One of the ethical leaders of America’s largest Protestant denomination has weighed in on the case of a British politician whose Christian faith cost him his job – and how modern evangelicals should respond to acts of religious bigotry in the West.
Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) – the public policy arm of the 15-million-member Southern Baptist Convention – highlighted the importance of religious liberty during his evening plenary speech at Acton University 2017. During a question-and-answer session with Dr. Paul Bonicelli, an attendee asked about the case of Tim Farron, an evangelical Christian forced to resign as the leader of the UK’s Liberal Democratic Party after his party members suspected he privately held orthodox Christian social beliefs. (These views had no discernible impact upon his voting record. More details are available here.)
Dr. Moore replied that, in a U.S. context, he had been asked whether church websites should list the names of deacons and church members who were prominent in the community, even if:
that might cause these people to lose their positions, whether that’s in government, or a law firm, or whatever. I think the answer to that is we cannot be scared and intimidated. And so, we have to be upfront about who we are as religious people, so that even if we are going to be persecuted, people know what it is they are doing. …
I think that if you have people who are self-consciously saying, “This is who we are religiously, this is who we are as citizens, and if you seek to eradicate that, we’re going to tell you what you’re doing,” I think that’s an important piece of this.
In the last generation, Pope John Paul II addressed his native Poland, laboring under the yoke of Communism, and said, “Do not be afraid.” He knew that over time, a system built upon falsehood cannot sustain itself. His speech helped bring down an Iron Curtain and curtail its systematic oppression of religious freedom, conscience, and individual integrity. Today, Moore brings a similar message to the United States and the transatlantic sphere, charging people of faith to assure that acts of oppression do not pass unnoticed, undocumented, or unopposed.
(Photo credit: Dr. Russell Moore speaking at Acton University 2017. Photographer: Mark Schmidbauer. Property of the Acton Institute.)