Russell Moore has finally found agreement with one of Donald Trump’s insulting tweets.
Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, responded in television interviews May 9 to the following Twitter comment from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee early in the day:
“Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!”
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press Daily,” Moore said he agreed with Trump. “I am a nasty guy with no heart, which is why I need forgiveness of sins and redemption through the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Screenshot from MSNBC
Later on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Moore told Cooper, “We sing worse things about ourselves in our hymns on Sunday mornings.” Citing lyrics from the hymn “Amazing Grace,” he added, “We are a wretch and in need of God’s grace.”
Trump posted the latest in his long line of harsh tweets during the GOP campaign after Moore criticized him on CBS’ “Face the Nation” May 8 and in an online op-ed in The New York Times May 6.
Appearing with other conservatives on “Face the Nation,” Moore said Trump and Hillary Clinton – the likely Democratic nominee – reflect “an embrace of the very kind of moral and cultural decadence that conservatives have been saying for a long time is the problem.”
In The Times op-ed, he made an apparent reference to Trump’s campaign when he wrote, “This election has cast light on the darkness of pent-up nativism and bigotry all over the country. There are not-so-coded messages denouncing African-Americans and immigrants; concern about racial justice and national unity is ridiculed as ‘political correctness.’ Religious minorities are scapegoated for the sins of others, with basic religious freedoms for them called into question.”
Moore continued to express the same kinds of concerns on television May 9.
“When we see the kind of race baiting and the kind of misogyny that we’ve seen all through this year, if you have evangelical Christians who are not willing to stand up and say, ‘The things that we have said about decency and justice and morality, that applies to everyone, not just to our political opponents,’ we don’t have any credibility left for the future,” he told Cooper.
When asked on “Meet the Press Daily” whom he would vote for, Moore reaffirmed he does not endorse candidates.
“My concern right now is not about who’s up and who’s down in this presidential election,” he said.
“My concern right now is to make sure that we have evangelical Christians and churches who stand by our ultimate commitment to Jesus Christ and to His Word and to make sure that we don’t barter that away for some attempt at political power that ends up trading away our conscience in the bargain.”
Several Southern Baptist leaders tweeted support for Moore after Trump’s comment on Twitter. They included Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, and Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Meanwhile, a prominent Southern Baptist pastor who has not officially endorsed a candidate but has spoken supportively of Trump voiced a different opinion. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, told Baptist Press, “If you keep poking the bear, you shouldn’t be surprised when the bear takes a bite out of you.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)