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Southern Baptist leader: Donald Trump a ‘lost’ soul who must repent

(RNS1-may23) Russell Moore at the Washington offices of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks.

(RNS) Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore has not been shy about mixing it up with Donald Trump, and now Moore is at it again, telling an interviewer that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is a “lost person” who needs to find Jesus.

“My primary prayer for Donald Trump is that he would first of all repent of sin and come to faith in Jesus Christ,” Moore told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network in a video posted Friday (June 3). “That’s my prayer for any lost person.”

Moore, who as head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention is the denomination’s chief policy spokesman, has been one of the most stalwart evangelical critics of Trump.

Moore has for months blasted what he sees as Trump’s boorish behavior and character flaws, and last month he ramped it up with pointed comments in an op-ed in The New York Times and an appearance on “Face the Nation.”

Trump’s campaign was “reality television moral sewage,” he told “Face the Nation,” and in the Times he criticized Trump’s followers — many of whom are Moore’s fellow evangelicals — for using racist “threats and intimidation” tactics.

Trump, who is hardly shy about attacking his critics, struck back on Twitter — where Moore is also no shrinking violet — and the social media war was on.


RELATED STORY: Holy Twitter! Trump takes on a top Baptist theologian


Speaking to CBN’s Brody, Moore said he would also pray that a conversion for Trump — who says he is a Christian — would translate into a change in his public policies in terms of “the principles of justice” and the “American constitutional framework.”

Moore added that would also mean a change “not only in terms of the way in which he (Trump) is changing the moral character of people, including the people that are supporting him and getting on the bandwagon, having had to excuse things that they’ve never had to excuse before.”

That appeared to be a reference to the many Republican leaders — like former candidate Marco Rubio and, most recently, House Speaker Paul Ryan — who were once staunchly anti-Trump but have since embraced the likely nominee, often awkwardly given the public record of their earlier opposition.

Trump, who enjoyed strong support from white evangelicals during the primaries, has also been winning over many conservative Christians leaders, to the chagrin of Moore and other #NeverTrump diehards.

Trump will continue that lobbying effort this month when he addresses a major conference of social conservatives in Washington on Friday (June 10).

Then on June 21, some 500 conservative Christian leaders will meet with Trump in New York City for a “guided discussion” to solidify their support for him or win over any skeptics.

Moore has said he could not support either Trump or Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee; in the interview he said Clinton also needed to change, though he said she “has a different set of problems and issues” than Trump.

Signaling a potential new phase in the political role of conservative evangelicals, Moore said his primary focus “is 2017, and preparing the church to be a church which is going to have to be a sign of contradiction regardless of whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is in the White House.”

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

69 Comments

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  • A converted narcissist, like Donald Trump, or psychopath, like Ted Cruz, is still a narcissist or psychopath. As a born again they are far more dangerous because they have this imagined vengeful God of yours on their side.

  • Thanks to Donald Trump’s gracious broadcasting of his remarkable insights into Judge Curiel, we now know how Mr. Trump reacts to situations in which someone else is in control.

    My prospective sympathies to the U.S. Congress.

  • “…Moore is at it again, telling an interviewer that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is a ‘lost person’ who needs to find Jesus.”

    Oh, come now, Mr. Moore. Donald Trump isn’t a lost person. You are. And you’re a Loser. And a Liar. And a Terrible Person. And you’re Very, Very Bad for America. And you’re Weak. And you’re Low Energy. And you’re From Kenya. And you Have Blood Coming Out of your Wherever….

    (Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President/snark)

  • I can understand Moore’s prayer request (i.e. criticism) regarding Donald Trump. Moore’s got a point in there.

    But make no mistake, Dr. Moore: If Hillary Clinton wins because of your efforts (and if Trump doesn’t win, Clinton WILL win), you and every other Bible-believing Christian will have a lot lot lot LOT more to pray about, and it won’t be pretty, and it won’t be temporary either !!!!!!

  • What hypocrisy. This man should repent of his haughty judgmentalism. When divider-in-chief Obama “says he is a Christian,” no one questions that dubious statement. But Donald Trump
    is subjected to disrespect for his beliefs. This from a so-called “Christian leader.”

  • Biblical repentance is a change of mind from believing there is anything we can do to gain Goss acceptance to:
    There is nothing we can do ( no good work) to gain God’s acept ancestors and only Jesus’s blood at the Cross is the price of of our salvation.

  • Problem is, the whole Christ story is mostly fiction to begin with, and Jesus wasn’t a divine being. Trump would just be taking advantage of low intelligence beliefy folk, as usual.

  • No one questions Obama’s statement that he’s a Christian? We’ve had 8+ years of insinuations from all sectors of the right that Obama is anywhere from a fake Christian to a secret Muslim. The media doesn’t have to take nonsense seriously.

  • I’m no fan of Trump’s, but what business is it of this guy’s? Did Trump ask him for religious advice? No? Then shut up.

  • Poor Russel Moore. Learning that outright racism and xenophobia has far more appeal to his flock than his usual anti gay and sectarian bigotry. The bigotry and malice he and his church helped foster has metastasized into something far wider in scope. Moore complains of a monster he helped create.

  • That line plays well in the “professions” department, ever-popular with the lazy mainstream media. In the “follow-through behaviors” department, “By their fruits you shall know them!” Hilliary has much to repent of including the incessant lying regarding her tenure in the State Department and her trailblazing “leave no evidence” email server. It was no-doubt conceived to protect the phony Clinton Foundation, taking money from despots all over the world in their “pay-to-play” schemes. The foundation permits a fascade of compassionate charity work while allowing them to live and travel lavishly. Less than 10%–a tithe–of the foundation’s income is spent on legitimate charity projects.

    Yep, lots of old-fashioned tent-meetin’ come-down-to-the-altar prayin’ and repentin’ is called for on both sides of the political spectrum, which Moore fails to put forth because he’s too intellectually dishonest.

  • Yes, we have freedom of speech, and this dumbass used it. And I have freedom of speech too, and I’m criticizing him for opening his trap, because he’s offering public religious advice to someone who never asked for it, which is thoroughly obnoxious.

  • Oh, I’ve already read the “Five Faith Facts about Hillary” puff piece, thanks.
    I don’t know if she’s a believer or not. Just like Obama, she just might be a believer, honestly.

    But there’s the rub, isn’t it? Under pressure from Obama, Biden, and Sanders, she has fully sold her soul to the “Evolved Beliefs” religion that Obama is famous for. Again, she may still be a real Christian, (and certainly seems much more serious about it than her husband), but it’s that Obama kind of Christianity.

    The kind where gay marriage and universalism (and the government simply imposing ITS theology via punishment on Christians whenever Christians stand up for what they believe), are A-Okay. That’s Hillary — on steroids.
    Even though she IS a committed Methodist (although what THAT label means, is no longer clear in 2016).

  • No CErmie. What you said is false and merely denigrating. There isn’t any hope for you as long as you remain deluded by the silly Christian fictions. Trump is a whole other set of problems for the nation, that your inability to think critically merely plays into.

  • Moore’s problem is that he still hasn’t recovered from the Atwater-Nixon Southern Strategy.

    He still thinks God is a Republican, and Trump’s problem is that he isn’t.

    -dlj.

  • That is both a patronizing and insulting remark on your end. Since when is freedom of speech freedom from criticism? You are making a phony argument here. The point being made is that Moore makes himself look foolish with the statement he made. He had the right to do it. But it was not a prudent action to take.

  • Ah, the virtues of tolerance–wishing that those who might disagree with you are killed. Well done.

  • I didn’t say he couldn’t, I said he shouldn’t. Big difference. Maybe one you’re unable to grasp.

  • Do you just accuse everyone who disagrees with you of being “off their meds”? It’s a tiresome ad hominem trope, showing you have no actual argument. Weak.

  • “the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is a “lost person” who needs to find Jesus.”

    …and once found, deport him?

  • You understand that in order to maintain their tax free status, clergy must refrain from endorsing or opposing individual candidates, right? He’s over the line here.

  • I brought together a bunch of verifiable FACTS defiining a clear pattern of Hilliary’s corruption. Neither of her opponents are “my . . . candidate.”

  • “he said Clinton also needed to change, though he said she “has a different set of problems and issues” than Trump.”

    Different than being a “lost soul”?

  • As Mr. Trump subtly reminded me today, I left out “Hater”, “Hater”, and “Hater”.
    And if he says the same word 3 times, that makes it really, really, really true!

    (Learn more — at Trump U.)

  • You’re really close to being right: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature, with all its passions and desires.”

  • Dr. Moore is a theologian and an ordained Southern Baptist minister. And if he’s speaking as an official spokesperson for the Southern Baptist Convention, a large Protestant denomination, and it appears he is, then the same rules apply.

  • Moore is the SBC’s official politician. The ERLC vision is an “American society that affirms and practices Judeo-Christian values rooted in biblical authority.” He speaks from his understanding of Scripture and only for himself. The ERLC is autonomous, as are all SBC affiliated churches. We certainly hope he would speak in agreement with most Southern Baptist, and the ERLC trustees are supposed to monitor that. There is some question about that on this subject, but let’s keep the facts straight.

  • So when Moore wants to be taken seriously he is the spokesperson for the SBC. When he is being disavowed he speaks for himself.

  • We are all lost souls. It’s just that some, like Moore, are more sanctimonious and pious about it. It might be good to remember we are voting for the good of the country, not the good of religion. We have two flawed candidates to choose from. If you want the first and second amendment to remain intact, Trump is the best choice. In case you forgot the first amendment is freedom of speech and religion.

  • A Trump victory in November is a lost cause (in more ways than one.)
    Evangelicals‬ should have prophetic/social insight to see this.
    There’s also a lot of political clout to be gained in initiating ‪#‎DumpTrump‬ before/during/after the convention.
    If only we would.
    THIS is the FIGHT worth engaging in the next few weeks -‬
    …not a fatalistic resignation to Trump vs HRC option.
    For the sake of 2016,
    for the integrity of our witness,
    the future of the ‪GOP,
    and a true hope for America.

  • Gee thanks, Moore. But of course you are not judging. That would be so sinful of you!

  • Ethics and religious liberty commission! Now that sounds like the head of a sharia police force!

  • “When divider-in-chief Obama ‘says he is a Christian,’ no one questions that dubious statement”

    I question your dubious statement.

  • You have no idea what real repentance and faith is. It is not claiming that G’d is on your side in your personal ambitions. It is rejecting your personal ambitions and, like St. Paul, who said: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”. If Trump converted to G’d and believed in Jesus Christ, my guess is that he would give up his ambition to become President of the US.

  • Narcissists, like a Donald Trump, who claim to have God on their side to get elected into authoritarian positions by the faithful, like you, is proof there is no God.

  • As a sincere believer you demonstrate patterned behaviour that is proof we evolved from plankton eating fish. You choose to trust our subhuman thinking process. I don’t. I choose the other thinking process. We therefore can’t agree on anythng.

  • And sir, I will pray for you! You have harmed the cause of Christ by insinuating yourself into this and putting your judgements out in front of the cameras. His relationship with God is between He and the good Lord whose perspective is much higher than yours. If you were truly concerned for him as a person, you would be praying in private not in shouting it out through social media. ~From a pissed off pastor’s wife.

  • And when he begins to say the same things about Hillary (but he won’t because Mr. Moore is a Democrat), then we’ll listen to what he has to say. But I’m not holding my breath on that one.

  • He is part of a tax-exempt religious organization. He really should keep his political opinions out of the public and not in his official capacity. BTW, didn’t a man named Jesus tell his followers not to judge lest they be judged?

  • You contradict yourself : (1) If we can’t agree on anything, then we still agree to disagree and thus there is an exception to our general disagreement. (2) You are yourself also a serious believer, since you don’t demonstrate what you say, e.g. that we evolved from plankton eating fish, or that G-d doesn’t exist. So you too are showing a similar patterned behaviour.

    Besides, there is no logical connection at all between your assertions that G-d doesn’t exist and that we evolved from plankton eating fish. The first assertion doesn’t prove the second, neither does the second prove the first.

    Moreover, you don’t in any way define what is subhuman thinking, or what is real human thinking. I guess real human thinking is according to the rules of logic, which is itself a very rigidly patterned behaviour.

    Do you always talk about things you don’t know about, or what should I make of your inconsistencies?

  • I know we evolved from fish because of my Huntingtons Disease. Fish are the earliest species that have Huntingtin DNA. Their Huntingtin RNA might make bad copies of Huntingtin DNA as mine does. This is how my Huntingtons Disease causes neurone death in an ancient part of my brain. The part that looks like a fish’s brain. To delay the onset of my Huntingtons Disease I have learned not to trust one of our two thinking processes. In the book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” this process is called system 1. It is fast, can not deal with ambiguity and is very resolute. This sub human process is good for God belief. The other process is bad for God belief.

  • There is only one correct way of thinking, which is according to the laws of logic.

  • If trump is the candidate for republican president I don’t want to hear party touting itself as the party of family values ever again. I beleive that is going to hurt them the most. It would be best if the evangelicals avoided perhaps both parties this time. IMHO

  • The laws of logic are too often trumped by the resoluteness of our fish derived thinking process. It is to protect us from predator fish. We are not to question the validity of the threat. We are to flee and if cornered bite. The biting is the visceral hate you may feel for me.

  • Is there some part of autonomous you don’t understand? BTW, who is disavowing him? Maybe you shouldn’t speak about that which you don’t understand.

  • He is as autonomous as it is convenient to be so. When it is embarrassing. Otherwise he pretends to speak for an entire sect.

  • Another ignorant soul. The ERLC is autonomous. Fact. Moore speaks based on his understanding of Scripture. Fact. We are not embarrassed. Fact. We are a Convention, not a denomination or sect. Fact.

  • Yes, your God of love has Christians pushing their own transgender kids to commit suicide. He demands and receives blood sacrifices of Christian’s kids. That is true love.

  • Donald is what I’d call a Christian that needs to grow… Moore is what I’d call a pastor that needs to study a bit more… my bible says ..”ALL have fallen short of the Glory of God”…. Moore and others would be well advised to pray for Trump that he will grow in the faith as many do. On so many levels Trump is the ONLY one admitting what the real problems are and calling it what is is… Moore would also be well advised to reread John 5……. 22 The Father does not judge anyone but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,..”

  • Hillary Clinton is too beholden to Wall Street to solve the rot of wealth disparity that is destroying America. Donald Trump will make it much worse. Death, if he is real, prefers Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. The needless slaughter of a million Muslims, mostly Iraqi, for what a few Saudis did will continue under Donald Trump. A million will grow towards a billion. The cost will be a hundred million Americans.

  • Well, you appear to be a Russel Moore Marxist. I don’t think Trump will continue the useless wars in the Middle East, but he is tied to Jews, so possibly.

  • Israel wanted Iraq leveled at a cost to US taxpayers of $1 trillion and a million Iraqi killed. Saddam had paid $30,000 to mothers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The unintended conesuence is IS.

  • Just like Saddam had “weapons of mass destruction” I suppose. Let’s hope and pray Israel is blown off the map for the safety of Mankind.

  • Violence only leads to more violence. Peace however does not lead to more peace. The problem is the preditor elites, our species psychopaths maybe, like the leader of Isreal who undermine peaceful resolutions.

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