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.