodox, but don’t share the old guard’s interest in partisan politics. Said Moore, “this is not because they are liberal but because they give priority to the Gospel and mission.”

The last part of Moore’s lecture (
read the whole thing  [7]) says that Evangelicals (and, I would add, the rest of us Christians) need to re-focus on our primary identity as believers in and servants of Jesus Christ. “Those who stand with Christ must articulate, including to themselves, why and how Christianity matters,” he said. Moore meant that we are now living in a time when nobody can take the American public’s religious knowledge or commitment for granted. (I have called this condition “post-Christian America.”) The cultural Christianity in which Moore was raised is rapidly disintegrating, though those living deepest in the bubble are going to be the last ones to know.

In his excellent 2015 book Onward [8], Moore says the end of cultural Christianity is a good thing, because it forces us believers to confront what we truly believe, and what that requires of us. The thing is, Moore does not believe Christians can disengage from politics or any other forms of activism in the public square. What he’s calling for is a fundamental re-ordering of American Christian life, such that all things — our politics and everything else — are subordinated to our theological commitments. That has gotten seriously disordered, says Moore, with many believers placing worldly success, including keeping access to power, over sacrificial service to Christ.

In this context, that means that the church can never be seen as in the pocket of one political party and its president. Access to power in Washington is quite a prize, but it is not worth selling out the integrity of one’s witness to the Gospel. I’m no Southern Baptist, but it seems to me that any church would want its chief public policy spokesman to be someone who understands this clearly, and who is not afraid to suffer slings and arrows for it — even when those arrows are shot at him from behind.

Disclosure: I know Russell Moore somewhat, and consider him a friend, though I can’t say we’ve spent a lot of time together. I admire his thought, his preaching, and above all his moral courage. I don’t know how this is going to shake out for him at the ERLC, and I hope for the best — not only for him and the church he serves, but for all of us orthodox Christians who look to him as the best and most effective advocate we have in the public square. Whatever happens, he will have come through this trial with his integrity intact — and, therefore, his moral authority as a Christian leader. That’s always a thing of great value, given its scarcity in all times, but especially so as a voice for Christian values in the public square of post-Christian America.

99 Comments (Open | Close)

99 Comments To "Why Russell Moore Matters"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 21, 2016 @ 3:46 pm

Former President Bill Clinton’s self-righteous hypocrisy was on full display when he made his recent public spectacle along with Andrew Cuomo, of voting for his wife as a New York elector. He may have been a “faithful elector,” but that loyalty did not extend to being a faithful husband, to this day, according to Colin Powell’s leaked emails, which predicted Bill’s current behavior meant he would be “banging bimbos” again in the White House. Since these partners in power’s loyalty is based upon political calculation, now gone awry, it isn’t delusional to believe that like last time in the White House, we would have again gotten a twofer. How moral can it be to bear false witness and ignoring everything that is culpable in oneselves, blame it all on a “Manchurian Candidate” being hacked by the evil Russians into the White House?

#2 Comment By JonF On December 21, 2016 @ 3:56 pm

RE: As for Moore’s critique of Trump’s character, there is a lot more to character than sex and not using cuss words.

Trump’s sins go far beyond potty-mouthed womanizing. He is imprudent and has a poorly governed temper. And while “honest politician” may be almost an oxymoron, Trump’s lack of acquaintance with the truth is appalling even for that profession. He is a pathological liar, a cheat, and a fraud.

#3 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 21, 2016 @ 3:58 pm

I think that Trump is both our curse and a blessing.

As White House economic Herb Stein observed, “When things just can’t go on, they won’t.”

They didn’t. One way or another, the status quo is going to be under assault, and it needs to be. If that discredits America in the eyes of others, that is simply something that ought to have occurred long since. If we had looked at ourselves in the mirror, more of us than might want to admit it, and not all who voted for him, either, may have seen the simulacrum of a vain Trump visage staring back.

America has not been what it ought, and not moving in the direction it ought to have, for some time. And that includes not just its controlling bankster elites and associated donorists, but most of us they rule over, left, right and center.

#4 Comment By Jacob L On December 21, 2016 @ 4:00 pm

Of course, Rod won’t have the courage to publish this comment.

[NFR: Of course the only line of your rant that I published was the final one. I’m pretty sure I would have published the whole thing, if not for this line. Now you can go jump in the lake. — RD]

#5 Comment By Anonne On December 21, 2016 @ 4:53 pm

There is no way to see Trump as a Christian. But it is a no brainer that for Christians in a time of existential threat, Trump was the guy to vote for.

This is risible. Trump is not just not Christian but an amoral thug. Christianity, from the perspective of cultural dominance, may be in decline but real Christianity, defined as a real relationship with Jesus Christ, is as it ever was: rare. One does not need the imprimitur of government to worship and have a relationship with Jesus Christ. That has never been a problem and the First Amendment guarantees it. The only seemingly gray areas come in anti-discrimination laws where you have to interact with people not like you.

Comments like this:

He lost credibility when he took money from Soros to shill for open borders.

and this

Russell Moore can lay down in his bed having suffered a humiliating repudiation by the Christians he claims to speak for. Evangelicals went overwhelmingly for Trump. Few outside Moore’s circle respect his political views. Moore, therefore, deserves the wilderness. He deserves it for his mean and petty commentary on Trump and his supporters, and for carrying the hedge fund manager Paul Singer’s water and the Chamber of Commerce’s open borders agenda.

… demonstrate how extremely cynical and political this is.

Have people considered that Russell Moore considers this to be a Christian position consistent with Jesus’ teaching? You may not agree, but can you at least follow the logic?

I also have to laugh at this:

Evangelicals have plenty of honorable and competent leaders in their old guard of Mike Huckabee, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr. They stood by Trump during some dark hours when the whole culture was against him, including the influential voice of Rod Dreher, and helped deliver a win for an administration that will be friendly to social conservatives and religious freedom.

The Bush Administration was right about people like Falwell, etc. These people twisted themselves into knots trying to make Trump into something that he isn’t: a believing Christian. You’re willfully blind if you believe these shills and think that Donald Trump worships anything other than himself. Psst: Trump doesn’t care about gays, whereas most “religious freedom” martyrs do. He already said he isn’t going to challenge Obergefell and thinks it’s settled law. But Roe, which is over 40 years old, isn’t? That’s what they call throwing a bone to you single issue people.

Moore at least is intellectually honest and internally consistent. If you denigrated Bill Clinton for his actions in the 90s, for which he apologized, and gave Trump your forgiveness, you are showing your partisan nature and not your Christianity.

I see a lot of symmetry with Pope Francis, especially on the issues regarding life. You cannot be pro-life and want to effectively kill people by taking away their healthcare, doing nothing for refugees.

He is spot on about this:

Yes, I will be writing in a candidate this year and the reason for that is simple. The life issue can not flourish in a culture of misogyny and sexual degradation. The life issue can not flourish when you have people calling for the torture and murder of innocent non-combatants. The life issue can not flourish when you have people who have given up on the idea that character matters. If you lose an election you can live to fight another day and move on, but if you lose an election while giving up your very soul then you have really lost it all, and so I think the stakes are really high.

And I think the issue, particularly, when you have people who have said, and we have said, and I have said for twenty years the life issue matters, and the life issue is important… When you have someone who is standing up race baiting, racist speech, using immigrants and others in our communities in the most horrific ways and we say ‘that doesn’t matter’ and we are part of the global body of Christ simply for the sake of American politics, and we expect that we are going to be able to reach the nations for Christ? I don’t think so, and so I think we need to let our yes be yes and our no be no and our never be never.

And yet day-in-day-out Rod decries SJWs. It’s almost incomprehensible to me that these values get crapped on almost every day here.

#6 Comment By DavidinMN On December 21, 2016 @ 5:47 pm

I love Dr. Moore and what he says, but let’s face it– after 8 years of Obama the SBC leadership has zero interest in being prophets in the wilderness. Trump’s their guy and now they want to get even and settle some scores. They’ll drum Moore out of the fort before the snow melts here in Minnesota.

#7 Comment By Noah172 On December 21, 2016 @ 6:23 pm

Anonne wrote:

The only seemingly gray areas come in anti-discrimination laws where you have to interact with people not like you

Somebody doesn’t understand the Law of Merited Impossibility.

He already said he isn’t going to challenge Obergefell and thinks it’s settled law. But Roe, which is over 40 years old, isn’t? That’s what they call throwing a bone to you single issue people

Trump said that if RvW were overturned, the abortion issue would return to the states, and some states would leave abortion as it is and others would restrict it more than it is now. That’s the truth, you know. Trump deserves credit for being honest about this legal/political reality, in contrast to charlatans and illiterates (some of them on the pro-choice side, BTW) who think that the Supreme Court can or would ban abortion directly, which it can’t and won’t.

Same goes for the marriage issue.

You cannot be pro-life and want to effectively kill people by taking away their healthcare, doing nothing for refugees

You cannot be pro-life and import murderers and rapists into your country and fail repeatedly to deport them.

You cannot be pro-life and effectively kill people by taking away their livelihoods through free trade, mass immigration, environmental regulation, and legal harassment.

You cannot be pro-life and support more moralistic US military adventurism in the Muslim world (as Moore did and does, along with his buddy, Bush toady and self-appointed evangelical “thinker” Michael Gerson, and Moore’s choice for 2016 Republican nominee Marco Rubio).

You cannot be pro-life and support the coddling of violent criminals and cop-killers in the name of “racial reconciliation” (a fixation of Moore’s).

#8 Comment By Old West On December 21, 2016 @ 6:26 pm

“We need for the departments of Justice and Education and HEW to stop promoting anti-Christian (and anti-common-sense)agendas. We can count on Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos and Ben Carson for that — or we can’t really count on anybody any time.”

This, again, is another reason why never-Trumpers like Moore were missing the boat so badly. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of this kind of bureaucratic aggression (a priest friend of mine who was actively involved in the pro-life movement had some chilling stories of his DOJ experiences during the Clinton administration) knows exactly what this means.

There was a 100% chance that Clinton appointees to those departments would have been very aggressive in ways conservative Christians would have felt.

There was a pretty decent chance that Trump would make very good appointees — ones that at least weren’t hostile to traditional Christianity. As it turns out, they have been spectacular appointees — but this was not some sort of strange turn of events. With Jeff Sessions as his first and for a long time only major endorser, and with evangelicals clearly hanging with him out of hope and helping deliver the nomination, the chances of Trump turning on them was always extremely low.

The idea that Jeb! (as has been pointed out, someone Moore liked), would have made appointees half this good is unthinkable.

#9 Comment By Noah172 On December 21, 2016 @ 6:38 pm

The life issue can not flourish in a culture of misogyny and sexual degradation

Abortion was illegal and socially disgraceful back when, according to modern thinking, society was “misogynist” and “patriarchal”.

The life issue can not flourish when you have people calling for the torture and murder of innocent non-combatants

I’d like to see Righteous Reverend Moore square with this statement with the actions of pro-life George Bush, and the policy positions of pro-life Marco Rubio.

If you lose an election you can live to fight another day and move on

Not with immigration — because when the patriots lose, the open border traitors change the composition of the polity permanently. And we all know on which side of that matter Moore stands.

When you have someone who is standing up race baiting, racist speech, using immigrants and others in our communities in the most horrific ways

Abortion was illegal and socially disgraceful, and homosexual rights and marriage unthinkable, back when America was racist, according to Moore and every other goodthinker, and immigration and naturalization were restricted on the basis of race, nationality, and political ideology.

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 21, 2016 @ 6:49 pm

Nothing succeeds like success, and Republicans now dominate political offices – at the federal, state, and local levels – in a way not seen since at least the 1920s.

You are probably too young to remember this, but look it up: 1966 mid-terms.

#11 Comment By Alan On December 21, 2016 @ 6:53 pm

I’m with Chris403. Moore is simply one of our society’s self proclaimed elites. His general level of condescension towards us deplorables is tough to stomach. I might be able to take his anti-trump schtick seriously, if I’d once heard him speak out against Bush, Obama, or Clinton.

[NFR: Now Alan, you’re just shooting your mouth off. Russell Moore was all of 29 years old when Bill Clinton left office. As for his not criticizing Obama, it took about [9]

#12 Comment By panda On December 21, 2016 @ 8:01 pm

On the most basic level, it is good for the baptists to have Moore around. As things stand now, Trump needs them no less then they need him, so on issues on which they care about (most prominently, judges) he will tow the line. And if he makes America Great Again, etc, no one would care about what Moore had to say, and other leaders would take his place. If, however, his administration falls apart, its going to be useful to have Moore around to argue that real baptists were always nevertump..

#13 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 21, 2016 @ 8:19 pm

Anonne:

“If you denigrated Bill Clinton for his actions in the 90s, for which he apologized”

I recall the TV interview he did in 1992, pre-election, where he promised not to commit adultery any longer, holding hands with Hillary. As you may recall, he denied later having sex “with that woman, Miss Lewinsky” publicly, then was disbarred for lying under oath about it. His wife castigated his other accusers.

Lately, the leak of Colin Powell’s emails reveal him asserting “Bill is still banging bimbos” – which as we all are told about sexual predators, is unlikely to change.

As for taking away health care… please. Twenty million citizens and growing don’t have ‘Bama health insurance because its premium increases have skyrocketed and a zillion holes in the law. That also leaves out 12 million illegals who aren’t allowed to get it, even if it were affordable on their exploited wages. Should they be covered, or no? What is your Christian response?

The dirty secret is people like having workers without rights, because they can depress wages and benefits, that Americans are supposed to get when they work.

Trump? On record for pushing for single payer.

#14 Comment By Ethan R On December 21, 2016 @ 9:02 pm

Nearly all Southern Baptists I know adamantly dislike Russell Moore. He’s seen as an attention seeker that’s largely supported and promoted by the liberal media.

And let’s not forget that Russ Moore is an open-borders fanatic whose open-borders Evangelical Immigration Table is funded by George Soros.

As a recent college grad, I’m sick and tired of 3rd world immigration being used to drive down wages. We need someone at the head of the ERLC who’s an immigration restrictionist, not a globalist in league with Soros.

The Bible is not a suicide pact saying that Westerners must commit mass suicide by flooding our countries with the third world.

No, because of people like Russell Moore, I’m reconsidering my options where I’ll attend church.

#15 Comment By Ryan Booth On December 21, 2016 @ 9:12 pm

As a member of an SBC church, I want to respond to a number of comments by various commenters:

If he was truly interested in the abuse of Evangelical Christianity for political purposes, he would criticize the Israel lobby.

It’s a fairly obvious logical fallacy to claim that someone can’t really be opposed to some evil unless they also declare their opposition to some other supposed evil.

Few outside Moore’s circle respect his political views.

Obviously not true, simply from comments to this article.

When you contrast the choice as voting for Trump or selling your soul, oh, I don’t know, comments like this make some people think you’re accusing them of, well, selling their souls. At that point, it’s no wonder Moore has to face backlash and explain his earlier comments.

You are badly misinterpreting Moore’s statement. For Moore to personally vote against his conscience for the sake of political power would be selling his soul. That absolutely does not mean that Moore was saying that other people who voted for Trump were selling their souls.

1. He is a liberal who claims to speak for a very conservative denomination. Do liberal Christians hire conservatives to speak for them? No, because they aren’t that stupid.

No, Moore is not a political liberal. He may not side with the GOP 100% of the time, but he’s certainly far more conservative than Donald Trump. More importantly to his denomination, Moore is a theological conservative.

2. Moore spent all of 2016 ripping Trump but almost never saying a word about Hillary.

This is 100% false. Moore attacked Hillary innumerable times. To even say this shows clearly that you don’t know much of anything about Russell Moore, much less follow his comments this past campaign season.

Moore says Christians should focus less on partisan politics, but he refuses to shut up about such matters. Why doesn’t Moore look inward and focus on hearth and home? Or is that only for those uneducated, white trash Trumpkins?

This doesn’t make any sense. Moore has made the ERLC much less partisan. He’s supposed to speak out on political issues as they interact with Christian principles, and he does. He also wants Christians to speak out on those issues.

What he doesn’t want is people saying that Jesus is for lower taxes, or that Jesus is for the 2nd Amendment, because that kind of partisanship ruins our witness as Christians. That kind of thing makes Christianity a means to an end—political power. Do you see the difference?

Why does Moore’s denomination need this office, and why did Moore agree to lead it?

We need it because, like John the Baptist telling Herod that it was wrong for him to have his brother’s wife, we Baptists don’t believe that we are supposed to stay silent on public matters of right and wrong. We are to be faithful witnesses of the Truth, and that means telling the truth about political issues. The ERLC is supposed to be that voice.

#16 Comment By William Dalton On December 21, 2016 @ 11:01 pm

If Donald Trump can invite Mitt Romney to Trump Tower I have no doubt he will invite Russell Moore to the White House. The two men may even embrace.

#17 Comment By Jones On December 21, 2016 @ 11:45 pm

@RealAlan

“His signature on a RFRA if one is passed — this issue has taken real importance now that we know that a RFRA passed by Congress will not be automatically vetoed.”

Just so you know . . . there is already a federal RFRA. It was passed under Clinton in 1993, nearly unanimously in both houses of Congress. The state RFRAs are/were virtually redundant.

It’s a little telling, and also troubling, that people could not know this. . .

#18 Comment By Old West On December 22, 2016 @ 12:10 am

If Moore’s choice in 2016 was indeed Rubio, as some here have claimed, then he has no credibility with me. Rubio was the single biggest bought and paid for agent of the War Party in the GOP in the 2016 race. I feared him as President almost as much as I feared Hillary, I think, because religious liberty would have been obtained only at the cost of perpetual overseas adventurism.

I do understand that Trump may disappoint me. I was a Rand Paul guy until he dropped out. But we have a chance at a sane foreign policy with him. With Rubio there wasn’t a chance.

[NFR: People keep saying that, and claiming that he pushed for Bush and Rubio. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they say that because [10] and be interviewed on stage by Moore. Hillary Clinton was also invited, but she didn’t come. Trump wasn’t invited because at the time, he was only at five percent in the polls, and the event organizers made 10 percent the cutoff. — RD]

#19 Comment By Noah172 On December 22, 2016 @ 12:53 am

Russell Moore was all of 29 years old when Bill Clinton left office

Perhaps Alan meant Mrs., not Mr. (He didn’t specify.)

consider that Moore only rose to his position as ERLC leader (that is, chief Southern Baptist spokesman on politics and public policy) in 2013, five years after G.W. Bush left office

In the period 2001-13, Moore was a professor at one of the SBC’s larger seminaries; later on its administration; served on the editing staff of two publications, and wrote for another; was pastor at a large church; served on boards; kept a blog; did interviews with secular media. Moore got to be head of the ERLC because he was already a figure of some prominence in SBC and evangelical circles.

He did make public political commentary before taking his current office, just none of it (AFAICT) critical of Bush, or of the uncritical evangelical embrace of Bush. Why not? Because Moore’s political views are Bushism.

#20 Comment By Noah172 On December 22, 2016 @ 12:56 am

Ryan Booth wrote:

What he doesn’t want is people saying that Jesus is for lower taxes, or that Jesus is for the 2nd Amendment, because that kind of partisanship ruins our witness as Christians

How about, “Jesus is for the Gang of Eight bill”? How does that affect Christian witness? Or, “Jesus wants you to support Marco Rubio”?

[NFR: Where did he say either of those things? — RD]

#21 Comment By David P On December 22, 2016 @ 1:21 am

Trump’s share of the white evangelical vote, 81 percent, exceeded that of Mitt Romney in 2012 (78 percent), John McCain in 2008 (74 percent), and George W. Bush in 2004 (78 percent).

The repudiation of Moore’s views by the evangelical community at the ballot box was overwhelming. And good for the evangelicals, not listening to the out of touch leaders in their corner of America.

In the face of those numbers and humiliation of that magnitude, Moore, in my opinion, should resign. He should, perhaps, take up preaching the gospel in a Liberian immigrant or Latino Baptist church since he has made it very clear that the white, Southern, middle class evangelical community makes him unhappy.

Based on the election numbers, I stand by my comment that few in the socially conservative evangelical community respect Moore’s political views. Moreover, now that I am thinking about it, the vote for Trump shows that many evangelicals must not respect at least some of Moore’s theological views either, since Moore went out his way to justify his opposition to Trump in theological terms.

Finally, I don’t know that Moore was even right about Trump within the evangelical framework. Is Moore a more qualified authority on the relevance of Trump’s personal failings to an evangelical’s duty than Graham, Falwell or Huckabee? The latter three are qualified pastors too. The way I see it, an internal debate occurred within the evangelical community among qualified authorities, and Moore’s side must not have been very comvincing.

Moore definitely deserves no say in anything Trump might decide to do. Ostracism ought to be considered if he doesn’t step aside.

#22 Comment By David On December 22, 2016 @ 2:13 am

@Jones – Mostly on point, but note that state RFRA’s were passed in response to the USCt decision in City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997), which held that the federal RFRA legislation could not be applied against state governments. Therefore, individual states (some not all) passed similar RFRA legislation in order to achieve the same result at a state level. So while the state RFRAs mirror the federal, they are not redundant.

#23 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 22, 2016 @ 5:04 am

I just can’t sign on to the trashing of Russ Moore from either left or right. It’s telling that it comes from strident ideologues on either end. Imagine, the equivalent of right wing SJW’s calling for him to be dismissed, just like the left’s do!

Well maybe folks have made up their own version of Christ and now they can’t see the real one for the idol they’ve substituted.

I have no ideological loyalty, despite personal loyalties, and regard such as a poor guide for evaluation, given that the definitions seem to be in the eye of the beholder, as various factions argue they are, while rivals aren’t. A great thing about real Christianity is that one can live beyond these temporal dustups and become part of the eternity in which God dwells.

#24 Comment By midtown On December 22, 2016 @ 6:03 am

Evangelicals, in my experience, put relatively little weight in the opinions of evangelical “leaders.” This is probably due to the theological mindset that we are to follow what Scripture says, not what any one person says. These leaders have had a notoriously hard time actually influencing and more often try to get in front of wherever the crowd seems to be going.

With regard to Trump, I can empathize with someone who could not vote for him. I was almost there myself. But in the end I did vote for him, and doesn’t the situation seem so much better with regard to the Supreme Court, the true legislators of our time? If Trump misbehaves in office, I have no problem initiating censure or impeachment proceedings if necessary.

#25 Comment By JonF On December 22, 2016 @ 6:27 am

RE: The idea that Jeb! (as has been pointed out, someone Moore liked), would have made appointees half this good is unthinkable.

You are talking about a gang of corrupt billionaires. Spectacular? Yes, spectacularly awful. The Facebook funny about Trump appointing Cruella DeVille to head the Humane Society is basically spot on.

#26 Comment By Seth On December 22, 2016 @ 8:47 am

Love this! This is the best article on the “Russell Moore issue.” As a Southern Baptist, it really angers me that many are putting politics before doctrine. Dr. Moore gets labelled a liberal simply because he doesn’t follow the path of former ERLC leader Richard Land who was a puppet for the GOP. The SBC and ERLC don’t exist for a particular party. Dr. Moore is not a liberal, he is simply talking the way any sound Christian would.

#27 Comment By Glaivester On December 22, 2016 @ 9:18 am

Noah172, M_Young and I have been staunchly against Russell Moore long before Trump threw his hat into the ring.

It’s not really, as the WSJ implies, about religious conservatives being angry that Moore being the head of the ERLC will deny the SBC a place at Trump’s table, as if they don’t care about Trump’s positions, only supported him because he had an “R” next to his name, and are only concerned with access to power, whoever that power may be.

Southern Baptists are turning against Moore because he has allied himself with the very people that Trump was a reaction against. [11].

I’m sure that most of the people clamoring for Moore’s resignation do not simply view him as a barrier to power; they do not just think “you must support Trump or you are not one of us” – they probably either know enough about Moore’s positions to vehemently disagree with his policies, or they suspect his reasons for opposing Trump.

Russell Moore is many things, but he is not a useful idiot for the Republican Party, or the Democratic Party.

But he might be a useful idiot for the Republican establishment.

I don’t agree with him on everything (e.g., I think I’m more of an immigration restrictionist than he is, but I completely support his advocacy for humane treatment of immigrants, illegal and otherwise),

Yeah, you seem to view immigration as just another issue that people of good will can disagree on.

It’s an existential issue for the nation.

Moore is [12]. Note very clearly that he has absolutely no sympathy for people who object to this invasion. No statement about their concerns being understandable, but that another concern outweighs them. Just a proclamation that they will be replaced by people with different cultures and languages and that they are to accept that. [13], perhaps you should consider that others apply it to Moore. Maybe he is paid off, maybe he is just an ideologue, but you don’t really seem to get that a lot of us see him as just the sort of person Dante would consign to the lowest circle of the Inferno.

#28 Comment By Old West On December 22, 2016 @ 10:41 am

[NFR: People keep saying that, and claiming that he pushed for Bush and Rubio. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they say that because Bush and Rubio were the only two viable GOP candidates to accept invitations to come to a 2015 Southern Baptist forum and be interviewed on stage by Moore. Hillary Clinton was also invited, but she didn’t come. Trump wasn’t invited because at the time, he was only at five percent in the polls, and the event organizers made 10 percent the cutoff. — RD]

That’s why I qualified my statement. I personally don’t know if Moore expressed a preference, and as an Orthodox Christian am not terribly motivated to research it. Southern Baptists can decide what they think at this point.

I do think that in a Protestant denomination, most faithful expect their leaders to represent the laity’s interests and concerns. Leadership positions are not the traditional place for contrary prophetic witnesses in Protestantism, unless they are willing to gut their membership rolls (cf. liberal Protestantism in the 20th c)

Whether fair or not, by essentially making himself a never Trump guy, he had at least passively aligned himself with a group that made it clear that only Rubio or Bush were acceptable candidates. And as you and I both know, their enthusiasm for those two and their hatred of Trump was primarily based on foreign policy and, to a lesser extent, open borders ideology — not theology.

I personally see the war in the GOP against Trump as nothing more than the extension of the scorched earth tactics used against the populism of candidates like Buchanan, Huckabee, Gingrich, and Santorum from 1988 through 2012. In Trump, populist/nationalist minded Republicans finally had someone who had the resources — financial and tactical — to fight fire with a flamethrower, and they took what they could get.

I feel bad that it ended up being Trump to carry the torch successfully, but it had to be done.

[NFR: That’s not fair. It’s true that he was NeverTrump, but that only means “Anybody But Trump”. Nobody has demonstrated that he was in the tank for Bush and/or Rubio. It’s this thing that keeps being repeated, without basis, as far as I can see. If the Southern Baptists want to get rid of the guy because they wanted Trump and he said that voting Trump violated Baptists’ stated principles (among other things, their 1998 resolution saying that the nation’s political leadership should be morally upstanding), that’s their business. But they can’t pretend that it’s because Moore was a Bush-or-Rubio guy. Moore consistently reminded them (and all of us Christians) which of our principles we had to overlook to vote for Trump. He said in his Erasmus lecture that Christians who voted for Trump reluctantly, as the lesser of two evils, were not the problem. The problem for Moore was those Christians who affirmatively embraced Trump, despite everything we know about him and his character. — RD]

#29 Comment By Noah172 On December 22, 2016 @ 12:31 pm

People keep saying that, and claiming that he pushed for Bush and Rubio. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they say that because Bush and Rubio were the only two viable GOP candidates to accept invitations to come to a 2015 Southern Baptist forum and be interviewed on stage by Moore

That is not the only reason I characterize Moore as a Bush/Rubio fan.

In 2014 or early 2015 (IIRC), before Bush publicly began his campaign, National Journal (a political mag of Washington inside baseball) did a story on Jeb’s behind-the-scenes courting of evangelical pooh-bahs in preparation for the primaries. Moore gave gushing quotes to NJ, not merely saying that Jeb was a nice guy but that he was (going off memory, but this is close to the quote) the candidate conservative Christians could trust, unlike Jon Huntsman (Moore mentioned Huntsman by name as a supposed contrast to Bush).

Moore’s shilling for Rubio was more substantial, however:

– Moore co-wrote a WaPo op-ed column with Rubio in December 2015.

– Some ERLC staff worked for Rubio directly. Other ERLC staff posted pro-Rubio, anti-Trump/Cruz online commentary.

– In a January interview with Roll Call, Moore said Rubio spoke for the “Billy Graham wing” of evangelicals, while Trump represented the “Jimmy Swaggart wing”. Immediately after the interview was posted, Rubio’s director of “faith outreach” sent out a campaign email citing Moore’s praise as evidence that Rubio was the best choice for evangelicals. Moore made no objection to the use of his name in campaign materials.

– Moore’s questioning of Rubio at the SBC forum was softball, while Moore told the press that he would have been tougher in questioning Trump.

tl;dr Moore endorsed Rubio, but lied about being neutral. Rod refuses to acknowledge this because doing so invalidates Rod’s characterization of Moore as different and better than those other grubby political preachermen whom Moore denounces.

#30 Comment By Digory On December 22, 2016 @ 12:36 pm

It’s at least worth noting that the “Christians who vote for Trump reluctantly … were not the problem” was a pretty big shift that came late in the process.

This was his position before the conventions (and it wasn’t presented as advice that would change in the general election):

“When Christians face two clearly immoral options, we cannot rationalize a vote for immorality or injustice just because we deem the alternative to be worse. The Bible tells us we will be held accountable not only for the evil deeds we do but also when we ‘give approval to those who practice them’ (Rom. 1:32). This side of the New Jerusalem, we will never have a perfect candidate. But we cannot vote for evil, even if it’s our only option.”

[14]

#31 Comment By Jim the First On December 22, 2016 @ 12:46 pm

He said in his Erasmus lecture that Christians who voted for Trump reluctantly, as the lesser of two evils, were not the problem. The problem for Moore was those Christians who affirmatively embraced Trump, despite everything we know about him and his character.

Meh. That’s a distinction without a difference, I think. Maybe I’m parsing words too closely, but I don’t think those two categories are mutually exclusive. IOW, I think it’s possible to “vote for Trump. . . as the lesser of two evils” AND “affirmatively embrace Trump” (as by far the lesser of two evils, natch). It’s almost as if Moore is making a morality play out of a Trump voter’s level of involvement/excitement about voting for Trump – if they dourly wore all black to the polls and said a rosary after Hillary conceded then they didn’t sin, but if they buy their stepfather a Make America Great Again hat for Christmas, or are happy that a Christian-hating Supreme Court nominee isn’t in the offing they are sinning? That’s silly virtue signalling, IMHO.

[NFR: It’s not a distinction without a difference. There’s a difference between a man who goes off to war because the alternatives are worse, and a man who goes off to war because he can’t wait to blow some bad guys to kingdom come. This principle applies. I believe Trump is objectively speaking a bad man. I also recognize that the alternative was probably worse. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for him, but I understand people who did, even though they knew he was a bad guy. — RD]

#32 Comment By RDavid On December 22, 2016 @ 1:05 pm

Many comments here show why Evangelicals are no longer seen as salt and light in their communities in the prioritizing of the Gospel and following of Christ, but rather are primarily seen as political opportunists. It is discouraging to see how so many here are missing that huge problem. Please do not complain when society criticizes you, not for your religious stance, but rather for your political actions.

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 22, 2016 @ 3:00 pm

I second Rod that voting for Trump as the lesser evil is distinct and different from embracing him as a great president. I voted for HRC as the lesser evil, but I have no trouble understanding that some people held their nose to vote the other way. Two candidates, both with 70 percent negative ratings. What’s to like?

#34 Comment By Old West On December 22, 2016 @ 3:25 pm

[NFR: …The problem for Moore was those Christians who affirmatively embraced Trump, despite everything we know about him and his character. — RD]

I certainly agree to a point, although I look at the phenomenon from a different angle. As I wrote in my first post on this thread:

“The problem with a part of the evangelical mind is this need to make everything important into something thoroughly Christian before they can approve.” I used the example of evangelical kids I knew as a youngster who bought into urban legends that this or that pop star was “really a Christian” or had recently become one, as some sort of justification for enjoying the music. Since you didn’t grow up with any connection to the evangelical world, you might have trouble wrapping your head around just how much this kind of thinking penetrates the evangelical mind. In that sense, there is zero difference between what Moore is trying to do and what Falwell is trying to do.

This leads to the ridiculous pretzel-twisting assertions by some evangelicals trying to portray Trump as a born-again Christian man of God or some nonsense like that. And the equally mind-bending assertions that one must eschew Trump out of Christian principle.

Maybe I don’t get out much, but must say that in this campaign season I mostly saw Christians who, whether they admitted it to themselves or not, took a cold-eyed view of their religious self-interests and voted accordingly. I’m not sure it’s even necessary to think of Trump as an evil — I certainly don’t, unless one is simply acknowledging that all politics is a necessary evil.

And I find that sort of unsentimental political calculation to be an improvement of affairs on the religious right, because it might actually open the door to what you are trying to get across with the Benedict Option.

That’s a part of what I think people like Moore get wrong. It isn’t that my Christianity doesn’t inform my political views — it penetrates every part of my life. But I never pretend that those political views have thus, as a result, become Christian, anymore than I think of my professional life as being “Christian,” even though my faith affects what I do, sometimes in ways that risk financial and career disadvantage.

#35 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 22, 2016 @ 4:34 pm

The more criticism and judgement leveled against those who voted for Trump, the less and less I end up caring.

I really don’t give a cr** who voted for Hillary, Stein, Johnson etc. nor am I gonna waste time confronting them, HOW COULD YOU!!!!

You have an election, in which the individual is supposed to be free to choose, yet those who made their choice are vilified.

I guess it sure is lucky they can’t go over the ballots and find out who voted the wrong way and dox them for it.

And you don’t really know who voted for Trump, given the level of hostility towards those who may have. The exit polls are as likely to be as wildly inaccurate as the ones that predicted a 95% probability of Madame President.

All the oxen that are fit to gore.

#36 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 22, 2016 @ 4:41 pm

“[He said in his Erasmus lecture that Christians who voted for Trump reluctantly, as the lesser of two evils, were not the problem. The problem for Moore was those Christians who affirmatively embraced Trump, despite everything we know about him and his character. — RD]”

And that’s true, because that is about each of us as Christians and what we really believe, rather than those who claim Christianity but really aren’t serious, and paid no attention to conscience, quite apart from who they did or didn’t vote for, or not at all.

#37 Comment By Jim the First On December 22, 2016 @ 5:08 pm

He said in his Erasmus lecture that Christians who voted for Trump reluctantly, as the lesser of two evils, were not the problem. The problem for Moore was those Christians who affirmatively embraced Trump, despite everything we know about him and his character.

Meh. That’s a distinction without a difference, I think. Maybe I’m parsing words too closely, but I don’t think those two categories are mutually exclusive. IOW, I think it’s possible to “vote for Trump. . . as the lesser of two evils” AND “affirmatively embrace Trump” (as by far the lesser of two evils, natch). It’s almost as if Moore is making a morality play out of a Trump voter’s level of involvement/excitement about voting for Trump – if they dourly wore all black to the polls and said a rosary after Hillary conceded then they didn’t sin, but if they buy their stepfather a Make America Great Again hat for Christmas, or are happy that a Christian-hating Supreme Court nominee isn’t in the offing they are sinning? That’s silly virtue signalling, IMHO.

[NFR: It’s not a distinction without a difference. There’s a difference between a man who goes off to war because the alternatives are worse, and a man who goes off to war because he can’t wait to blow some bad guys to kingdom come. This principle applies. I believe Trump is objectively speaking a bad man. I also recognize that the alternative was probably worse. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for him, but I understand people who did, even though they knew he was a bad guy. — RD]

I think we may be talking past each other. It seems to me that you and Moore are suggesting that for all those who voted Trump because they believed that he was the lesser of two evils, there are differing levels of moral culpability based on whether the vote was cast mournfully or (all things considered) joyfully. Again, maybe I’m parsing your account of Moore’s words too precisely.

Using your analogy, I think it is perfectly fine to have voted Trump because the alternatives were worse AND because you can’t wait to blow the odious SJW Left/Clinton machine’s proximity to the levers of power to kingdom come. It’s a both/and choice, not an either/or choice.

#38 Comment By Tony D. On December 22, 2016 @ 5:15 pm

Siarlys: “You are probably too young to remember this, but look it up: 1966 mid-terms.”

Huh? I just looked at Wikipedia – the Dems had some reasonably big losses, but still retained large majorities in the House and Senate – and of course they still had President Johnson – so I’m not sure what your point was here. You’re unfailingly insightful, so I must be missing something.

#39 Comment By Old West On December 22, 2016 @ 5:58 pm

RDavid wrote: “Many comments here show why Evangelicals are no longer seen as salt and light in their communities in the prioritizing of the Gospel and following of Christ, but rather are primarily seen as political opportunists.”

This and the rest of his comment is the sort of “critique” of Christianity and Christians that I despise. It amounts to an outsider defining what Christians/evangelicals believe and setting what their priorities should be, and then lambasting them for their supposed failure to live up to standards that they didn’t set for themselves.

#40 Comment By Isidore The Farmer On December 22, 2016 @ 8:24 pm

“What he doesn’t want is people saying that Jesus is for lower taxes, or that Jesus is for the 2nd Amendment, because that kind of partisanship ruins our witness as Christians.”

Arguably the prime example of Moore’s condescension to people within his own denomination was Moore trouncing a pastor’s legitimate question about the wisdom and holiness of helping Muslims in their own religious battles, up to and including using SBC funds in their legal disputes. Moore’s answer was mostly about the first amendment. He would have never embarrassed an LGBT person publicly in that way. He would have answered in hushed tones and slow words showing supreme respect. He implicitly scolded that pastor for asking a fair question, and frankly did so via an appeal to the Constitution (politics).

So by your own definition he ruined our Christian witness by providing a very political answer, using the US Constitution to answer a man’s biblically framed question.

Saying Jesus supports 1st amendment = good, saying Jesus supports 2nd amendment = bad.

I am not saying he is a bad guy. But he is just as deeply political as his predecessors. He merely has different political preferences that more closely align with your own. The inability of his largest supporters to recognize this completely closes them off to ‘listening’ to valid concerns about his leadership. Which is ironic, given that ‘listening’ is one of the supposed strengths of this new regime.

#41 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 23, 2016 @ 9:08 am

“Please do not complain when society criticizes you, not for your religious stance, but rather for your political actions.”

Just who is this monolithic society?

Anybody gets to criticize and complain about anybody else, for any reason at all.

Isn’t it now all about the American right of the individual to order his truth any way he sees fit?

So, don’t complain, yourself.

#42 Comment By Isidore the Farmer On December 23, 2016 @ 9:38 am

Personally, my biggest complaint about Moore is that he judges his predecessors for having been too political (I don’t really disagree with that), but he seems incapable of recognizing that he is just as politically minded as they were. Furthermore, he does so from a position of framing himself as being more ‘gospel centered’. His eloquence and mild-mannered nature (which I accept as sincere) do a little to soften the nature of such a rebuke, but a lot of people recognize it for the serious rebuke that it is. The problem, as many point out, is that he is not worthy of giving it. When it comes to immigration he is very political. When it comes to the 1st amendment (which isn’t listed in the gospel) he is political to the point of being willing to use money people have tithed to help other religions fight their religious freedom battles. That is not nearly as easy of a decision as he believes, and it is debatable if such a use of funds is ‘gospel centered’. Much serious debate could and should be had over it, especially considering the relationship the religion he would help has historically had with Christianity and the West. Lastly, he is politically oriented to the point that he once worked for an elected Congressman. In a nation of 300 million people, very few ever become that politically oriented.

While I have never heard Moore deny a bedrock tenet of orthodox Christianity, there are times he comes off with a degree of arrogance he shares with Pope Francis, giving a ‘who am I to judge’ pass to those groups becoming ascendant, while being quite judgmental and critical of those falling out of fashion (such as the pastor he embarrassed following a very fair question). It too often seems that those who champion their listening skills as a virtue suffer from convenient cases of selective hearing.

There are understandable reasons why orthodox believers chafe at the Pope Francis and Russell Moore’s of the world…

#43 Comment By Anonne On December 23, 2016 @ 11:17 am

@Noah172:

Anonne wrote:

He already said he isn’t going to challenge Obergefell and thinks it’s settled law. But Roe, which is over 40 years old, isn’t? That’s what they call throwing a bone to you single issue people

Trump said that if RvW were overturned, the abortion issue would return to the states, and some states would leave abortion as it is and others would restrict it more than it is now. That’s the truth, you know. Trump deserves credit for being honest about this legal/political reality, in contrast to charlatans and illiterates (some of them on the pro-choice side, BTW) who think that the Supreme Court can or would ban abortion directly, which it can’t and won’t.

Same goes for the marriage issue.

You miss the point with your spin. Roe is also “settled law,” and has been affirmed multiple times. It’s older than I am. Why is Obergefell “settled law” and not Roe? All Trump did was show that he doesn’t care about gay rights, but to appease the anti-abortion crowd, he would continue to make abortion an issue.

You cannot be pro-life and want to effectively kill people by taking away their healthcare, doing nothing for refugees

You cannot be pro-life and import murderers and rapists into your country and fail repeatedly to deport them.

Classifying all war victims as rapists and murderers is disgusting. Yes, we know that there are going to be some radicals trying to get in, but that “extreme vetting” along with surveillance should ameliorate the issue.

You cannot be pro-life and effectively kill people by taking away their livelihoods through free trade, mass immigration, environmental regulation, and legal harassment.

This is risible. Aren’t the conservatives the one harping on about free markets? I definitely think that “free trade” practices need a better evaluation and revision but “free trade” as it currently stands improves other people’s lives. I think there is a sustainable way for that to happen, to improve both their lives and ours, but we in the nation are not having that discussion.

And I don’t know about you, but I would prefer clean air and water and freedom to not worry about having some plant blow up my town to the off-chance of becoming filthy rich. Environmental regulation is important and you can’t be pro-life if you think that oil spills and towns blowing up are okay.

You cannot be pro-life and support more moralistic US military adventurism in the Muslim world (as Moore did and does, along with his buddy, Bush toady and self-appointed evangelical “thinker” Michael Gerson, and Moore’s choice for 2016 Republican nominee Marco Rubio).

On this I somewhat agree, as there are limits and unintended consequences that we have to consider.

You cannot be pro-life and support the coddling of violent criminals and cop-killers in the name of “racial reconciliation” (a fixation of Moore’s).

Last I checked, there are no cop killers that are coddled. I think you have fallen for a canard.

#44 Comment By Isidore the Farmer On December 23, 2016 @ 12:44 pm

I will also add that I serve as a deacon in a very, very small SBC church. Following the dust-up of the SBC helping Muslims in their religious freedom battle, a solid 1/3 of the church was ready to stop sending money to the SBC altogether. That isn’t exactly how they envision their tithing being used in a more ‘gospel centered’ environment.

There were a couple of us that persuaded the church that these sorts of things should be done slowly, and that we should monitor these things over a period of a couple years before making such a decision. Basically, that dropping a denominational distinctive is a major change not to be taken lightly. And things have quieted down in recent months.

So, my criticisms of Moore are not just for an internet message board. He is alienating good, decent people who have been in the SBC for decades. He needs to do more to show he respects the people already in the church, and give careful consideration to how divisive his own political preferences happen to be.

#45 Comment By Noah172 On December 23, 2016 @ 4:58 pm

Why is Obergefell “settled law” and not Roe?

I wouldn’t have used that phrase. The truth of both matters is that if the Court reversed either ruling, the practical effect would be less than many people realize, insofar as many state legislatures (especially in the big states where most people live) would preserve abortion/homosexual marriage.

BTW, John Roberts called RvW “settled law” during his confirmation process.

Classifying all war victims as rapists and murderers is disgusting

Most of the “Syrian” “refugees” invading Europe are neither Syrian nor refugees. Look at this Berlin killer, for instance: Tunisian, not fleeing war.

And then there is the broader issue of immigration. Europe and America have been importing too many people who don’t belong in their societies.

we know that there are going to be some radicals trying to get in, but that “extreme vetting” along with surveillance should ameliorate the issue

It’s not a simple matter of identifying people with documented criminal or terrorist histories in their home countries. The problem is that we just can’t trust (many) people from retrograde cultures — low IQs, high degree of inbreeding, arrogant supremacist religion — to integrate fully into white, historically Christian, Englightenment liberal cultures. Even with the issue of documented criminal or terrorist histories in home countries, many of these places do not have good records, or won’t or can’t share them with receiving countries’ immigration authorities. We can’t even trust that the Syrian passports these “refugees” possess aren’t black market forgeries.

And do you really want more police state in our country? What’s Christian about that?

Aren’t the conservatives the one harping on about free markets?

Trump just got elected on a platform of protectionism, versus Clinton’s more favorable view of free trade agreements. Where have you been?

Environmental regulation is important and you can’t be pro-life if you think that oil spills and towns blowing up are okay

I didn’t mean eliminating all environmental safety controls. I meant trying to destroy the livelihoods of people who drill oil and gas, dig coal, chop lumber, or work in energy intensive factories, all in the name of green energy or saving some endangered varmint or highly speculative climate change computer models.

#46 Comment By Anonne On December 23, 2016 @ 6:54 pm

Noah172:

I discussed Trump’s use of the phrase settled law. He sees Obergefell as settled but not Roe, which is asinine. But it is not asinine to the single-issue voters and he keeps beating that drum to throw them a bone. I know well and good what happens if Roe gets overturned, that’s not the point of discussion.

The wars of choice that WE initiated are the largest reason for so many people seeking asylum. The Tunisian man is a different case but we can’t pee our pants at the thought of helping people whose displacement we helped create. We do have a responsibility to help but how that help occurs makes a difference.

I have zero desire for more of a police state but I’m well aware thanks to Snowden that there is far more surveillance on domestic communications than I thought. And the incoming CIA director wants even more power.

Re: free markets, I was pointing out the irony of conservatives thinking that free markets and free trade are anti-life policies. But then, the people that elected Trump are not principled conservatives, if conservative at all. Trump got elected for talking tough on trade but we will all see soon enough that he will either renege or backfire.

Re: the environment. The people who drill for oil and gas paint every regulation as a job-killing rule. They want no strictures at all, or laughable ones, so they can spill on land and not have to pay, blow up towns and not have to pay. They don’t give a rat’s behind about the ecosystem and why we need it to be clean. If that kills jobs, let it kill the ones at the top, who rake in billions of dollars for pushing paper. In the end, clean air and water must be preserved and nature needs to be kept in balance. They are the ones that need to adapt.

#47 Comment By JonF On December 24, 2016 @ 10:55 am

Re: the Dems had some reasonably big losses, but still retained large majorities in the House and Senat

The main point (if I may speak for Siarlys) is that poeple have been writing the obituaries of political parties for a long time based on this or that election. The Dems were written off in 2004 too– only to come roaring back in 2006 and 2008. If, as many of us fear, Trump’ administration proves to be a five star disaster making even George W Bush look like George Washington, then in 2018 and 2020, we will be hearing about how the Republicans are doomed– and the prognostication will be just as wrong.

#48 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 25, 2016 @ 9:31 pm

Tony D, thank you for your kind remarks. JonF did explain my point reasonably well. Yes, the Democrats retained their majorities in 1966, but fell far below the size of majority that makes for comprehensive reforms or changes in course. There was talk in 1964 that the GOP had destroyed itself — and by 1966 the talk was all about the party’s amazing come-back. A bit of that happened in 2008 and 2010 also.

Recent elections have not shown that an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens are fervently committed to the GOP brand, or to the actual policy initiatives proposed by the GOP leadership. A lot of elections, including the one for president, have been close calls, even after the votes were counted. The electoral college results were the product of perhaps 100,000 votes in three key states, out of many millions. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have really captured the imagination of a solid majority of the American people.

What people are still waiting for is a candidate, or set of candidates, or policy proposals, that breaks through the current ideological infatuations gripping each party, speaking plainly and with integrity to the most urgent concerns that animate more people than not across the country. Bernie Sanders was a weak attempt, and the election would still have been close if the Dems had nominated him. We could do better.

Most of the “Syrian” “refugees” invading Europe are neither Syrian nor refugees. Look at this Berlin killer, for instance: Tunisian, not fleeing war.

A good point. So, a carefully constructed program to admit a relatively small number of genuine refugees from the war that is happening in Syria, is not likely to put the US in the position Europe got into by admitting a throng of refugees from various places indiscriminately?

who think that the Supreme Court can or would ban abortion directly, which it can’t and won’t.

Noah is almost right on that point, BUT, there is this possibility: The opinion of the court in Roe v. Wade explicitly recognized and considered an argument from the “Wade” side which asserted that a fetus at any stage of development is a human being, entitled to full constitutional and legal protection as a “person.” Justice Blackmum found no basis in legal precedent or enactment for this assertion. IF the Supreme Court should rule that a fetus IS a person, THEN the decision would have the effect of applying any state homicide statute to performing an abortion.

This, precisely because, the court only does what a court does. However, IF the court were to, e.g., issue a meandering ruling that on second thought this isn’t really a privacy matter and the state doesn’t have to leave the pregnant woman alone… that would indeed leave the matter up to the discretion of the states.

Saying Jesus supports 1st amendment = good, saying Jesus supports 2nd amendment = bad.

Again, missing a few essentials, this time from Isadore. Whether Jesus is on record supporting the First Amendment or not (I don’t believe there is any mention of it in the Gospels), a Southern Baptist concerned with religious liberty might be concerned that the legal precedents which allow state action against Muslims on the basis of religion, could be turned against southern Baptists.

I guess it sure is lucky they can’t go over the ballots and find out who voted the wrong way and dox them for it.

True that. It is why we have a secret ballot.

#49 Comment By Helene Jnane On March 23, 2017 @ 12:47 pm

“[Russell Moore]’s nobody’s man but Christ’s — and what a rare thing that is among senior Christian leaders who engage in politics and public policy.

Or is Russell Moore nobody’s man but George Soro’s? That’s not a rare thing among leaders engaged in politics and public policy. Indeed, it is doubtful Dr. Moore would be as popular as he is with the mainstream media if he were nobody’s man but Christ’s. As for Moore’s engagement itself, it seems the rub is that Moore would have his flock give to Caesar what belongs to God.