Presidential candidate Donald Trump shot back at Southern Baptist Convention leader Russell Moore after the denomination’s top public policy spokesman criticized the GOP front-runner Sunday morning on network television.
Trump lashed out Monday morning on Twitter calling Moore “truly a terrible representative of evangelicals” and a “nasty guy with no heart” after Moore’s appearance May 8 on Face the Nation on CBS.
Moore, president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, retorted with a scripture reference to 1 Kings 18: 17-19, where the evil king Ahab greets the prophet Elijah with the words, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
Moore has been criticizing Trump for a while, but the kerfuffle appeared to have been initiated with Moore’s Sunday morning appearance on a panel of conservatives discussing whether Trump can unite the Republican Party if he receives the nomination.
“One of the key aspects of conservativism is to say character matters in public office and in the citizenry and virtue has an important role to play in our culture and in our politics,” Moore said. “And now we have a Republican Party that seems ready not only to surrender on the culture wars but to join the other side.”
“I mean what we have in the Donald Trump phenomenon, as well as in the Hillary Clinton phenomenon, is an embrace of the very kind of moral and cultural decadence that conservatives have been saying for a long time is the problem,” Moore said.
Moore compared Trump’s candidacy to “reality television moral sewage” and “cultural rot” that conservatives used to oppose but “now want to put it on C-SPAN for the next four years and to give a model to our children really with either of these two candidates of an amoral sort of vision of America that isn’t what we believe in.”
Moore said some conservative voters who don’t like Trump will vote for him anyway because they don’t want a Democrat nominating Supreme Court justices for the next four to eight years. Republicans should worry about evangelicals under 50 who will choose to stay home instead of going to the polls to choose between two candidates they cannot support in good conscience, he said, “because what we end up with at the end of the day is one sexual revolutionary party that is hostile to everything that we believe in.”
“There are going to be many other evangelicals who simply don’t vote in that election or who do find a third-party candidate or a write-in candidate to vote for, not because they think that candidate will win, but because they think there’s something more important than politics, which is one’s conscience,” Moore said.