Op-Ed: Will a DOJ Investigation Finally Put SBC Elites on the Same Page as Rank-and-File Evangelicals?


The just-revealed investigation of sex abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention by the Justice Department ratchets up the Biden administration’s attacks on his political opponents.

The probe also marks the abject failure of the SBC elite’s decade-plus winsomeness campaign designed to sanctify evangelical votes for the Democratic Party and, as philosopher Stephen Wolfe contends, to “render [evangelicals] harmless to the regime.”

Tyranny, not justice — social or otherwise — accounts for the behavior of the DOJ. To educated eyes, parents who push back against the pushing of critical race theory and transgenderism down the throats of their children are not domestic terrorists. Supposed crimes committed by the former president do not account for the raid on his Florida home. And no supposed crisis of sexual abuse in the SBC prompted Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the institutions of the largest Protestant denomination in America. Southern Baptist voting patterns did.

Against the directives of their erstwhile leaders, evangelicals, including Southern Baptists, twice voted 80+ percent for Donald Trump. These voters show no signs of exchanging their politics for the Never Trumpism modeled and commended to them by Russell Moore, David French and Francis Collins.

The Daily Wire’s Megan Basham and former Midwestern Baptist Seminary president Mark Coppenger exposed the current SBC elite’s public panic over a handful of sex abuse cases as one more virtue signal to the Democratic-voting blue communities they wish to please.

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With “only 409 abusers … found over the course of 21 years” in a denomination “boasting about 15 million members,” Basham questions any “crisis” reading of such data. Coppenger calculates that of the 28,000,000 Southern Baptists in churches surveyed over a 20-year period by the Houston Chronicle, “220 were convicted of abuse crimes, amounting to one certified felon for every 125,000 Southern Baptists.”

99.999 percent of Southern Baptist churches reporting zero confirmed instances of sexual abuse for two decades does not a crisis make. What Moore called an SBC “apocalypse” and French dubbed a “horror” turned out to be a stunningly low incidence rate.

Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton taught the nation that around half of Trump’s supporters are a basket of deplorables who cling to their guns and religion and are uncomfortable with people who don’t look like them. Since then, SBC elites have labored to signal that they pretty much agree with that assessment.

They said that evangelicals would have to deny their faith to vote for Trump. They urged evangelicals not to celebrate the overturning of Roe v. Wade. They charged champions of a secure border with xenophobia. They mocked deplorables whose jobs were threatened should they shun the shot. They opposed a Louisiana bill that would have abolished abortion.

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They said critical race theory and intersectionality can aid interpretation of the Bible. They joined in the hysteria over Jan. 6 but fell mute as the nation’s cities burned in the summer of 2020. They said evangelical churches should provide safe places for the same sex-attracted to “tell their stories.” The white male SBC elites canceled and ignored un-woke black Southern Baptists within their own ranks.

But SBC elite efforts failed to alter evangelical voting patterns in favor of the Democrats. It turns out that the Biden administration awards no prizes for effort, just results. So here come the feds.

Antonio Gramsci perfected one of Karl Marx’s foundational convictions — that the family and the church are the most intolerable institutions to the totalitarian dreams they harbored.

The crosshairs of the Democratic revolution that settled over the faith-and-family deplorables with the help of evangelical elites now settle over the SBC elites themselves. What would have spared the SBC a politically motivated investigation by a tyrannical administration? The re-election of Donald Trump.

Superstar New York City pastor Timothy Keller bequeathed to evangelical elites a so-called “Third Way” whereby Christians could fly above liberal and conservative political loyalties. But the details of the Third Way were always designed to sanctify Christian votes for Democrats. Keller offered reductive caricatures of the political left and right that incentivize critique of conservatives and openness to the social justice movement the Democrats cherish.

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Keller credits the left with just what they want but don’t deserve — compassion for the poor and love of justice. He then defines conservatives in ways the left is happy to acknowledge and then impugn — they are concerned with eternal souls, the unborn and money. Keller’s aim has been to argue for a rough moral equivalence between the two major political parties to make it kosher for ostensibly pro-life Christians to vote Democrat while giving an edge to Democrats on the compassion front.

Accordingly, pastor John Piper rushed out a blog post on the eve of the 2020 election contending for the comparable deadliness of Trump’s character flaws and the killing of the unborn. Washington, D.C., pastor Mark Dever compared the ostensibly more sophisticated multi-issue voting of African-Americans for Democrats with the simpleton, supposedly single-issue voting of whites for the GOP. Francis Collins and Russell Moore said that taking the vaccine is a great way to love your neighbor as Jesus commanded.

Since FDR’s New Deal of the 1930s, Democrats have usually managed to cast themselves as the party of compassion. As Shelby Steele has remarked, “[liberals] have, or at least feel they have, cornered the market on virtue. To put the liberal story in two words: They care.”

But Democratic compassion now comes with burning cities and a Supreme Court nominee who cannot define the word “woman”; George Soros-funded mayors who want to defund the police and district attorneys loath to detain — much less try — thieves and violent offenders; parent-uninformed, teacher-facilitated sex change surgeries for freshly identified transgender children. President Joe Biden says “transgender discrimination is the civil rights issue of our time.”

Trump-voting Southern Baptists have known for some time that the actions and aims of this Democratic Party have nothing in common with the love Jesus modeled and expects of his followers. Does Merrick Garland bring the requisite tools to render SBC elites teachable in ways Southern Baptist pew-sitters couldn’t? Time will tell.

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