(RNS) — Russell Moore, head ethicist for the country’s largest Protestant denomination, called on Donald Trump to resign as president after Wednesday’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“Mr. President, people are dead,” Moore tweeted Friday (Jan. 8) after Trump boasted on social media about the “great American Patriots” that voted for him. “The Capitol is ransacked. There are 12 dangerous days for our country left. Could you please step down and let our country heal?”
Mr. President, people are dead. The Capitol is ransacked. There are 12 dangerous days for our country left.
Could you please step down and let our country heal? https://t.co/wP3niITQv6
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) January 8, 2021
In a statement to Religion News Service, Moore clarified that he doesn’t expect the 25th Amendment, in which the vice president takes over powers if a president is deemed unfit to lead, to come into play.
“It is clear that if the 25th Amendment were going to be invoked, it likely already would have happened,” Moore told RNS. “I will wait to see specifically what is proposed, but the Congress, the Cabinet, the courts, and the president himself should all take this seriously. This is a dangerous time for our country.”
Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and an outspoken ‘Never Trumper,’ has been critical of the president since the 2016 campaign, saying Trump was unfit for office and once referred to Trump as “an arrogant huckster.”
Moore’s opposition has come at a cost. Churches whose pastors supported Trump threatened to withhold funds from the denomination because of the entity head’s actions. A task force is currently investigating whether concerns about the ERLC have led to a drop in giving.
Richard Land, Moore’s predecessor, by contrast, has been an enthusiastic Trump supporter and informal faith adviser to the president. After the editor of Christianity Today argued Trump should be removed from office during impeachment in 2019, Land rushed to the president’s defense. He co-authored an editorial defending the president and saying critics were out of touch with regular evangelicals.
Moore is not the only prominent evangelical to join faith leaders calling for Trump to leave.
David French, a Christian author and outspoken ‘Never Trumper,’ went even further than Moore in denouncing the president. He defended Capitol Police, even though they were unable to hold back the mob attacking the Capitol.
“Prosecute the rebels,” he said on social media. “Impeach Trump. Expel Hawley.”
The Capitol Police did not just “let this happen.” They were outnumbered. They fought bravely against an actual insurrection. One of them died. We owe them our thanks.
They also deserve justice. Prosecute the rebels. Impeach Trump. Expel Hawley. Expel Cruz. https://t.co/jzm9fGibKU
— David French (@DavidAFrench) January 8, 2021
Leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a prominent Black Protestant denomination, also called for Trump’s removal from office, “either by the 25th Amendment, impeachment, or his resignation.”
“Trump must be resigned or be removed,” AME leaders said in a statement.
At least two presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention have also weighed in about the attack on the Capitol, though neither called for Trump’s removal.
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who flipped from ‘Never Trumper’ to Trump endorser in 2020, told the Houston Chronicle he was “horrified” by the chaos at the Capitol.
He said he stood by his statements in support of Trump while also criticizing the president.
“But what we have seen is the true character of Donald Trump come out in a way that I do find no — that I don’t accept was merely inevitable,” he said. “He bears full responsibility for his actions and his words. And he bears full responsibility for encouraging what amounted to an attempted insurrection against the United States government.”
A number of other faith groups have voiced support for Trump’s impeachment or removal from office, including Faith for Black Lives, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism, Mormon Women for Ethical Government, and The National Council of Jewish Women.
The National Council of Churches also issued a statement Friday, saying Trump should leave office “for the good of the nation.” The NCC called on Trump to resign and, if he is unwilling, asked Vice President Mike Pence, members of Congress and President Trump’s Cabinet to “exercise the options provided by our democratic system.”
“We grieve for our country at this difficult time and continue to pray for the safety and security, and ultimately the healing of our nation. Holding those who have abused their power and participated in these immoral and tragic actions, in particular the President of the United States, is one step toward healing.”
Jack Jenkins contributed to this report.