The top official at the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) public policy office has called on U.S. President Donald Trump to resign, following the storming of the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday by a mob immediately following a Trump rally before the White House.
“Mr. President, people are dead. The Capitol is ransacked. There are 12 dangerous days for our country left,” Tweeted Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) President Russell Moore on Friday morning. “Could you please step down and let our country heal?”
While a number of officials on the Religious Left have repeatedly spoken out against the President, Moore’s public call for a Presidential resignation marks a first for a top official within a theologically conservative Evangelical denomination. The SBC counts participating churches with approximately 15 million members in the United States, making it the largest Protestant denomination in the nation.
Moore regularly speaks on behalf of the SBC on issues of morality and Christian ethics. He was an early outspoken critic of Trump’s conduct before and following the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
“Regardless of the outcome in November, his [Trump’s] campaign is forcing American Christians to grapple with some scary realities that will have implications for years to come,” Moore wrote in a 2016 New York Times opinion piece. “This election has cast light on the darkness of pent-up nativism and bigotry all over the country.”
Then-candidate Trump responded, tweeting in June of 2016, “Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!”
Moore’s criticism placed him at odds with supporters of the President, including 100 Baptist pastors who threatened to withhold funds from their congregations that support ERLC work. Moore effectively went silent on further public critique of Trump after facing strong opposition at the annual convention. Friday’s statement marks a reemergence.
On Wednesday Moore addressed the President on Twitter, writing “President @realDonaldTrump, you have a moral responsibility to call on these mobs to stop this dangerous and anti-constitutional anarchy. Please do so.”
The Nashville-based SBC policy chief has been visible in conversations with those who do not share his theological orthodoxy or social conservatism.
In early December, Moore refuted claims that religion is a unique point of division in American society today.
“I don’t agree that religion is a divider but rather that religion is divided,” said Moore, one of four panelists hosted by the Associated Press and Religion News Service. Moore emphasized the need to work together when in agreement but not capitulate beliefs when not.
“Getting into a mode where we can oppose one another on five issues and work together on one issue is a healthy place to be,” asserted Moore. He pointed to criminal justice reform as an issue in the past that has united conservative and more progressive religious groups.
Moore spoke in November alongside Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in an online event hosted by the Washington National Cathedral on the healing of national divides.