NASHVILLE (BP) — Russell Moore’s five meetings with President Obama and a personal objection to displaying the Confederate battle flag that predates Moore’s public stance on the issue are among the highlights of a Christianity Today cover article profiling the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president.
“Moore may be a fitting figurehead for evangelical public policy leading up to November 2016, during which, absent an evangelical pope, media will look to him to speak for the movement,” wrote editor at large Sarah Pulliam Bailey in the September issue of CT.
All five of Moore’s meetings with Obama have concerned immigration, according to CT, which noted Moore’s public disagreement with the president regarding abortion and same-sex marriage. With both the White House and Congress, Moore “shifts between prophetic dissent and hearty support, depending on the issue,” CT reported.
During one of the regular conference calls Moore hosts with Southern Baptist pastors, a participant asked him how to criticize Obama “in a way that is Christian,” according to CT. Moore responded, “Make sure you are publicly praying for the president and honoring him in situations where you’re not criticizing him. Some of the ways I’ve heard people pray for the president have been things like, ‘Lord, we pray you turn his wicked heart.'”
By avoiding passive-aggressive prayers, Moore said pastors can “signal you really do want the president to succeed but you’re disappointed with what he’s doing.”
Moore’s opposition to displaying the Confederate battle flag dates back at least to an occasion when he was preparing to host African-American friends in his home and noted the Confederate battle emblem on a Mississippi flag he had pinned to a bulletin board. “He noticed the Confederate cross in the corner of the flag — and couldn’t imagine trying to explain why he had the flag hanging in his home,” CT reported. “As Moore unpinned the flag from the wall, it fell apart in his hands.”
Moore remembered that experience when he spoke against displaying the Confederate battle emblem following the fatal shooting of nine black churchgoers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., this summer, according to CT.
Regarding the Southern Baptist Convention, Moore said, “If in 10 years Fred Luter is the only person of color” to have served as SBC president, “that will not be progress.”
Among other highlights of the CT cover article:
— After being “raised by a Catholic mother and a Baptist father in a working-class neighborhood in Biloxi, Mississippi,” Moore went on to become an aide to U.S. Congressman Gene Taylor, a Catholic pro-life Democrat from Mississippi, CT reported, noting Moore has since switched to the Republican Party. Taylor, Moore wrote in 2006, is “the greatest public servant I’ve ever known.”
— Moore’s adoption advocacy, including his 2009 book “Adopted for Life,” “has given him a broadly evangelical platform that combines theological, cultural, and political engagement,” according to CT. Moore and his wife Maria adopted two boys from Russia before having three biological sons.
— Labelling Moore a “big-tent Calvinist,” CT said he embraces four of the traditional five points of Calvinistic soteriology. “He’s not on board with Limited Atonement,” CT notes, a reference to Moore’s rejection of the idea that Christ’s death atoned for the sins of the elect only.
— “Country music and hip-hop are the only two popular music forms in America that have a more holistic view of a person and deal with sin,” Moore said. “Both of these forms of music at their best tend to be more honest.”
Moore “occasionally meets with hip-hop artists like Lecrae,” CT noted, “though he retains deep affinity for his Mississippi church that sang Fanny Crosby revivalist songs.” Moore “may be uniquely equipped” to reach both Millennials and Baby Boomers, according to CT.
— The article notes Moore’s willingness to embrace “the cultural margins” and countercultural aspects of Christianity. “The end of the Gospel,” he said, “is not a Christian America.”
While “America is important,” Moore said “the end goal of the Gospel is redeemed from every tribe and tongue and nation and language. … We belong to another Kingdom.”