In 2018, a host of Evangelical luminaries were busy building public profiles outside the usual churchy circles with frequent condemnation of the Trump administration. Foremost among them: Beth Moore.
A best-selling women’s Bible teacher with nearly a million Twitter followers, Moore became something of a media darling during the Trump years with extensive, sometimes front-page coverage in The Washington Post, USA Today, and The New York Times.
The Atlantic even dubbed her an “Evangelical Superstar” in a multi-page spread.
What Moore was most famous for in these secular press circles, however, wasn’t her commentary on the New Testament but her scathing criticism of the 45th President, especially his immigration policies.
The author was so committed to seeing Trump’s border plans reversed she put her name to a full-page ad in The Washington Post calling on the former president and vice president to “help vulnerable immigrants.” “We are troubled,” she and her fellow signatories said, “by the dramatic reduction in arrivals of refugees to the United States … Jesus makes it clear that our ‘neighbor’ includes the stranger and anyone fleeing persecution and violence, regardless of their faith or country.”
Given Moore’s public outcry over asylum seekers during the previous administration, you might assume she showed similar distress when Biden’s Department of Homeland Security secretary, Ali Mayorkas, said last week that Cubans trying to flee to the U.S. to escape persecution or torture are not welcome.
You would be wrong.
Moore, whose social media posts and activism regarding border security were widely covered between 2016 and 2020, has said nothing about the hunger, sickness, and general deprivation unfolding in the island nation. She has made no objection to Biden keeping the doors of our country tight shut to Cubans despite the fact that the government there is reportedly beating, arresting, and detaining Christian pastors. She hasn’t even mentioned Biden’s overall policy of keeping refugee admissions historically low, the point that so distressed her during the Trump years. Not one word.
It must be acknowledged, though, that Moore is hardly alone in her unwillingness to hold the new administration to the same standards it demanded of the last one. Before he resigned in May amid a flurry of fawning media profiles, former head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), Russell Moore (no relation) was known for his CNN interviews and New York Times op-eds in which he took his fellow Evangelicals to task for their Trump support. The former President’s border policies featured prominently in this criticism.
Under Russell Moore’s leadership, the ERLC issued an open letter asking Congress to provide a “legal remedy for the subset of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children by their parents.” At the height of the media storm surrounding Trump’s plans for building the wall, Moore tweeted, “Immigrants, & those fleeing from persecution, are not political ideas. They bear the image of [God].”
Yet now, as the totalitarian Cuban regime cuts off social media from its people and scores of protestors go missing, as women cry in the streets about their children dying of hunger, how many op-eds has the prolific media commentator written about Biden’s lack of response? How many interviews has he given? How many tweets?
If you guessed “zero,” you would be correct.
The hypocrisy of the two Moores would be easy to dismiss if they were outliers. But the list of Evangelical authors and mega-pastors who have lectured rank-and-file parishioners that social justice issues are Gospel issues and lent their names to campaigns explicitly and implicitly condemning Trump immigration policies is a staggeringly long and elite one.
Quoting Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), mega-church pastor and recent president of the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., J.D. Greear, called Trump’s border policies “wicked” and said “Americans (should be) better than this.”
He appeared on PBS’s Firing Line, arguing that any believers who voted for Trump must speak about the “dignity of … immigrants and our responsibility to the refugee” lest they damage their Christian witness. Further, Greear contended that these remarks needed to be precise. “We can’t let political strategy cause us to pull back and not speak with clarity on the issues,” he said.
Yet where is Greear’s clarity today? Though he was happy to sign and promote Russell Moore’s ERLC statement, he too has uttered not a single word about the crisis in Cuba or the Biden administration’s ghastly bungling of immigration in general.
Neither has Evangelical author, editor, and former ERLC staffer, Trillia Newbell.
During the national debate over the migrant caravans arriving in Mexico, Newbell, another CNN interviewee, offered statements for pro-immigration press releases and shared a New York Times article titled, “You Can’t Be Pro-Life and Against Immigrant Children.” The essay argued, “Because of their support of the president and general silence on his administration’s actions the major players in the pro-life movement are now tethered to his horrific border policies.”
“Yes,” Newbell tweeted in response. “What a tragic moment we are in. God have mercy.”
But what of the Cuban children suffering from a lack of food and medicine? Is their oppression less tragic? Is Heaven’s mercy less needed? Judging by Newbell’s silence when it comes to the Biden administration’s promise to turn back refugees of that nation, you’d have to assume so.
And the list goes on and on.
An earlier Washington Post ad, which ran in 2017 making similar immigration demands as the second, read like a who’s who of the Evangelical world. The signers included bestselling authors Max Lucado and Ann Voskamp, influential mega-church pastors Tim Keller and Matt Chandler, and seminary president Daniel Akin.
Once again, not one of them, though they claimed they were duty-bound by their Christian platforms to speak truth to Trump, has publicly commented on Biden’s response to Cuba or even offered general support for welcoming Cubans fleeing the threat of torture.
Republicans in Congress have offered direct resolutions to support the Cuban people as they protest brutal communist oppression. No Democrats have backed it. Neither have any of the above-mentioned religious leaders.
While it might be possible to believe that one or two of these leading Christian lights simply hasn’t yet had the time to address the issue, the fact that none of them has, despite their very active social media accounts, suggests something else is going on.
It’s important to note that the comments from these leaders during Trump’s tenure were far from ambiguous and went well beyond general biblical principle. The letters, essays, ads, tweets, and interviews took an explicitly activist tone, demanding action on specific policies from specific political actors.
What can their disinterest now suggest but that all that effort on behalf of “welcoming the stranger” was less about Christian conviction and more about political posturing to win the affection of the progressive media and other left-leaning demographics?
Scripture has much to say about leaders who strive to appear righteous before men and show partiality to those whose favor they would like to have. It has much to say on those who use unequal weights and measures. None of it befits those who claim the title pastor or Bible teacher.
Christianity Today editor Ed Stetzer has at least mentioned Cuba since the freedom marches began, saying, “Cubans are protesting against their tyrannical government … Communism always leads to great suffering… Pray for Cuba.”
What Stetzer didn’t mention in his brief tweet — the Biden administration or any of its policies regarding Cuba. Nor did he condemn the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement that any Cubans who try to reach the U.S. by sea will be turned back. Indeed, Stetzer has so far failed to criticize Biden’s approach to the refugees at all, whether directly or obliquely.
What a stark contrast his short, general post is to a lengthy 2017 op-ed he wrote for The Washington Post in which he called out President Trump by name, lamenting, “As an American citizen, I cannot change the Executive Order. But as a Christian and kingdom citizen, I cannot cheer for it, and I cannot stay silent. It is time to pray for those who are hurting, and to plead with our leaders to change course.”
It’s also a far cry from a 2018 essay he wrote for Vox in which he claimed, “President Donald Trump is trying to fool evangelicals like me” and insisted “far too many white evangelicals are motivated by racial anxiety and xenophobia.”
Stetzer finished that piece by asking, “How could we have seen the suffering, heard the cries of anguish, and done so little?”
Apparently, that’s only a question for Republican administrations.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.