Politics

Opinion: Southern Baptist Exodus Driven by Lack of Fealty To Trump

To say dirty Donald Trump is a polarizing figure is to massively understate his negative effect on America. But it is likely that most Americans never imagined his filthy, and purposely divisive, nature would negatively affect his most fervent supporters in the evangelical movement.

Evangelicals exposed their lack of fealty to their so-called Christian values when they wholly embraced Trump as “anointed by god” to lead their un-Christlike religiosity to dominate and control America. In fact, as many commenters have pointed out, the primary complaint from evangelicals about Trump wasn’t his braggadocio about grabbing women by the pussy or paying for sex with porn stars, or separating children from their parents. No, they didn’t like that Trump curses. Otherwise, he was their chosen one to lead them to the promised land where American women had to cede control of their bodies to Catholics on the Supreme Court, people of color were foul inhuman creatures, and LGBTQ people were sin personified.

As loyalty to Trumpism drove even mainstream Republicans to the extreme right, the evangelical movement, led by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), took up the GOP’s lurch to the extreme far right as a challenge to see who can be more extreme.

As the nation’s largest Protestant organization, the race to the right has alienated many dyed-in-the-wool evangelicals and veritably driven them out of the movement. That fact was glaringly evident recently when the man who “held one of the top positions in evangelical Christianity,” Russell Moore, left his position due the movement’s demand of unquestioned allegiance to Trump instead of Christian values.

Make no mistake, Moore is a hardline evangelical and holds views contrary to his faith’s namesake. He was the head of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and a fierce advocate for many of the group’s nastiest right-wing positions. He opposes equal rights for the LGBTQ community, particularly marriage equality, and is one of the leading voices for allowing religious liberty exemptions to supersede existing protections founded on equal rights guaranteed in the 14th Amendment.  

However, being a champion for anti-equal rights was not enough to keep Moore in the SBC’s good graces because he was considered disloyal to Trump. Apparently, speaking negatively against Trump is tantamount to criticizing the Christian god and Moore really crossed the line when he criticized evangelicals for their unflinching devotion to Trump – especially after he incited his acolytes to insurrection against the United States on January 6, 2021.

Mr. Moore’s troubles within the SBC began in 2016 when he criticized Trump as “someone who not only characterizes sexual decadence and misogyny, brokers in cruelty and nativism, and displays a crazed public and private temperament – but who glories in these things.”

That bit of candor, and accurate description of Trump’s vile character, almost cost Moore his job in 2017. Last month, Moore had his fill of the SBC’s demand of absolute fealty to Trumpism over “adherence to articles of faith” and he “allegedly” left voluntarily for a position with Christianity Today.

Apparently what drove Moore to leave the SBC was the evangelical movement minimizing Trump’s purposeful incitement of sedition against the United States. An insurrection that Mr. Moore “laid directly at Trump’s feet.”

After the attempted coup, Moore penned an editorial condemning Trump and accusing evangelicals of having lost all moral authority for minimizing the attack on America because it was directed by Trump. Mr. Moore wrote:

This week we watched an insurrection of domestic terrorists incited and fomented by the President of the United States Trump. If you can defend this, you can defend anything. If you can wave this away … then where, at long last, is your limit?”

Moore had been in trouble with evangelicals in general, and in the Southern Baptist Convention specifically,  for supporting humane immigration reform and going completely against Trump by making his fight against systemic racism one of his primary missions as an evangelical leader.

Obviously most evangelicals have no limits when it comes to their worship of Trump and it is little surprise the Mr. Moore is joining the evangelical Christianity Today that is already regarded as disloyal to Trump – the evangelical’s man-turned-god on Earth.

The evangelical journal’s editor, Mark Galli, was in serious trouble in 2019 with so-called Christians because he wrote that Trump should be impeached and thrown out of office for his Ukraine crime. Galli subsequently resigned his position, left evangelicalism and became a Catholic.

Another Moore, the “wildly  popular” Christian author Beth Moore (no relation)  was so disgusted with the SBC’s embrace of Trump’s misogyny and racism that she announced that she “no longer considered herself a Southern Baptist

What these defections from the SBC demonstrate is that evangelicalism is no longer a religion and closer to an extremist far-right political cult. In fact, for a majority of evangelicals faith is no longer about Christianity; faith means whatever Trump says it is. And the SBC wonders why its numbers are declining.

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