Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has argued that anyone who truly values religious freedom cannot support GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump's "reckless rhetoric" regarding Muslims.
As reported by the Gospel Herald, Trump, who is currently leading in the polls, called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what's going on."
Claiming that "there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population," Trump stated that "our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life."
On Tuesday, the billionaire businessman further defended his proposal, likening it to those implemented by former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt against people of Japanese, Germans and Italian descent during World War Two.
"What I'm doing is no different than FDR," Trump said on ABC's "Good Morning America" program. "We have no choice but to do this. We have people that want to blow up our buildings, our cities. We have figured out what's going on."
Trump's statement has been condemned by some political and religious leaders, including Moore, who penned a lengthy op-ed warning Christians that a government that has the power to shut down mosques also can close down churches by the same argument.
"Anyone who cares an iota about religious liberty should denounce this reckless, demagogic rhetoric," Moore begins, before clarifying that as a Christian, he could not disagree more strongly with Islam.
But it's because of his Gospel conviction that he believes Americans should stand for religious liberty for everyone, he explains: "Christians ought to stand up for religious liberty not just when our rights are violated but on behalf of others," he writes.
"The U.S. government should fight, and fight hard, against radical Islamic jihadism. The government should close the borders to anyone suspected of even a passing involvement with any radical cell or terrorist network. But the government should not penalize law-abiding people, especially those who are U.S. citizens, for holding their religious convictions," the theologian explains.
"Make no mistake. A government that can shut down mosques simply because they are mosques can shut down Bible studies because they are Bible studies," he warns. "A government that can close the borders to all Muslims simply on the basis of their religious belief can do the same thing for evangelical Christians. A government that issues ID badges for Muslims simply because they are Muslims can, in the fullness of time, demand the same for Christians because we are Christians."
He concludes, "We are in a time of war, and we should respond as those in a time of war. But we must never lose in a time of war precious freedoms purchased through the blood of Patriots in years past. We must have security, and we must have order. But we must not trade soul freedom for an illusion of winning."