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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.
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.”