Russell Moore Was Right

There is so much that can and must be said about today’s surreal events in Washington. I am not up to the task for most of them. But there is one thing I want to say, briefly, but forcefully.

Russell Moore was right about Donald Trump. The events of the last several weeks, and the last few days in particular, make this unquestionable. He was right when he said that evangelicals were making a Devil’s bargain by excusing or baptizing Trump’s debauched persona and wicked rhetoric. He was right when he said that character matters. He was right when he said that a leader like Trump is fundamentally untrustworthy and that this lack of honor cannot be papered over by self-reported political ideas.

Moore was also right when he said that Christians who championed Trump’s candidacy were putting themselves into a position to own his sins and lose moral legitimacy in the eyes of a world that hadn’t forgotten their “values” during the Clinton years. Moore was right, and the numerous images flooding in of people holding “Jesus Saves” signs while they cheer the storming of the Capitol prove that he was right. Just as sober minded conservatives are recognizing that their ideological movement owns this terrifying display of anarchy, any sober minded American Christian must recognize that the church in the US now owns it too. I’m not saying this is fair or logical. I’m saying it’s reality. And I’m saying we knew it was going to happen.

But for saying all this, Moore was not only debated and criticized, he was threatened, punished, and bullied. The infrastructure of the Southern Baptist Convention failed to defend one of its most respected entity heads and kowtowed to the voices of churches and leaders who should have been led, not deferred to. Moore was not the only evangelical Baptist who warned us about Donald Trump, but he was frequently the most consistent, most visible, and most Bible and gospel-centered voice. He didn’t just talk about the politics. He talked about the church. It was the church that Moore feared would buckle under the moral sludge of an unqualified President. But it was the church that attributed the most outrageously false motives to Moore. It was the church that told itself Moore was a closet liberal. It was the church that found more trustworthiness in an unrepentant, twice-divorced Playboy billionaire than in one of its own pastors.

And now, tonight, family members text me that people in their churches were at the protests, bragging about how the “capitol was ours now.” Church members. Not professional protesters, not QAnon cultists. ChristiansChristians with Bibles, and Sunday school classes. Christians storming the halls of Congress on behalf of a lie, peddled by a lover of lies. 

And I’m sitting here, reading these texts and seeing these Bible verse placards, and thinking, “Moore was right.” And somebody needs to say so.

Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned tonight, it’s that not saying something can carry a higher cost than you ever thought. 

Author: Samuel D. James

Believer, husband, father, acquisitions editor, writer.

16 thoughts on “Russell Moore Was Right”

  1. I’m pretty closed about my politics. I’m a registered Republican, but I haven’t voted the party line in the past two elections because Trump absolutely appalled/appalls me, along with his many sycophants (think T Cruz and Metaxes). My pastor said on his podcast that Christians mus vote Republican, and I rolled my eyes heavenward. The few times I have politely stated a comment with “have you thought about______?” I was shot down out of the air and I lost a couple of friendships over it since my politics are not “pure.” Where do the thinking people of conviction go? When did church = political party affiliation? I find it all very concerning. I trust that that the tragedy that unfolded in Washington DC today might get people thinking.However, I’m afraid that it will make them double-down on their Trumpian delusion.

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  2. “And now, tonight, family members text me that people in their churches were at the protests, bragging about how the ‘capitol was ours now.’ Church members. Not professional protesters, not QAnon cultists. Christians—Christians with Bibles, and Sunday school classes. Christians storming the halls of Congress on behalf of a lie, peddled by a lover of lies. ”

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m sure that more than a few of these churchgoing Christians are also QAnon cultists. Don’t forget, the KKK used churches to organize in the nineteenth and early 20th century.

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  3. While it’s a relief to read a Christian rebuke of the madness unfolding in DC, your words would have much more power if you hadn’t engaged in false equivalence prior and immediately after the election. 

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t see it as a false equivalence, Naomi. Four people dead in Washington is a horrific tragedy. Thousands of unborn infants dead through elective abortion is a horrific tragedy. I want no part in either, and am glad I can say today I took no part in either.

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      1. I believe that voters may want to consider a multitude of societal issues that are at stake in our elections, not just one although the issue is tragic.

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      2. You’ve already taken part in both, unfortunately. Republican policies, particularly the Mexico City gag rule, have increased abortion rates worldwide: https://www.kff.org/global-health-policy/fact-sheet/mexico-city-policy-explainer/. That's to say nothing of the fact that contraception access is a much more effective mean of reducing the abortion rate than the punitive legislation that many equate with Christian charity. Increases in abortion rates, combined with policies that endanger women’s health, are just a couple of the many monstrous legacies of Trump’s administration. 

        What happened yesterday, aided and abetted by rhetoric of pious abstinence, is another. At the end of the day, a non-vote in this past election was one less vote that could have contributed to a resounding defeat of Trump, which would have, in turn, stolen oxygen from dangerous conspiracy theories. The fact that they have as much oxygen as they do is at least partially attributable to the false equivalence that has pervaded never-Trumper conservatism for the past 5 years.

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  4. AMEN! One of the great joys of the past 2 years has been the privilege of getting to know Russell Moore, one of the most courageous Evangelicals of our times, and his incredibly brave stand for Biblical Christianity. His loyalty to genuine faith has been proved prophetic and I am delighted that your blog today acknowledges someone deserving of the support of all followers of Jesus in the USA. We live in depraved, apostate and degenerate times and you and Russell Moore have risked much in defence of Biblical Christianity. Thank you Samuel James and thank God for Russell Moore!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Pleasure! Love your links with both Crossway (my main Christian publisher in the USA) and with TGC. Praying for genuine Christians like you in the USA! Christopher Catherwood (my actual name!)

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  5. Hi James,
    I’m wondering if you could clarify something for me. I didn’t vote for Trump for similar reasons you listed. However, I don’t know how to gel that with being unabashedly pro-life in the abortion arena. I’ve seen you post passionately about it before, but I don’t know how to square the two. Should I have cast my vote for someone who stands in conflict with so much of what I believe..but he’s pro life? This is the one thing that haunts me about my vote, and I would love your perspective on it, especially in light of recent events.

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  6. Dear Samuel, I wish you had examined what the former president did rather than his gruff persona. Now that Biden is president, America is witnessing such unrighteous from the oval office that it is clear to me that God has given this nation over to judgement. I ask you to repent.

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