Not only is there a split in the country during these polarizing days but there is a split within the evangelical community. We all know the Franklin Grahams and others very publicly supported Donald Trump and delivered their flocks for him. Less known are the men who stood up to their religious peers — Dr. Russell Moore who is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, pastor and author Max Lucado, Matt Barber, Dr. Michael Brown, and others.
As a Southern Baptist, I was grateful when Dr. Moore held onto his faith and sound ethics as reasons for not getting behind Donald Trump. You can bet he is now in a battle to save his position because, in the religious world just as in the political world, sharks are waiting. Because he didn’t climb on the band wagon but instead stood by his faith, he has a target on his back.
Which makes me even more grateful for the letter he wrote today to The Donald concerning the botched immigration ban that was enacted Friday by executive order and has caused mass confusion and chaos since.
Dr. Moore begins his letter with a reminder that Southern Baptists are on the front line caring for refugees:
In June 2016, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirmed its decades-long commitment to care for and minister to refugees. The resolution states, “Scripture calls for and expects God’s people to minister to the sojourner.” Southern Baptist churches throughout the United States lead the way in carrying out this calling.
When Vietnam fell in the 1970s, my church in Richmond took in Vietnamese families who lived in church housing and had help finding jobs, becoming acclimated to their new lives, and learning English. It is what we are called to do:
” ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ ” –Matthew 25:35-40
And so with that in mind, Dr. Moore continued:
The church’s commitment to welcoming the stranger has long been reflected in our country’s policies toward those fleeing persecution in their home countries. A commitment given voice through the inscription on our Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Indeed, as our country recalled on Friday, one of our nation’s darkest chapters was our refusal to allow European Jews fleeing the Third Reich to find safe harbor on American soil.
Ah, yes, the Voyage of the Damned — the MS St. Louis — with 900 Jews who were turned back from America’s shores in 1939 and then rejected by every other county it applied to, leaving it no choice but to return to the beginning of its journey. Two-thirds of the passengers perished in concentration camps. The last ship allowed in, just before the St. Louis, had a young boy on board now known to the world as Dr. Henry Kissinger. I read the book Voyage of the Damned in my 20s and was impacted by the tragic events of that World War II event.