On May 6, 2016, Russell Moore, a prominent Southern Baptist, wrote an editorial for The New York Times (NYT) explaining why Evangelicals should not support Donald Trump.

Yesterday’s post showed to what extremes his views have been taken by other Protestant clergy and laymen, including church discipline. Yikes!

Yet, not one of them is warning Christians against voting for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, both of whom are pro-choice. Clinton could also be asked any number of questions on unresolved topics over the past few decades.

Therefore, we appear to be receiving a particular sort of message from Moore and those who agree with him.

Unpacking the message

What a number Southern Baptists saw in Moore’s message was the mention of their denomination. Therefore, many of them are taking to heart the advice not to vote for Trump.

Some Evangelicals saw that his article, or citations of it elsewhere, concerned them. Gosh, they thought, it is time to sit up, read and reconsider.

Moore crafted his message cannily and cynically. In essence, he implies that white Evangelicals are inherently racist, beginning with the title, ‘A White Church No More’.

The body of his op-ed piece — which might have been more relevant in the early 1970s rather than now — includes insults to the intelligence such as:

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.

No one ever said He did.

The question is whether evangelicals will be on the right side of Jesus …

Wow …

And finally:

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 …

A white American Christian who disregards nativist language is in for a shock …

Mayberry, for my readers who are not from the US, refers to two 1960s television shows that took place in a fictional small town of the same name: The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. There are very few Mayberries left. America is widely integrated today.

Moore is barking up the wrong tree.

I attended integrated churches — Catholic and, later, Episcopalian — in the US in the 1970s and 1980s. We had Hispanics in the former (suburbs) and blacks in the latter (metropolis). The white congregants made them feel most welcome. They played prominent roles in the guitar Masses (Catholic) or were ushers and greeters (Episcopalian).

I also once attended one of the first big-box Evangelical churches in the area where I lived in the 1970s. There were several black families, all greeted and treated like anyone else in the congregation.

No one cared what colour anyone else was then, nor do they now.

Moore’s Wikipedia entry says that prior to entering the ministry, he was an aide to a Democrat, Congressman Gene Taylor of Mississippi.

On this note, in 2015, Moore interviewed some of the presidential candidates at a missions conference during the summer. Interestingly, he did not issue invitations to fellow Southern Baptists — Republicans — Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz. Yet, he invited Methodist Hillary Clinton, a Democrat. She declined.

Regardless of his politics now, deep down he appears to be playing a Democrat game. So do the other men mentioned in this post; go to the linked essays therein and read the comments.

In 2016, as the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Moore opposed the views not only of Trump but also Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton. He objected to Cruz’s call for a religious test for refugees wishing to enter the United States. He opposed Clinton’s pro-choice stance.

Then, in March, he wrote, also for the NYT, that Christians should vote for a third-party candidate if faced with Clinton and Trump.

Now — in May — he mentions only Trump and gives Clinton a pass.

There is also the matter of churches making money off of resettling refugees and immigrants arriving in the United States. I saw a news show recently that said that immigration officials know where to direct newcomers. There is a list of local churches and charities who will take them in immediately and begin their resettlement.

Voluntary agencies (Volags) — religious and secular — helping out in this regard are paid by the US government, i.e. the taxpayer. Refugee Resettlement Watch has more, including the following:

Below are some of the sources of income for Volags:

a.  $1,850 per refugee (including children) from the State Department.

b.  Up to $2,200 for each refugee by participating in a U.S. DHHS program known as Matching Grant. To get the $2,200, the Volag need only show it spent $200 and gave away $800 worth of donated clothes, furniture or cars.

c. The Volag pockets 25% of every transportation loan it collects from refugees it “sponsors”.

d. All Volag expenses and overhead in the Washington, DC HQ are paid by the U.S. government.

e. For their refugee programs, Volags collect money from all federal grant programs – “Marriage Initiative”, “Faith-based”, “Ownership Society”, etc., as well as from various state and local grants.

The program is so lucrative that in some towns the Catholic Church has lessened support for traditional charity works to put more effort into resettlement …

Public money has thoroughly driven out private money.

Therefore, voluntary refugee and immigrant agencies — including churches — make a lot of money from the taxpayer. Readers may consider this at their leisure.

Evangelical churches in the United States

It is unclear as to why Moore works on the presumption that white Evangelicals are, by definition, anti-immigrant.

Evangelicals are truly a broad church and have different affiliations. Some, like the ELCA, are Lutheran. Others are Pentecostal. Others are independent but affiliate with broader Evangelical groups with similarly-minded theology.

Some are inclined towards the Democratic Party, even when they interpret the Bible literally. Others lean Republican but are openly accepting and welcoming of all who attend their churches.

I have read a lot of Evangelical commentary since I started this blog in 2009. I have not read one racist comment from anyone — layperson, elder or minister.

Why Trump is winning the Evangelical vote

Like every other American, Evangelicals also need to put food on the table and clothes in the wardrobe.

They have homes and health insurance to pay for, cars to run and jobs to keep — or find.

Evangelicals are concerned about the future, especially that of their children and grandchildren.

Trump is the only candidate who talks about job creation and improving the economy. Is it any surprise that people, including Evangelicals, like that message?

For the record

For the record, a Trump insider says the billionaire changed his mind about abortion once his youngest son Barron was born ten years ago. He sometimes tells the story as being about an anonymous third person, because it was an intensely private journey for him to make.

As for enemies foreign and domestic, Trump is the only candidate to point out that terrorism is an issue. He has said in a number of his rallies that he has Muslim friends and business associates in the US and in the Middle East. His proposals for immigration or travel among this religious group have always included either the words ‘temporary’ or ‘until we figure out what’s going on’. Note that, only a few days after he first said this in December 2015, the San Bernardino attack took place. He spoke of Brussels’s dire situation in January. Two attacks on that city took place in March. Meanwhile, the Belgian and French security forces already knew there was a hotbed of extremism in parts of Brussels. That became clear when Paris was attacked on November 13, 2015.

Also note that the no-fly list has been in place since Bush II’s administration. A Muslim family from the UK were banned from flying to the US just before Christmas — under the Obama administration — because Homeland Security suspected a family member of having links to extremists.

With regard to immigration, Trump is careful in his speeches to specify that he supports legal immigration. Can he help it if people like Moore and the media take it out of context? And, yes, there is a rape epidemic affecting Mexican women crossing the border into the US. Even PBS has pointed that out. Why can’t Trump?

In conclusion

Personally, I do not care for whom you vote. That is your business.

However, let’s not be taken in by people saying voting for this or that candidate is immoral and is subject to church discipline. That is absurd and wrong. Voting is an intensely private matter. Let’s nip this in the bud — now!

Singling out one candidate when the others are all equally sinners in one way or another is, in and of itself, morally objectionable.

You can read what clergy have to say at Time.

Advertisements