Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Southern Baptist leader will not be dismissed over criticism of Trump and his religious supporters

Russell Moore (Baptist Press photo)
Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, said there is no truth to a Washington Post article saying that Russell Moore, president of SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, could be forced out over his criticism of President Trump and religious leaders who publicly supported him, David Roach reports for Baptist Press. Trump was especially popular among evangelicals during the election.

The Post's Sarah Pulliam Bailey reported Monday that "more than 100 of the denomination’s 46,000 churches have threatened to cut off financial support for the SBC’s umbrella fund, according to Frank Page, president of the executive committee." Page, who met with Moore Monday, told Bailey prior to the meeting, "If the meeting doesn’t goes well, I’m fully prepared to ask him for a change in his status."

On Monday night Moore and Page issued a joint statement: "We fully support one another and look forward to working together on behalf of Southern Baptists in the years to come. We will collaborate on developing future steps to deepen connections with all Southern Baptists as we work together to advance the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Roach writes, "The meeting came less than a month after the executive committee launched a study of churches' escrowing Cooperative Program money and two months after Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church announced it would escrow CP funds over 'various significant positions taken by the leadership of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.'" The executive committee "has received reports of similar actions by other churches. Churches have expressed concern about alleged disrespectfulness by Moore toward evangelical supporters of President Trump and about a friend of the court brief signed by the ERLC in support of a New Jersey Islamic society's right to build a mosque."

Page told Roach he called the meeting "to find bridge-building solutions to an unnecessary divide that has been created across the landscape of our Southern Baptist network of churches." Page said, "I also informed (Bailey) that I have no authority over Dr. Moore; that is vested in his board of trustees."

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