The editor in chief of Christianity Today is warning that evangelical Christianity is moving too far to the right, to the point that even Jesus’s teachings are considered “weak” now.
Russell Moore resigned from the Southern Baptist Convention in 2021, after years of being at odds with other evangelical leaders. Specifically, Moore openly criticized Donald Trump, whom many evangelical Christians embraced. Moore also criticized the Southern Baptist Convention’s response to a sexual abuse crisis and increasing tolerance for white nationalism in the community.
Now he thinks his religion is in crisis.
Moore told NPR in an interview released Tuesday that multiple pastors had told him they would quote the Sermon on the Mount, specifically the part that says to “turn the other cheek,” when preaching. Someone would come up after the service and ask, “Where did you get those liberal talking points?”
“What was alarming to me is that in most of these scenarios, when the pastor would say, ‘I’m literally quoting Jesus Christ,’ the response would not be, ‘I apologize.’ The response would be, ‘Yes, but that doesn’t work anymore. That’s weak,’” Moore said. “When we get to the point where the teachings of Jesus himself are seen as subversive to us, then we’re in a crisis.”
Moore said he thinks a large part of the issue is how divisive U.S. politics are, which is now spilling over into the church. He pointed to how a lot of issues are “packaged in terms of existential threat,” leading to the belief among everyone, not just evangelical Christians, that “desperate times call for desperate measures.”
It makes sense, then, that evangelical Christians would embrace Trump, who portrayed himself as the answer to many of those supposed existential threats. Trump both campaigned and governed on a largely evangelical Christian platform. He moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; he cracked down on immigration from majority-Muslim countries; and he appointed multiple conservative judges, including to the Supreme Court, which has swung sharply right.
He made good on his anti-abortion promises when the high court removed the nationwide right to the procedure in June. Many LGBTQ protections were rolled back under his watch, and during the June 2020 protests over George Floyd’s murder by police, he tear-gassed demonstrators so he could take a heavily posed picture with a Bible in front of St. John’s Church near the White House.
And as Trump swings ever further right, it makes sense that people who believe he will solve their problems will follow blindly.