Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, in today’s New York Times.
The thriving churches of American Christianity are multigenerational, theologically robust, ethnically diverse and connected to the global church. If Jesus is alive — and I believe that he is — he will keep his promise and build his church. But he never promises to do that solely with white, suburban institutional evangelicalism.
The question is whether evangelicals will be on the right side of Jesus. That will mean standing up for the church’s future leaders, and for our mission, especially when they are politically powerless. American Christianity faces a test of whether we will identify as Christians first. Majorities come and majorities go. And sometimes a silent majority is too silent for its own good.
The Bible calls on Christians to bear one another’s burdens. White American Christians who respond to cultural tumult with nostalgia fail to do this. They are blinding themselves to the injustices faced by their black and brown brothers and sisters in the supposedly idyllic Mayberry of white Christian America. That world was murder, sometimes literally, for minority evangelicals.
He writes that the seeds of the decline of some South Baptist congregations were planted in the Jim Crow era when they failed to stand up to violence against African Americans because that would be political. He asks whether Evangelicals today will stand up to Trump’s bullying.
Libby Wilson writing in Vox answers:
Moore has a lot of minds to change. White evangelical Christians typically support Republican candidates by huge margins: In 2012, Romney captured 79 percent of their vote.
Trump, so far, isn’t leading with anything like those numbers, but he still has a huge advantage. The latest Reuters poll found that white Christians who describe themselves as born-again prefer Trump over Clinton, 48 percent to 29 percent, and that Trump has an even wider advantage among white Baptists who go to church at least weekly.
The Southern Baptist Convention Annual Convention will center on a National Conversation on Racial Unity.
Image: 1971 SBC Annual Convention