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Southern Baptist leaders tout the unity center gap that could cost church millions

Russell Moore on “Fox and Friends.”

A show of unity this week by the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) put a happy, but perhaps temporarily, in the face of a battle over the direction of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

The head of the 15-million-member protestant denomination’s public policy arm, Russell Moore, has criticised President Trump and provocative – SBC leaders who openly support him.

Moore, who is the head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Frank Page, president of the SBC’s executive committee, made peace on Monday, meeting in Nashville to tamp down rumors of a split between the two, and the speculation that the band which binds the huge denomination along to fray.

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While these links can’t be fraying, they are tense. Moore has been accused of evangelical leaders who supported Trump card of “normalizing” is a terrible candidate,” according to published reports. Furthermore, Moore said that Southern Baptist leaders who attended a meeting at Trump Tower last year, had “drunk the Kool-Aid.”

Baptist love for freedom often creates the sounds of war, a closer examination shows that there is a fireworks display. The problems are serious, but the focus of our convention of churches on getting the saving gospel of Christ to every person on the planet about our temporary squabbles.

– Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Trump shot back at Moore via a tweet that the 45-year-old “a nasty boy without a heart.”

In the run-up to the meeting, Page was quoted in a Washington Post story as saying that a large number of churches threatened to withhold contributions of the 172-year-old denomination’s Cooperative Program, which is the location for municipalities to support the national group of the ministries. He also said that he would ask Moore for “a change of status.”

But after Monday’s meeting, Page, and Moore in a joint statement to commit to work together to “deepen connections with all Southern Baptists.”

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While undoubtedly orthodox Baptist in his theology, Moore has troubled many white evangelical christians, not only by his anti-Trump comments, but also his opposition to the displays of the Confederate flag and vocal advocacy for racial justice. Many churches in the SBC, which most of the parishioners are white, in the south of the United States.

Municipalities are threatening to refuse money to carry significant financial matters. Jack Graham, past SBC president and pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, a Dallas-area mega-church, has threatened to escrow contributions to the SBC up to $1 million.

Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the wealthy and influential First Baptist Church in Dallas and a Fox News contributor, told Fox News that it is very possible for his church will also stop contributing to the social office.

“Our church will always financially support the cooperative program of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Jeffress said. “However, the controversy on Russell Moore and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission] is going to be a catalyst for many churches to reconsider how they are the most effective support of the denomination, which may be associated with a redistribution of resources.”

Moore’s comments and responses to public policy issues highlights the way in which the SBC is changing. The membership is becoming more and more Spanish and black. Further, many members are young and that young members don’t feel the loyalty to the Republican party that their parents.

These changes take place as the United States is becoming increasingly secular and, in the opinion of many traditional evangelicals and Roman Catholics, are increasingly hostile to religion in general.

As the battle for the SBC’s direction and the public attitude has become public, a number of church leaders are urging their colleagues to look past Moore and his provocative style of leadership and instead spend their energy and efforts on the unit. Other Southern Baptist leaders said: “it is of crucial importance for the churches to heal their differences.

“Baptist love for freedom often creates the sounds of war, a closer examination shows that there is a fireworks display,” Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, told Fox News. “The problems are serious, but the focus of our convention of churches on getting the saving gospel of Christ to every person on the planet about our temporary squabbles.”

Elizabeth Llorente is a Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on https://twitter.com/Liz_Llorente

 

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