Murmuring hasn't slowed over 'Never Trumper' Moore

Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Steve Jordahl (

Russell Moore NYT screen shotThere's a growing murmur of discontent in Southern Baptist circles over its policy arm and the controversial public official who leads it.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is headed by Dr. Russell Moore, who has overseen the ERLC since 2013 and has been staking out controversial positions ever since.

Moore raised eyebrows as a so-called "Never Trumper" in 2016 at a time when many other Evangelicals reluctantly backed then-candidate Donald Trump after other Republican presidential candidates dropped out of the presidential primary.

"Most evangelicals that I've talked to became Trump voters late in the process, as their preferred candidates were not the ones who won," Janet Mefferd, a radio show host for American Family Radio, told NPR in a sympathetic 2016 story about Moore's fight with Evangelicals.

"And I think Russell Moore," continued Mefferd, "has made the error of saying evangelicals who supported Trump are selling out their principles." 

"Evangelical leader under attack for criticizing Trump supporters," reads the NPR headline, just one of many left-wing news outlets that have written about Moore's personal fight with the Religious Right.

"The survival of a Southern Baptist who dared to oppose Trump," reads a CNN headline from last July. 

Trump and Hillary side-by-side

"The religious right," Moore stated a month before Election Day, "turns out to be the people the religious right warned us about."

Yet the GOP candidate went on to defeat Hillary Clinton in a surprise victory thanks to evangelical voters who voted 80-20 for him over Clinton.

Moore's decision to not support Trump was his personal decision to make, says Southern Baptist pastor and Trump advisor Dr. Robert Jeffress. But the ERLC leader crossed a line, says Jeffress, when he suggested Southern Baptists who voted for Trump had compromised their moral beliefs.


"There's a right way to criticize policies that you don't agree with," says Jeffress. "But the criticism leveled against President Trump was not about his policies, which line up with what we believe, but it was deeply personal and I think a very poor Christian witness."

An early supporter of Trump during the primary, Jeffress caught other Evangelicals by surprise by appearing with Trump on the campaign trail. Yet he told OneNewsNow at the time that America was in a culture war and Trump was the only GOP candidate who could defeat Clinton, ensuring that conservative Christians wouldn't be swept aside by the left-wing, progressive policies of a Clinton presidency.

Russell MooreBishop A.B. Vines, a trustee for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, tells OneNewsNow that Moore should have kept his personal views to himself since he represents the ERLC and therefore the Southern Baptist Convention. 

"That may have been Dr. Moore's personal opinion but that shouldn't have been his political view or his view for the convention," says Vines. "You shouldn't tell people to repent because they voted for Donald Trump. That's not your role."

Vines says he does agree with Moore's observation that Trump has a reckless personality.

"President Trump has thrown everybody into a whirlwind. We've never seen this kind of leadership," Vines says of the trash-talking, Twitter-insulting president. "We've never seen this type of president and people are trying to catch up to try to respond to what he does."

Jeffress disagrees with that view, however, and says the ERLC should be responding to policies Trump is pushing.

"The ERLC has been completely out of step with the vast majority of Southern Baptists," says Jeffress, "who voted for this president and continue to support his policies, which are biblical."

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