Southern Baptist churches are autonomous, and we can’t speak into the affairs of a local church.
That will be the excuse, I am afraid, for why Russell Moore will not speak to the issue of the ethical implications of Southern Baptists assisting the abortion industry and, in particular, First Baptist Church of Blanchard, Oklahoma supporting their deacon’s business, Yarbrough and Sons, continuing work on a new abortuary.
Let me be very candid: No one is asking Russell Moore to boss FBC Blanchard around. No one is asking he give some kind of authoritative ruling for this church to follow. No one is asking for Baptist autonomy to be thwarted or ignored. No one is asking for this church’s independence to be compromised.
We are asking that the chief ethicist employed by the Southern Baptist Convention speak on the ethical implications of Southern Baptist church members (which includes deacons, pastors and staff people) assisting in the construction of abortion clinics or assisting in their day to day operations.
The ERLC website says “The ERLC is dedicated to engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ and speaking to issues in the public square for the protection of religious liberty and human flourishing.” One would think that the practice of abortion falls within the purview of the ERLC’s works, as there’s nothing that quite inhibits human flourishing like sucking the face off an infant from the womb and flushing their blood down the municipal drains. Likewise, the ERLC’s position statement on abortion calls the practice, “wrong.”
Just six days ago, Russell Moore penned an article at his namesake website, asking “Why Would a Church Support Abortion?” In the first paragraph of that piece, Moore hails his cooperation with Roman Catholics on the sanctity of life issue and lauds his ecumenical practices as essential to the pro-life position. Moore piggybacks off of an article by Baptist News Global regarding a church’s minister defending Planned Parenthood (something that Moore’s own research assistant at the ERLC has done), who spoke of abortion as “murder” and yet supports the practice.
In the article, Moore speaks of a brief he filed at the Supreme Court to keep the abortion industry from self-regulation (opting instead for outside regulation). Here is the irony, should Moore not speak to the issue of Southern Baptist churches and church members partnering with the abortion industry for the sake of financial gain; there is no outside regulation of the church that can be had, and we must – unlike the abortion industry – rely on self-regulation. We are asking Russell Moore to speak to an internal issue in a local church, without putting that church’s autonomy on the line or governing them. We are asking Russell Moore to have a prophetic voice to his own denomination.
Russell Moore’s ERLC has spoken out on the issue of animal welfare (source link). Russell Moore’s ERLC has spoken out on the issue of immigration reform (source link). Russell Moore’s ERLC has spoken out on the issue of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy (source link). Russell Moore has promised the ERLC will soon address criminal justice reform (source link). Russell Moore’s ERLC has spoken out on racial justice (source link). Russell Moore has spoken out about his love for Johnny Cash (source link).
In all of these cases, Russell Moore’s wagging finger of social justice (and music choice) is external and pointing outward. We are asking that the Southern Baptist ethicist point his finger internally at his own denomination, and give words of guidance and wisdom to those for whom he works regarding their partnering with abortion clinics for the sake of financial gain. We are asking that the speck be removed from our eye, before removing the plank from the eye of others (or admonishing them on social justice).
You can sign the petition here.
[Contributed by JD Hall]
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