God established the local church and man has added thereto. Now, ‘In a long-awaited report released Monday, a task force commissioned to study the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) calls the convention’s public policy arm a “significant distraction from the Great Commission work of Southern Baptists.”
Blaming the ERLC for the loss of more than a million dollars in constituent church donations to the denomination, the task force, led by Georgia pastor Mike Stone, quotes the leader of a state Baptist convention as saying, “The ERLC has been a stumbling block not worth the mission dollar investment.” (Stone is one of four candidates vying to be the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention or SBC.)
But there seems to be as much politics as economics in the report’s conclusions. It notes that in recent years, the fear of a “liberal” drift in the denomination has led some churches to leave the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) or to withhold giving. Part of that dissatisfaction is aimed at the ERLC, and particularly at the Rev. Russell Moore, who has led the ERLC since 2013.
Though a staunch opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage, two of the issues most important to politically conservative evangelicals, Moore’s views on other issues over the course of the Trump administration—most significantly on immigration, race, and Donald Trump himself—have landed Moore in hot water.
The report does not call for Moore’s ouster, but it does recommend that the ERLC no longer make public comments about any political candidate and only address issues that the SBC has already issued resolutions on.’
‘The report also list a series of direct complaints. These include Moore’s opposition to Trump; claims that the ERLC receives funding linked to progressive philanthropist George Soros; the ERLC’s stance on cooperating with COVID-19 restrictions; and the agency’s support for immigration reforms.
More recently, it claims, the ERLC was critical of protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol but not of Black Lives Matter protests.
The report also cites what it calls “disrespectful and condescending responses” to questions raised by messengers—the SBC’s terms for church delegates to its annual meeting. As one example, the report mentions the response to Arkansas pastor John Wofford at the 2016 meeting.
Wofford asked Moore why the ERLC would support the rights of Muslims to build mosques. Moore replied that Baptists had always supported religious liberty and that if a government could ban mosques it could also ban Baptist churches, a response that earned a standing ovation.
Moore is not the first head of the ERLC to be met with disapproval. Two of his predecessors left office because of controversy.
In 2011, longtime ERLC President Richard Land was criticized for his support of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and for joining an interfaith coalition that defended the rights of Muslims to build houses of worship. Criticism from other Southern Baptists eventually forced Land to leave the coalition. Land, a longtime Republican activist, left office after a scandal over plagiarism and comments on race.
Land’s predecessor, N. Larry Baker, lasted just 16 months in the role in the 1980s, where his views on “abortion, capital punishment, and the role of women in the church” were considered controversial, according to Baptist Press. Baker was part of the moderate wing of the SBC that was ousted by a conservative movement in the denomination.
David Gushee, professor of ethics at Mercer University, said that the head of the ERLC has always been in a precarious position. Tasked with bringing Christian ethics to bear on social issues, the ERLC’s president often has to navigate clashes between Christian ethics and popular political positions.’ https://julieroys.com/sbc-report-moore-distraction/?mc_cid=82f74619a9&mc_eid=b13d34ad49