(RNS) — Russell Moore, head ethicist for the country’s largest Protestant denomination, called on Donald Trump to resign as president after Wednesday’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“Mr. President, people are dead,” Moore tweeted Friday (Jan. 8) after Trump boasted on social media about the “great American Patriots” that voted for him. “The Capitol is ransacked. There are 12 dangerous days for our country left. Could you please step down and let our country heal?”
In a statement to Religion News Service, Moore clarified that he doesn’t expect the 25th Amendment, in which the Vice President takes over powers if a president is deemed unfit to lead, to come into play.
“It is clear that if the 25th Amendment were going to be invoked, it likely already would have happened,” Moore told RNS. “I will wait to see specifically what is proposed, but the Congress, the Cabinet, the courts, and the president himself should all take this seriously. This is a dangerous time for our country.”
Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and an outspoken Never Trumper, has been critical of the president since the 2016 campaign, saying Trump was unfit for office, and once referred to Trump as “an arrogant huckster.” That has led to pushback from fellow Southern Baptist leaders and from Trump himself, who once called Moore a “nasty guy with no heart!”
Moore’s opposition has come at a cost. Churches whose pastors supported Trump threatened to withhold funds from the denomination because of the entity head’s actions. A task force is currently investigating whether concerns about the ERLC have led to a drop in giving.
Richard Land, Moore’s predecessor, by contrast, has been an enthusiastic Trump supporter and informal faith advisor to the President. After the editor of Christianity Today argued Trump should be removed from office during impeachment in 2019, Land rushed to the president’s defense. He co-authored an editorial defending the president and saying critics were out of touch with regular evangelicals.
This week, Land condemned the attack on the Capitol but made no mention of Trump.
Moore is not the only prominent evangelical to join faith leaders calling for Trump to leave.
David French, a Christian author and outspoken Never Trumper, went even further than Moore in denouncing the president. He defended Capitol Police, even though they were unable to hold back the mob attacking the Capital
“Prosecute the rebels,” he said on social media. “Impeach Trump. Expel Hawley.”
Leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a prominent Black Protestant denomination, also called for Trump’s removal from office, “either by the 25th Amendment, impeachment, or his resignation.”
“Trump must be resigned or be removed,” AME leaders said in a statement.
A number of other faith groups have voiced support for Trump’s impeachment or removal from office, including Faith for Black Lives, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism, Mormon Women for Ethical Government, and The National Council of Jewish Women.
Jack Jenkins contributed to this report.