Government & Politics Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion Politics

Trump’s evangelicals need to do the right thing

President Trump sits before delivering keynote address at Liberty University's commencement in Lynchburg, Va., on May 13, 2017. Seated next to him is Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. Photo courtesy Reuters/Yuri Gripas

(RNS) — Just because you’re an evangelical big shot doesn’t mean you’ve lost your moral compass.

Take popular Bible teacher Beth Moore. On Sunday she made clear that President Trump’s prevaricating response (“on many sides … on many sides”) to Charlottesville was woefully inadequate.

Then there’s Russell Moore, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, who retweeted one of his tweets from two months ago:

There were even members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board — which the Moores (no relation) are not — who were quick to condemn what needed to be condemned. Like Ronnie Floyd, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who on Saturday tweeted out a statement that said “white nationalism and white supremacism are anathema to the teachings of Christ.”

But then there was evangelist Rodney Howard-Brown, sounding the tocsin for moral equivalence:

And worse, Franklin Graham:

Meanwhile, from Jerry Falwell Jr., not so much as a word about Charlottesville, just an hour and fifteen minutes down the road from Liberty University. Nada from Richard Land either.

On Monday afternoon Trump read a statement declaring that “racism is evil” and that “those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

But not before, earlier in the day, responding to Merck Pharmaceuticals CEO Kenneth Frazier’s principled resignation from a White House management council with:

Does anyone believe that that’s not the real Donald Trump?

It’s time for members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board to follow Frazier’s lead. Some of you have talked the talk. Now walk the walk.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

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