Southern Baptists will decide this week whether they will reduce funds for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission headed by Russell Moore in part because of his anti-Trump rhetoric and characterizations of fellow Southern Baptists who supported the president during the elections.
The Southern Baptist Executive Committee meeting began Monday in Nashville, Tennessee, and representatives from across the nation are convening to plan and budget for the upcoming year. In what has been a tumultuous year for many evangelicals, the SBC is experiencing some notable theological and generational differences, and where the money goes will in part determine the overall direction of the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
But moves to pressure Moore with reduced funding will be hard to pull off, according to sources knowledgeable of the inner workings of SBC institutions who spoke with The Christian Post on condition of anonymity.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, of which Moore is president, receives 1.65 percent of funds from the denomination’s Cooperative Program. If individual churches are unhappy with Moore and want to withhold financial support from the ERLC they can earmark their giving with a “negative designation” from their contributions.
But that money could be easily recouped from other churches supportive of Moore to make up the difference or even exceed what was withheld.
In the 2016 election cycle, Moore was an outspoken critic Trump, a position at odds with many Southern Baptists. Though the number is disputed by some, exit polls suggest that upwards of 80 percent of white evangelicals backed Trump for president over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
But the real issue, sources say, was Moore’s characterization of fellow Christians as compromising the Gospel, much to the chagrin of older Southern Baptists. His efforts to “re-brand” the denomination, to the delight of many millennial Christians, including conservative-leaning ones, did not yield an accurate representation of Southern Baptists as a whole and cost them a proverbial seat at the table to engage the new president, they argue.
Meanwhile, left-wing secularists were content to showcase Moore, as were media elites opposed to Trump who invited him onto their platforms to speak, sources insist. Moore’s words provoked Trump himself, who sent tweets to Moore, one of which called him a “nasty guy with no heart.”
Insiders tell CP that the Executive Committee is not likely to defund Moore’s budget and that the real issue that has upset so many Southern Baptists was not so much the ERLC leader’s expressed distaste for Trump, but for the way he impugned the motives of Trump-supporting Southern Baptists. Moore had previously intoned that those Southern Baptists who were supporting Trump were essentially denying the Gospel and that they cared more about having political influence than sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus.
Source: Christian Post | BRANDON SHOWALTER