Spokespersons with the American Family Association are taking exception to recent comments from a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention who suggested evangelicals need to tone down the rhetoric on political and hot-button social issues.
In a recent interview, Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, told the Wall Street Journal it’s time for evangelicals to tone down the rhetoric and pull back from politics and the culture war, given what he calls a “visceral recoil” among younger evangelicals on such topics as abortion and homosexuality.
“We are involved in the political process,” he is quoted as saying, “but we must always be wary of being co-opted by it.”
But Sandy Rios, who hosts a daily talk show on American Family Radio, says Christians are compelled to speak the truth – even when it's difficult and unpopular to do so.
"Whether Russell Moore wants it to be a war or not, it is a war,” she stated on AFR on Wednesday. “Southern Baptists are going to suffer – there will be jobs lost; I would imagine we will be the targets of punishment by the IRS. This is a war whether he wants it to be or not."
Tim Wildmon, president of American Family Association, recalls that following the Supreme Court’s decision in June striking down a major element of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Moore encouraged Southern Baptists to love their “gay and lesbian neighbors” – adding: “They aren’t part of an evil conspiracy.”
"He says to Baptists, 'Love your gay and lesbian neighbors.' Nobody has a problem with that,” the AFA leader said on AFR. “Then he says that gays and lesbians are not part of an 'evil conspiracy.' I agree with that on an individual basis. Now, there are people in that movement who want to force their lifestyle on the rest of us. That is an evil conspiracy."
In the WSJ article, the ERLC president warned evangelicals to avoid becoming “mascots for any political faction” – and advised church leaders to be “winsome, kind, and empathetic.”
Rios said in debates like this, she turns to scripture. "Not to an isolated verse, but the pattern of scripture,” she clarified. “And I think about the Apostle Paul and the Corinthian church.
“I would like to hear a conversation between Russell Moore and the Apostle Paul discussing what it means to ‘winsome, kind, and empathetic’ and not talk about the moral issues of the day."
As to Moore’s advice to retreat from the culture war, Wildmon said: "This has happened before with other people who are high-profile leaders in the Christian community – and they're just bailing."
The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest organization of Baptist churches in the U.S. LifeWay Research, the research arm of the SBC, has documented a steady decrease in the annual reported membership of the denomination over the last five decades.
Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates OneNewsNow.com.