Many Christian figureheads of the Never Trump variety have either gone mute or twisted themselves in ideological knots since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade after nearly half a century, but none of the silence is as deafening as that coming from Russell Moore, the former provost and dean of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
It’s odd that one of the most prominent names in evangelicalism and the country’s largest Protestant circles hasn’t said a peep about the most consequential legal decision of our time, especially since Christianity was such a large part of the movement causing the reversal of Roe and will no doubt play an outsized role in its aftermath.
A little online searching shows one “bonus episode” from “The Russell Moore Show” on Christianity Today (where Moore holds the title of public theologian) that came out the day of the Dobbs ruling, advertising “A Conversation with Stephen Prothero on Culture Wars Now That ‘Roe’ Is Gone.”
But the episode didn’t occur after Roe was “gone”; it was a pre-tape from after the Dobbs draft opinion leak speculating about what might come next, meaning Moore has offered no post-Roe analysis. And his guest, a religion professor at Boston University, has spent the days since the Roe reversal telling Christians to “f-ck off” on Twitter and retweeting political graphics depicting conservative Supreme Court justices as Tiananmen Square tanks about to mow down a pregnant woman. Christianity Today didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment about why the pre-taped podcast was dishonestly framed as post-Dobbs commentary.
I don’t think every person everywhere is responsible for commenting on cultural, political, and spiritual events. In fact, that performative impulse is one of the reasons once-apolitical cultural havens such as professional sports have been so ruined by virtue-signaling and complicated sociopolitical realities have been dumbed down to a pointless black square on Instagram. But given that Moore is the chairman of public theology at Christianity Today, why has he not said anything publicly about this issue of deep theological importance?
It’s not as though Moore hasn’t made his opinions on abortion and Roe clear in the past. He’s many times written about the barbaric practice, even editing a book about “The Gospel & Abortion,” and has often alluded to Roe’s egregiousness on Twitter. So why refuse to comment on the most consequential pro-life victory in nearly 50 years?
Christianity Today and an assistant of Moore didn’t respond to multiple inquiries about why Moore hasn’t said anything.
Perhaps Moore has been silent on Roe because he’s been too busy making a showy exit from the Southern Baptist Church after a lengthy report about sexual abuse among some of its leaders. It was ultimately faithful Southern Baptists who uncovered the evil. Moore, upstanding as he was, remained a leader within the denomination for years while this abuse was occurring.
But Moore has never been too busy to make public comments on matters of far lesser importance than abortion. He had time to publicly celebrate former National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins for his “wisdom, expertise, and most of all … Christian humility and grace,” despite Collins’ disregard for human life in the form of grotesque humanized mice experiments using aborted babies, his support for shutting down church during Covid, and his character attacks on those who resisted Covid vaccinations that they were “killing people.”
Moore has in the past publicly swiped at fellow believers under the guise of condemning “Christian nationalism.” He never missed the chance to comment on the Syrian refugee crisis or white supremacy or the Confederate flag — or any number of different highly politicized issues. Especially in the last few years, Moore has prioritized political commentary if it meant the chance to beat the Christians to the right of himself as not loving their neighbor the right way — or at least not loving them by supporting the policy or the politician he preferred.
As Jackon Waters and Emma Posey astutely noted in The American Conservative last year: “The direction Moore, [David] French, and [Beth] Moore are walking is not simply traditional evangelicalism, but a form of cultural accommodation dressed as convictional religion. The result is a religious respectability that promotes national unity, liberalism, and wokeism under the rhetorical guise of love for neighbor. While [Russell] Moore and his guest try to straddle the fence, there is little doubt that their biggest support is now coming from those significantly to their left politically.”
This “cultural accommodation dressed as convictional religion” didn’t emerge out of thin air, and it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s a direct result of a Never Trump posture that’s been too arrogant to acknowledge the spiritual faithfulness of anyone who doesn’t share its conclusions that the 45th president is indefensible.
Furthermore, it’s the primary reason Moore apparently can’t bring himself to celebrate a hard-fought Supreme Court victory that could result in tens of millions of lives saved over the next few decades: As much as the Dobbs ruling is a victory for the church and the pro-life movement, the striking down of Roe v. Wade is a victory of the Trump presidency, without which the egregious precedent would not be overturned today.
We know. Trump is a moral stain. Sexual promiscuity. Insurrection. Yada yada yada. But after 63 million lives lost and half a century of blood, sweat, and tears culminating in an answered prayer for something we barely had the faith to ask for, does the chairman of public theology really have nothing to say?
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect Moore’s previous role at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.