IF RUSSELL MOORE IS FIRED, “UNTO US” A TRUMP BAPTIST CONVENTION IS BORN
By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.
The first cabinet member that soon-to-be President Donald Trump will fire, may not be in his White House Cabinet. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics, and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC–a cabinet level entity head position within the SBC org chart–will be the first person fired by the direct influence of Donald Trump and his influential supporters within SBC circles, if they are successful in their unprecedented public attempts, to discredit and dismiss from office the most compelling and effective spokesman ever to hold that office in the history of the SBC. The lynch mob in SBC life who is going after Moore are taking their cues from Donald Trump who was among the first to attack Moore with one of his infamous tweets during the primary season:
“Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!”
What has Russell Moore done to generate such vitriol and hatred from Trump and his supporters and sycophants in SBC life? Moore dared asked the SBC if it is in keeping with their values to support a person for POTUS who mocks the disabled; engages in race baiting; owns strip joints and casinos; admits to sexual predatory behaviors; wants to create a Muslim registry, which violates the religious freedom beliefs of the SBC; and speaks of unlawfully targeting non-combatant in war acts. One would think that a person assigned to address the SBC regarding ethical issues is fulfilling their assignment in addressing these matters.
Future Supreme Court Judges and Reversing Gay Marriage were believed to have a better chance of lining up with SBC values under a Trump Administration. Therefore, many SBC personalities argued in spite of Trump’s misgivings and failures in the aforementioned areas, he’s still worthy of support because of who he might appoint to the Supreme Court who would reverse Roe vs Wade and Gay Marriage. To which Russell Moore responded, how can we count on Donald Trump to keep his word on these matters any more than anyone named Mrs. Trump could depend on him to keep his word to them? This was a brilliant and prophetic response.
Shortly after he was elected, Trump announced that Gay Marriage was settled law, and he would not revisit that matter. Ironically, Pastor Robert Jeffress at FBC, Dallas agreed with Trump on this. Go figure? He has already gone back on his word even before he took office, and many SBC persons voted for him under the delusion that Trump would somehow reverse or, at least, redress gay marriage. With a majority Republican House, Senate, soon to be Supreme Court—and of course occupying the White House–there is absolutely no reason why gay marriage can’t and shouldn’t be reversed; other than Trump doesn’t want to reverse it. Now, a prominent SBC leader is backing Trump in this bait and switch campaign tactic. Rather than holding Trump accountable for his pre-election position supporting traditional marriage, they’d rather spend their time attacking Moore. Again, Moore warned us that Trump’s history did not lend itself to counting on him to keep his word. You would think he would be given credit for his insight. Instead, they’re crushing him. If President Elect Trump—not candidate Trump—view is that gay marriage is settled law, why is it not his view that Roe vs Wade is settled law, using the same logic? Already Moore has proven to be 50% accurate in the lack of trust worthiness of Donald Trump on an issue important to Evangelicals—gay marriage. If and when Donald Trump says the same thing about Roe vs Wade, Moore will be 100% correct in saying that Donald Trump was not a trustworthy candidate in addressing matters important to Southern Baptists. On what grounds then are the ones calling for Moore’s dismissal upset?
Make no mistake about it. The union between the SBC and the Republican Convention is an unhealthy and unholy one, particularly with Trump as President. But that would be equally as true with anyone else as President and equally as true if such a union existed with the SBC and The Democratic Party. It is detrimental to our witness, evangelism, discipleship, church planting, race relations and the identity of our seminaries. This is a malignancy that must be excised from our Convention.
To fire Russell Moore though, cements and consummate the relationship between the SBC and The Republican Party. We shouldn’t give Trump that kind of influence over our Convention. We shouldn’t by default say to the public we value loyalty to the Republican brand over a critical evaluation of a Republican nominee for President.
It’s not enough to say that Russell Moore was speaking against the majority of the SBC and those who pay his salary, as a reason to silence his voice. The Bible is inerrant and infallible, the SBC is not. What’s been missing from SBC history to often was a Russell Moore.
When the majority of the SBC embraced the diabolical institution of slavery, we needed a Russell Moore, even if he was being paid by the SBC. When the majority of the SBC denied women the right to vote as messengers within the SBC annual meetings, and supported laws forbidding women the right to vote in the secular realm, we needed a Russell Moore. When the majority of the SBC voted to support Jim Crow laws and would not support Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, we needed a Russell Moore. When the majority of the messengers in the ‘mid ’70’s voted in a SBC annual meeting to support abortion, we needed a Russell Moore. When the IMB created unbiblical landmark baptismal policies and unbiblical policies restricting missionaries’ private worship in 2005, God raised up a Wade Burleson to prophetically address these matters; and he was publicly maligned and marginalized, and now the same attempt is being made toward Russell Moore. In 2015, everything Wade Burleson was asking the IMB to do, they did: Return to the pre-2005 private prayer policies, and the prior baptismal policies. Now that they have done so, Wade Burleson is owed an apology, because their actions now prove he was right from the beginning.
SBC, are we going to now make the same mistake with Russell Moore as we did with all of the aforementioned matters that we later reversed policies on? Are we really going to place that much stock in Trump and choose Trump over Moore?
Honestly, a convention that would even consider this is a severely spiritually sick convention. If it were not for a great health insurance plan that I appreciate (connected to GuideStone), and a small life insurance and small retirement account that may be useful at some point, I’d seriously consider whether I could actually belong to a convention that’s so invested and identified in every way with the Republican Party and Donald Trump. To fire Russell Moore will have far-reaching consequences than most persons realize. It defines being SBC as also being Republican, or at least not publicly criticizing a Republican candidate. Minorities tend not to be Republican because they view Democrats as being more sensitive to social and economic justice, equality and fairness issues. They also view these matters as life issues and equally as important as abortion and gay marriage issues. Russell Moore is one of the few Southern Baptists that really have a heartfelt identification and understanding of social justice issues from a minority perspective. There are those who think that this backlash against him is rooted in his outspokenness on race issues and police brutality issues. Russell Moore really feels our pain. In many ways he is being treated as a racial minority by the Convention in this situation. So to fire Russell Moore is to say to minorities, you are only welcome in the SBC if you remain silent regarding your political views. Seriously? Is that what you really want? If so, continue with this lynch party and proposed firing. And Congratulations!!! You will have just birth THE TRUMP BAPTIST CONVENTION.
Russell Moore has spoken as a prophet. The late Professor Jack Gray defined the spiritual gift of prophecy as the ability to communicate a particular truth, to a particular people, at a particular time. This is what Moore has done. To fire Russell Moore is in effect to make the statement that the gift of prophecy is unwelcome among Southern Baptists if it conflicts with our politics. Russell Moore would have gotten the same kind of treatment in SBC life had he spoken prophetically against slavery in 1845-1863 as he is getting now. Southern Baptists can and should do better than this. I pray that we drop this vendetta against Russell Moore. He has asked for an apology if he was misunderstood or crossed over a line. Let’s forgive him and move on. Threatening to withhold funds over a critique of Donald Trump is too small of an issue for us to divide over. During this yuletide season, let’s practice our faith and seek peace on earth and in the SBC and good will toward all men. Brethren, let’s drop our swords and be The Southern Baptist Great Commission Convention and not the Trump Baptist Convention.