Although American conservatives may have disagreements here and there, there is a general agreement on what makes up American conservatism. At least, there was general agreement until this last November. Now, traditional Republican constituencies have seemed to abandon their principles entirely–including the evangelical movement
What was perhaps the most disturbing and worrisome was the behavior of socially conservative evangelicals, which brings us to Russell Moore. Moore heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm. On Monday, the Washington Post ran the headline “Could Southern Baptist Russell Moore lose his job? Churches threaten to pull funds after months of Trump controversy.”
What did the Washington Post report that Moore’s crime was? Moore had the audacity to criticize Donald Trump and not to vote for him. Moore also heavily criticized those who relentlessly went after Bill Clinton, but excused Trump.
Simply put, Moore believes that the Church should be more than a get out the vote arm of the Republican Party.
The article states that over 100 churches have threatened to cut off their funds to the Southern Baptist Convention. 100 out of 46,000 is a very small percentage–0.2%, to be exact. On Monday, SBC President Frank Page was prepared to ask for Moore’s resignation if a planned meeting went poorly. However, that never came to fruition.
The point is that, apparently, social conservatives or so-called evangelicals are acting like social justice warriors. The SBC almost caved like a campus administration that does not want to offend the SJW’s delicate sensibilities.
It’s important to mention at this point that this problem isn’t isolated just to social conservatives and evangelicals. Donald Trump’s election did much to shatter the conventional wisdom of Ronald Reagan’s “three-legged stool” of conservatism.
Trump clearly ran against fiscal conservatism by running on tariffs, a heavy role for government in the health care industry, and a reluctance to reform entitlements. He also ran against traditional Republican foreign policy. In 2017, discussing the Iraq War in hindsight should not be taboo for Republicans, but Trump did more than that. He sounded like the most radical anti-war leftists. and even blamed George Bush for 9/11. Trump’s infamous comments about Vladimir Putin and NATO are also well documented.
Despite his essentially non-conservative platform, many people enthusiastically supported Trump. They suddenly supported everything they ever opposed, and opposed everything they ever favored. One could attribute this to “politics as usual,” the cult of personality, or maybe something different.
But what went wrong for the evangelical Christian movement in particular? For starters, they adopted the belief that the culture war could be won at the ballot box. All conservatives had to do to push back the secular-progressive left was elect somebody with an “R” next to their name.
Unfortunately, in 2016, too many evangelicals looked at the Democrats and decided, like the Israelites of old, they wanted a king of their own.
Roughly 54% of this country voted for somebody other than Donald Trump. Evangelicals cannot seriously claim to spread the Gospel to 54% of the country if their message is “You must vote Republican.”
Evangelicals don’t need to pander on abortion, matters of sexual morality, or other issues that social conservatives care about. They don’t even have to agree with Moore on immigration or Trump’s refugee executive orders. They just need to acknowledge that electing a secular politician is not at the top of the Church’s priority list.
The evangelical or social conservative movement has veered off track. They have focused on electing politicians rather than on what really matters. The sooner groups like the SBC realize that elections are not going to save this country, the sooner they can get back to their real mission.