WASHINGTON—Russell Moore delivered the case for Christian involvement in the public sphere as the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday inaugurated a new Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) president for the first time in a quarter-century.
Moore, formerly the dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, takes over for Richard Land, who led the ERLC for 25 years and is now the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, N.C.
Addressing a crowd of about 200, Moore said the culture in which Christians find themselves is no different than past generations. The Bible Belt is collapsing and with it the idea that Jesus is an add-on to the American dream, he said: “Good riddance.”
The event, held at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, drew a variety of denomination leaders and lawmakers, including Albert Mohler, David Platt, Mark Dever, Reps. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Melissa Rogers, head of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Fred Luter, who this year was re-elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, delivered a spirited charge urging Moore not to compromise on the inerrancy of the Bible. Luter said he’s confident Moore believes as he does that “nothing can be politically right if it’s biblically wrong.”
Robert P. George, a Princeton University professor, also addressed the group—one day after U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swore him in as the new chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. George’s remarks revealed he’s not only focused on global religious freedom: He spoke at length about the importance of traditional marriage and threats to freedom at home.
George noted recent rulings against bakers and photographers who declined to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies and the injustice of Christians being forced to pay for abortions through the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. “Persecution is coming,” he warned.
George said Christians need to engage on the issues of the day: “Jesus doesn’t need any more secret agents. He’s got enough of those.”