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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Southern Baptist Leader On Issues And The State Of The Church

Russell Moore is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. (erlc.com)

Russell Moore is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. (erlc.com)

The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest non-Catholic denomination, with more than 15.8 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide.

The new president of its Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission – the division tasked with addressing moral and religious freedom issues — is Russell Moore, a theologian from Louisville, Kentucky.

The Southern Baptist Convention has been criticized for its strictly conservative views.

The church lobbies government to push for its views on issues such as same-sex marriage, immigration and birth control.

Interview Highlights: Russell Moore

On his comment that the “Bible Belt is collapsing”

“We can no longer assume that we live in some nominally Christian culture,” Moore told Here & Now. “Christianity is becoming more and more counter-cultural — which I think is good news for the church. It’s bad news in some ways for American culture, because the Bible Belt held some bad things back in some ways. But it’s very good for a church to live up to what the Bible has called us to be all along, which is a counter-cultural reality that points to the kingdom of God — not just to societal values around us.”

On misconceptions about Southern Baptists

“One of the biggest misconceptions about Southern Baptists in this country is the idea that we are primarily against whatever is happening outside in American culture,” he said. “Our primary objective is to speak with love and with compassion to those around out, recognizing that no one is any different than we are.”

On the definition of marriage

“We cannot assume that we hold to a particular vision of marriage because most people have voted that view of marriage into reality,” Moore said. “Instead we are saying that marriage isn’t defined by public vote, much less by the Supreme Court or the United States Congress. We’re saying that marriage isn’t something that the state defines at all. It’s something that exists and the state recognizes.”


  • Russell Moore, president of the The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of The Southern Baptist Convention. He tweets @drmoore.



Well, Congress returns to Washington in a couple weeks, and a potential immigration overhaul will be one of the first orders of business. We've been hearing from a variety of voices on this issue, and today we're going to hear from one of the largest religious organizations in the country, the Southern Baptist Convention. It's the biggest non-Catholic Christian denomination in this country, 15.8 million members in over 46,000 congregations nationwide.

And Southern Baptists have never shied away from complex social issues. We're going to speak now with the convention's newly installed ethicist about immigration reform and much more. His name is Russell Moore. He is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and he's with us from Nashville. Russell Moore, welcome.

RUSSELL MOORE: Good to be with you.

HOBSON: Well, I want to start with something you said in the Wall Street Journal. You said the Bible Belt is collapsing. What did you mean by that?

MOORE: Well, what I meant by that is that we can no longer assume that we live in some sort of nominally Christian culture. There was a day in which being a member of a church, part of some religious movement was actually culturally helpful to people, at least in some parts of the country. And I think that that is collapsing all around us, where Christianity is becoming more and more counter-cultural, which I think is good news for the church.

It's bad news in some ways for American culture because the Bible Belt held some bad things back in some ways. But it's very good for a church to live up to what the Bible has called us to be all along, which is a counter-cultural reality that points to the kingdom of God, not just to societal values around us.

HOBSON: When you say the Bible Belt held some bad things back, what are you talking about?

MOORE: Well, just the sense of family stability, the sense of encouraging some good, moral standards in some ways. Now increasingly that's up for debate even at the most basic level.

HOBSON: Well so you've still got 15.8 million members in more than 46,000 churches nationwide. Are you having trouble attracting new members of the church?

MOORE: No, we're not having trouble attracting new members of the churches, but what we are doing is no longer living with the illusion that the rest of American culture agrees with us at the most basic level. If you think about previous ways that religious people have engaged American culture, sometimes there was this sense of we're part of the moral majority, most Americans agree with us, and we're just taking what most Americans already agree with and adding the gospel and adding Jesus to that. I don't think that was ever really the case in American culture, but it certainly is not the case now.

HOBSON: So if you are no longer the moral majority, do you have to change your positions or just the way that you approach them?

MOORE: No, I don't think we change our positions because our positions, at least at the basic theological level, are positions that we can't change because we're not in charge of them. We believe that we received these things from Jesus and his apostles, and so we don't have the authority to change them.

What we do, though, is to recognize that we have to speak prophetically to the outside culture and also to ourselves within our congregations to say what are the ways that the ambient culture around us is changing us. So for instance as we talk about marriage, we have to recognize that many of our own congregations have capitulated to a divorce culture and to say how have we, how have we changed when it comes to the issue of divorce, not that there's any congregation that would say that divorce is a good thing, but we have congregations that increasingly have seen divorce as something normal and something to be expected though lamentable. That's not the picture that we see in the Old and New Testaments, and so we have to be asking ourselves how have we been shaped.

The way the New Testament puts it is to say having our minds conformed to the pattern of this age. I think that takes a great deal more discernment, and it also takes a great deal more conversation with our neighbors about things at the very basic level.

HOBSON: Well, what about an issue like gay marriage? A lot of people would look and say you're losing that battle, there's just state after state that is making gay marriage legal. Is the church going to accept that, or are you going to continue to fight that?

MOORE: Well, I think what it means is that we cannot assume that we hold to a particular vision of marriage because most people have voted that view of marriage into reality. Instead we are saying that marriage isn't defined by public vote, much less by the Supreme Court or the United States Congress. We're saying that marriage isn't something that the state defines at all. It's something that exists and that the state recognizes.

So we're talking with our neighbors about why we believe that marriage is a conjugal, permanent union between a man and a woman not because we hate our gay and lesbian neighbors but because we believe there's something unique about marriage and something that is for the good of all society to define marriage in the way that every human civilization always has because ultimate as an Evangelical Christian, I believe because at the root of marriage there's a gospel, Christ and church in union with one another.

And so we don't have the authority to alter that or to change that.

HOBSON: So you're not trying to alter policy.

MOORE: We are seeking to alter policy in some instances because we're saying the state has a reason to recognize marriage in the way that it always has. We all recognize that the state doesn't recognize everything. The state doesn't have any business involved in friendships or other relationships. There's a particular reason why the state is interested in deciding who is married to whom, and that's because, ideally in a marriage union, children are a byproduct of that union, and the state has an interest in seeking the stability and welfare of children.

So we do seek to speak to that and to say changing the definition of marriage isn't going to achieve what our friends on the other side think it will achieve, and we think it will actually do some harmful things to society at large. So we do speak to that, yes.

HOBSON: When you say our friends on the other side, who are you talking about?

MOORE: I'm talking about those who would say let's alter the definition of marriage.

HOBSON: What about an issue like immigration reform? You've been out front on this. You've been meeting with Hispanic Baptist pastors. How do you plan to take on that issue?

MOORE: Well, we've been for the last several years calling on our people to pray for the immigration system. We've been working with those in government to say we're concerned about this. And we're concerned with this not primarily at the political level but because we look around and see immigration not as an abstract issue but as a broken system that's hurting a lot of our brothers and sisters in Christ and a lot of our neighbors in our communities.

And so we're calling on our leaders to come up with a way to fix this.

HOBSON: We're speaking with Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. We're going to hear more from him after a break. Meanwhile, we'd love to know what you think. Is the Bible Belt collapsing, as he says? Go to hereandnow.org or Facebook.com/hereandnowradio.


Right, some other stories that we're following today, Bradley Manning learned his fate. A military judge sentenced him to 35 years for handing over classified documents to WikiLeaks. Also depending on who you ask in Israel, new politician Ruth Calderon is seen as a symbol of a new Jewish renaissance or a threat to the Jewish state. They're going to take that up later today on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Back in a minute with more of Jeremy's conversation with one of the leaders of the Southern Baptist Church, HERE AND NOW.


HOBSON: It's HERE AND NOW, and let's get back to our conversation with Russell Moore. He is the newly installed president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The group has been trying to change the tone of the debate around some complicated social issues. And Mr. Moore, before the break we were talking about immigration. What are fellow Baptists telling you about immigration reform?

MOORE: What I'm struck by is there really is a lot of consensus in this country. I don't meet very many people who would say the immigration system works just fine just the way it is. Most people recognize we have a broken system, something's not working, the law isn't being enforced, and so what do we do?

Well, I really don't meet very many people who think we ought to deport 11 or 12 million people in this country, break up families. Frankly, to do that would take a government so big it would be nearly a police state and would have very bad economic consequences as well as, I would argue, moral and family consequences.

So what do we do then with those 11 to 12 million people who are in this country right now and who are in the shadows, who are invisible? How do we come up with a system that's just, that maintains the rule of law, but is also compassionate to those who are already here? And I think we can do that.

HOBSON: Do you think that the Senate bill does that?

MOORE: I'm not taking a position on any specific piece of legislation. What we're talking about are principles. We want a secure border, and we want a path toward citizenship for those who are already in this country who can earn that, who are law-abiding citizens who are willing to go through the process of making things right in terms of the way that they have broken the law in the past.

The specifics of that, though, I think there are many different ways that the Congress could get to that same point.

HOBSON: What about Obamacare? This is going to be another big issue on your docket. How are you going to take on that issue?

MOORE: Well, the piece of Obamacare that is of concern to us has to do with questions of religious liberty. And so we've been working with others of similar concern about, for instance, the HHS mandate. The Catholic bishops and we joined forces together with a coalition of people, very, very broad and diverse group of religious people that extends everywhere from the Southern Baptists and the Roman Catholics all the way over to the Hare Krishnas.

And we don't even - we don't agree on theological questions, and we don't even all agree on contraception and abortion. What we do agree on is the fact that the government shouldn't pave over the consciences of people who object to this mandate, and we think that religious liberty is of vital importance in this country and of vital importance to everybody, not just to religious people but to have a government that recognizes that our consciences are answerable to something more than just the government is a good thing for civil society.

So we're continuing to ask the administration to relent on this mandate, and if not we're asking the Congress to find a legislative fix to it.

HOBSON: But I would think that the Southern Baptist Convention would be more concerned with getting people insured and making sure that the poor have health insurance than worried about the mandate.

MOORE: We are concerned about people getting insured, and we are concerned about the poor having insurance. I think that's one thing that most Americans are concerned about regardless of whether or not they think Obamacare is the way to do it. But we don't think that you sacrifice the First Amendment and religious liberty in order to achieve any legislative goal.

HOBSON: So when I hear you say all of these things, it sounds like a very different tack than the one that, for example, the new Catholic pope is taking, which is to stay away from some of these red meat issues and focus more on the poor around the world and things that are not quite as divisive in society.

MOORE: Well, I don't think that - I don't think, first of all, that that's exactly what the pope is doing. I'm not sure exactly what the pope is doing. The pope is answering the questions that he is given. And we're concerned about the full range of issues, from poverty and trafficking and orphan care all the way over to concern for our unborn neighbors with abortion, to maintaining family stability, including the definition of marriage.

We don't think that you choose between those issues. You address all of the issues that are in front of you.

HOBSON: Where do you see the Southern Baptist Convention's future coming from? Is it going to be Hispanics? Is it going to be people in all parts of the country? What do you think?

MOORE: Well, we already have congregations in all 50 states, and the fastest growing segments of our denomination are among Latino-Americans and African-Americans. And so I think you're going to see a Southern Baptist Convention that over the next 25, 30 years looks increasingly more like global Christianity.

I've often said that if we don't have in the year 2035 Southern Baptist Convention addresses being delivered in Spanish with English subtitles underneath them, then we're not going to be ready for the 21st century. But I think we will. I think that's where, I think that's where our movement is headed.

HOBSON: What about millennials? Are you having trouble attracting them?

MOORE: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, we have six seminaries that are filled to more than capacity with young people who are being called to ministry. We have church plants filled with young millennial Christians all over this country, in urban and in rural and in suburban areas that are thriving and doing very well.

And what we found is that millennials are looking for authentic Christianity with an authentic gospel that demands much of the person, that demands a sacrifice of self in order to follow Christ. So we found that millennials are looking for old-time religion that's even older than the religion of their parents and grandparents, which so often was accommodated to American culture.

HOBSON: What's your biggest challenge, do you think, in this job?

MOORE: Well, I think the biggest challenge that we have is living in a very polarized American culture and speaking with love and with compassion, recognizing that we don't hate one another, and our enemies aren't one another, but also speaking convictionally and speaking truthfully. That's something that's very rare and very difficult in an American culture that is surrounded by people on talk radio screaming at one another.

HOBSON: Finally, President Moore, what do you think is the biggest misconception about Southern Baptists in this country?

MOORE: Well, I think one of the biggest misconceptions about Southern Baptists in this country is the idea that we are primarily against whatever is happening outside in American culture. Those are the questions we're typically asked about. But Southern Baptists are primarily motivated by the gospel, by the understanding that we're all sinners, we're all cut off from the life of God, left to ourselves.

And so our primary objective is to speak with love and with compassion to those around us, recognizing that no one is any different than we are, we don't have anything that we didn't receive, and seeking to persuade people to embrace the life that is offered in Jesus Christ.

HOBSON: Russell Moore is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. President Moore, thanks so much for joining us.

MOORE: Good to be with you.

YOUNG: And Jeremy, I have to say, we're getting a lot of comments on hereandnow.org, people asking about some of the things they just heard but also why are you featuring someone who represents a church. And you know, this is a church that wields a lot of power in different ways, and that's one reason why. So we want to hear from people, their different thoughts about this.

HOBSON: Absolutely, let us know at hereandnow.org. And just to that point, I would say we want to make sure we're hearing from all different points of view on this program. I think that's important. The latest news is coming up next, HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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  • NotEvenKidding

    Newsflash: There is no such thing as “god”. Once you get that the rest is easy. Why is this blathering even on my radio?

    • 2bees

      Is that your scientific opinion, or philosophical standpoint? If it’s the former, I’ll remind you of when scientists KNEW that the earth was flat and located at the center of the universe. Once people accepted these facts the rest was, indeed, easy. If it’s the latter, congratulations on your truly progressive open mind. It’s always refreshing to see a philosopher who has it all figured out.

  • Kathy

    Why are you giving this hatemonger a platform and lobbing softballs at him? The Bible Belt insulated them from immorality and family problems? That’s objectively inaccurate, Bible Belt states have higher divorce rates than progressive ones and more crime. You want to protect the children? What about the children of gay families? And why aren’t you questioning his claim that kids do better in straight families when that’s objectively been proven wrong?

    • G McC

      Good point. I’ll remember this the next time my local NPR station wants a contribution. And you can bet no holocaust denier nor KKK member would ever get such a platform.

      • Kathy

        I don’t mind offering “differing views,” but lie after lie after lie spews forth from these people and they’re never ever questioned.

        • 2bees

          Referring to any group as “these people” is always a sign of tolerance, inclusiveness, and a predisposition toward thoughtful dialogue. Or at least enlightenment…

        • CpH

          Kathy, I would also question whether “these people” are “never ever questioned.” I think the first half of the interview was telling, where Dr. Moore said that the culture at large has majorly questioned the moral perspective of Christians on a range of issues.

    • GenXmark

      Talk about being a hatemonger. You are the definition!

  • Kay

    On gay marriage, if your guest wants to have only the church define marriage, then he should be advocating for the state to stop any and all state-granted benefits. So now he and his wife will need to go through all the same legal paperwork that a same-sex couple must to ensure medical power of attorney, inheritance, visitation and all the other automatic rights currently granted by the state with a marriage license. Then the church can define “marriage” all they want and be treated equally in the eyes of the SECULAR state.

    • Kathy

      Did you catch the undercurrent. He wants marriage to be a religious institution that the state recognizes. Ie, he wants to end all secular marriage and limit marriage benefits to those who are recognized as married by his cult.

      • kay

        Oh yeah, I caught that. Basically, it’s “WE want to define marriage and have the state give us all the benefits.” Such incredible selfishness and completely repugnant attitude. I’m trying hard not to punch my radio right now.

        • Kathy

          Let’s not forget, this is a denomination that was created to defend the rights of slave owners.

          • 2bees

            I believe you’re mistaken there. If memory serves me it was actually created to stop gay marriage and to kill abortion doctors. We should ALL punch our radios!

          • lexpublius

            Legislation is affected not by how many radios are put into the recycle bin; but, how many CITIZENS lobby for their side of an issue and translate lobbying into VOTES. Get it? Activism works. But I disagree with your position that females should have a right to murder fetuses (human infants). You are morally wrong on that issue. And God will judge each of us by what we as individuals believe.

          • Cph

            That is a genetic fallacy, Kathy. Simply because you can give a reason for a system of belief’s formation does not nullify that system of belief.

          • lexpublius

            The Roman Catholic Church assisted evil Africans to enslave their brethren African people according to the authors of “A Still Small Voice” by Fritz and Slaughter. And even as of today, the Vatican is still NOT a signatory to the U.N. “Treaty against slavery and trafficking in women and children” (see A Still Small Voice, pp. 393-393). But the organized mainstream religions globally still follow the decrees of the papacy on church “credenda” (open borders, nation building, social and economic justice) and “agenda” (i.e., liturgy which is Sunday as holy, Christmas, Easter, Halloween / eve of All Saints). And the Roman Catholic holidays are the LEGAL PUBLIC HOLIDAYS OF THE BEAST — the USA, enacted between 1870 and 1983 (Presidents Grant through Reagan). Even the Seventh Day Adventists, who warn about this happening, do not know it is already here! See A Still Small Voice, vol. 2. Incredible historical FACTS. And America is not a church-state? YES IT IS. And it was all through DECEPTION – Satan’s modus operandi.

  • RadioListener

    I had to go check my dial to see whether it had gotten changed to the religious radio station. Why on earth are you giving so much air time to this bible thumper? Bring back my NPR. Don’t care about the bible belt, what the Southern Baptist Convention thinks, and I especially don’t want this much air time given to this person. Thumbs down!

  • lougal

    I think it is telling that when asked about baptists’ views on immigration, he pointed to a moral issue with deporting people and separating families … LAST. After financial and logistical difficulties. This pretty much tells me most of what I need to know about him and those who “think” the way he does. His answers RE health care are just reinforcing this.

    • lexpublius

      Of course he did — that’s the line fed to him by the Pope in Rome. See A Still Small Voice by Fritz and Slaughter. Even the late Roman Catholic Jesuit author, Malachi Martin, (“Rich Church, Poor Church”) told George Noory (“Coast to Coast A.M.”) that the Vatican is full of demons.

  • Kay

    This guy is just confirming that the Southern Baptists are just another far right wing group that doesn’t give two figs about the poor, the sick, women or children. They want to have a theocracy in which they control every aspect of people’s lives. Why aren’t you challenging him more?

    • Annie

      They don’t want to control every aspect of people’s lives. They want to control women’s reproductive health and ensure that the poor stay that way. Have the children, but we will not support you financially to raise them.

    • Fred Cooper

      Agreed! See my comments above. They softballed the crud out of that interview. When I hear how some of my very own Christian friends talk about people on welfare or Medicaid it makes be very sad and a little angry. Sooooo hippocritical!

      • lexpublius

        I also notice a lot of people who call themselves ‘Christian’ who do not seem to understand ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ as the second GREAT COMMANDMENT (see Mat 5:18 and Lk 16:17). Would we let our neighbors starve because the evil multinational corporations pulled all the jobs out of America to satisfy the papal decree for social-economic justice by giving our jobs to the third world? [See: A Still Small Voice" volume 2, by Fritz and Slaughter.] Just because a small fraction of Americans have good jobs they think everyone can find one. EVERYONE cannot be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, software developer, banker. There are not enough of those jobs in the whole world for everyone to get one. So we must help our REAL neighbors — we send billions to almost every nation, surely we can feed the starving Americans and house our homeless !!!

  • RadioListener

    As a Catholic, I am just offended with his dismissal of the Pope and his implication that other religions aren’t “authentic.” Again, why on earth is this interview being broadcast? I am looking for my tinfoil hat, whose the fundamentalist Christian on the “Here and Now” programming staff?

  • RomanAlex

    While a well-spoken guest in general, I think he misunderstands what marriage is: first and foremost, a union between two people, irrespective of sex, irrespective of any religious tome, irrespective of anyone’s opinion; second, a status acknowledged by governments and corporations for a variety of reasons. And somewhere, at the bottom of a potentially long list, relegated to the realm of subjective and otherwise utterly irrelevant in terms of policy, is whether one agrees or disagrees with gay unions.

    Children are only one possibility in a long list of potential reasons of “why” we have the institution. The institution has existed far longer than the entire of Christianity and Christianity is only one of 1000s of systems of beliefs. Marriage, as part of public debate, MUST remove any concept of Christianity, otherwise, you degrade all those, who do not consider themselves Christians.

    This nation was founded on a believe of separation of church and state. If you don’t like that as a Christian, then perhaps moving to a country, where Christianity is a state religion is the appropriate path to take, not shoving this unreasonable and hateful concept any further.

    • Cory

      I feel as though if we were to fully hear Christ followers out, ‘hate’ is not a word we would use. There are however always extreme examples, both conservative and liberal where hate is appropriate


      • RomanAlex

        The point is: Christ and his followers have utterly no right to comment on this subject in a public forum if it causes any harm or exclusion. I, of course, don’t want to believe anyone is filled with ‘hate’, but all I can say is: Christian values are not the basis of our society or government and to argue otherwise is to argue that black is sour or that apple is one.

        In any form of logic, scholarship or fairness, there is utterly no merit to ANY form of Christian commentary in relationship to marriage. Ditto for Buddhist, Animist, Zoroastrian, or any other philosophy. To do so, negates the entire spectrum of humanity, which is indeed “hate” at its purest level.

        • GoOutside

          “His followers have utterly no right to comment on this subject in a public forum?”

          Do you *see* yourself categorically denying the legitimacy of religious persons to *speak*? Doesn’t that bother you just a bit, that your view of the world gives you the desire to *silence* people making arguments you find illogical? I find that more troubling than the typical Christian argument about the relative privilege of traditional marriage.

          • GenXmark

            Apparently, freedom of speech is only for those on the left. Christians don’t need it? This is why the First Amendment was created, so as society sways one way or the other, we still have the right to out opinions and the right to speak them in a public place.

          • RomanAlex

            Once a religion imposes hurtful views on others, it no longer has ANY legitimacy to speak in a public forum. You, as an individual, are perfectly welcome to state why you personally don’t endorse the concept of gay marriage, but using religion as a cover to do so harkens back to a medieval, mob-lynching mentality.

  • Bwl200

    I am so surprised that you allowed this man to put all his deluded cards on the table without questioning his flawed logic and fantasy of history.

  • buncombe

    Jeremy had a journalistic obligation to challenge Dr. Moore’s factual misstatement that all civilizations have always shared his narrow definition of marriage. A variety of marital arrangements has always been part of human culture. To allow Dr. Moore to state otherwise, unchallenged, is journalistic malpractice.

  • Open minded

    Why are they asking for religious liberty when it comes to “Obamacare”, but then requiring the state to define “marriage” as union between man and woman, which would be interference of their religion into other people’s lives. Allowing gays to marry does not mean that Southern Baptists have to marry people of same sex. Why can’t they just “Live and Let Live” without religious interference? Letting gays marry has nothing to do with “safety and quality” of kids’ lives.

  • Rogue Quaker

    I’m concerned about the radical young people he talked about. What hope do we have for womens’ rights, gay rights, and other social justice movements if so many young people are buying into this? So sad and disappointing.

  • JS

    Where’s the COUNTER-POINT?? NPR seems to be gradually leaning toward a more and more conservative and right leaning news source, as I have observed for better than a decade now. It really is disturbing.

    • lexpublius

      All you need to do is look at the pitifully absent / low number of comments on secular stories to see that the participation in the religious debate stories is tremendously successful compared to the ho-hum stories.

  • http://lwdgrfx.com/ Lucian Dixon

    I completely agree with ‘Radio Listener’ and others who object to this hatemonger being given a platform on NPR. I also checked my dial to see if somehow I had gotten a religious station by mistake. As he said towards the end of the interview, he believes that ‘we are all sinners’. What’s up with that? That’s pure craziness. He can believe what he wants, he can proclaim as much hate as he wants in his church or on radio stations he’s bought time on, but why why why is ‘Here and Now’ giving him air time to spew this hate? I can find religious craziness all over the dial in the South and elswhere but if I continue to find it on ‘Here and Now’ you will have one less listener and I’ve been a faithful listener for years.

    • A faithful listener

      Your idea of being “faithful” (as in being a faithful listener) is about as “faithful” as over 50% of divorced ex-spouses today… relax and allow an opposing viewpoint it’s time.

      • http://lwdgrfx.com/ Lucian Dixon

        You must have missed what I wrote above, ‘A Faithful Listener’. Here it is again:
        ” I can find religious craziness all over the dial in the South and elswhere but if I continue to find it on ‘Here and Now’ you will have one less listener and I’ve been a faithful listener for years.”
        Why did Here and Now give this guy a platform? There are plenty of religious stations which broadcast religious craziness all the time. Why was he on public radio? ‘Opposing viewpoints’? The airwaves are full of religion. NPR is one of the few places I can get away from it – or could until now.

        • 2bees

          No, I think they got it. Their point was you don’t thoroughly understand the meaning of the word “faithful”. Hope that helps…

      • lexpublius

        Weren’t some of those 50% divorcees ‘joined in (‘holy’) matrimony’ by Dr. Moore’s congregation???

  • Guest

    I appreciate NPR, Here and Now interviewing someone of a different view point. Regardless of what I believe I am glad to learn what Christian conservative Americans believe.

    • lexpublius

      He was not elected as a representative of American Christians, dear heart!

  • hopefuly

    I trust that people will see through the double speak and deflections.

  • Terri

    So according to Mr. Moore ‘changing tone’ seems to mean you just speak softly but continue to deliver the same message which is that marriage equality should be denied the lesbian and gay community. The justification continues to be based on his religious beliefs. Why didn’t you challenge him on this point? Why didn’t you and why don’t you have a thoughtful discussion about the intersection of religion and civil laws. That’s a discussion going on here and now in every household from the White House to our homes.

  • Guest

    Regardless of what I believe, I appreciate the opportunity to hear from someone who represents the views of so many in our country.

    • lexpublius

      It’s never hard to find the erroneous views of the MAJORITY, is it??? They are usually the ones who have been successfully BRAINWASHED. See A Still Small Voice by Fritz and Slaughter, and Nehemiah Gordon’s book The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus.

  • fsbi2

    I applaud Here and Now for being willing to provide a perspective that is generally absent from most NPR programming. A truly open mind is one that is willing to hear and understand all perspectives and as Robin pointed out, the Southern Baptists make up no small percentage of the American demographic. Better to hear many diverse voices than to sit around congratulating each other on how well you get along.

    • RomanAlex

      Huh? I am not certain you either listen to NPR that much, or worse, understand it. Sorry if that sounds rude, but I am routinely amazed how often NPR does make a balanced effort, often giving extreme views more weighting, especially on the right, than is deserved.

      • JS

        I strongly agree with you!

      • 2bees

        Sure. That explains why most of the comments on here are overwhelmingly from the extreme right (who exactly gets to determine which views are “extreme” again?) Based on your comments, I sincerely doubt you listen to NPR that much, or really even understand marriage. And I’m certain you don’t understand Christianity, though you liberally throw the term around with frequency. Before there were governments, and LONG before there were corporations cultures were practicing marriage. And I challenge you to name even 5 where marriage was completely separate and unrelated to religion. The Christian concept of marriage is one of the oldest ongoing views of marriage in the world because it is entirely based on Jewish law and tradition. It didn’t just spring up out of nowhere during the first century, but it did make some adjustments to the concept. If, however, as you suggest, we remove any concept of Christianity from this dialogue, then I would say the conversation would need to start with the following question: How many wives should a man be permitted to own?

        • Fred Cooper

          Well, I HAVE listened to NPR for 30 years, taught Bible study and have attended church for most of my life. The biblical view of marriage may be yours but for many Americans, they just do not accept the bible as the authority on marriage. From a biblical perspective gay marriage is not acceptable but from a constitutional perspective it is acceptable. I like the new Southern Baptist guy, he looks good, has a nice soft demeanor and talks a good game. The problem with most conservative Christians is that they cherry pick their views on issues. They complain and whine about paying taxes but what did Jesus say about that? They say they love the poor but do you know any Christians who are for affordable health insurance for all low income Americans? Conservative Christians say ” we have too much government” but then they want to tell other people how to live their lives. If you want a theocracy just say so but be honest. I have lived in a country with a theocracy and trust me, not a good way to go unless you think Afghanistan is a good place to be. Conservative Christians may be biblical about marriage and abortion then forget social justice, tolerance, compassion and mercy.

          • GenXmark

            I have always said we should be able to give anyone all the rights of a spouse for various reasons, but don’t call it marriage, call it Civil Union or anything, but God created marriage. If it were up to me, back in the 90s when this became an issue, I would have had no problem giving Civil Unions the same rights as married people. That would be the most constitutional without causing a war between right and left.

          • RomanAlex

            “God created marriage”??? Hmmm… So I wonder what all the monogamous unions that existed thousands of years BEFORE Judeo-Christian history were. Sorry, the US, if it is to have any connection to its founding and evolving principles, is not a rubber stamp for Judeo-Christian religious views. And… whose “god” created marriage? What if I believe the blueberry gods created marriage? Would my followers be entitled to impose the tenants of blueberry doctrine down your throat? I think not.

            If you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t marry someone of the same sex. Live by your Christian values, which I am sure have many wonderful aspects, but don’t ever impose them on anyone else.

          • lexpublius

            You sound just like the Jews who elected tall handsome Saul to be their first King AND HE WAS A HUGE MISTAKE who led them astray. Your comment really typifies the average American who think they know the Bible but do not because they never studied independently of the ‘guy’ in their pulpit. You’d probably get a lot out of the book I cited in another comment called “A Still Small Voice” by Fritz and Slaughter.

          • Inkc

            Sorry, you lose credibility when you say Christians forget social justice, tolerance compassion and mercy. Take a look at the statistics as to the people who donate the most to charities, run soup kitchens, after school care programs, take care of dying prison lifers, etc. it’s the Conservative Christians.

        • RomanAlex

          Uh… I think it quite reasonable to throw around the term “Christianity” in this situation: the interviewee is espousing Christian concepts of marriage that are irrelevant.

          Marriage goes back farther than Jewish law and tradition as well. Quite frankly, who cares what one culture in one part of the world has to say about the subject anyway? Are not all cultures entitled to a view?

          The issue of “how many wives” that you ask is irrelevant and off point.

          The issue is: Christian outrage over gay marriage is not acceptable in our society. You may not want a gay marriage; I may not want a gay union, but it is none of our business, one way or the other. Would you like to start spouting off Christian values with respect to what we eat, drink, think, read or listen to? Should I impose on you ideas that are none of my business? Of course not…

        • lexpublius

          Are you also among the ignorant you rail against who went to the Baptist Theological ‘CEMETERY’? For there is no such thing as “Jewish Law.” It is actually the Mosaic Law to which you attempt to refer. The word translated from Greek as “law” in Mat 5:18 and Lk 16:17 both mean Mosaic Law (see Strong’s Greek word number 3551 Anglicized as “nomos” translated as “law”) which The Messiah EXPLAINED IS FOREVER — actually synonymous with the Law He summarized as the two great commandments (love God with all your heart, mind, soul; and your neighbor as yourself). Few so-called ‘Christian’ churches today understand these facts and even fewer so-called ‘Christians’ practice what they think they are preaching. Where is their forgiveness of others? Is it exhibited in their intolerance? Their yelps for longer prison sentences that are cruel and unusual punishment?

          Also, “The word ‘man’ in the Creation story actually is better translated from the Hebrew original as ‘mankind.’ God created mankind at the Creation, not just Adam and Eve (that pair is singled out to symbolize holy matrimony),” according to the authors of the book, “A Still Small Voice: The Vatican, the USA, and Israel in Bible Prophecy” by Fritz and Slaughter (page 37). So there is the requirement for one-man one-woman in the Holy Writ right at the beginning chapters of Genesis!!! Does “Dr.” Moore understand THAT?

      • lexpublius

        Yeah, despite Rush Limbaugh and other ‘conservative’ so-called ‘hate talk radio hosts’ (e.g., Bill O’Reilly, Shawn Hanity, Bill Cunningham, Mark Levine, and their minions) false claim that NPR and other organizations do not cover the news in a balanced way, often NPR DOES give both sides; something the conservatives do not always do themselves.

  • ihateadhominen

    The comments on here show how much hate there really is out there… wow. Even if you disagreed with the guy, he was at least civil… which is much more than can be said about most people here.

    • RomanAlex

      I think you have artfully conflated “hate” with “outrage”. The latter is clearly present here, not the former.

      • GoOutside

        If hearing this guy provokes “outrage,” you’re a too-fragile flower inside an Internet terrarium. Syria? Outrageous. Guy in Nashville believes a deity requires Government to act with compassion toward immigrants? Not outrageous. It’s a first world problem that you’re propelled to “outrage” when your radio carries a few minutes of opinion that aren’t popular at /r/atheism or MoveOn.

    • lexpublius

      Disagreeing is not necessarily equated with hate. And every comment is CIVIL because discussion that does not call for violence is not violent.

  • Tim

    I believe the hosts would have treated a Muslim, a Scientology representative, an Atheist, and anyone else, representing his or her own beliefs, the same way… allow them to give their viewpoint, lightly challenge and allow to clarify, and then allow the listeners to make up their own minds. If you’re looking for a one-sided point of view with an agenda, find and listen to a Podcast that matches your exact belief system. NPR gives a lot of different view points and belief systems their time in the light… let them… that’s what your membership go towards.

    • listener

      The problem I have is I found zero “light challenges”. Additionally, why is wanting the views to be channeled equatable to one-sided view point? That’s an awfully convenient way to dismiss people’s concerns.

      In the end, I want all interviews to be conducted where someone’s views are challenged. Why else are they on? Anyone can read a press release, let’s get some journalism.

      • lexpublius

        The professional way is to cover both sides of an issue in NEWS stories. This is a feature INTERVIEW, not a balanced NEWS story. There are different types of journalism.

  • Rich Whelpley

    While Mr. Moore didn’t get to lay everything out about how most Southern Baptists view the world and the issues facing this country, I felt he did a pretty good job and communicated the love and compassion we Christians feel towards everyone. Southern Baptists don’t have all the answers. We screw up like everybody else and screw up quite badly at times. But as believers we seek the love and truth God lays out in the Scriptures. Justice and peace are foremost concerns for us. I’m grateful Here & Now provided a respectful space on the radio for Mr. Moore to share.

    • lexpublius

      Southern Baptists and others do not always seek the “love and truth God lays out in the Scriptures.” You follow the decrees of Rome on the Fourth Commandment (which the papacy purports to change from seventh-day to first day) and the Levitical Feasts (Leviticus chapter 23:1-44) which Vatican II FALSELY declares have been replaced by the papal-invented worldly Roman Catholic holidays of Sunday, Christmas, Easter, Halloween (eve of All Saints), etc., as explained in the book “A Still Small Voice: The USA, the Vatican, and Israel in Bible Prophecy,” by Fritz and Slaughter. And you should also inform your mind with Nehemiah Gordon’s book called The Hebrew Yeshua versus the Greek Jesus.

  • Jeff

    There are more Christian radio stations on my dial than public radio stations. They already benefit from tax exemptions. There are plenty of outlets for people to hear that point of view. I do not donate to public radio so the religious right can spread the word. You have better things to broadcast, especially if you are not going to question his nonsense.

  • Inkc

    Wow, the comments on here remind me of the Meme, ‘preaches tolerance, doesn’t tolerate preaching.’ I guess hate speech is okay if it’s aimed at religious people. I’m not Baptist, but I feel this guest came across as thoughtful and polite. I enjoy the different voices and opinions I hear on Here and Now. Keep up the good work!

  • Roger Williams

    It’s refreshing to hear NPR allow a religious conservative the time to expound on his views in a respectful manner. My respect for Hear & Now as a journalistic source has just gone up. Let’s not forget that many NPR stations have at least a 30% conservative audience. We shouldn’t be afraid to have all views shared. An open market place of ideas is what makes our country great.

    Perhaps we sometimes forget that The United States was founded by a population that was once 90% Christian. The separation of powers is partly inspired by the Reformation views of depraved spiritual nature and the Holy Trinity. The separation of church/state was originally intended to protect the church. To deny all religious discussions from policy discourse is to deny both our history and a part of our human experience.

    • lexpublius

      WRONG. Many of the founding fathers were Diests and many of them were FREEMASONS. Check your ‘facts,’ don’t bring your own here.

  • Oregon Bill

    Why don’t you, or any public radio hosts, ever ask these sorts of guests to defend their actual beliefs – that is, the evidence-free, supernatural claims that typically go unchallenged in the public sphere..?

    After all, the Baptists, Catholics, Mormons, etc. routinely reference these astonishingly baseless assertions (literally on the order of “my invisible, three part god, whom I eat on Sundays, and who lives on planet Kolub, hates…lesbians?”) to restrict women’s access to healthcare, undermine science education, and argue for laws and amendments denying basic American civil protections to your gay and lesbian neighbors, family members, co-workers and friends…

    So if I came on your show claiming that my lord and master Sauron was against dancing, and marriage equality (like a Baptist), wouldn’t you ask me to provide (at least?) a little actual, defensible evidence about this Sauron guy..?

    And if I told you I just, you know, read about him in a book (even a “Book”) – would that really be enough to satisfy you? In 2013?

    I think it’s way past time you quit giving people with demonstrably ridiculous beliefs (and the gross, un-American prejudices they are often used to “justify”) a free pass on your show…

    • Beau Guest

      May I suggest reading “Flatland”. from the wiki:

      The Square then has a dream in which the Sphere visits him again, this time to introduce him to Pointland. The point (sole inhabitant, monarch, and universe in one) perceives any attempt at communicating with him as simply being a thought originating in his own mind (cf. Solipsism):

      ‘You see,’ said my Teacher, ‘how little your words have done. So far as the Monarch understands them at all, he accepts them as his own – for he cannot conceive of any other except himself – and plumes himself upon the variety of Its Thought as an instance of creative Power. Let us leave this God of Pointland to the ignorant fruition of his omnipresence and omniscience: nothing that you or I can do can rescue him from his self-satisfaction.

      — the Sphere

      The Square recognizes the connection between the ignorance of the monarchs of Pointland and Lineland with his own (and the Sphere’s) previous ignorance of the existence of other, higher dimensions.

      • Oregon Bill

        Ohhh…I get it. We must live in Pointland, and Jesus, Zeus, Moroni, Wonder Woman, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster live in Flatland. Or vice versa? Or maybe Jesus lives in Westeros (and I’ll bet the FSM hangs out in the Tardis). And only Baptists are clued in..?

        So that’s why public radio hosts can’t ever ask religious guests to offer any actual evidence for their unsupportable beliefs. A Baptist can simply state that Jesus just hates dancing, and constitutional guarantees of equality, because…Jesus. In Pointland? It’s so nuanced, and complex. We just wouldn’t understand…

        (Btw, that is a great book! I love great works of fiction, too :)

        • Beau Guest

          I didn’t mean to insult. I only meant to point out a different way of thinking about the possible reality of God.

          • Oregon Bill

            No worries Beau – and I have no problem with anyone deciding they need to believe in some supernatural deity to get them through… (though my kids always like to ask: “so which ‘god’ are you talking about? Hera? Baal? Jesus? Muhammed? Hermes? Emperor Klaktu..?”)

            (at the moment we’re liking Percy Jackson – and Dr. Who!)

            But if you’re going to work – hard, with significant money and effort – to literally cut gay and lesbian families off from access to basic American civil rights (this often involves amending state constitutions to explicitly write ugly religious prejudice in), deny women access to medical options, dumb down science education, etc. – I certainly think that the specific supernatural “reasons” you cite ought to be questioned by actual journalists.

            (Though clearly not by timid, fawning NPR radio personalities like Jeremy (wow – those Baptists are so fascinating!) Hobson…) (even Jimmy Carter said enough)

            If Jeremy did ask actual questions, he’d probably find – there is not much there there. So this guy Jesus – he hates dancing? But wait, he once condoned slavery? Because..? What – Flatland?! (I mean the Bible?). And we should all care about your favorite fictional character…why?

            But where are those questions? We won’t get them from NPR (instead we’ll get Barbara Bradley Haggerty, hawking her book on religion :). So the unusually bizarre supernatural assertions of Baptists, Catholics, Mormons, Scientologists just continue to hang there, unchallenged…

            I think Here & Now (and NPR in general) feels they have to appease conservative politicians to preserve their public funding. They are running a $6 million deficit, again…

          • lexpublius

            Try using plain language that average Joe can get.

    • RomanAlex

      It’s the lunacy of America: no different from the people, without any scientific basis, who refuse to even consider the possibility of climate change, or dare I say it, the 100s of millions of man hours of research that continually confirm Darwinian evolution… No, that’s just a theory; one of many! Oh, isn’t Christianity just a theory? One of many?

      Take a view, put outlandish crap on the other side of it, and somehow, in this nation, it is taken as legitimate discourse. I agree, the Mouse God dictates that all who do not worship the holy turd, the true turd, the turd of our suffering, are condemned to NPR guests that are given carte blanche to spout off whatever nonsense they enjoy.

      • Oregon Bill

        Drives me nuts. But I hope the times are changing. The Millennial’s might not put up with this failure (repeatedly an NPR failure) to actually question indefensible religious opinions – especially when they’re referenced to disenfranchise women, gays and lesbians, etc…

        Now if only the Millennials will vote… :)

        • lexpublius

          The Millennial crowd DID VOTE; that’s how Obama got in.

      • lexpublius

        Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” (1859) tries to ‘prove’ “… that mankind evolved from a primordial soup, … [using] … no less than 2,451 conditional statements beginning with the word ‘IF.’ ” See A Still Small Voice: The USA, the Vatican, and Israel in Bible Prophecy,” by Fritz and Slaughter, page 98.

    • lexpublius

      By “evidence-free, supernatural claims that typically go unchallenged in the public sphere” you must be referring to the myth that the world came into existence over 100 million years ago and that we evolved from a microscopic amoeba. That’s not scientific because it is an irrational HYPOTHESIS that can never be confirmed by the scientific method AND defies Newton’s first law of physics — that nature tends towards RANDOMNESS, not highly organized structures like higher plants, animals, and mammals.

  • someguy

    How about featuring the perspective of an atheist in an upcoming show for balance? You have 12 results when I search for “atheism” on your website, and “591″ when I search for “christian.”

    • lexpublius

      Sorry Charlie. Christians , so-called, outnumber atheists and that TRANSLATES into audience buddy. Good ole CRONY capitalism at work even in the nonprofits.

  • Wendy

    Thank you for interviewing Mr. Moore. He gave a great interview and it is nice to have some different viewpoints on NPR. I don’t think he sounded hateful. He was honest and gave his opinion.

  • BP Smith

    Jeremy Hobson, on a recent “Here and Now” where the subject of ‘rape culture’ on college campuses was being discussed, made THIS stupid white guy comment when it was pointed out that some women do not even pursue rape charges because of the futility of anything being done about it:

    “Well, maybe it’s because she’s FRIENDS with him…”

    Yes- you heard it right- Jeremy Hobson thinks that women can be “friends” with their rapist assailants!

    This should tell you all you need to know about how *redneck* NPR has become.

    “A Broad Range Of Ideas”, indeed.

    • 2bees

      Way to stay on topic, BP. Do you realize how much of a redneck you sound like? According to the Department of Justice’s 2005 National Crime Victimization Study 38% of rapists are a “FRIEND or acquaintance” and 73% are a “non-stranger”. But I’m sure that has nothing to do with why some women do not pursue rape charges, right?

  • NPR conservative

    I am a conservative regular NPR listener. I doubt the comments received thus far (indicating a ‘who cares about their view’ position when it comes to 15 million Southern Baptists) embrace the journalistic goals of here and now and Jeremy. I applaud Jeremy for challenging questions without interrupting a thoughtful Christian. Though the listener base is rich with those who lean left, why shouldn’t here and now give attention to diverse, staple views in our world? How else do we understand those we disagree with except by civil dialogue?

    • Fred Cooper

      It is good for people to hear a Southern Baptist guy. Most Christians are very nice people who do good things. I am a Progressive in Texas so I know how it is to be on the other side. We all have a lot more in common than we realize. My big beef with my conservative Christian friends is that they do not see how the Republicans they support really have an agenda that is very hostile to ” the least of these”. When someone wants to cut $40B from Food Stamps and school lunch programs, Head Start, etc.. then obviously they could care less for ” the least of these”. Why would any Christian not want more people to have affordable health insurance and be willing to support that program? My diabetic adult daughter and her husband are paying $750 a month for insurance (COBRA). It is named after a snake for a reason. LOL.

      • lexpublius

        I’m a fiscal conservative but I agree with your comment that Republicans positions seem to be contrary to the idea of loving one’s neighbor as oneself (i.e., the command to care for each other) because they oppose liberal funding of food stamps and other necessary social aid in this collapsed economy. And the multinational corporations are the vehicles through which the USA implemented the papal decrees on social-economic justice. See A Still Small Voice by Fritz and Slaughter, volume 2.

    • lexpublius

      I wish I thought the Southern Baptists thought as liberally as you do. They don’t want to listen to anyone, they want to DICTATE.

  • Eddieboy

    This only reinforces my opinion of people who believe in spirits, the supernatural and the cults that they represent as being detached from reality.

    • lexpublius

      What about so-called ‘scientists’ who believe in the Big Bang or String Hypothesis when they cannot prove it by the scientific method they preach? You think that system of belief superior to the real one???

      Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” (1859) tries to ‘prove’ “… that mankind evolved from a primordial soup, … [using] … no less than 2,451 conditional statements beginning with the word ‘IF.’ ” See A Still Small Voice: The USA, the Vatican, and Israel in Bible Prophecy,” by Fritz and Slaughter, page 98.

  • Annie

    His very argument bears a fallacy. To say that people should be exempt from providing abortion services due to religious faith and then deny that people who do not share his religion do not have rights to define marriage is, at the least, very short sighted.

  • listener

    The problem, as I see it, is not that this person is given air time
    to voice his opinions. I’m all for that, and i appreciate hearing other

    But what I do have a problem with, and what I am increasingly disappointed in with the format of NPR “interviews”, is the complete lack of any rebuttal at all. It’s not
    this interview, but every interview.

    The fault is mine though. I am seeking something more than a format where people are brought in and they get to say anything they want and nothing is refuted. NPR is
    increasingly presenting programming that allows this.

    I recognize how difficult this must be to get people on and then challenge them on the views they were invited to discuss. I do, however, get the feeling that people are fed up with the current state of media and increasingly want something more.

  • Ken

    Why not ask about the genesis of this denomination and its past positions on slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings and its current positions on women in the family and church? Given this history, why should any of us, especially those whose forefathers fought a war for justice, think anything this denomination is either credible or Christian?

  • PJ Tibayan

    No audio?

  • JR

    New Southern Baptist Leader On Issues And The State Of The Church
    This and all opposition to ObamaCare and calls to be exempted from various aspects of that Act on religious grounds — particularly when invoking care and concern for “our unborn neighbors” — ring hollow given their silence and even support for wars like the U.S. waged in Iraq in which our forces bombed, shot and blew up countless babies, fetuses and pregnant women. Would that everyone could cherry pick what our taxes fund. I would opt out of not only wars, but killing death row inmates and being forced to shoulder the tax burden of tax-exempt religions I don’t support like Russell Moore’s.

  • David

    Please, do an interview with a Shambhala teacher; http://Www.shambhala.org. it’s another growing community!

  • Swmr1

    Ugh. Evangelical Christianity is all about “me and mine.” It’s a joke for this guy to act like evangelicals are anything like their supposed savior. I say this as a former evangelical who pretty much saw the god I thought I knew eaten up and spit out by the right wing church. So sad…

  • MD

    The speaker is wrong that the government’s interest in marriage is “children.” The interest in “children” is a religious view of marriage, not a civil law view. The government’s interest in marriage is all about “inheritance rights.” All the speaker has to do is actually read some of the legal opinions on “gay marriage” to know this is all about spousal “estate rights,” including insurance benefits, not about being “fruitful and multiplying.”

  • andy

    I dont understand what the deal is with gay marrage. are we not all human. i belive as a socity havr evolved past that lets just be human and not seperated by religion

  • Laurie L. Bishop

    Moore said that “We can no longer assume that we live in some nominally Christian culture,” but the Southern Baptist Church is only one of many Christian churches in the country with differing approaches and beliefs. I represent no church–I just want to mention this.

    • Blanche Quizno

      “We can no longer assume that we live in some nominally Christian culture”

      …and we’re all the better for it. Christianity is a blight upon humankind, a pernicious sickness that creates illness and dysfunction. How else could we explain the reality of the Bible Belt??

      The Protestant Revolution began the splintering and shattering of Christianity into ever smaller, more irrelevant sects. Christianity is primitive, out of date, and harmful to society. Many of us have outgrown it, and we all need to move on.

  • Dan

    Thank you for opening up all sides of the discussion. Though I sm not a Southern Batist I thoroughly enjoyed the comments of Mr. Moore.

  • Diane Saull

    I was educated by Mr. Moore on your program this morning…now I know more about the Southern Baptists…while I don’t agree with his beliefs I respect his right to voice them on your show…

  • Anna

    Thank you for this interview! An intellectual Christian point of view is often not heard on NPR. Thank you, Here and Now, for giving it a voice.

  • David Heitman

    Refreshing to hear an articulate proponent of Christianity on public radio. Mr Moore struck me as someone who had firm convictions yet without being strident about them. His observation that Christianity is the true counter-culture these days is spot on.

    • Blanche Quizno

      Fine. Just don’t suggest that your religion’s doctrines, tenets, and definitions of “sin” apply to anyone outside of your religion.

  • Laurie Astroth

    I have heard that God Is Love but according to Dr. Moore God will only love you if you follow the Southern Baptist’s tenets. Oh and we won’t call you pejorative names if you don’t.

  • FroBert

    This was a perfectly valid interview, though I do not share Dr. Moore’s beliefs.

    I sense that some and perhaps much of the Christian leadership in this country is losing touch with its followers. The idea that “the Bible Belt is collapsing” dramatically grabs headlines, but it’s unsupported by research. The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey found that 76% of Americans were Christian. Now, granted, this survey was done via phone calls to residential numbers, and that percentage is down from 86% in 1990, but that current 76% is still far, far higher than those who claim no religion (15%) or a non-Christian religion (4%). In other words, at least among people who had phone lines five years ago, this is still unquestionably a Christian country.

    So why do Christian leaders feel so embattled? Because their *interpretation* of Christianity is embattled. Take same-sex marriage. Pew Research Center polling from 2013 shows that 50% of Americans support same-sex marriage, and 43% oppose it. 50% can’t be reached without the support of the majority group. Indeed, the Pew polls show that, in the last 12 years, support from Catholics has increased from 40% to 54%, mainline Protestants from 38% to 55%, and black Protestants from 30% to 32%. The Christian group with the biggest change in its own percentage of support, though, is white evangelical protestants, whose level of support has nearly *doubled*: from 13% to 23%. Honestly, think about that: nearly a quarter of white evangelicals support gay marriage. You wouldn’t know it from the headlines, nor from church leaders, who would rather claim vague challenges from the culture outside than challenges from within their own institutions.


Same-sex marriage is only one issue, but conservative leaders have a similar problem on other issues as well – trying to convince their followers not just that their idiosyncratic position on some issue is the morally correct/scripturally consistent one, but that it is the *only* one. Clearly, though, there is room for debate: for example, there is no record in the Gospels of what Jesus thought about homosexuality, and there is plenty of evidence of his tolerance, acceptance, and love. (To the Christian leadership, I would also ask: do you ever lead Christian opposition to war? Do you ever champion policies to alleviate poverty? Have you done anything calling for the punishment of the 1-percenter “money-changers” who demolished the world economy and the livelihoods of millions of believers? You are aware that Jesus would call you to do these things. Why do you imply, as Dr. Moore did in this interview, that you “do not have the authority” to interpret scripture? You are *constantly* interpreting, picking and and choosing which parts of the Gospel you would like to conveniently ignore.)

    Christians are quite capable of reconciling their religion with cultural stances that differ from those of Dr. Moore and other leaders, and judging by the polling, many are doing so. I salute the Christians who support same-sex marriage, fight to end poverty and war, and dare to stand for the actual teachings of Jesus. Imagine what more could be done.

    • lexpublius

      Forget your polls. Following the majority is what will get most people into hell fire. See the iconoclastic award-winning work called “A Still Small Voice” by Fritz and Slaughter. Then read Nehemiah Gordon’s book,

      “The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus.” Together they make a great companion set to get the big picture about today’s religious error.

      • Blanche Quizno

        …And yet the Christian church in the USA has consistently supported and defended the status quo, promoting a conservative viewpoint that opposes progress. What are we to conclude from this?

  • Sy2502

    The problem are not their conservative views, which are their religious beliefs to which they are entitled. The problem is how relentlessly they try to shove them down everybody’s throat by trying to influence public policy. What they really want is the Christian version of sharia law.

  • Naomi

    There were inaccuracies in Russell Moore’s assertions about “traditional marriage.” There are approximately 200 Liturgies (mostly for men) from same sex marriages in Rome, in the 11th century. Marriage for heterosexuals was a function of the state of Rome and the church did not support marriage because they believed in celibacy. But as an act of mercy and to give gay couples stability the Church did marry them then. The church did not reverse its position on heterosexual marriage for another century. So the first marriages in the Church were same sex marriages and marriage, even from the Church’s perspective has not “always” been between a woman & a man.

    • Blanche Quizno

      For many centuries, virginal celibacy was upheld as the ideal in Christianity, with marital relations acknowledged only as a distant, debauched second place.

      It is remarkable how rarely, if ever (I cannot call to mind an instance), in the discussions on the comparative merits of marriage and celibacy, the social advantages appear to have occurred to the mind; the benefit to mankind of raising up a race born from Christian parents and brought up in Christian principles. It is always argued with relation to the interests and the perfection of the individual soul; and even with regard to that, the writers seem almost unconscious of the softening and humanising effect of the natural affections, the beauty of parental tenderness and filial love.

      The general tone was that of the vehement Jerome. There must not only be vessels of gold and silver, but of wood and earthenware. This contemptuous admission of the necessity of the married life distinguished the orthodox from the Manichaen, the Montanist, and the Encratite, all of whom insisted upon *complete* celibacy.

      It became a common doctrine that sexual intercourse was the sign and the consequence of the Fall[/b]…But Jerome is the most vehement of all… http://tinyurl.com/82gtb4s

      Watch out for those “church fathers”…

  • Sigh

    Thanks NPR, for reminding me once again how much I miss Neal Conan and Talk of the Nation.

  • RomanAlex

    Of course, a more important point I should have made earlier on: Southern Baptists are only one of many Christian groups. Some Christian groups espouse gay marriage. It would appear there are cracks in the wall of Christian intolerance.

    Are Christian groups that are against gay marriage to be trusted over Christian groups that are not? Are the former, the true and righteous and the latter, false and corrupt? I don’t know or care, but it is utterly irrelevant to basic human rights.

    The argument utterly has no place in society today. Yes, traditions of marriage between a man and woman go back into biblical times, but there are quite a few things, especially in the Old Testament, that are unacceptable in today’s society as well. Should we conveniently ignore some, while screaming about others? Should we practice Solomon’s eye for an eye?

    Whatever is in the bible, is up to the reader to decide. When that reader decides to impose his view on others in terms of social mores and legislation, the concept of democracy is destroyed.

    Religion has a place, in your soul, and nowhere else.

    • Blanche Quizno

      Nowhere in the Bible will you find a single verse acknowledging basic, fundamental human rights.

      Nowhere in the Bible will you find a single verse declaring that slavery is bad or wrong.

      Several of Jesus’s parables demonstrate that might makes right, that the all-powerful ruler/boss/master/owner can do whaever he likes to the unfortunates under his control, because there is no such concept of equal protection under the law.

      Monarchy is the only governing system acknowledged in the Bible, yet we’ve outgrown monarchies and serfs and the obvious institutionalized income inequities. (Income inequity remains, and is intensifying to monarchy levels, but we try to overlook that.)

      SO why do we need the Bible at all? It’s outdated, backward, primitive, ignorant – we outgrew it centuries ago. Time to ashcan it.

  • Christie

    As a civilized society we must be willing to discuss and listen, really listen to the other side of any debate. He is a thoughtful man and he wasn’t spewing hate but another point of view. You may not agree with him, but I applaud NPR for allowing his a voice.

    • Blanche Quizno

      NPR = National Pentagon Radio

  • GenXmark

    I’m glad to hear left-leaning Public Radio finally ask opinions from the right. As a taxpayer, I would like to hear more of both sides. After all, they use all of our tax dollars, and the half the country is left and half right. That is the percent I would expect to hear from an institution that is supposed to help the nation as public service. Truly balanced is what we need. Jeremy Hobson did a pretty good job with the question. Only showing his left lean once.

  • Theodette

    It is scary to read the comments of people on here who would silent any opinion that differs from their own. Argue points, don’t personally attack and try and silence people. That is plain frightening.

  • lexpublius

    If he really wanted to know the state of religion in America, he’d go check out the book called “A Still Small Voice: The Vatican, the USA, and Israel in Bible Prophecy,” which has more historical information taken from the USA Dept. of State diplomatic record than most history books ever could. The Protestants have done nothing but follow the Vatican’s lead on everything, from its “credenda” (social engineering decrees) to open borders to its social-economic justice decrees all to way to its “agenda” (liturgy decrees) to practice Sunday observance, Christmas, Easter, Halloween [eve of All Saints Day], etc., as state by the authors of A Still Small Voice. This Baptist “leader” is ignorant on all these things.

  • Markus

    This man looks much younger than his voice would suggest. I was driving home yesterday and really glad you interviewed a prominent Christian leader: it’s refreshing to hear religious perspectives without the typical media judgement against them. Hope you can bring more voices to the discussion!

  • Jan

    ‘But it’s very good for a church to live up to what the Bible has called us to be all along, which is a counter-cultural reality that points to the kingdom of God’

    Christ said to go and convert all nations–not counter-cultural at all, make Him the culture. You’re trying to make a virtue of the victory of the secular state, but the lack of coherence between the culture and Christ is going to cause the loss of souls, as it already has. Better secularism should have the great privilege you speak of of being counter-cultural.

  • Blanche Quizno

    So you’re out of touch, backward, irrelevant. PTL!!

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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