WASHINGTON — At a symposium hosted last week at Georgetown University by the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and the ecumenical Manhattan Declaration, Commission President Russell Moore explained his belief that Christians should fight for freedom for all religions—not just their own.
Andrew Walker, director of policy studies for the ERLC, served as moderator for the event, and fielded questions from various individuals pertaining to the persecution of Christians and the need to speak out in support of religious freedom.
“Are Christians at the forefront of religious freedom for all?” Walker presented to the group. “Do you understand the implications it must include our ‘other’?”
Russell Moore, the president of the Commission, then answered the question by stating that he believes Christians are guilty of only supporting freedom for their own religion.
“Well, that’s the key question, and it must be the case,” he stated. “One of the mistakes that Christians have made in years past is this kind of majoritarian understanding [that] we’ve got to fight for our own rights here and maintain our own rights without being very diligent and making sure we’re fighting for religious liberty for all persons.”
Moore explained that as a leader in evangelical Christianity, he doesn’t see much support for the rights other religions, and opined that it raises concerns.
“[T]hat hasn’t been the case throughout all of American history, but in recent years I think that’s been a problem, especially in my world of evangelical Protestantism,” he stated. “It’s just a lack of attention to this. But when we’re talking about liberty of conscience and freedom of religion, we’re talking about this for all people, and that’s because—not because we believe anything less about the Gospel as Christians…”
Moore then provided the example of the building of mosques in American cities.
“Evangelical Christians need to be the first people—and Catholic Christians and others standing in any given community—saying [that] we really don’t want the mayor to have the power to keep a mosque out of here simply because it’s a mosque,” he stated.
“And not only because we know that’s eventually going to be turned against us, but also because we believe there is something important about keeping the state within its bounds, not taking on the role of God,” Moore said, “[and that we would] be able to have that free and open dialogue that we must have.”
However, some who have become aware of Moore’s comments have expressed disagreement, stating that the Lord would not be pleased with His people supporting the freedom to worship false gods in the land.
“Seems to me if we ‘fight’ at all, it’s to stand for what God commands us to do in the Bible and spread the message about Jesus Christ,” one commenter wrote. “Not ‘inclusive?’ Take that up with the Lord. Much as may rankle progressives, God isn’t about religious freedom. He didn’t even want his people to associate with those that worshiped other gods.”
“Jesus would never fight for Muslims and pagans to rule over a Christian nation,” another stated. “Christians need to stop living in a fantasy/utopia where they deceive themselves [that] they would be willing to obey Jesus in a future never never land dream, but not now ever obey King Jesus in the here and now…”
The symposium can be viewed in full at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission website.