As we’ve reported ad nauseam, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) is being utilized as a Political Action Committee (PAC) for Roman Catholic presidential contender, Marco Rubio. ERLC president and former Democratic staffer, Russell Moore, shares a number of ideological similarities with Rubio, not the least of which is their mutual desire for open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens. For this reason, even the secular press has characterized Moore as an “open border zealot” (source link) with others alleging that Moore’s progressivism “created Trump” (source link). In fact, some Republican officials recognize Moore as not being conservatism’s friend (source link).
That Russell Moore has effectively used the $4 million Cooperative Program-funded budget of the ERLC to serve as an attack dog against Rubio’s primary opponents is well documented (source link). We have explained why Rubio has become the candidate of choice for political moderates like Russell Moore in a previous post. And, of course, there’s been no shortage of raised eyebrows among more conservative Southern Baptists as to why, from the very beginning of this election cycle, Moore has used Southern Baptist resources to promote Roman Catholic and not Southern Baptist candidates for office (source link). Moore has been effective at roping in other Southern Baptists to serve Rubio’s campaign in various advisory roles, including Albert Mohler (source link), a move that surely backfired when the Roman Catholic candidate advocated for American young ladies to be drafted into the military (source link), a move most Southern Baptists would detest, and also promoted the abortion pill (source link). Nonetheless, SBC leaders and employees have continued to characterize an avowed Roman Catholic as not only a Christian, but as an evangelical (source link). Southern Baptist laypeople have continued to communicate their concerns to the ERLC regarding Moore’s less-than-conservative political activism, but have not received responses (source link). It’s hard to argue that Russell Moore hasn’t turned the SBC into a PAC when he’s writing op-eds with one candidate (source link) while very publicly attacking all of that candidate’s opponents.
Moore has stacked the deck of the ERLC with loyal Company Men (and a number of social progressives, like “calling abortion murder is unchristlike” self-pronounced feminist, Karen Swallow Prior) who are more than happy to be sent out as surrogates for Rubio’s $4 million SBC-funded PAC. While Thomas Kidd and other ERLC research fellows have served the Rubio campaign in official capacity, others write opinion pieces against Rubio’s opponents. The latest Moore appointee to wield the Rubio hatchet is Paul David Miller in an article published by the The Federalist, entitled “I’m an Evangelical, and I Don’t Support Ted Cruz.”
Miller, who serves as an ERLC research fellow, writes…
I am a theologically conservative evangelical Christian. I grew up in a loosely Baptist Bible church and gravitated to the Reformed tradition as an adult. I am pro-life and vote for pro-life candidates. I do not plan to vote for Cruz in the primary election. Cruz has bad political theology. I mean he betrays a misunderstanding of the relationship between politics and religion. His error is the opposite of the secular, progressive left: they want no contact between the two whatsoever, and a state-sponsored secularism in the public sphere. That’s obviously a non-starter. But Cruz offers the wrong solution: Christian identity politics.
Notice, Miller – who serves as a research fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission – has a central complaint: Cruz has infused his politics with too much Christianity. For real. I’m not making that up.
Miller goes on to denounce “Christian Identity politics” and the rest of us are left wondering what’s wrong with identifying as [*gasp*] a Christian. After all, if Miller, Rubio, Teetsel and others could identify Rubio as an evangelical, what’s wrong with Cruz identifying as a Christian? Miller’s answer would seem to be that Cruz has just gone too far. He is, essentially, appealing to Christians [*gasp*] on purpose.
If Donald Trump has become the candidate of white identity politics, Cruz is the candidate of Christian identity politics. I dislike identity politics of all stripes and feel insulted when a candidate appeals to me on the basis of my demographic.
Notice the slam on Donald Trump, there? Racist pig, Miller wants us to know. And that Cruz…that Cruz is pandering. Marco Rubio, though…Marco Rubio is the religious pluralist we’ve been waiting for.
No. This isn’t the Huffington Post. This is an SBC ERLC research fellow mimicking the words of Russell Moore.
The rest of the article reads with so much obvious cultural defeatism that if I would dissect it and critique it piece-by-piece, I would, not to throw the theonomists a bone, sound like Joel McDurmon throwing a fit about pre-millennial pessimism. The article reeks of it, and it’s palpable. “That America” doesn’t exist any more, Miller wants us to know. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and so keep your religion out of politics, by golly. Heck, Miller even invokes the director of Rubio’s SBC PAC, Russell Moore, in defense of waving the white flag of Christian defeat:
Russell Moore, the head of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has repeatedly argued that Christians must find a different tone in public discourse. In past generations we could assume nearly all our fellow citizens were professing Christians and that American culture self-consciously wanted to echo Christian values. That is no longer the case. Evangelicals are a “prophetic minority” in a post-Christian society.
The head of this so-called “prophetic minority” is using his prophet’s mantle ostensibly to advocate for a socially progressive, politically moderate Roman Catholic for president. We don’t need prophets like that, thank you very much.
Invoking Moore one more time, Miller writes…
The two missions seem to be drifting apart as American culture becomes increasingly non-Christian. But regardless, we need to remember, as Moore says, “the end goal of the gospel is not a Christian America. The end goal of the gospel is redeemed from every tribe and tongue and nation and language in a New Jerusalem.”
With our religious liberty guru arguing for less overt Christianity in the public realm, he argues not for a Christian nation but essentially a Christian world, with the merging of all tongues and nations into a coming Zion. We can agree with that. It seems, however, that Moore believes this will happen by tearing down border security and not enforcing immigration law, rather than understanding that this feat will be achieved by the Gospel.
[Contributed by JD Hall]