Prestonwood Baptist Church: a Portent of things to come?

Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas

In an ominous development, a Southern Baptist megachurch is withholding funds from the denomination because of Russel Moore’s outspoken words against Trump during the campaign. Moore, the president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, spoke frankly last year about the spiritual dangers of supporting Trump. Now, because of Moore’s supposed “disrespectfulness” against his fellow evangelicals, major financial resources are at stake.

Moore’s public response to this has been unsurprisingly gracious. But danger looms ahead. What we’re seeing here is a large and powerful church attempting to leverage its financial clout to shut down Christian speech in the public sphere. What will Moore and others have to do to maintain unity with these Trumpist evangelicals? What compromises will need to be made to keep them money flowing? What silences will be bought?

It is difficult to see how unity is going to be maintained in this environment. We have a large group of evangelicals who are cravenly putting partisanship ahead of the gospel, and it seems they will brook no dissent. In these contexts, those who believe that the word of God stands above even a Republican president are inevitably going to be seen as sell-outs or worse.

I would rather be in solidarity with oppressed people of any faith or no faith at all than in union with the people supporting the oppression. If Prestonwood Baptist Church is any indication, the space for a middle ground may already be closing. I believe Dr. Moore is a man of integrity, and precisely because of that I don’t know how long he can remain the president of the ERLC. Hopefully I’m wrong.

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