(RNS) Russell Moore may be president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
But don’t call him an evangelical — at least not until the current election cycle ends.
Moore started introducing himself as a “gospel Christian” a few weeks ago.
That’s because, he said, “The word ‘evangelical’ has become almost meaningless this year, and in many ways the word itself is at the moment subverting the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In an editorial in The Washington Post, he pointed to the conflation of “evangelical” with an election-year voting bloc. He noted polls don’t distinguish between churchgoers and those who self-identify as evangelical but who “may well be drunk right now, and haven’t been into a church since someone invited them to a Vacation Bible School sometime back when Seinfeld was in first-run episodes.”
And he took issue with other evangelical leaders’ behavior: some minimizing candidates’ profanity, affairs and courting of white supremacists, others “scared silent.”
The word "evangelical" no longer has any meaning. Just call me a gospel Christian.
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) February 26, 2016
That came after a rally by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Texas, where Trump not only unveiled the surprise endorsement of former rival and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but also repeatedly wrapped himself in the mantle of evangelicalism.
(Emily McFarlan Miller is an RNS correspondent)