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Trump candidacy divides Christian leaders

One of the supposed leaders of the “Religious Right” is the toast of the American left after sparking a bitter war of words with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, recently blasted Trump as “reality TV moral sewage” in an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

However, Moore’s critique goes beyond the presidential election. He argued most evangelicals are non-white and non-English speaking and urged American Christians to confront “nativism” in an editorial for the New York Times entitled “A White Church No More.”

Trump fired back on Twitter, calling Moore a “terrible representative of evangelicals” and a “nasty guy.”

Moore continued the fight, quoting 1 Kings 18:17-19, where the prophet Elijah accuses King Ahab of having “forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.”

Not surprisingly, left-wing media outlets such as Think Progress are rejoicing over these attacks on Trump.

But not every Christian leader agrees with Moore’s militant opposition to Trump.

Some evangelical leaders, notably Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, are waiting to see who Trump nominates to be vice president before deciding how much support, if any, they will provide. Legendary conservative activist, author and WND columnist Phyllis Schlafly, who has endorsed Trump, penned “A Message to Anti-Trump Church Leaders” calling for Christians to support Trump because of the immigration issue, which she called a “political” rather than a “religious” issue.

“Loving our neighbor does not mean unlocking our doors to any and all comers,” she wrote.

Another Trump supporter is Carl Gallups, the pastor of Hickory Hammock Baptist Church and the author of several books including the recent “Be Thou Prepared: Equipping The Church for Persecution and Times of Trouble.”

Gallups has a long history with the Southern Baptist Convention, telling WND he was saved in a Southern Baptist Church, married in a Southern Baptist church, called to be a minister in a Southern Baptist church, graduated with a Masters in Divinity from a Southern Baptist Seminary, serves on the board of regents of a Southern Baptist university and has been the pastor of a Southern Baptist church for 30 years.

And Gallups argues Moore is simply wrong about Trump and his advice for Christians.

“The problem with Dr. Moore’s pontifications concerning Donald Trump is he basically tells us who we ‘should not’ vote for, without offering up his advice as to who we ‘should’ vote for or who he is supporting,” said Gallups. “I sincerely appreciate what he is trying to accomplish, but he’s simply leaving out the harsh realities of our electoral system. On the morning of November 9, 2016, either Hillary Clinton (or some other hard-left America-hating Democrat) or Donald Trump is going to be president and commander in chief of America’s armed forces for the next four to eight years.”

Gallups says as a pastor and a Christian, the choice of who the next president will be offers high stakes for believers which can’t be simply brushed aside.

“At that point, there are many real questions for Christians,” he argued. “Who will best give us the opportunity to be real Christians? Which choice for president will best defend the Christian heritage, ideals and foundation of this nation? Which candidate will best defend America’s borders and security? Which candidate will most likely work hard to improve the economy and return industry, corporations, and jobs to America?

“Which candidate is most likely to be most ‘friendly’ to the Christian community at large – as well as with Israel? Which candidate will most likely give those of us who are Christians and pastors the opportunities to address, fight, and possibly defeat some of the moral insanities that have been inflicted upon this nation in the last eight years? Which president do you want to see sitting across the table from the diabolic regimes of the world trying to hold back the flood of evil they wish to inflict upon the United States – Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?”

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Carl Gallups said the answer to that is a “no-brainer.”

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However, Moore may not share some of Gallups’ premises.

Moore’s tenure at the head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has been marked by heavy criticism by Christians for Moore’s habit of unleashing all his fire on conservatives while pulling his punches when it comes to the left.

In 2014, Moore blasted Christian talk radio, saying if talk radio was all he knew of Christianity, “I’d hate it [Christianity] too.”

While slamming partnerships with those whom he called “gospel heretics” such as Glenn Beck and Trump, Moore said evangelicals should work with Obama.

Moore has also been an enthusiastic backer of efforts to promote amnesty for illegal aliens. He is listed as one of the heads of the “Evangelical Immigration Table,” an organization which lobbied for amnesty for illegal aliens.

The Evangelical Immigration Table is a product of the National Immigration Forum, which receives funding from controversial left wing financier George Soros.

Gallups argued Moore is simply being used as a weapon by enemies of conservatives and Christians.

“I fear by jumping in bed with the likes of The New York Times, Dr. Moore is simply being used by these left-wing propaganda machines as a ‘useful idiot,’ a phrase that comes from the left, in order to further their ‘Never Trump’ campaign,” Gallups said sadly. “Donald Trump scares the life out of the socialist left, America’s enemies, terrorists, illegal immigrants, the enemies of Israel, criminals and thugs. Given those factors, I don’t see that the Christian voter has much of a real choice. The ‘moral decision’ lies not in which candidate is the most moral, but which person for whom we vote is most likely to allow those of us who are Christians to return moral clarity to our country.”

Gallups also challenged Moore about who he thought was a “moral” candidate in the general elections of the past.

“My question for Dr. Moore is who has he voted for in a general election, given the same standards he now upholds as the Christian ideal for voting,” said Gallups. “After all, Bill Clinton sang in the choir at a Southern Baptist Church in Little Rock. Did you vote for him? Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school at a Baptist church in Plaines, Georgia. Did you vote for him?”

Even Ronald Reagan, Gallups said, wasn’t a Christian role model.

“Moore has concerns with Trump divorcing and remarrying,” said Gallups. “Well, Ronald Reagan also was divorced and remarried. He only attended church once during his entire presidency. Like Trump, Reagan used to be a Democrat. Unlike Donald or Melania Trump, both Ronald and Nancy Reagan had a deep interest in astrology, with such practices even affecting the scheduling of certain events. Did you vote for Ronald Reagan?”

Gallups said he wouldn’t have made Ronald Reagan an associate pastor or a deacon in his church, but was proud to have voted for him and called him “the greatest president of the United States in my lifetime.”

Gallups argued he wouldn’t make Trump a pastor either, but that doesn’t mean he won’t vote for him.

“I am not voting for a pastor, pope, or priest, I am voting for a U.S. president,” Gallups said. “We will have only two real choices. I will not vote for Hillary Clinton or anyone else who is certain to continue Obama’s godless policies. The rest is up to us in the pulpits and pews. Voting your conscience in the primary is one thing, but if Hillary Clinton is in the White House on November 9th because millions of Christians did not want to ‘offend their conscience,’ how can they live with themselves? How will they explain how they enabled handing over the nation to policies which perpetuate evil? How can they explain that hypocrisy to their children and grandchildren?”

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