Unholy Alliance: The Grand Old Party and the Southern Baptist Convention

A few years from now, in the thick of some really important election, someone will spend a lot of money conducting a survey to see who evangelical Christians will be supporting in that really important election. I could save that guy a lot of time, money and trouble. I already know who evangelical Christians will be supporting in the next really important election. And the one after that. And the next one. And so on. Here it is.

The Republican.

But, some may wonder, what if the Republican isn’t all that great? Suppose his policies don’t make much sense. Or what if he’s just a really foul individual whose entire life contradicts traditional biblical teaching?

The Republican.

For as long as I can remember, so called evangelical Christians, and more specifically Southern Baptists, have been connected at the hip with the Grand Old Party. Most won’t confess that but it’s no less true. If you don’t believe me, you need look no further than one man for the proof.

Russell Moore.

Russell Moore is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. For now. There are several influential churches and pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) who would like to see him go. Some of those influential pastors have promised to withdraw their regular funds to the SBC because of Moore. The Louisiana Baptist Convention is even working to see Moore silenced, defunded or let go.

But why? What did Russell Moore do to find himself on the hot seat?

During the last presidential election, Moore did the unthinkable. He did the unforgivable. He went public in his opposition to Donald Trump. Gasp! In that opposition to Trump, Moore didn’t then throw his weight behind Hillary Clinton. But that didn’t matter. Simply not blindly following the Republican nominee and eventual president was enough to earn Moore the scorn of the convention he has devoted his life to.

Influential leaders were worried that Moore’s vocal opposition to Trump would cost them a seat at the table. They were not, however, worried about losing their seat at the table a few years ago when, as Dwight McKissic notes, Richard Land, Moore’s predecessor said that a black males is, “statistically more likely to do you harm than a white man.” For many in the SBC, it appears to be more important to have a seat at a table in the White House than it does to have a seat at your black neighbor’s house.

Here’s the sad reality that many SBC power players just can’t seem to learn. They are a joke. A punchline. A necessary evil. That’s how the elites in Washington, yes even the Republicans, view them. And that’s the best case scenario.

I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of George W. Bush’s devotion to God. I’m no supporter but I believe Mr. Bush to be genuine in his faith. And yet, even in his White House, influential leaders were referred to as, “nuts.” Behind closed doors, of course. That’s how Washington works. Democrats need the poor. Republicans need religious conservatives. Both parties are trying to get the same thing: power. Both groups, the poor and the religious, are left worse off than before as they sell their souls for a supposed seat at the table.

Many Trump supporters have fallen into the same trap that Obama supporters did eight years ago. Back then, if you questioned the president, you were a racist, flat-earther, and a bigot. Today, if you dare question President Trump, you are an elitist who is funded by George Soros. And no proof is needed to support such claims. That was only in the old days when truth mattered. If you want to know what idol someone worships, watch how they react when that idol faces the least bit of criticism. Sadly, many in the SBC worship a giant golden statue of an elephant with the phrase Grand Old Party carefully and lovingly carved on the side.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church. I currently serve as the pastor of a Southern Baptist Church. I say currently because who knows what will happen to me once the Louisiana Baptist Convention gets a hold of this. Anyway, I’ve got the SBC in my blood. When I was growing up, Jerry Falwell was Moses leading us into the Moral Majority Promised Land. Madonna was the devil because of her immorality and crude language. But I’ve learned something over the past year. If Madonna ever wanted to change her reputation among my kind, it appears that all she had to do was run for president as a Republican. She could’ve gotten away with whatever she wanted. Man, she’d even be compared to King David if she said the right things about the Supreme Court.

Thank God for President Trump. He’s exposed a lot. In just a short time, he’s shown us that much of the so-called conservative media wasn’t as much concerned with conservative principles as they are with getting their man in the White House. And he did the same to the church. As one friend put it, President Trump has revealed that whatever unity the SBC enjoys is not centered around Christ and his kingdom but rather being white and Republican.

Jesus didn’t die for the Republican or Democratic party. And he doesn’t need us having a seat at some table in Washington. He’d much rather us represent him before the people he has put next door to us. And get this. Some of the people who God, in his sovereignty, has put down the street from us are in this country illegally. Now, we can debate how to fix that. There is no doubt that reform is needed. But it is even more clear that we are called to love our neighbors, even the ones who, “don’t belong here.” Good luck trying to do that while getting your marching orders from the GOP rather than the King of kings.

The Southern Baptist Convention needs Russell Moore. But they want someone who will tickle their itching ears. They want a man who is much like many of the pastors in their churches – a hireling. And it appears that many within the convention are willing to go to extreme measures to get that man.

Keep in mind, Moore never criticized people for voting for Trump. On national TV he said that he understood the lesser of two evils approach but that he did not agree with it. Joe Sixpack (non-alcoholic for you SBC readers) was never in Moore’s crosshairs. An immoral candidate and institutions that bent over backwards to excuse that immorality as if God could only work through one political party were. And now one of those institutions is firing back.

I am a proponent of a very limited federal government. I can pretty much guarantee you that I’m more conservative than you are. I can say with certainty that I’m more conservative than the president is. So save the liberal tag for someone else. Our government has grown larger and more corrupt every year of my life. But I’m doing just fine. That’s because my identity is found in the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, not some silly donkey or elephant in Washington D.C.

I just wish that more people in the Southern Baptist Convention could say the same.

Confessions of a Southern Baptist Bigot

I’m a bigot.

There’s just no getting around it. Believe me, I’ve tried to. But I just can’t get away from the fact that I have a very strong tendency to look down on an entire group of people.

It’s not blacks. Not Catholics. Not even people who eat at Hardee’s.

My problem is with snowboarders.

I’ve got friends who snowboard. Isn’t that what all bigots say when they try to convince themselves that they are not in fact bigots? But I really do have friends who snowboard. That’s not enough to help me overcome my prejudiced ways. When I see a guy with a snowboard, I don’t know him, and the X Games aren’t in town, I automatically assume that he’s up to no good.

I went skiing last week. Nothing like a ski trip to remind you that you’re a bigot. Although you couldn’t see it on the outside, in my heart I was the grumpy old man of the ski slopes yelling at kids to get off of his lawn.

My two young sons were skiing for the first time. Day one was comparable to a cross between getting your wisdom teeth pulled while doing calculus and listening to Rascal Flatts. Yes, that bad.

But they eventually got the hang of it. By the second day they were speeding down the slopes and darting in and out of traffic. Traffic that included snowboarders. Every time they came close to one, I turned into that grumpy old man.

“Leave my kids alone, you young punks with your pink hair and your pierced lips and your kill your mother music!”

I never said that, of course. I just kept my bigotry to myself.

On our last day my youngest son was going down a hill. A big hill. He was going straight down the big hill. And doing a fine job, if I may say so. He looked like Curious George.

But then he wrecked. And it was a good wreck. I mean a bad one. And, you guessed it, there was a snowboarder close by. As I sped to check on my son, I was like David Banner. Only I wasn’t turning into the Hulk. Just the grumpy old man.

But a strange thing happened on my way to the scene of the accident. The snowboarder stopped. He bent down, asked my son if he was okay and started to help him up. The young snowboarder had nothing to do with my son’s wreck but he cared enough to check on him. That was probably the third time during our trip that something like that happened.

It made me feel like, well, a bigot.

Whenever a kid does something wrong, wrong enough to earn him a spot on the news, they always interview his mother.

“Ma’am, why do you think that your son blew up all of the toilets in the school and spray painted swastikas on his history teacher’s door?”

The mother’s answer is always pretty much like this.

“My baby would never do anything like that. He just fell in with the wrong crowd.”

The mother never stops to consider that maybe her son is the wrong crowd.

On the slopes last week, I learned that I was the wrong crowd. I’m the wrong crowd because I’m so much faster to go digging for the snowflake in another man’s eye than I am to take a glance at the snowboard in my own (Matthew 7:3-5).

I’m the problem because I forget that if I was the only person who ever lived, there would still be more than enough sin in the world to cost Jesus his life.

Jesus died for snowboarders. The nice ones that stop to help small children. And the mean ones that make small children wreck.

Thankfully, he also died for the sins of bigoted Southern Baptist pastors like me.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10 (ESV)