Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) filed an amicus brief supporting the construction of a mosque in New Jersey in 2016. The International Mission Board also signed the amicus brief. Dr. Moore was questioned about this by a Pastor from the floor of the SBC annual meeting in St. Louis, June, 2016.
“I would like to know how in the world someone in the Southern Baptist Convention can support the defending of rights for Muslims to construct mosques in the United States when these people threaten our very way of existence as Christians and Americans. They are murdering Christians, beheading Christians, imprisoning Christians all over the world. Do you actually believe that if Jesus Christ were here today, He would actually support this and that He would stand up and say, well, let us support the rights of those Baal worshipers to erect temples to Baal? Do you believe that Dr. Moore?”
Dr. Moore replied, “You know sometimes we have to deal with questions that are really complicated and we have to spend a lot of time thinking them through and not sure what the final result was going to be. Sometimes we have really hard decisions to make. This isn’t one of those things.”
In January 2017 IBM trustee Dean Haun resigned over this. He is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Morristown, TN and former president of the Tennessee Baptist convention. His church voted unanimously to put their giving to the Cooperative Program in escrow until the amicus brief support is reversed.
Perhaps as result of this, the President of the IMB, David Platt, issued this apology:
“I grieve how the amicus brief in the recent mosque case has been so divisive and distracting.”
[My note: Sin is always divisive and distracting.]
“All this to say, in short, I apologize to Southern Baptists for how distracting and divisive this has been. I am confident that in the days ahead, the IMB will have better processes in place to keep us focused on our primary mission: partnering with churches to empower limitless missionary teams who are evangelizing, discipling, planting and multiplying healthy churches, and training, planting and multiplying healthy churches, and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.” David Platt
I agree with Bud Ahlheim’s comments on this apology. “Platt didn’t acknowledge that his agency had made a grave error in supporting the Muslims in their legal proceedings. He did not apologize for disregarding God’s perspicuous commands in Scripture. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) What Platt apologized for was the “distracting and divisive” result such participation generated.
It seems not altogether unlike the cookie-thieving child who is sorry for getting caught, not for actually committing the crime. Or perhaps like the adulterous husband who regrets the repercussions of his sin more than the sin itself. It just doesn’t seem to evoke authentic ‘godly grief.’ (2 Corinthians 7:10)”
On February 16, 2017, former SBC president Jack Graham, who is currently pastor of Megachurch Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX, said that his church has also agreed to escrow their giving to the cooperative program because of the amicus brief supporting the building of the mosque. In 2015 they gave $500,000 to the Cooperative Program.
This blog is based on the February 16, 2017 Pulpit and Pen article by Bud Ahlheim:
and a February 17, 2017 Christianity Today article:
Image Credit: Dr. Moore preaching in chapel at SBTS 9 October 2011 Photographer: Theology147 Wikimedia Commons