Russell Moore told the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee that he spoke with a judge about the false brief the ERLC filed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Moore told the SBC Executive Committee “We pulled it out. Talked to the judge. I talked to the court. Fine. And submitted something else.” Listen to the audio of Moore’s comments here and as a bonus Moore’s remarks include an anti-Catholic rant. But, more on that later.
This prompts a few questions. All of them important.
With what judge did Russell Moore speak? In most cases, lawyers are the only ones who talk to a judge. Why did Moore indicate he personally spoke to the judge in the McRaney case?
According to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals FAQ, “Can I speak to a judge or a law clerk about my case? No. The clerk’s office is the point of contact between litigants, their counsel and the court. The only exception is in an emergency in a particular case where a judge directs you to send a response directly to chambers.”
And this leads to another question raised by Moore’s comments.
Filed “something else?” What document is this?
We know the ERLC submitted a letter asking how it should correct the error and what “other remedial action” the court wished to take. This was filed December 14, 2020. However, nothing else has been filed according to a review of PACER. Here is a screenshot of the latest actions at the Fifth Circuit regarding McRaney v. the North American Mission Board.
What is the latest on the case? Did the ERLC file something else? If so, what? It should be public. Did the 5th Circuit privately tell the ERLC that everything is fine? If so, why isn’t this public?
Is Russell Moore pretending it is OK to file a materially false amicus brief with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and then only correct the record after you lose the en banc request and websites exposed your lie?
Which raises serious ethical questions about the leadership of the ERLC.
And that ethical issue prompts another important question about the origin of the false ERLC brief—Did anyone at ERLC have conversations with NAMB before filing the amicus brief?
Russell Moore’s cynical anti-Catholic rhetoric
As noted above, Russell Moore engaged in anti-Catholic rhetoric before the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. In order to deflect criticism from his own incompetence, Moore blamed Catholic lawyers of the Thomas More Society for the ERLC’s error.
“My team can tell you that I was not one bit happy when this came in because, for one thing, it was written by the Thomas More Society,” Moore told SBC Executive Board members who were assembled Feb. 22 for the entity’s winter two-day business meeting. “And I don’t like to have anything to do with something named after somebody who tortured my Protestant ancestors in England.”
And just to make it clear, “And I don’t like working with that group necessarily, but blessings to them and what they do” Moore added. “It wasn’t our brief.”
Let’s compare this anti-Catholic rhetoric with a 2016 Russell Moore comment about working with Catholics on a legal brief.
Dr. Moore said, “This year my organization joined with our Roman Catholic allies in filing a legal brief with the Supreme Court asking the court to uphold Texas’ laws regulating the abortion industry… After all, Catholics and evangelicals have been working together for decades to uphold the sanctity of human life.”
Since Dr. Moore is OK working with some Catholic organizations, it forces us to ask—What does Moore have against the Thomas More Society?
While the Thomas More Society defended a Catholic priest and John MacArthur, Russell Moore was talking about books and music. He fiddled while Democrats shredded the Constitution.
Ultimately, Moore’s anti-Catholic bigotry was cynical.
It was a cynical attempt to manipulate an evangelical audience by appeal to longstanding resentment. In other words, Russell Moore would use bigotry to divide Pro-Life groups to save his own job.
This shows there is a deficiency of Ethics in the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
One final observation about the SBC Executive Committee meeting. Kevin Ezell was confronted about his organization’s reckless behavior in the lawsuit. Everyone should notice what Ezell said and more importantly didn’t say.
When Kevin Ezell was given the opportunity to talk about the McRaney case, Ezell didn’t deny the allegations against him. Odd thing for an “innocent” man.
Let me rephrase that earlier observation—that lack of Ethics is not only in the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission but throughout the SBC Elite. These are troubling times.
What are you going to do about it? Will you continue to fund this mess? Or, will you stand up for your conservative values? If so, make plans to get to Nashville and send a message to Russell Moore.