Is the ERLC Breaking the Rules?

October 6, 2015

Dr. Rick Patrick | Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL

Recently, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called upon Dr. Ben Carson to withdraw as a candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America. In response to their clear campaign against him, Dr. Carson called upon the Internal Revenue Service to enforce the provision below, which “absolutely” prohibits all section 501(c)(3) organizations from “directly or indirectly” participating in any political campaign “on behalf of or in opposition to” any candidate for office.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations

Whether or not CAIR will lose their tax-exempt status is a matter for the courts to decide, but it seems patently clear to me, as I think it would to most impartial observers, that this organization is participating directly in opposition to Ben Carson’s campaign for the Presidency. In other words, they are in violation of an IRS rule for 501(c)(3) organizations—whether or not they ever pay a price for it.

While contemplating this news story the other day, I began to ruminate about another 501(c)(3) organization—one to which I contribute—that is likely guilty of participating indirectly in opposition to a candidate for office, an action which is a clear violation of the IRS rule listed above. In this case, it concerns the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and remarks made by President Russell Moore in opposition to the campaign of Donald Trump.

Although Moore does not come right out and say, “Do not vote for this person,” a statement which might be classified as “direct” opposition, he does clearly imply such a course of action with statements that might be classified as “indirect” opposition. Moore singles out Trump among all the candidates in the race for the presidency and discusses only Trump’s moral flaws and failures. The implication is hard to miss: “Whoever you decide to vote for, Christian, don’t vote for Trump.”

The rule could not be any clearer. In the same way that Pastors, speaking on behalf of their churches, cannot endorse or oppose specific candidates, neither can Russell Moore when he is speaking as the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. As you consider Moore’s statements reprinted below, ask yourself the question: “Could these statements reasonably be considered as ‘indirectly’ participating ‘in opposition to’ a candidate for elective public office?”

“Watching a cartoonish TV character deliver authoritarian lines with no principles, just audacity, was hilarious back then, but that was before we saw it happening before our eyes in the race for the United States presidency.”

“Most illogical is his support from evangelicals and other social conservatives. To back Mr. Trump, these voters must repudiate everything they believe.”

“His attitude toward women is that of a Bronze Age warlord. He tells us in one of his books that he revels in the fact that he gets to sleep with some of the ‘top women in the world.’ He has divorced two wives (so far) for other women.”

“And yet, he regularly ridicules evangelicals, with almost as much glee as he does Hispanics.”

“Still, the problem is not just Mr. Trump’s personal lack of a moral compass. He is, after all, a casino and real estate mogul who has built his career off gambling, a moral vice and an economic swindle that oppresses the poorest and most desperate.”

“In a time when racial tensions run high across the country, Mr. Trump incites division, with slurs against Hispanic immigrants and with protectionist jargon that preys on turning economic insecurity into ugly ‘us versus them’ identity politics.”

“When evangelicals should be leading the way on racial reconciliation, as the Bible tells us to, are we really ready to trade unity with our black and brown brothers and sisters for this angry politician?”

The issue of whether or not Moore’s observations have any merit, though perhaps an interesting topic to discuss, is beyond the scope and beside the point of this essay. The present question we are exploring is simply this: “Do the statements above represent a ‘direct or indirect’ participation ‘in opposition to’ a specific candidate for elective office?”

I believe one can make a convincing case that Dr. Moore is indirectly telling evangelicals specifically not to vote for Donald Trump. Moore is not addressing policy matters and decisions in a general manner. He is not addressing the moral flaws of all the politicians in the race. He is laser focused on one candidate only, and he describes this candidate not as a successful businessman and teetotaling member of a Presbyterian Church, but in the most pejorative terms available within his polished and sophisticated vocabulary.

To clarify, this essay is in no way intended to “Stump for Trump.” Rather, it endeavors to ask a question concerning the compliance of the ERLC with the Internal Revenue Code. Moore was clearly identified in The New York Times piece as President of the ERLC. If the Council on American-Islamic Relations is not permitted by IRS rules to oppose Ben Carson, then on what basis is the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission authorized to oppose Donald Trump? Having been led to believe that the new ERLC would be getting Southern Baptists out of politics, this is a very strange way of doing so.

 

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D. Morgan

While i agree with the premise of the article, the larger point should be the federal government being able to regulate the church. We need to “render unto Caesar”, drop tax exempt status, and tell the government to stay out of our churches.maintaining the tax exemptions gives the government leverage against churches that it should not have.

    Rick Patrick

    Your point that perhaps the existing rule should not exist since it gives the government undue leverage against the free speech of churches is well taken. That is a related topic worthy of a separate post. Having said that, your solution of dropping tax exempt status would have profound financial implications upon millions of ministries.

    Let’s get back to the reality of the rule as it is presently defined today. I take it that since you agree with the premise of the article, you are saying that indeed, the ERLC appears to be in violation of the Internal Revenue Code regarding non-profit organizations participating in political campaigns.

      D. Morgan

      I agree that Moore is overstepping not only the IRS rules, he is overstepping his position as the head of ERLC. He must understand his position is not a bully pulpit to espouse his own political bent.

      Please let me know when you want to discuss the tax exempt umbilical cord.

        David Nance

        As I see it, the tax exempt status exists, among other reasons, to prevent the unnecessary entanglement of government and religion. Make no mistake, the power to tax is the power to destroy/control. We should not accept the premise that churches are like every other charity. Even in the minds of the Founders the church had its own sphere of sovereignty, the family another, the state another. Yes, there are areas of overlapping sovereignty but there are also exclusive domains to each separated by Jefferson’s “wall” (which is much abused and misunderstood). So, our demand shouldn’t be, OK, we give up our tax status so you’ll leave us alone. Wrong. Rather, you have no right to tax us, and, within the spheres envisioned by our Founders, leave us alone.

          Lydia

          “We should not accept the premise that churches are like every other charity.”

          The ERLC is a church? Would that make CAIR a church? The IRUSA?

          The “church” tax exempt status is also for Mosques, Synagogues, Mormon Temples and the Church of Scientology. I think we would do best to lead the way that we don’t need the exemption. I think we need to look at this outside our bubble.

            David Nance

            I concede that the original post was about the ERLC and not the Church but the comment I was replying to referenced (or at least I inferred it to be) the tax exempt status of churches and for that I still hold to my stated position.

Sol Roberts

Is there any of those statements about Trump with which you disagree?
I pray God not.
So to make your main point it would have been wiser to choose your targeting more carefully because this piece looks dangerously like a defense of the indefensible.
Unfortunately Southern Baptists have history and beyond our backwoods we too often look to the world like Donald Trump with a Bible.

    Rick Patrick

    Sol,
    Yes, I agree with Moore’s statements, which are “fair” but not “balanced.” To balance his criticisms, Moore could have also included: (a) some discussion of Trump’s qualities or positive characteristics, and/or (b) some discussion of the flaws of other political candidates in the race. But this is really beside the point, as I labored to state by the following sentences. “The issue of whether or not Moore’s observations have any merit, though perhaps an interesting topic to discuss, is beyond the scope and beside the point of this essay.” “To clarify, this essay is in no way intended to ‘Stump for Trump.’”

    In other words, Sol, I am not at all “defending the indefensible,” as you suggest. Not one word of my article contains a defense of Donald Trump. If you read it carefully, you will see that what I have written is an essay *questioning* whether or not the ERLC is guilty of breaking the Internal Revenue Code’s rule prohibiting non-profit organizations from participation in favor of or against a political candidate.

    In response to your closing comment, yes, I have heard many criticisms that Southern Baptists, through the years, have been carrying water for the Republican Party. Now, with a former Democratic staffer at the helm of the ERLC, we appear to be carrying water for the Democratic Party, since we have chosen specifically to attack the Republican front-runner. I’m wondering why political activity favoring the Democrats is any better than political activity favoring the Republicans? I really thought we were going to try to distance ourselves from this sort of thing. We’re not.

    Dr. Will Hall

    Sol: “Unfortunately Southern Baptists have history and beyond our backwoods we too often look to the world like Donald Trump with a Bible.”

    Really?

    You and Russ seem to disdain Christians in the Bible Belt.

    I hope I’m wrong about you. Russ has made it clear he believes Bible Belt Christianity is more “God and country” than anything else. A perception, I might add, that resembles Obama’s disdain for working-class, rural, small-town voters across the Midwest who “cling to guns and religion.”

    I don’t know your background.

    But I have worked closely with churches in the hedges and byways who are the backbone of our Convention and historically have been responsible for most of the baptisms and missions funding in the SBC (and the labor force for our compassionate ministries, such as disaster relief).

    For the record:

    — The Times Picayune recently said if it wasn’t for Southern Baptists, Louisiana, especially New Orleans, would not have recovered from Katrina and Rita.
    — Manhattan, NY, residents were requesting Southern Baptists to stay in their borough after SBC DR teams responded to the attacks of 911.
    — Oklahomans were effusive with their praise after our chaplains responded to the Murrah Bldg. bombing.
    — As far back as April 1983, the Saturday Evening Post published a cover story highly positive about Southern Baptists.

    Even a recent survey by LifeWay Research points out Americans generally are more positive about SBC churches than Pentecostals, Lutherans, Assemblies of God, and Presbyterians.

    Moreover, more poll participants said “not for me” about Pentecostals, Catholics, Lutherans, Assemblies of God, and Presbyterians than those who said the same about Southern Baptists.

    Only non-denominational congregations and generic “Baptist” churches polled better across the board in July.

    Unfortunately, Russ is clinging to the remnants of the “New Evangelicalism” movement led by Harold Ockenga (Methodist turned Presbyterian), among others, to “reform” (perhaps, “Reform”) fundamentalism because of their perception that the evangelistic success of the 1940s was “anti-cultural” and “anti-intellectual.”

    Rick’s point is it doesn’t matter what the reason is for the bias (Russ seems to favor Marco Rubio, by the way.). Russ is at the least “on the line” if he hasn’t crossed over it.

    Lydia

    “So to make your main point it would have been wiser to choose your targeting more carefully because this piece looks dangerously like a defense of the indefensible.
    Unfortunately Southern Baptists have history and beyond our backwoods we too often look to the world like Donald Trump with a Bible.”

    Sol, You are spouting the party line I mentioned earlier. It is a false dichotomy created by Moore and his fellow travelers. Any discussion of Moore’s methods is automatically touted as being pro Trump. Grown ups don’t think that way. It is thought reform tactics. Don’t fall for them. I can question Moore’s methods and not stump for Trump. It really can happen.

Norm

Rick: Thank you for the able precision with which you identified the issue and clearly explicated it. Not once did I even remotely suspect you to have bias toward Trump, but rather a concern for Moore’s dancing on the edge of an IRS violation as he clearly registered his disdain for ‘the Donald.’
And just in case anyone might think otherwise, you added the blatant disclaimer regarding your intent of this post.
Moore has every right to his personal opinion. But he does not have the right to air it illegally.
When the ERLC was led by Dr. Richard Land, he would frequently say that he “speaks to, and not for Southern Baptists.” Moore would do well to remember that he must conduct himself under the same rubric, and when speaking to Southern Baptists, he must do so in a way that does not jeopardize the tax exempt status of the organization you and I support, thus damaging those to whom he speaks.

Scott Shaver

The ERLC means “ethics and religious liberty according to Russell Moore”.

I really can’t tell much difference between some of his conclusions and those of POTUS or Pope.

Would still like to know when he’s going to chastize Mohler as hard as Trump for leaving the names and images of slavery advocates and confederate chaplains adoring the halls of Southern Serminary in Louisville while spurning Ben Carson as a speaker.

If he can’t call out his own mentor why should anybody listen when he calls out Trump or gives advice on how Christians (Baptists) should vote? Definitely making up the rules as he goes.
He owes an apology to every SOC and flag waver in the country. His charade is transparent as glass.

Moore doesn’tt speak for me…..I’m not a bobble-head.

Donald

Sol, I don’t know about Rick but I certainly disagree with some of the quoted statements about Trump, as do many Southern Baptist. That being said, Rick specifically said “The issue of whether or not Moore’s observations have any merit, though perhaps an interesting topic to discuss, is beyond the scope and beside the point of this essay” Did you read the essay or simply trolling in an effort to hijack the discussion thread? I encourage you to discuss the subject of the essay, unless of course your point is that since Moore speaks only truth about Trump he can break the law.

    Scott Shaver

    Fully understood Rick’s “pointer” to the topic he’d prefer discussed…..Donald, (i.e. question of Moore’s observation having merit).

    If by “hijacking” you mean liberally moderated then that’s a discussion between you and Rick. You might prefer PRAVDA.

    As for your inability to discern whether or not my recent post interacts directly with topic.

    The fact that Russell Moore does not speak for me as his conclusions sound closer to Pope or POTUS…speaks directly to the question of OVERT POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT on the part of Moore. Second, the ethical duplicity of Moore on the race issue due to his silence on Boyce and Broadus at Southern…..seems POLITICALLY SURREAL, when TALKING simultaneously about what a jerk, anti-christian candidate for president Mr. Trump might be. The impetus of both “hijack” statements can be surmised:

    YES, MOORE IS VERY ENGAGED POLITICALLY BOTH AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL and aggresively within his own fragmenting religious denomination.

    Like Trump, “Trolls” are people too. Learn to LOVE em.

      Donald

      Scott,
      Usually I enjoy your biting commentary…. but, it’s wasted on me since my post was addressed to Sol, not Scott. It just took a while for the moderator to let me thru. Simply, Sol wanted to discuss whether Moore is right on Trump instead of whether Moore is right to just pick Trump to critique.

        Scott Shaver

        My sincere apologies to Donald.

        I read your post chronologically as a response to mine. Consequently, my inadvertent post to you is acknowledged and REPENTED of :)

Jeremy Adkins

I understand the premise of your post. I’m curious as to your thoughts on when it would ever be appropriate to speak more directly in the election season. I’m thinking along the lines of Daniel. When, if ever, should we not abide by the IRS statute in question with regards to election?

    Rick Patrick

    Very interesting point, Jeremy. Civil disobedience has its place. Kim Davis is an example, in my book. A law was passed which placed her in the unfortunate position of certifying that which she deemed, as a matter of religious conscience, to be contradictory to God’s Law. She obeyed God rather than men. When man’s law and God’s Law contradict, we have a Daniel situation. When Peter and John were told not to preach, they did it anyway. In my opinion, Moore’s response could have done more to encourage Davis’ civil disobediece and to laud her actions as heroic, for that is what I consider them to be. https://erlc.com/article/need-we-jail-each-other-over-marriage-licenses

    In my opinion, the rule in question falls more under the category of administrative law. In other words, I don’t see jail time or anything here, just the loss of a tax-exempt status that is afforded to charities that do not function like Political Action Committees. If some organizations advocating for or against political candidates do have to pay taxes while others don’t, there is a question of fairness involved.

    Thus, to answer your question, I don’t think it is appropriate to break this clearly defined rule. I think rather than breaking the rule, the ERLC should decide if it plans to engage in political advocacy. If it does, then it probably needs to refile its organization as a certain type of Political Action Committee and become subject to the same rules as other PACs. If, however, it does not plan to engage in political advocacy, it should stop doing so.

      Scott Shaver

      Since Moore and the ERLC don’t want to sound like the “angry white men and women” of the SBC, Rick is absolutely right.

      If the ERLC is now a poltical advocacy group it needs to be legally redefined and federally regulated as a PAC. Needs to start drawing support from individuals and religiously motivated political interest groups as opposed to the bloodstream of local Baptist churches.

David

Rick, I have been making the case at SBC Voices that Moore is out of line in singling out one candidate to oppose. There is no logical reason to put the spotlight on Trump and his morals, while Hillary and Bill Clinton get a pass.

Beyond that I find it troubling Moore’s contemptuous attitude towards many in the SBC when he states in the following Baptist Press News article:

“We must see to it that the future of the SBC is not a bunch of old, angry white men who have around us a few people that are African American and Latino and Asian Americans,” Moore told the trustees.”

Here is the link to the article: http://www.bpnews.net/45498/conserving-gospel-top-priority-erlcs-moore-says

Isn’t it disturbing when a paid executive of the SBC uses the same description which opinion writers for Salon and the New York Times use when speaking of Southern Baptists? And to think that these “old, angry white men” are the ones paying Russell Moore’s salary.

Imagine the uproar if Moore had said “angry black men.”

    Scott Shaver

    David:

    Sounds like Moore is turning into an “old angry white man himself”. My how the years fly past and we begin to resemble our father’s reflection in the mirror.

    Such is the way of life.

    Rick Patrick

    David,

    Wow! It’s a good thing Moore does not believe in “ugly ‘us vs. them’ identity politics.” Imagine the comments he would make if he did!

    Scott Shaver

    I’m really beginning to wonder if the term “gospel” is not a veiled reference to the opinions and declarations of one Russell Moore.

    Questioning Moore is questioning “The Gospel”?

Andy

Interesting, Rick,

1. “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

—While you have made the case that Dr. Moore has “participated in…opposition to” a candidate…I’m not sure that the case is as strong that he has participated “IN ANY POLITICAL CAMPAIGN.” Can public comments be equated with “participating in a campaign”?

2. IF the case can be made for #1, that public comments do constitute participation in a campaign…I wonder if the tax law clarifies WHEN or IF a leader of an organization is speaking officially for his organization or not? Is everything that Dr. Moore writes or says publicly equated with the ORGANIZATION doing those things? Is Dr. Moore prohibited from making statements publicly that he feels are important, based on his position?

At first reading, I thought that I agreed with you. Upon further examination, I believe, based especially on #1, that Dr. Moore has written an article, POSSIBLY in his official capacity as Director of ERLC, but has NOT participated in a campaign. While I may agree with you on the Un-wise-ness of a man with his position singling out one candidate like that, I don’t think it is a Legally punishable offense for the ERLC.

-Andy

    Scott Shaver

    Andy:

    Maybe we need an opinion from the DOJ? :)

    On second thought, perhaps not.

    Rick Patrick

    Andy,

    Thank you for your comments. You always do a great job of sticking to the topic, for which I am grateful.

    CAIR specifically called for Carson to drop out of the race. That’s what I would call “direct” participation in opposition of a campaign. Moore’s approach was admittedly indirect. He criticized Trump harshly, while saying nothing good about him and nothing bad about his opponents. If public comments are *not* an example of campaigning in opposition to someone, then what else would be, apart from financial contributions?

    I am actually more sympathetic to your second point than your first. Moore, just like pastors, should be permitted to speak “on his own” concerning a matter. But when the byline to the New York Times article identifies Moore not as a private citizen but rather by his official title and the organization he represents, it seems to me we have an official political endorsement calling on voters to vote for someone other than Trump.

    I admit the ERLC may not be breaking the rules. Hence my headline is in the form of a question. For that matter, CAIR may not be guilty of breaking the rules either, even though they called for Ben Carson to drop out of the race. However, it seems to me, upon reading that rule, that we have 501(c)(3) organizations participating politically in opposition to candidates. I have a hard time wiggling out of that language. My son wants to be the lawyer in the family. I’m sure there are people whose understanding of language allows them to interpret that code differently.

      Ryan Morris

      I had the same question about when a pastor (or director) could speak for himself. I also wonder if I am quoted in an article speaking personal opinion but the writer of the article notes that I am a pastor at my church am I speaking for my church at that time. I’m not sure that is the case with this. I don’t know if he was speaking for his agency or not, but was just wondering.

      With social media so prevalant now, can a pastor put stuff out there with it being his opinion on his personal page or not? I don’t know the law well enough to know for sure and because of that I don’t post that on my social media page. I am also in the middle of no where and there aren’t many people that care about my opinion.

Robin Foster

We must remember why that law about politics and tax exempt status exists. It was added as a rider on a bill around 1954 by no other than Senator Lyndon Johnson who became President Johnson. Some attribute Johnson’s action to an election he lost years before because some of the preachers in that district preached against voting for him. This standard of law is a recent edition to a long line of preachers and pastors who have in the past led their congregations in understanding the issues and offering guidance. Remember, our American Revolution was helped by the preaching and actions of many clergy at that time. Personally, I disagree with the law. America has a rich history of preaching on pressing issues of the time. To be prevented from doing so goes against our first amendment rights of freedom of religion and speech. And if you remove the tax exempt status from the churches, then all tax exempt giving to non profits should be removed also since many of them are involved in political activities like Planned Parenthood. I don’t have a issue with Dr. Moore stating the obvious concerning Trump. Just like I never had a problem with Dr. Land voicing his concerns. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are not friends to Evangelicals/So. Baptists or our biblical based beliefs.

    Scott Shaver

    To which biblically based beliefs do you refer Robin Foster? Mullins or Calvin?

    I’m fine with Moore stating what you and he feel to be the “obvious”. But when he does it by tarnishing the character and faith of those who pay the bills for his office in Washington then he’s a least “rude” or “spoiled” IMO.

    Nobody has talked about removing tax exempt status from local baptist churches. The idea of removing tax exempt status from Russell Moores “Weird Christian” PAC has been mentioned.

    Rick Patrick

    Robin,
    I’m inclined to agree with you on what the law should allow for non-profit organizations like churches. I certainly agree with the right to Pulpit Freedom as we preach on the issues of the day. By all means, discuss the issues. If you also mean to suggest that ministers should be protected in telling people, “Vote for this person and not that person,” from the pulpit, I suppose I am enough of a free speech advocate that I could endorse that as well…if indeed those were the rules. Presently, as I understand it, we are not to campaign specifically for candidates from the pulpit.

    Moving from the hypothetical to the actual, from what we think the law should be to what it actually is, until the law is formally changed allowing non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations to engage in politics while retaining their tax-exempt status, I think both CAIR and the ERLC are breaking the rules. Should we only obey the laws we like?

    While I never had a problem with Dr. Land voicing his concerns, I cannot recall a time when he singled out one specific candidate from one specific party and attacked them like this. I think he spoke of issues clearly and boldly, but do not recall such specific opposition to a single candidate. And yes, you are right when you say that “Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are not friends to Evangelicals.” However, Moore only addressed Trump not being a friend to evangelicals, while giving Hillary a free pass. This leads logically to a charge of Democratic bias on the part of Dr. Moore.

    Finally, if the ERLC is going to be politically partisan and make endorsements of certain candidates over other ones, I am fine with that. I simply think we have to structure the organization differently in order to do so, and probably forfeit our tax-exempt status as well, under the current rules, however inappropriate they may be.

      Robin Foster

      Rick

      I believe that Dr. Land endorsed Mitt Romney in the last election cycle even during the primaries. I also believe he endorsed other presidential candidates in the past. I could be wrong, but I believe I remember some flack he got for supporting Romney.

      I don’t believe Dr. Moore assertions on Trump alone would logically lead to an endorsement on Hillary. It could logically mean that he is for another Republican candidate and is trying to steer the support for Trump away from Trump since that is the most pressing issue. And it could also logically infer that he knows that since Hillary is a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination, he is waiting until the dust from the primaries settle before saying anything about her. Why point out her deficiencies now when the most important matter at this point is who is the Republican candidate? We want a man or woman we can endorse. Of course all of this is judging where his heart is on the matter, which I will leave to the Lord. (1 Cor. 4:5) I’m just saying we cannot know he is for Hillary at this point by looking at his comments on Trump.

      Concerning obeying the laws we like, that is not the correct premise by which we should look at the unconstitutional restrictions this law makes. First and foremost, I will disobey any law that restricts me in any way from leading the flock God has put in my care. While I have made it a habit never to call out a candidate to vote for from the pulpit, I believe the people I care for can read their Bibles and hear messages from the pulpit concerning the issues they face. I don’t believe their is anything that is unbiblical in doing so. I have had messages before elections concerning issues most pressing our nation. If God ever laid on my heart to endorse or criticize a candidate or politician, I must obey God rather than man. Whether there is a loss of the tax exempt status, I will trust the Lord for all things.

        Rick Patrick

        Robin,
        Very well said. I especially agree with you on the pulpit freedom issues you mentioned in the third paragraph. And I agree that Moore can be “against” Trump without necessarily being “for” Hillary. Perhaps my memory is selective regarding Dr. Land officially endorsing Romney while at the ERLC. My primary point of reference was neither the church nor previous ERLC administrations, but rather the CAIR involvement in the Ben Carson campaign. Again, as the rule reads right now, I think if CAIR is guilty of violating the Internal Revenue Code for speaking against Carson, then the ERLC might be guilty as well for speaking against Trump.

Lydia

Moore is building his personal brand going after low hanging fruit like Trump and other popular culture issues. And the SBC is paying for it. All this stuff is meant to attract media attention and get his name out there..

He is not an ideologue. If he were, he would be seeking publicity over his views on Patriarchy which he was strident about in his last position but would not earn him much praise from the media. He is a self serving politician using OPM to build his brand

    Scott Shaver

    Lydia:

    I tend to agree with you on the political cloak-and-dagger nature of Moore.

    He is waiting for the dust to settle on the closest thing to a DC and east coast consortium/media approved “Republican finalist before naming his personal choice, IMO

    Meanwhile, nothing wrong with ERLC helping the public smoke to clear by writing what it can to cull the herd of a few undesirables…in the name of all that’s “decent” and “Christian” of course. :0

Lydia

Well, they have created the perfect false dichotomy that many are falling into. If you disagree with any method, tactic, position of Moore then you are automatically supporting Trump! It is humorous to watch how these discussions progress on other blogs. That does seem to be how Pravda operated. Moore must be protected and supported at all costs by some so they set up the perfect false dichotomy. The “Donald” is the enemy and all who do not agree with how that message is carried out— wants Trump for President. This is middle school stuff.

From a purely political position, Trump will likely crash and burn. Let us hope the debate is reframed by then. Meanwhile, those who have used public SERVICE as a way to power and wealth…..continue on. Probably with internet servers for government emails in their mansions.

Does anyone remember Newt Gingrich? He is a low down rotten dirty scoundrel. He did one decent thing in his life. He reframed the debate in early 90’s by being a big fat loud mouth and not shutting up. Anyone remember that? But, in the end, not enough people wanted him for President, either.

And as to the IRS, I don’t think Moore is saying anything they would find offensive since we have seen how they have dealt with non profits under Obama’s regime. I think they are toasting Moore.

    Scott Shaver

    I may be wrong but perhaps I’ve been under the mistaken impression that PRAVDA EXISTS as a highly moderated/controlled support blog for the political and current leadership tiers of the SBC. It’s editor/moderator seems to be visible with lap-top and glad-hand in every meeting convened by such (at least those on video tape).

    Did I miss a memo somewhere that contradicts my understanding of PRAVDA’s primary role?

Randall Cofield

When one observes one Southern Baptist railing against another Southern Baptist’s exercise of religious liberty on the grounds of secular laws and secular arguments…one knows that something else entirely is afoot. And everyone should know that an unbelieving world is watching…gleefully.

Lydia

“When one observes one Southern Baptist railing against another Southern Baptist’s exercise of religious liberty on the grounds of secular laws and secular arguments…one knows that something else entirely is afoot. And everyone should know that an unbelieving world is watching…gleefully.”

The word “Ethics” is in their name. I suppose that should be ignored on the grounds of Religious Liberty. A dangerous argument if we want to declare they go together. And where did your religious liberty come from? Secular lawmaking. :o)

What you call “railing” in the OP, I call religious liberty to state opinion on such matters. What else shall we keep quiet so the “world” won’t know about it?

Randall Cofield

“And where did your religious liberty come from? Secular lawmaking. :o)”

It will be interesting to see whether or not any of Lydia’s fellow travelers call her out on this one….

    Scott Shaver

    Hey Randall:

    Exactly why SBC issues are being openly discussed here and elsewhere. We wouldn’t want the “gleeful” world to be misinformed, misled or lied to about our obvious SBC inability to be CONSISTENT in our publicly expoused ETHIC

      Randall Cofield

      Hi Scott,

      Yet the ethic you (and Dr. Patrick) seem to be crying up here is the “ethic” of a secular government (IRS Code 501c3), not the ethic of Scripture. And the irony is that you both would seemingly deny a fellow Southern Baptist the fundamental right of religious liberty (to express reasonable concerns about a presidential candidate)…on the grounds of secular law (which law, as has already been pointed out, Moore has not violated). The only way your (and Dr. Patrick’s) argument could possibly work is if the secular government both defines our ethics and is the progenitor of our religious liberty…in which case there would be no need for the ERLC.

      As I said, something else is afoot here.

      Peace.

        Scott Shaver

        Respectfully Randall:

        Did not Dr Moore cite a federal ruling when he said Kim Davis should resign as clerk of court? Where was the “ethic” of Scripture on that one? Got trumped by “secular law” did it not?

        I don’t deny Russell Moore anything he wishes….except the right to speak for me as a Christian or a Southern Baptist.

        The duplicity is what “the world is gleefully watching.”

          Randall Cofield

          Scott,

          As Dr. Moore has broken no federal law or ruling, you are comparing apples and oranges. Hence, no duplicity.

          And, for better or worse, Dr. Moore does speak on behalf of Southern Baptists. It comes with the territory, but it is not as if he is issuing papal bulls.

          Peace.

            Scott Shaver

            Randal.

            You’re obviously unconditionally loyal to Moore but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should check in our brains at the door.

            You see no duplicity because you CHOOSE not to see it. Moore may speak on behalf of some “Southern Baptists” but not this one and many others who are raising their concerns.

            It may not be “papal” Randall….but most of it is BULL.

              Randall Cofield

              “You’re obviously unconditionally loyal to Moore but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should check in our brains at the door.”

              Scott, what ever became of disagreeing graciously and with Christian courtesy? I don’t carry water for Russ Moore, and I do disagree with him on occasion. The fact that I don’t think this OP kite will fly doesn’t mean I’ve “checked my brains at the door.”

                Scott Shaver

                Day late and dollar short Randall, the “kite” to which you refer has already “flown”.

                Disagreeing “graciously” with Calvinists doesn’t get the job done. Usually they’re not worried about being gracious until they find themselves losing an argument. That’s about the time the proof-texting and crocodile tears for gracious conversation come into play.

                  Scott Shaver

                  Additionally Randal; You’re call for grace and civility in dialogue stands in stark contrast to your recent calls for marginizing on the basis of doctrine in the SBC.

                  Perhaps the only real difference between my approach and your approach, Randall, is the element we would each like to see ” on the margins.”
                  I find your comments hilariously hypocritical.

                    Randall Cofield

                    Very well, Mr. Shaver. I see that my attempt at engaging you in rational dialogue via blog comments is pointless. I’ll not waste any more of my time or yours.

                    Perhaps one day we will find ourselves face to face. We will see then if your belligerence holds or if you are just a paper tiger tapping away on a keyboard.

            Dr. Will Hall

            (1) “Dr. Moore does speak on behalf of Southern Baptists.”

            Therein lies the rub.

            Russ speaks “on behalf of” Southern Baptists and not “for” them. The difference is that Russ is charged with representing what Southern Baptists have said, not his own views, unless he is clear that he is speaking on his own behalf and not Southern Baptists. Moreover, if he consistently is representing himself and not Southern Baptists, then he needs to step down and let us find someone who is willing to stand up for what Southern Baptists have settled as a consensus view. Likewise, he should stop the bashing of Southern Baptists’ theology (He has made comments calling Bible Belt Christianity nothing more than “God and country” mentality. Sounds too much like Obama’s disdain for rural, small-town voters who he claimed “cling to guns or religion.”)

            Russ has even flaunted the will of the Convention on at least one occasion.

            He argued Judge Roy Moore should resign rather than resist the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage, despite knowing the will of Southern Baptists on that issue. He was a member of the 2003 resolutions committee which crafted “On Same-sex Marriage,” approved by messengers, calling for “all judges and public officials to resist and oppose the legalization of same-sex unions.”

            Here are some links to articles that pertain:

            http://www.christianexaminer.com/article/resign.southern.baptists.voted.for.judges.to.resist/48385.htm
            http://www.christianexaminer.com/article/southern.baptist.pastors.jeffress.and.vines.weigh.in.on.resign.or.resist.debate/48397.htm

            There are other examples, but, I don’t want to stray off topic regarding his comments about Trump.

            (2) “Hence no duplicity.”

            Perhaps that is true if your assumption holds that he broke no federal law or ruling. However, we will need to wait for the proper authorities to make that determination.

            However, Russ has acted in such a way as to give the appearance of duplicity in other matters that are related.

            He paraded Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in front of a meeting about missions in Nashville and ignored Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, who are Southern Baptists.

            He said it had to do with polling numbers when he issued the invitations in May.

            However, Huckabee was at 10 percent with Rubio, as well as Ben Carson and Scott Walker. Moreover, although Jeb Bush also was polling at 10 percent in the May polls, he had not even declared as a candidate when Russ invited him to speak (Bush declared June 15).

            Huckabee was not invited. Period.

            Link:
            http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2228

            His handling of that situation certainly implied duplicity with regard to truthfulness.

              Randall Cofield

              Dr. Hall,

              I do have concerns about some of the issues you raise. I simply do not agree with Dr. Patrick’s OP in this instance. At the very best the offenses raised in the OP are a real stretch. At worst, they are yet another example of pointless internecine warfare.

              Grace to you.

        Rick Patrick

        Randall,

        You misunderstand my position if you believe I am trying to deny Dr. Moore his religious liberty (and more accurately his free speech) right to oppose Donald Trump in writing. Of course he has the right to do so. However, when he is identified not merely as a private citizen, but as the President of the ERLC, he is speaking on behalf of that organization. He still has the right to criticize Trump. However, doing so appears to violate the Internal Revenue Code for 501(c)(3) organizations, and thus may jeopardize the organization’s tax-exempt status. The fact that the ERLC may be breaking the rules for non-profits by opposing a candidate for public office does not at all mean that they cannot speak. It merely means that they may need to restructure as the kind of Political Action Committee that pays taxes and is eligible, according to the law of the land, to advocate for or against political candidates.

        On the matter of obeying secular laws versus God’s laws, when I drive to the hospital today to see a church member, I plan to obey the speed limit. My car tags and registration are current and I will use my turn signal when changing lanes. I will do this not because the Bible says to do it in any direct way, but because it is the law of the land and it does not violate religious conscience to do so. I fail to see how structuring the ERLC as the kind of organization that is permitted to oppose political candidates for office violates any command of Scripture.

          Randall Cofield

          Dr. Patrick,
          As has been pointed out here repeatedly, what Moore said does not fall into the category of actively campaigning against a presidential candidate. If it did, many pastors throughout the history of the SBC would find their churches compromised–a prospect that the radical anti-theists of the day would find exhilarating. And, incidentally, you are using the same arguments they are using. That, coupled with the probability that you agree with what Moore said about Trump, your raising of this issue seems…nonsensical. Unless, of course, it’s just that darned Calvinist thing. In all that I’ve read of your writings, I honestly cannot recall you having a significant disagreement with anyone except Calvinists. I would imagine if you sat down to lunch with a few of us you would find we are not nearly as demonic as you seemingly suppose.

          Peace

            Rick Patrick

            Randall,
            You are the one bringing up Calvinism—not me. I had communion with Calvinists last Sunday. I have had at least one Calvinist in my pulpit every year for as long as I can remember. I have gone on mission trips with Calvinists. My mother’s earthly remains lie in the prayer garden of a Presbyterian Church. With all due respect, most of the interaction you and I have experienced has been on that other blog. Sadly, I believe this has colored your impression of me, which is unfortunate. I do not suppose Calvinists to be demonic.

            Some people have repeated that they do not find Moore’s opposition to Trump to rise to the level of a “participation…indirectly…in opposition to a candidate,” which is the language of the Internal Revenue Code. I suppose they also do not feel like CAIR violated the code in their opposition to Carson. Others disagree, believing that Carson has a case against CAIR and that Trump has a case against Moore. Reading the rule slowly over and over again, I cannot help but think that the rule as written does indeed apply. It may be like jaywalking—something technically against the rules but rarely if ever enforced—but it does look like the breaking of a rule, in my humble opinion.

            As to my motive in raising the issue, I think Southern Baptists have done a pretty poor job with politics lately—first with Carson’s invitation, then with the retraction, then with the Missions Conference Political Debate leaving out so many SBC candidates, and now with the ERLC President singling out the Republican front-runner for criticism. So, yes, I suppose I am trying to make the larger point that maybe we should just stay out of this before we embarrass ourselves further, or wind up on the wrong side of an IRS regulation.

            Primarily, I wonder, “How can it be wrong for CAIR to oppose Carson but right for Moore to oppose Trump?” That’s the issue for me. I apologize if I did not make that more clear in the Original Post.

              dr. james willingham

              Bravo, Dr. Patrick. You evidently realized what Dr. Patterson clearly implied in his eight theses on election, given at SEBTS, someone has said, and published in SBC Today followed sometime later with my response to it, or you might have realized as much on your own (we simply do not give the recognition that many pastors well deserve, namely, that they can think on their own, and some of them are first class thinkers.). In any case, we can and must work together. My brother-in-law was won to Christ by a Calvinist, sat under Dr. Curtis Vaughan at SWBTS, has a brother-in-law who is also a Calvinist and we were both ordained by a Calvinist. In any case, he is a Traditionalist. I know many good Traditionalists who cares for souls, and they are able to work with Calvinists as you do. I have had two pastors in my retirement years who are Traditionalists. Good men, who serve the Lord. I also know of Calvinists who are of a like nature. On the other hand, we both know, I suspect, that there are folks in both camps who are bad advertisements for the viewpoints that they represent. I rejoice in your attitude, and, if I had a church, I would invite you to come and preach to it. God bless. Just wish we could persuade the rest of the folks to treat the issue like we treat eschatology

              dr. james willingham

              I sought to respond favorably to Dr. Patrick’s comment, but this apparatus does not send the comment. A great grief to me as I thought Dr. Patrick had the right attitude and proved it, the attitude that will promote unity and union in our effort to advance the cause of Christ.

    Lydia

    Randall, the old gang up tactic? Why would I expect people here to agree with me? How are they fellow travelers for allowing me to comment here? I realize that many blogs don’t put up with differing views and don’t understand those that do. I am not a follower of David Bartonesque history. My reading of history shows something much more complicated and nuanced when it comes to this issue. If your “religious liberty” is not secular then how come Jews and Muslims share the same right? The idea of a “religion” is a secular concept, btw. Another reason it is secular is it could not have happened otherwise because their king defined himself the Defender of the “Faith”. They were not going there. Secular does not equal evil for being secular.. Even after the Revolution there were still places that outlawed anything but the state church. Forced allegiance to any religious system is not a good thing and yet, it was ingrained thinking for many. I find it amazing sometimes that America came about. Without that huge ocean and man’s practicality as a necessity to survive here outside the European caste system, I doubt it would have come about when it did.

    The Founders personal writings that touch on the issues with church, beliefs, politics are very interesting. Yes, Providence gets all the credit for a non-determinist secular government to forge religious liberty. :o) Let us strive to keep it.

      Randall Cofield

      “If your “religious liberty” is not secular then how come Jews and Muslims share the same right?”

      Lydia, they share the same right because Baptists made unilateral liberty of conscience an issue in the founding of this nation–and their arguments were profoundly theological. This was recorded history before David Barton’s grandpappy was a twinkle in his great grandpappy’s eye.

      That you want to hang religious liberty on secular laws in the anti-theistic climate of our nation right now is…startling. If that’s the only argument we have for religious liberty/liberty of conscience, our goose is already cooked.

      Peace

dr. james willingham

Yes, but, in the 1770s, the Baptist Committee of Va., led, if memory serves correctly, by Elijah Craig met with the colonial legislators of that British colony and made an agreement that, in exchange for their freedom to practice their faith, the Baptist ministers would encourage the young men in their communities to enlist in the Patriots Cause, meaning, enlist in a civil war against a duly constituted government. That the men did is history, and I found one whole regiment of Craigs in a volume of the DAR. All 2000 members had the last name of Craig which I copied, though at the last I was using ditto marks. Where was the IRS, when the various denominations of America were enlisting in the American Revolution and supporting it and for which they received due praise from the Commander of the Continental Army and later the First President, George Washington. The IRS was founded, in part, to corral and curb the influence of the churches and ministers. LBJ got angry because some Baptist preachers in Texas gave him a hard time, so he had an addition for the IRS code, giving them an inch of power (they took the rest of the 9 yards). Gentlemen study your Baptist History a bit more closely and remember that even Thomas Jefferson attended the meeting of the First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C> every Sunday during his presidency in, of all places, the Capital Building. Tsk!

    Jim P

    “Tsk!” Dr. Willingham is an understatment but from a different perspective. Yes, the Baptist worked hard to get religious freedom in the founding of this country but what if they didn’t get it? Would they leave their faith? No. Today Baptists, particularly SBC Baptists live in those past accomplishments of this country, and are patriotically convinced they’ve earned the right to dictate in gov’t. They’ve lost sight of the calling of God in a ‘twisted and corrupt generation,’ and have substituted that calling to win back a country that really was never theirs if their sight is on God’s purposes.

    2Pet. 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

      Scott Shaver

      Jim P:

      Doesn’t it feel good when you can pull scripture out of context while pointing a condescending finger collectively at Southern Baptists, especially since you’re the only one left from a “faithful remnant.”

      Your mother may have already told you this but make sure the chin-strap on your halo is fastened before you go outside. Winds are blowing hard.

William thornton

Not your best stuff, Rick, and shows more unhappiness with RM than any violation of federal tax law, but maybe the IRS will ask for your help.

Trump was touted as having considerable evangelical support. Moore, in his role as ethical chief of SBs noted a number of facts. He did his job.

If you want to make the case that any criticism of a given candidate by a 501c3 org is political, there’s plenty to work with.

    Rick Patrick

    William,
    I am the first to admit that Moore’s opposition to Trump is not as blatant as CAIR’s opposition to Carson. At least Moore did not call upon the Bronze Age Warlord to drop out of the race.

    I will be interested to learn if Carson is successful in getting the IRS to investigate CAIR. The rule seems written in fairly broad language–“absolutely” prohibiting “direct or indirect participation” in “opposition” to candidates. If you’re right that everybody does this, then the rule would appear to be meaningless.

      Andy

      1. Again, Rick, I think you need to include the words “political campaign” when you are quoting the law. Leaving it out, even unintentionally, would make some think you are leaving it out on purpose. What is prohibited is not merely participating in “opposition”…but rather participating in “any political campaign…in opposition”.

      2. Also, I have decided to agree with you that my 2nd original point is the stronger of the two. Upon further reading on both cases, I found this from the carson case: “Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the group is calling on Carson to “withdraw from the presidential race…”

      This Brings up the primary difference between these 2 cases: In the case of CAIR, Their director plainly said “the group” is calling for Carson’s withdrawal. In the case of Moore, He is writing an article for the NYtimes, and he in his article DOES NOT say “We at the ERLC believe”…or even “we as Southern Baptists…” In fact he doesn’t mention either at all in his article…he does mention “social conservatives” and “evangelicals” indicating he is saying something he things in important for them to hear.

      So what we have, fundamentally is an individual, who has a platform because of his position at the ERLC, and whose position was noted in order to let readers know who he is, but who was not speaking in that setting as an official spokesperson for that organization. As such, the ERLC as an organization has taken no action, participated in no campaign, opposed no candidate. Until Dr. Moore says, “We at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission…” or even “We as Southern Baptists…believe Donald Trump is a very poor candidate…” I don’t think we have any grounds to say he has led the ERLC to break a law.

        Scott Shaver

        Andy:

        The various media outlets that published Moore’s comments in question…How did they identify him? Was he a private citizen or was he speaking/identified publicly as hear of ERLC?

          Andy

          How they identified him doesn’t matter to the legal question…it matters to us sbcers because we don’t want him misrepresenting us…but the ERLC as an orginization cannot be penalized for the media’s representation of its leader.

          Granted, were he not it’s head, he would not be a sought after opinion, and would not have the platform that he has…but everything he says is not officialERLC action…

          …just as when the president came out in favor of gay marriage…that had not effect untill the supreme court changed the law…only then could it be said that The US Government acted on the issue.

          Lydia

          Scott, this sort of thing is solicited from the media by Moore and his minions. Most likely officially otherwise why would he be quoted. Moore is full court press. He used to work for a congressman. (a democrat who did not get reelected and was replaced by one more conservative) He is pandering to the media that is all about going after Trump, the circus act. In so many ways, it is embarrassing Moore is stooping this low in that position not only over this but other popular culture low hanging fruit issues that guarantee he is quoted.. Same for mega church pastors anointing Trump. They are more alike than different. They are about being quoted and camera time. It really is unseemly and tacky. None of them come off as men wisdom and humility. They chase the limelight. They come off as media you know whats.

            Scott Shaver

            In that case, Lydia, Moore probably needs to make up his mind whether he wants to be a preacher or a full-time political Washington insider.

            Meanwhile, the ERLC could renounce it’s tax exempt status while Moore makes up his mind.

        David

        Andy, the very fact that he is the President of the ERLC gives him the platform – otherwise, The New York Times could care less what he thinks if he were not in a high profile position. Moore is using his title to get his opinion heard and he has to know that everything he says is viewed in light of his position at the ERLC.

        Let’s face it, Russell Moore is a political figure (not that there is anything wrong with that) and has been one since his days working for Mississippi Democratic Congressman Gene Taylor. As such, everything he does is viewed in light of that in the same way that Congressman and Presidential candidates are critiqued for everything they say. They are no longer private individuals, but are instead public figures and the comments they make are judged in light of that and are viewed as political positions of the party and constituency they represent.

        In the case of Russell Moore, everything he says is seen as reflecting the positions of the ERLC and thus the SBC. Otherwise, no one at the NY Times, or Washington Post is going to write what he says. If he were just Russell Moore at Southern Seminary, I doubt that he would have had his opinions written. Are these newspapers asking you to write an op-ed? That’s my point.

          Andy

          Yes, I already said as much. His position give him his platform. We can debate if he is wisely his platform or not. That is all well and good. We can say he should have said something different, or should have not said anything, or should resign, or the ERLC should be dissolved completely…it’s not relevant to this discussion.

          My point is, it doesn’t matter LEGALLY how he is “viewed”, or if he is “seen as reflecting the positions of the ERLC”. LEGALLY, not everything he says can be taken as official ERLC action or positions. The question is, If the director of the ERLC writes an article against a candidate, while not mentioning his position or his role, or his organization at all, not claiming to speak for Southern Baptists…can this be viewed as a political action BY THE ENTITY ITSELF? I don’t think it can be shown that in this case, in this NY times article, that Dr. Moore was speaking OFFICIALLY on behalf of his organization.

        lydia

        “So what we have, fundamentally is an individual, who has a platform because of his position at the ERLC, and whose position was noted in order to let readers know who he is, but who was not speaking in that setting as an official spokesperson for that organization. ”

        Andy, this is nothing but political parsing. Even you agree he is awarded the space in the NYT because of his title.

        So his title and space given by the NYT is meant to influence, right?. If this has nothing to do with the SBC, he is still using OPM and his title to promote his views. Not ethical. My guess is the average reader will map it to speaking ex cathedra for the SBC. Which is obviously the goal no matter how you parse it.

        Even if no law broken, it is totally unethical no matter how much political parsing.

        Moore comes off as a media hound. He needs the title for entrance to that sort of stardom and influence. I do understand how easy it is to fall into the trap of being proud to see one of the gurus in the limelight. But it is a trap.

          Andy

          “My guess is the average reader will map it to speaking ex cathedra for the SBC. Which is obviously the goal no matter how you parse it.”

          –> As I said before, how the average reader maps it has no legal bearing.

          Even if no law broken, it is totally unethical no matter how much political parsing.

          –> I’m glad we agree no law was broken. That was always and ever my ONLY point.

Lydia

“Trump was touted as having considerable evangelical support. Moore, in his role as ethical chief of SBs noted a number of facts. He did his job.”

What exactly is his job in this respect? Speaking FOR the pew sitters who pay his salary? He went after low hanging fruit to pander to the media. If his job is to use OPM to build his personal brand, I would agree with you.

So what he did has to do with religious liberty….., how,?

Personally, I have always thought it absurd that the ERLC even exists. You are familiar with the ERLC staff not SB, right? Some have made quite a name for themselves. But like Barnabas Piper at LifeWay, it does not seem to matter anymore.

    Andy

    “Personally, I have always thought it absurd that the ERLC even exists.”

    Hey! Lydia & I agree on something!

Scott Shaver

Matter of opinion as to whether or not Rick is lately producing some of his “best stuff”.

If “best” means honestly and realistically addressing issues that concern SOME Southern Baptists, I’d say he’s producing some of his best work yet, Will Thornton. A lot better than the mush, restricted speech and party lines at PRAVDA etc.

By the way, WHO or WHAT other than the ERLC Director actually DEFINES “his job”?

There may be “plenty to work with” regarding 5013c. Right now, we’re interested in the 5013c headed by Russell Moore. Your list will have to wait.

Johnathan Newman

Rick, I agree with your premise but I question the accuracy of the application of your premise. Based on your title posing the question, along with some of your comments, I see that possibly you still question your application as well. Endorsement or opposition by a tax-exempt organization is prohibited but pastors and other leaders are free to endorse, oppose, and support campaigns as much as they want as private citizens. Russell Moore writing an article on his personal blog and an op-ed piece, interviewing with papers is completely legal, all of which I, personally have done myself in recent days. It is completely legal. There are specific definitions of what it takes to qualify as a tax-exempt organization supporting or opposing a campaign or candidate, which I cannot quote for you here. But it takes quite a lot of verifiable, quantifiable action and budget expense on the part of the organization to do what you suppose has happened, none of which has been evidenced in your article or anywhere else. I wonder if you are aware of anyone else asking the same questions you’re asking or if anyone has made such an accusation of Moore. Are you aware of any? Or are you in fact aware of specific actions are are truly acts of the ERLC that do indeed violate the tax code? So far, what has been documented in your article do not appear on the surface to be a violation of any law.

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