Sunday, August 10, 2014

This is Moore Better

In its heyday, the Christian Life Commission (CLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was an outstanding organization, and its annual meetings were excellent. During my last several years as a Southern Baptist, I was “proud” to be so largely because of the CLC.
The CLC was founded in 1913, and from 1960 to 1987 it was admirably led by Foy Valentine (1923-2006), for whom I had great respect and appreciation.
The situation changed greatly in 1988: the CLC became the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the SBC. And Richard Land, who was selected as the first head of the reshaped Commission, fit in well with the new fundamentalist-leaning posture of the SBC, .
Under Land, the forward-looking, tradition-challenging CLC became a conservative, reactionary accomplice of the Religious Right.
In June 2013, Russell Moore became the new president of the ERLC, and while he was not as combative as Land, there was considerable continuity with right-wing concerns and support of theological and political conservatism.
Russell Moore (b. 1971)
Recently, though, I began to like Moore better. I was impressed with what he said about the current immigration crisis and how he is showing solidarity with the persecuted Christians in Iraq.
In his blog called “Moore to the Point,” he wrote about “Immigration and the Gospel” on June 17 and “The Road to Jericho and the Border Crisis” on July 13. I recommend both of those articles.
Then, the headline in a July 23 article in the conservative Christian Post declares, “Illegal Immigrant Children Are 'Created in the Image of God,' Issue Is Not Just Political, Says Russell Moore After Touring Texas Facilities.”
I wish Baptists such as Rep. Louie Gohmert would read and heed Moore’s ideas about the children seeking help on our southern border. Gohmert, the U.S. Representative from the First District of Texas, is a Southern Baptist deacon and Sunday School teacher.
In a July 11 speech on the House floor, Gohmert called on Congress to act in order to stop the current invasion by illegal immigrants. He also criticized the President’s request for Congress to provide $3.7 billion in emergency funds to deal with the current crisis.
Gohmert then went on to say that “the State of Texas would appear to have the right to use whatever means, whether it is troops, even using ships of war, even exacting a tax on interstate commerce . . . in order to pay to stop the invasion.”
Moore’s position is much better, much more suitable for a follower of Jesus.
In another area I have recently been impressed with Russell Moore and the ERLC. As you know, there has been extensive persecution of Christians (and others) in north central Iraq. (I mention this in my 6/25 blog article.)
Christians have been marked as targets with the Arabic letter for N, standing for Nazarene. Last Moore and his staff began using that letter on the ERLC logo (see the image on the right) in solidarity with the Iraqi Christians. I was impressed by that.
All this doesn’t mean that I agree with Moore on everything. Statements I have seen just this past week make me realize that he holds and forwards ethical positions that seem questionable to me. I am also leery of the upcoming ERLC conference in October.
But just because we disagree with someone over some issues, we should affirm them where there is agreement. And especially with regard to the current immigration crisis, Moore’s position is much better than that of many other Southern Baptist, and other, conservatives.


  1. In your discriminating comments, you're being very generous, Leroy. That's very "liberal" of you! :D

  2. Immigration is a serious issue. Actually is encompasses several issues, of which the concerns of the unregulated crossing of the southern border is only one. By and large, those who cross that border are good, hard-working, Christian people. But they are not the only ones. There are issues with some to whom we grant visas and "green cards". There are serious issues with regulating documentation of those who are here "legally" with good documentation - our State Department does a lousy job of this. As one friend who was a Republican candidate for Congress put it - "40% of the "illegals" are in that position only because the State Department has screwed up their documentation". I have had two friends in that position - documented, nice employment, active in the community. One was in the deportation cycle until our Republican Congressman intervened and forced State to do its job correctly. There needs to be Comprehensive Immigration Reform, to keep bad immigrants out, and allow good immigrants and refugees in. But I do not see either the Democrats or the Republican addressing the comprehensive nature of this problem - it is far too polarizing politically for either to do so in a logical and common sense manner.

    On a side note, since you addressed this as well, the necessity of just wars becomes obvious with the genocides that occur. Thankfully, our President has at least tip-toed into protecting a few in the middle east. A robust response in the short-run, with a rethinking of borders in the long-run would be in order. Other presidents have completely abdicated this leadership. Some were active in causing it (both Democrats and Republicans).

    1. Some brief comments about the above posting:

      (1) The great influx of unaccompanied children was the main issue I was addressing here (and in my 6/25 blog article). And that was the same crisis that Moore and Gohmert were responding to. That problem is somewhat different from the immigration problem as a whole.

      (2) A comprehensive immigration bill was passed by the U.S. Senate in June of last year. It had bipartisan support as it was passed by a vote of 68-32. It has only been that Republican-led House that has kept immigration reform from happening.

      (3) While I expressed approval for the current U.S. action in support of the people under siege on a mountain in northeast Iraq, I do not consider that support of "just war." Limited air strikes supporting humanitarian activities for a group on suffering people on a mountain is not, in my opinion, a war.

  3. Thinking Friend Temp Sparkman, who is also a former Southern Baptist, wrote,

    "Hmm! The blog on Russell Moore slipped up on my cynicism that nothing good can come out of anything connected to SBC leadership."

  4. Thinking Friend Cole Morgan, who self-identifies as an atheist and a humanist, sent an email yesterday in response to this blog article. The email contained only the words of "The New Colossus," the poem by Emma Lazarus that is graven on a tablet within the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty Stands.

    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
    With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
    Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
    A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
    Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
    Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
    Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
    The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
    "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
    With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    1. One of my favorite poems to quote while I was in the refugee resettlement business. It still needs more exposure to the American public. Not only applicable now, it applied to so many of our own families as they sought refuge here. Too bad Presidents Jackson and Lincoln did not have this for application to the American Indians, with whom many of us also have family roots.

  5. I received a fairly long email response from local Thinking Friend Charlie Broomfield. He ended with these comments:

    "The true thinking of a vast majority of evangelical/fundamentalists is more in line with Louie Gohmert [than with Moore]. I'd bet you on that.

    "If you continue to follow Mr. Moore, please keep me advised. My guess is he will soon loose his job, if he keeps up this kind of writing and thinking."

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  7. Local Thinking Friend George Steincross, who his friends call "Dub," sent the following comments and gave permission for them to be posted here:

    "So good to think back to the 'good ol' days' of the CLC and Valentine's leadership. He, and others, gave us a 'cutting edge' platform from which to deal with the contemporary issues of the day. Thank you for the reminder."