The Long History of Russell Moore’s Break with Southern Baptist Values

Recently, Dr. Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) has caught flack for the debacle that was his opposition to the candidacy President-elect Donald J. Trump.  Many high-profile Southern Baptists are openly opposing his leadership of the ERLC and some are questioning the need for that organization to exist at all.  For good or for bad, Russell Moore is out of step with evangelical voters, his own constituency, who overwhelmingly elected Trump over and against Moore’s very public objections.  The kerfuffle with Trump is only the latest in a long line of incidents that prove Russell Moore is out of step with the average SBC pew-sitter.

  • In 2006, Moore wrote an article in which he referred to Democratic congressman Gene Taylor as “the greatest public servant I have ever known.”  Moore worked a staff person for the Democratic congressman early in his career.  In 2010, Moore donated $4,800 to Taylor’s reelection campaign.  Taylor twice voted for Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the house and voted his Pelosi 82% of the time.  Is it a Southern Baptist value to support a partisan of Nancy Pelosi?
  • In 2011, Moore referred to Jesus as a so-called “illegal immigrant” in an article where he advocated for a “realistic means of providing a way to legal status for the millions of immigrants already here.”  Is it a Southern Baptist value to reward or incentivize breaking the law?
  • In June of 2013 Conservative Pundit Eric Metaxas dissociated himself from the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT).  Upon his disassociation, Metaxas tweeted, “Did you know George Soros was behind the Immigration thing I signed but then had my name taken off? Yikes…Anything Soros is behind is worth quitting. So glad I’ve had my name removed from this.”  Russell Moore has associated the ERLC (and the Southern Baptist Convention along with it) with the EIT.  Russell Moore is one of the heads of the EIT.  Is it a Southern Baptist value to associate oneself with an ecumenical organization linked to liberal political activist George Soros?
  • In October 2014, Russell Moore advised attending the reception of a “gay wedding” as a way of expressing love for a homosexual friend or relative.  Is it a Southern Baptist value to attend a part which celebrates a homosexual union?
  • In November 2014, Russell Moore and controversial pastor Rick Warren attended and spoke at a conference held at the Vatican intended to bolster the defense of traditional marriage.  Is it a Southern Baptist value to partner with the Pope of Rome?
  • In November of 2014, when a grand jury failed to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, Moore took to Twitter and the blogosphere with stats about how the criminal-justice system disproportionately penalizes black men.  Is it a Southern Baptist value to fan the flames of racial tension?
  • In December 2014, Russell Moore commented on the death of Eric Garner by stating, “I’m stunned speechless by this news. We hear a lot about the rule of law—and rightly so. But a government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice. We may not agree in this country on every particular case and situation, but it’s high time we start listening to our African American brothers and sisters in this country when they tell us they are experiencing a problem.”  A grand jury declined to indict the police officer involved in the arrest-related death of Eric Garner.  Riots ensued.  Police officers were ambushed and killed on the streets.  Is it a Southern Baptist value to pass judgement on police procedure before the justice system has reviewed the evidence?
  • In ~2015, Russell Moore appointed Karen Swallow Prior as a Fellow of the ERLC.  Of prior, Moore stated, “I wish we had 1,000 more Karen Swallow Priors in evangelicalism today. She models convictional kindness. She doesn’t give any ground, but she also doesn’t see people who disagree with her as her enemy.”  Prior is a contributor to Jim Wallis’ pro-homosexual environmentalist magazine Sojourners.  Prior once told New York Magazine that, “The LGBT movement is much like the Christian community in that it draws from diverse backgrounds and moral beliefs.”  Prior, (who does hold that homosexual activity is sinful) was also a featured speaker at the “gay Christian” Level Ground festival.  Prior once remarked that “calling abortion murder is unChristlike”. Is it a Southern Baptist value to want 1,000 more Karen Swallow Priors?
  • During the 2016 election, Russell Moore arguably turned the ERLC into a Marco Rubio PAC.  Is it a Southern Baptist value for convention lobbyists to take partisan positions in elections? (and, at that, for a moderate candidate).

Given his progressive posturing, it’s no surprise that the secular press is quite fond of Russell Moore.  In fact, if one peruses the #IstandwithMoore hashtag on Twitter, he will find social media awash with liberal and moderate supporters of Russell Moore.  The 2016 Presidential election was a very big news story, Russell Moore’s derision of the election’s winner (and the overwhelming choice of evangelicals) certainly has garnered him much negative attention.  Yet, anyone familiar with the Russell Moore stories that seem to have slipped through the cracks should not be surprised with just how out of step Russell Moore is with Southern Baptist values.  The question is, “How much longer will let these news stories pile up?

Rachel Held Evans stands with Russell Moore.  Do you?

rhemoore

 

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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@gsethdunn

Seth Dunn

Editor at Pulpit & Pen
Host of the Christian Commute Podcast
Member, Evangelical Theological Society
@gsethdunn

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