Southern Baptists Leader Acknowledges ‘Moral Majority’ Is Gone For Good; Now It’s ‘A Post-Bible Belt America’

According to NPR, Russell Moore (41) became “the public face of Evangelical Christians” recently when he was appointed to be the leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Southern Baptists, NPR explains,

…represent nearly 40,000 churches and missions, claiming nearly 16 million members in the country. As the leader of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, where he succeeds the very influential and prominent Richard Land, Mr. Moore will be at the forefront of some of the most contentious issues of our time.

So what is Mr. Moore’s chief objective?

“My top priority is to prepare Evangelical Christian churches to live as faithful witnesses in a post-Bible Belt America. I think that we’re living in a time when the traditional structures of the Bible belt — the day in which Evangelical Christians can assume that we are a moral majority in this country, those days are over. And so we have to learn how to be a prophetic minority in this country, and how to be faithful in a culture without simply being absorbed into that culture.”

There’s a much-appreciated humility and sense of realism to these words. Time will tell whether Moore means them, and acts accordingly.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    No more Christian majority, even in the Bible belt?…

    “From his mouth to god’s ears”

    (Figuratively speaking of course!)

  • skinnercitycyclist

    “I think that we’re living in a time when the traditional structures of the Bible belt — the day in which Evangelical Christians can assume that we are a moral majority in this country, those days are over.”

    He seems to misunderstand the term “Bible Belt,” for one thing. The Bible Belt is a swath of the country that cuts through the south and the midwest primarily. Granted it is a vernacular culture area, and so not exactly defined, but evangelical christians have never been a majority in this country outside of that swath, and that swath does not constitute the whole country.

    Also, if I hear one more rube on the radio from places as far-flung as SC, Arkansas, Arizona, and oklahoma refer to where they live as the “buckle of the Bible Belt,” I think I may scream.

    • khyren

      When I lived in Arkansas I referred to it as the Bible Groin.

      • skinnercitycyclist

        How about the “Bible kick in the nuts”?

    • rhodent

      I always hated that phrase, too. And one of the biggest problems with it is that if you think about it, the buckle is the hole in the belt. If there’s anywhere where that phrase actually applies, it’s a relatively non-Christian part of the South, like Chapel Hill/Carrboro NC, not some holy roller town.

    • Without Malice

      How come so many of those bible belt preachers get caught with their pants down? Maybe they should get some suspenders.

    • Steve Miller

      Speaking as an Arizonan, no Arizona radio station makes that claim. There IS an UNSPOKEN claim that we are the “magical underwear” of the Southwest, however.

    • Pseudonym

      He also seems to misunderstand the term “traditional”. The “moral majority” is a tradition which goes back almost 40 years.

    • Cake

      One thing I always wondered, when they talk about being from the “Buckle of the Bible Belt”, why do they sound so proud? What do they have to be proud of?

  • Jasper

    I think they meant “Moral” Majority… and now we’re in a post-Bible Belt Actual Morality. Christianity ranks up there with the most potent persuading of people to think that immoral things are moral, and moral(or amoral) things are immoral.

  • bananafaced

    I think this guy should tell his tale to the Evangelicals in Mississippi. I know they will disagree! Almost everyone here belongs to a Christian church and they all consider themselves to be in the majority, moral and otherwise.

  • MarkG

    My take: Oops, we’re losing, better make some changes or fade away. The first salvo of surrender!

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    I don’t think it’s “humility” at all. I think it’s part of a marketing effort to try to establish fundamentalist Christians as a persecuted minority in this country. Not only do evangelicals seem to love to see themselves as being persecuted for their faith, but calling themselves a “minority” lets them try to label themselves as a class in need of special protections from those oppressors who would squelch them (namely, us).

    • Justin Miyundees

      Amen.

    • Fred

      A few things always stood in the way of their being viewed as a persecuted minority. One was persecution, second it was actually being a minority. This new view should help them in their goals.

      I do love the bit about being a “prophetic minority”, they get to continue to claim their right no matter how wrong they are.

    • Sue Blue

      Yes – they weep and wail and beat their chests all the way to the bank. It’s difficult if not impossible for anyone with half a functioning neuron to sympathize with the “plight” of evangelicals when they have people in high elected offices (or advisors to such), control of school boards, non-taxable charity status, get-out-of-jail-free passes for all kinds of crime and graft, and the constant praise of the media for their “charity” and “family values” – even while undermining truly ethical charity, human rights, and values. This guy can cry a river of crocodile tears and eat humble pie until he shits blood, and it won’t mean a thing. Evangelicals are still a force for destruction in this country and anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves.

    • JET

      As more people move away from religion, or at least the right-wing kookiness of the Tea Party fundamentalists, they are seeing themselves as the True Christian minority. All those other “false Christians” are moving to the dark side with their acceptance of progressive ideas about education, science and equality. Hopefully these nuts really are becoming a minority.

    • cipher

      Agreed. I think he’s full of crap.

    • smzyk

      Implicit in his statement is that you can’t be moral unless you are one of them, and that there will be less morality in the future b/c there’s fewer of them.

  • Evan Olcott

    I would propose that the reason their self-ordained “moral majority” doesn’t work anymore is because people are realizing that they don’t have the exclusivity on morality. Quite the opposite, actually.

  • Baby_Raptor

    What country does this guy live in? Because it certainly ain’t America.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Don’t you know baby Jesus is crying because Obozo (one of his many Christian names) has destroyed America and forced the Christians to flee to a better land.

    • rhodent

      He lives in Real America™, and as anyone who lives in the real America will tell you, Real America™ is about as far from the real America as it gets.

  • Mick

    That’s what happens at every management level when a new boy arrives: “There are going to be some changes made. We’ve been drifting for too long. Blah, blah, blah.”

  • Justin Miyundees

    What they NEED to do is admit the emperor has no clothes. THAT”S what they NEED to do.

    Grow up already. Tsunamis and earthquakes are not caused by the sins of heretics and homosexuals any more that it is a black cat crossing one’s path. We live on a cooling planet with a crust of interlocking and grinding plates that float on a sea of magma. We know things now and the superstition they peddle is just a tool to dupe fools out of their money. Develop some scruples and stop pretending you “witness(ed)” divine revelations. Just stop it.

    • Mackinz

      “We live on a cooling planet”

      I’m sorry if you meant internally cooling, but the surface temperature continues to rise due to man-made carbon emissions so I’m going to have got call you out.

      • haze4peace

        He means internal.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Translation. “While the vast majority of America is Christian, they are not Christian enough. We are not able to treat women, homosexual, liberals and non-whites as second class citizens, as easily as we were before. So because I am not getting my way all of the time, let me strike a martyr pose.”

    • busterggi

      Evangelical voguing at its best.

  • Stev84

    The religious extremists and freaks in the US really overplayed their hand in the last two decades. If they had been less shrill, many people wouldn’t be so hostile towards them.

    That said, they still have a tremendous amount of power and influence, both in politics and over communities.

    • Tom

      There’s a theory that that was a deliberate strategy. It runs like this: since reality has a well known liberal bias, less dogmatic thinkers among the conservatives are increasingly drifting toward liberalism. In the face of this, the only viable options to maintain the relevance and power of the GOP and similar groups is either to adopt a pragmatic amount of liberal drift themselves, or to really pander to the ultra-crazies and make them the new foundation of the movement. They went with the second option, since the first is incompatible with fundamentalism.

      • midnight rambler

        The thing is that until the last few years, the people actually controlling the levers of power never (or very, very rarely) were actually the ultra-crazies. Consider that until the sweep in 2010, very little of the religious right’s agenda had been advanced over the past 30 years, despite having complete control 2000-2006. They’ve done okay with taking over the Supreme Court, but still haven’t overturned Roe v. Wade and didn’t get much in the way of legislation.

        It’s not the extremists who overplayed their hand, but the GOP power brokers. Now the lunatics have taken over the asylum, and even reliable conservatives like Bob Bennett and Mitch McConnell are getting serious primary challenges from the crazies. They think all the policy promises they’ve been getting are real, and now that they have a shot at power themselves they’re willing to bring down the country to get their way.

  • DougI

    The “Moral Majority” just calls itself the Tea Party these days.

    • skinnercitycyclist

      A lot of fiscal-libertarian-crazy-patriot people in the tea party who do not necessarily give a rat’s patoot about Xianity

      • Raising_Rlyeh

        Except for the fact that when polled the majority of the tea party espouses the same views as held by the religious right and the rest of the GOP. I doubt that there are many non-christians in the tea party.

      • Greg G.

        That’s what they say they are but where they have power, it’s not fiscal matters they go after, it’s an anti-libertarian agenda. It’s stealth Christianity in action.

      • midnight rambler

        There’s a different emphasis in public statements, but only a small portion of non-overlap in the people. Opposing “socialized medicine” and Communism were always big issues for the religious right, and opposing gay marriage, abortion, and even contraception are still big issues for teabaggers.

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        I think that was true at the first few rallies but once the tea party candidates get elected they are all about abortion and gay rights, so while I hear people say that a lot, it just doesn’t correspond to the reality of what the tea party is today.

  • Michaela Samuels

    Well, there was a lack of hostility. I don’t know if I would call it humility, but I do appreciate the fact that he could make a statement about it without throwing some “immoral” scapegoat under the bus.

  • busterggi

    They were never a majority and only occassionally moral – I would argue that the MM never existed at all except as an urban legend.

    • TheBlackCat13

      The moral majority is in name only, for it is neither.

      • ZenDruid

        Like, as Voltaire (?) said, the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ is none of those three.

  • WoodwindsRock

    A post-Bible Belt America? Sounds great.

    The day they’re out of the “moral majority” is a good day, because their concepts of morality are very primitive, and are only harmful to humanity.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    Is it just me or does it have a whiff of “This is the End Times!!!” undertone to what he said?

    • Without Malice

      When you see the end drawing near vote for the republicans; they’re always fifty years behind the times.

    • Steve Miller

      Chuck Norris’ 1000 years of darkness.

  • Matt Bowyer

    Now, if only we could become a “Post-Bible” America.

    • VorJack

      According to folks like Hector Avalos, we are. So few people bother to read more than the snippet view of the Bible that we might as well just set it aside.

      • Matt Bowyer

        We should set it aside regardless. Toss it into the dustbin of history where it belongs.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    It’s a trap!

  • Kobe Amick

    It pisses me off that the Christian Right claim have the Moral High ground when all they have is a belief. A Liberal Atheist can have the same Morals without the Sunday Morning meetings.

    • Edmond

      The same morals? No, I say BETTER morals.

  • sk3ptik0n

    It’s an excuse to continue acting like victims.

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com/ Robert Madewell

    “… the day in which Evangelical Christians can assume that we are a moral majority in this country, those days are over. ”

    About time!

  • kpax2012

    We’ve given them 2,000+ years to prove their “moral system” works. At the realization of total failure and for the sake of humanity, please don’t let the door hit your offering plate on the way out.

  • http://www.rawstory.com/ Mark (MarkusGarvey) Estrada

    Thank you creationists,Michelle Bachmann and Pat Robertson!

  • Robster

    Why doesn’t this fellow pray to his favourite baby jesus to sort things out? If that doesn’t work and it won’t, there’s always that magic god fellow to try or even the holy spook. Surely with three to choose from, one would work, wouldn’t one?

  • Jacob j

    16 million members how do you think you are even close to being a majority in a nation of almost 320 million you need to math better this is why no one listens to you. 5% doesn’t even come close to a majority

  • Kenton Forshee

    “we have to learn how to be a prophetic minority in this country”

    What the hell does that mean?

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    But isn’t this something that various religious leaders keep saying, despite being in the majority? I mean, certainly, there are real demographic shifts. However, I think sometimes they say this as a way to rally members of their own religion, claim that they are now being persecuted, etc.

    I think the interviewer Michael Martin asked some good questions, didn’t shy away from asking about some of the issues for which conservative Christians have become infamous.

  • John

    Has anyone taken a close look at that 40,000 churches and nearly 16 million members claim? Sounds doubtful to me.


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