"The Bible Belt is collapsing," Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore told the Wall Street Journal. But he isn't worried, because he says the church is stronger now its made up of true believers who can set a moral example for the nation.
Moore, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, is surprisingly unphased by the fact that evangelical values no longer dominate mainstream America.
To illustrate why the marginalization of evangelical faith is a good thing, Moore told the WSJ a story:
Mr. Moore tells the story about a friend from college two decades ago, an atheist, who asked for the name of a church that wasn't very demanding of its congregation. When Mr. Moore inquired why, the friend said he needed a church to attend because he planned to run for governor some day. Mr. Moore says the story shows that in the past you had to join a church even if you had no belief because everyone else belonged. But today his friend wouldn't feel so obliged because "the idea that to be a good person, to be a good American, you have to go to church" has largely disappeared.
Token believers have left the church, Moore suggests, leaving a "prophetic minority." He argues that "Christians must return to the days when they were a moral example and vanguard - defenders of belief in a larger unbelieving culture," the WSJ reports.
Moore wants Baptists to narrow their focus on defending three issues: anti-abortion campaigns, tradition marriage, and religious freedom. In his view the church is no longer anti-immigration. "We're not going to deport 11 million people without a big government police state," he said.