American trade policy is a Gospel Issue. Who knew! But, that’s just what Never Trump Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore implied in recent comments against Donald Trump’s trade policy toward China. President Donald Trump says China puts the U.S. business and workers at a disadvantage and wants a fairer system. He has proposed tariffs.
Since the tariff could hurt the bottom line of publishing companies who print the Bible in China, this is now a major issue that requires the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president to make a statement.
“The Bible plays a central role in the daily life of all Southern Baptists, and the ERLC is committed to ensuring that every person who seeks the Word of God has access to it,” Russell Moore said, according to press reports. “Extending the tariffs to include the Bible will impact the religious liberty of millions of Americans.”
Cheap Bibles are a religious liberty issue.
Reminder: Russell Moore did his best to suppress evangelical voter turnout for Donald Trump during the 2016 election—which, if evangelical voters had listened to Dr. Moore, would’ve resulted in the election of Hillary Clinton. So, his commitment to religious liberty is highly subjective.
But, and this is probably the most important part of Dr. Moore’s statement on the tariffs, it would hurt the Southern Baptist Convention’s publishing venture LifeWay.
In other words, it might lower Lifeway’s profits.
According to Dr. Moore, “The proposed tariffs will significantly impact a diverse readership who benefit from books and other educational, scientific, and religious resources printed in China.
“For example, LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay) is an entity of the SBC that equips churches, Southern Baptists, and other evangelical Christians. LifeWay is entirely funded through its sales; any excess revenue is used to support its own ministry work and other ministries around the world. Higher manufacturing costs for Bibles, prayer books, and other church literature covered under 4901.00.00.40 would make Lifeway’s work—and the ministry work of other religious organizations—infeasible.”
So, there you have it. Trade policy is a Gospel issue.
Thankfully, the Gospel priority of (no tariffs?) apparently lines up with helping make LifeWay profitable.