This is an open letter to Russell Moore of the ERLC. The Wondering Eagle despite disagreement with Russell Moore on Neo-Calvinism, fully supports him in his efforts to speak boldly. This is an overview of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) racist history and how Donald Trump brought out the worst of the SBC. Russell Moore is dealing with both that and the cognitive dissonance of Donald Trump voters. The SBC needs a leader, and visionary – not an ass kisser who will kiss Donald Trump’s ass. For younger people like myself Russell Moore is a source of deep hope in many ways.
“Good bye Dave, I can’t stand the lies that you share. Yeah I know all I do is listen to is the right. No I see a man trying to protect what America stood for before people worked to destroy it. I’ll keep praying for you!”
Bob Hennes of Wooded Hill Bible Church on Facebook. Throwing away a 15 year friendship because I have a different point of view.
“Jesus Christ has not abolished slavery by a prohibitory command. … Under the gospel, [slavery] has brought within the range of gospel influence, millions of Ham’s descendant’s among ourselves, who but for this institution, would have sunk down to eternal ruin.”
Southern Baptist Pastor Thornton Stringfellow in 1860
“There is good news, though, behind all of this, regardless of how this election turns out. The old-school political Religious Right establishment wonders why the evangelical next generation rejects their way. The past year is illustration enough. The evangelical movement is filled with younger, multiethnic, gospel-centered Christians. They are defined by a clear theology and a clear mission — not by the doctrinally vacuous resentment over a lost regime of nominal, cultural “Christian America.””
Garrett Kell of 9 Marks Del Rey Baptist has good insight into the situation with Russell Moore
Let’s remember the thrice married Pussy Grabber that the Southern Baptists rallied around!
I want to write a letter to you and explain the situation that you are facing. There are many issues going on and there is a lot to cover. Basically Russell Moore, I want you to know why The Wondering Eagle still strongly supports you and believes that you are a breath of fresh air in a denomination that has deep systematic and systemic problems. I decided to do this post after reading “Could Southern Baptist Russell Moore lose his job? Churches threaten to pull funds after months of Trump controversy” in the Washington Post earlier this week. So having said that let me start and going into the issue of politics first.
Why Politics Should Not Be Involved…But We Crossed that Bridge
Russell Moore I don’t believe that politics should be involved in the Southern Baptist Convention. If it were me than I think that getting involved should not have happened. However, the Southern Baptists have been politically active since before the American Civil War. My hope is that they would not be, but to be truthful here is the problem. We have crossed that bridge, the genie is out of the battle and its not something that can be undone right now. So since the situation is in front of us, then we do need to tackle this issue. We can’t avoid it, and yes it’s ugly but its what it is, and we need to face off on it. We can’t act like the issue is not there, after all we can’t stick our heads in the sand.
History of Racism in the Southern Baptist Convention
Slavery was a major issue in the United States, and it divided the North from the South. In the South all the slaves states voted as a block in Congress. Slavery split and divided also the Baptists. In the 1840’s the three Baptist national societies had angry debates between the Northern and Southern Baptists. The debates centered on the interpretation of the constitutions of the societies of slavery, the right of the Southerners to receive missionary appointments, and the authority of the denominational society to discipline church members. Plus the South felt neglected in the appointment of missionaries. In 1844 The Georgia Baptists requested the Home Mission Society appoint a slaveholder to be a missionary in Georgia. That request was denied. It was followed up by the Alabama Baptist Convention requesting the Foreign Mission Society if they would appoint a slaver holder. For a second time the Home Mission Society said no. After that the Virginia Baptists called for a meeting which was held in Augusta, Georgia in May of 1845.
In Augusta it was agreed to break away from the Northern Baptists on May 10, 1845. A year later they were provisionally organized under a new Constitution in Richmond, Virginia. In his first address to the Convention the first President William B Johnson, pointed out the the North and Southern Baptists were still brothers. He also emphasized that the the separation only involved the home and foreign mission societies. Also that the third national society to include tract publication was not included. Now the new local body could appoint Southerners at home and on the mission fields. Now please note the driving issue in all this was that of slavery, as now slave holders could be appointed in mission fields. By the way it is also worthwhile to note that around the time the Southern Baptists were being formed in Augusta, in May of 1845 the Boston Anti-Slavery society published Frederick Douglass’s “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.” The Southern Baptists which was formed over the belief that slavery was Biblical took another step and embraced its racist history a year before the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1860 a Southern Baptist pastor from Virginia by the name of Thornton Stringfellow wrote and vocally defended the institution of slavery. He did this in “Cotton is King, and Pro-Slavery Arguments.” In that publication Stringfellow wrote, “Jesus Christ has not abolished slavery by a prohibitory command. … Under the gospel, [slavery] has brought within the range of gospel influence, millions of Ham’s descendant’s among ourselves, who but for this institution, would have sunk down to eternal ruin.” After the Civil War in the Jim Crow era Southern Baptist racism I believe continued. Later on nearly a century later it should also be noted that because of support for segregation many Southern Baptists refused to support civil rights in the 1960’s. They took a dark view of Martin Luther King.
But the issue of racism in the Southern Baptists continues into recent times. In 2012 Southern Baptist ERLC President Richard Land said that black political leaders, including President Obama tried to “gin up the black vote.” Land continued and said the following in regard to Trevin Martin. “Instead of letting the legal process take its independent course, race mongers are anointing themselves judge, jury, and executioners,” Land said. “The rule of law is being assaulted by racial demagogues, and it’s disgusting, and it should stop.” Finally Land also said that a black man is “statistically more likely to do harm than a white man.” So Russell as you can see the Southern Baptists have long struggled with racism and hate from its formation until today. Its a part of the DNA of the Southern Baptist Convention, after all it was the evil institution of slavery which gave birth to the Southern Baptists. Let’s remember Russell Moore that slavery also gave birth to the Civil War. Nothing good comes from the institution of slavery. But the issue of racism would raise its ugly head in the 2016 Presidential election, and it would show why the Southern Baptists would return to their roots of hate.
Donald Trump Has Brought out the the Worst From the Southern Baptists
In 2016 the Republican Party was hijacked by a non-Republican. But the situation became abysmal and dark by what was put forward. Donald Trump is crude, terse and no he is not and will never be Presidential material. Respect is earned and not given and there is nothing that Donald Trump has done that deserves respect. The real issue is that the opposing candidate was extremely weak. But here is the problem Russell Moore…I did a good amount of research and history to show to you why the Southern Baptist Convention is evil. It was formed and created out of the belief that slavery was Biblical. But here is the problem…despite previous attempts at dealing with its racist past both in 1995 and 2016 the Southern Baptists Convention never did. Then came the 2016 election and a dark movement with Donald Trump, and I believe that the following needs to be stated. Donald Trump let Southern Baptists be racist again. Donald Trump made being racist feel good! After all what does it say when you inspire hate groups, Neo- Nazis and so much more to come out and support you in droves? After all according to Politico for the first time since World War II ended in May of 1945 the far right is back in Germany. The far right is a strong supporter of Donald Trump. You see Russell, Donald Trump made it trendy to be bigoted and he allowed a lot of people to be racist quietly in the ballet box. You can say what you want publicly, pretend to be horrified and then go and vote your hate in the quietness of a ballot box. What makes Donald Trump exceptionally evil is that he appealed to people’s fears and among evangelicals he appealed to their worst parts of human nature. My view of evangelical Christianity Russell took a dark turn when I learned that 81% of evangelicals supported Donald Trump. Among the Southern Baptists I would estimate that Trump supporters stood at about 70 to maybe 75%.
Now here is the other thing that I want to highlight because I feel that its linked to this issue as well. In that same Washington Post edition that had the article about the revolt against you Russell there was another article that was a sign of he times. In Dahlonega, Georgia recently there was a Ku Klux Klan sign that was hung in the town square that created a storm in the community. It revealed the tension, fear and anxiety and problems that existed. You can read about that incident in “In Georgia, reaction to KKK banner is a sign of the times.” Now Russell you have been adamant in speaking out against Donald Trump in the election and that is commendable. You know the sad part Russell is that those who voted and think they have a seat at the table with Trump don’t realize that they are being used. They don’t realize that they are but a tool. But here is the question I have Russell…since January 20 we have seen some dark stuff. We have seen travel bans, that have ensnared Italians and even a Norwegian Prime Minister. And sadly its just beginning…you know I spend a lot of time reading domestic and foreign press and I read in the European press that have stated that they don’t recognize America anymore due to the hate and some of the changes. So here is my question Russell, are evangelicals going to own the bullshit they fell lock step and behind in November of 2016? Or are they going to act like Mark Driscoll and high tail it out of town and show that in many ways they are no different in the end. Southern Baptists and other evangelicals talk big, but will they act in the end? Just as Mark Driscoll can’t admit his mistakes in Mars Hill Seattle my private concern many Southern Baptists and evangelicals aren’t going to be able admit their error either. If they can’t do this then this will reveal that many Southern Baptists do not have a soul or a conscious.
Regarding Baptists Who Voted for Trump Because of the Open Supreme Court Vacancy
Russell, now here is another point I have to make. When you were taking on Donald Trump there were many people who were under the impression that they could just vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The reality is that there were other options. Since November I have heard from several Neo-Calvinists as to how they supported Evan McMullin. That deeply impressed me when I heard about its but its a shame that many people looked at the situation in that either/or context of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
Now Russell let’s have a frank talk about Southern Baptist voting for Donald Trump because of the open Supreme Court seat. Christianity isn’t about control of the Supreme Court or a bi-cameral legislature. That is not what it is about. Christianity has a much different message and those who have turned it into a political message have cheapened it. But for Southern Baptists who voted for Donald Trump because of the Supreme Court open seat issue let me give you this little analogy. That would be akin to someone going to Judas Iscariot and saying the following.
“Judas my man! Hey bro we need you to do something. You see we need our Resurrection and as such we need you to do something. Here is your 30 pieces of silver. Now go and betray Jesus so he can be killed, and that he can rise again. Yes I know its selfish but we need our Resurrection dude! ”
That little analogy Russell is what I think happened when many Southern Baptists and other evangelicals kicked the Gospel to the curb out of their own political self interest. They betrayed much of what the Gospel stood for when they embraced Donald Trump.
Cognitive Dissonance of Donald Trump Voters
Now here is another problem Russell which you are experiencing. You sadly are going to be on both receiving ends of this mess. First you bravely called out Donald Trump and challenged him and the Southern Baptist Convention before the election. Now you are dealing with the blow back from some angry people. Here is the problem Russell, and its something that I have heard in discussions from many different people. Donald Trump voters are currently showing their cognitive dissonance in how they are reacting. They invested themself in a difficult situation, put lip stick on a pig and convinced themselves to kiss it. Now they are stuck with it and they have to defend their behavior. So what does that mean for you? Some have to go after you and call you out. Many of these Southern Baptist Donald Trump voters can’t say, “Nope we screwed up…yeah we %$#@ up!!.” They can’t do that. Russell, Donald Trump voters are like people who got involved in Sovereign Grace, they have to defend their involvement and activity despite all the red flags. They have to greedily reach for the kool aid, stick their heads in the sand and defend the indefensible. Frankly Russell I don’t see the difference between the two – Sovereign Grace attenders and proud Donald Trump voters.
Donald Trump on grabbing a woman’s pussy
Regarding Jack Graham and Prestonwood Baptist
Now Russell one mistake that you did made is that when J.T. Taylor of Cadwell Baptist in Georgia and other churches asked you in a series of questions about staff, salary, etc.. of the ERLC. You should have responded to those questions. That was the right thing to do. However, let me also spend some time talking about the irony of what J.T. Taylor and the other Southern Baptist churches are doing. The reality is that while demanding information and transparency from the ERLC, many of these same churches are also not transparent about their staff information or salary. Does J.T. Taylor make his salary available to people in Cadwell Baptist? My hunch is no that is not likely to happen, however I do intend to follow up with Cadwell Baptist and confirm that fact myself, and write a post about it here.
But let’s move on to one of the bigger people in this challenge to you as well. Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist. Does Jack Graham make his exorbitant salary known? I have a challenge I want to float out there. If anyone knows what Jack Graham’s salary is over at Prestonwood Baptist in Dallas, Texas I am willing to publish that information. If any former members can answer that question to me than that is something that the people of Prestonwood have a right to know, especially if they are giving money. You know in Dee Parson’s post called, “Russell Moore, the Patriarchy and the ERLC: Why It Won’t Work” she advocated people not giving to the ERLC. My suggestion is this, if Jack Graham or J.T. Taylor will not make their salary of staff information known then why the hell would you give them money? I would not give them a dime at all. But there is much more to this issue and lets look at Prestonwood in more detail Russell.
Under the leadership of Jack Graham Prestonwood Baptist is a cesspool of corruption. In 2008 you had Joe Barron who as a pastor tried to solicit sex from a 13 year old girl online and drove 200 miles to meet with her in Bryan, Texas. He was arrested, fined and eventually imprisoned. You can read about it more in this Dallas Voice article. Then there is John Langworthy who was the music minister at Prestonwood from 1984 until 1989. Langowrthy as I understand when facing allegations of child sex abuse was quietly let go. This happened shortly after Jack Graham took the helm. Langworthy went onto a Baptist Church in Clinton, Mississippi where he served for another twenty years before he was eventually turned in. In Mississippi Langworthy allegedly engaged in sexual abuse as well. You can read about the situation in these articles here, here, and here. There are more allegations of cover up at Prestonwood Baptist as well. So apparently Jack Graham is going to withhold $1 million dollars. Maybe if he does that he can use the money to educate his staff on child sex abuse! Other options include paying counseling for the victims, and strengthening the requirements at Prestonwood. Will that happen? Not a chance in hell, and that Russell is the irony in the person challenging you. But here is the real humdinger in this situation. Jack Graham advises Donald Trump. So here is the situation….you have this Senior Pastor who has allegedly been involved in the cover up of child sex abuse advise a man who boasted of sexual assault. Think about that further! You have a Senior Pastor whose church is dogged by criminal allegations and then you have a Pussy Grabber being advised by him. Does that not sound like a perfect couple? Both Donald Trump and Jack Graham are sleaze and they are perfect for each other. By the way Russell is it any wonder why the Southern Baptists struggle with child sex abuse when they warmly embrace a man who has allegedly boasted of sexual assault? Why care about the rape of a child if you don’t give a damn about the rape of an adult.
Young Evangelicals and the Culture Wars
Russell here is something that you should know. You resonate with many younger people. Many younger people are deeply bothered by the issues of racial discrimination and they are also tired of the culture wars. The Southern Baptists who pursued the culture wars are ultimately doing it that the expense of the young’s faith. Many people in their early 40’s and below are simply exhausted of the culture wars. They are tired of the belief that being a Christian means being a certain kind of Republican. They long for something more authentic and deeper and they care about issues which the Southern Baptist Convention has ignored for decades. You hit on that Russell when you raise the issue of racial discrimination and the need for reconciliation. In my lifetime from Fresno, Milwaukee, and now the Washington, D.C. area I see the need for racial reconciliation. Milwaukee was one of the most segregated cities I have lived in. The inner part of the city was full of decay and struggling black families and crime. The suburbs affixed with affluent white homes that showed prosperity of the middle class.
Many younger evangelicals like myself don’t care about a seat at the table of politics here in Washington, D.C. The fact that you will not be invited to be in the Oval Office to observe something being signed. Good! The fact that you won’t be in some prayer meetings where Donald Trump may be present. Excellent! The fact that you didn’t grovel in the same cesspool as Donald Trump excites many younger people like myself. Russell the fact that you didn’t pucker up those lips of yours and place them on Donald Trump’s ass and kiss away is commendable. The Southern Baptists need a leader and not an ass kisser. Too often many Southern Baptist leaders act and behave like a moth in the light when it comes to political power here in Washington, D.C. The following article that is commentary expresses that as well in “Why evangelical opposition to Russell Moore is deluded.”
But here is another perspective you need to know Russell. Many younger Christians both inside the SBC and the Christian community are suffering because of Donald Trump. It is a major problem in that it has split families, friendships and so much more. The following Atlantic article called “These Conservative Christians Are Opposed to Trump—and Suffering the Consequences” goes into the details of how people are affected. In my own life Russell this has been a personal issue as well. At the start of this post I have a comment that was left on my personal Facebook page. Its not from a Southern Baptist but its from an evangelical Christian from my former church in Wisconsin called Wooded Hills Church. In that a comment which was left on my wall Bob Hennes illustrates why he is willing to throw away a 15 year relationship. I have asked a lot of questions about Donald Trump and still do. Bob Hennes’ action saddens me and reveals how shallow many evangelicals can be. This is happening with many young people as this issue with you Russell is also generational. The older people I don’t think have seen this issue in that perspective.
In a Dark Time, You, Russell Moore Bring Hope
Russell Moore I want you to know that I disagree with you on many topics. I reject Calvinism because of how it makes the problem of evil worse. You can read about that in “How Reformed Theology/Neo-Calvinism Make the Problem of Evil Worse: John Piper, Adam Lanza and a Massacre in Connecticut.” And I disagree with quite a bit of what your friend Al Mohler has done. Plus we also need to have a talk on the C.J. Mahaney issue. C.J. Mahaney is just as bad as Jack Graham. But having stated all that here is why I support you Russell. In this situation with Donald Trump and the election I believe you are correct. As I recall you said during the election that you can’t be a Christian and vote and support Donald Trump. I agreed with you then, and I firmly agree with you today. The fact that you have a strong stand and held your ground and clashed with Trump on Twitter is commendable. I already wrote about you once a few months back in “Why The Wondering Eagle is Supporting Russell Moore and his Criticism of Donald Trump and Calling on Him to Stand Strong; Plus Hemant Mehta Gets Involved.” Like I said I am not into Neo-Calvinism, however, I am not so black and white in my thinking that I can’t encourage one when they are correct on the issue. If all one does is attack and attack and criticize how will any bridges be built? How will discussions take place if all people do is use the nuclear option on each other? That is why I am bucking many people and risking quite a bit in coming out and support you on this issue. You have taken the high ground against Donald Trump, you have challenged the SBC, and what you have done is commendable. I support you 100% in this issue regarding the ERLC. You know Russell Moore I disagree with 9 Marks passionately. I actually lost my source at Capitol Hill Baptist Church who used to want to hang out and talk. Carson Wilson (pseduo by the way…) was not a kool aid drinker. I need to get another source from that church again. But anyhow I noticed on Twitter the other day that Garrett Kell from 9 Marks Del Rey Baptist said something very insightful about the situation regarding you and the ERLC. I disagree with Garrett on so many issues and will continue to do so. But when I saw that tweet I tweeted Garrett that I agreed with what he said. Is the SBC going to be dictated by a minority few? What about when they are people like Jack Graham who are mired in corruption and allegations of covering up child sex abuse? These are deeply important questions to ask Russell.
But to many young people like myself you are a beacon of hope. The Southern Baptist Convention has some systemic and deep problems going back to 1845. The United States I believe paid the price for the institution of slavery at places like Cold Harbor, Manassas, Antietam, Shiloh and Gettysburg. The Southern Baptist Convention has done no such thing and has not paid or dealt with its slavery history. That dark period of history of the SBC was further complicated by their embrace of Donald Trump. On November 8, 2016 humanity took a major step back, and Southern Baptist voters and Donald Trump voters helped do that. When the SBC behaves in such a way then one needs to question why do they exist? I recently had a talk with a Pastor friend of mine and we discussed why so many Christians are unhealthy. Donald Trump voters in the SBC help illustrate why Mark Driscoll is preaching again in Arizona. It shows that you have a lot of work to do Russell. Your efforts at dealing with racial reconciliation are commendable and I hope they continue. Please speak your mind and challenge Donald Trump when necessary. This post is being written with my conscious and I know many people are going to be livid with me. If they are that is fine. I have already been stabbed in the back once by someone from Eric Simmons Redeemer Arlington. If that happens again, so be it. It is my hope that you will one day become SBC President as I think you will do a fine job. But let’s also discuss the C.J. Mahaney issues as that needs to be resolved as well.
Again Russell thank you for your time,
BTW – While we’re talking about the SBC can you guys talk to Clint Clifton of the NAMB and ask why isn’t Lon Solomon’s McLean Bible being transparent about being an SBC church?