A Southern Baptist leader is facing mounting criticism following his stance against Donald Trump during the presidential election that some say caused division inside America's largest Protestant denomination.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission – the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention – stated his criticism of Trump during the campaign going back to September 2015 when he wrote in an opinion piece "evangelicals and other social conservatives" must "repudiate everything they believe" to support Trump.
Now that the Republican is about to enter the Oval Office, Moore is receiving backlash from some Southern Baptist leaders – including mega-church pastors Dr. Jack Graham and Dr. Robert Jeffress; and former presidential candidate Governor Mike Huckabee, who stated in an email: "I am utterly stunned that Russell Moore is being paid by Southern Baptists to insult them."
William F. Harrell, a former member of the SBC's executive committee, offers a similar sentiment. "We don't need our own ERLC telling us that we need to repudiate everything we believe in if we vote for a certain candidate," he says. "That's never been done before; it's never reached that level."
In a recent column, Harrell argues the ERLC "has morphed into something that it was not meant to be." In fact, he says it has left him wondering about the future of the ERLC.
"It's time for us to look at what it's done to us – and it's created an atmosphere of division among the Southern Baptist people," he tells OneNewsNow. "But it's time for us to look at it and say if it's going to continue to be like it is, it's about time to call it a day."
Harrell says he knows of some "notable churches that are escrowing funds [from the entity] until something is done about [the ERLC] and the Louisiana Baptist Convention has just escrowed funds and also they are ordering a study [of recent actions] of the ERLC."
Meanwhile, other Southern Baptist leaders have thrown their support towards Moore, including Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Dr. Albert Mohler. And in a blog post Monday, Moore attempted to clarify past statements saying he never intended to criticize all evangelical supporters of Trump, noting many were motivated by "biblical convictions" and "voted their conscience."