Evangelical leaders are speaking out against Donald Trump’s controversial call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, criticized Trump’s proposal on Monday, warning his “reckless, demagogic rhetoric” was an affront to religious freedom.
“As an evangelical Christian, I could not disagree more strongly with Islam. I believe that salvation comes only through union with Jesus Christ, received through faith,” he wrote in an op-ed. “As part of the church’s mission, we believe we should seek to persuade our Muslim neighbors of the goodness and truth of the Gospel. It is not in spite of our Gospel conviction, but precisely because of it, that we should stand for religious liberty for everyone.”
Moore, who has been critical of Trump in the past, explained more in an interview with NPR on Tuesday that religious freedom for all — and not just Christians — is a bedrock of evangelical beliefs.
“Evangelical Christians, and Baptists specifically, were pressuring politicians in the Revolutionary era for First Amendment protections,” Moore said. “They made that appeal not as part of a special interest group, ‘protect us,’ but to protect everyone.”
He warned that heated rhetoric against a religious group was a dangerous path for Christians and for the country.
“Most evangelicals understand the difference between the peaceful Muslims and those who are violently waging war against us, because we’re a people on mission. We have Muslim neighbors and Muslim friends, and we understand how to love them, treat them with dignity, even as we disagree and have those conversations,” Moore said. “The evangelicals I know are people who believe that everyone is made in the image of God, and so people even if they hold unpopular religious views aren’t to be treated as political footballs. They’re to be treated as human beings, and treated with respect and dignity.”