Prominent Evangelicals Urge Trump to Condemn the Alt-Right as 'Evil'

(Photo: Adam Covington)SBC President Steve Gaines addresses delegate at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Arizona Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

A coalition of prominent evangelical leaders, including Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines, SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore and Bishop T. D. Jakes are urging President Donald Trump to further condemn the alt-right movement as "racist, evil, and antithetical to a well-ordered, peaceful society."

According to CNN, which first reported on the coalition's request, a letter was privately circulated among the evangelical leaders in the aftermath of the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month, asking the president to improve on his previous denouncement of the group of white nationalists and white supremacists.

It was initiated by Southern Baptists the Rev. Dwight McKissic and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Dean Keith S. Whitfield Gaines. Their denomination passed a resolution at their annual meeting in June, condemning the "alt-right white supremacy." While the resolution hit a snag at first, it was later overwhelmingly passed.

Initial signers of the letter include former SBC President Rev. Fred Luter, Jakes and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Gaines, who is also senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, confirmed with The Christian Post through his director of communications, Jim Barnwell, on Friday that he is a part of the coalition asking Trump to do more to condemn white supremacists and he endorsed the letter.

Other pastors in the coalition who were contacted weren't immediately available.

The letter highlighted a congressional resolution Trump signed on Sept. 14 that condemned the violence and renounced "white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups," according to CNN.

(Photo: The Christian Post/Sonny Hong)Fred Luter, outgoing Southern Baptist Convention president, delivers a message on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland for the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.

While commending Trump for resolution, the evangelical leaders want him to do more.

"Now, we respectfully call upon you to respond to the resolution by speaking out against the alt-right movement. This movement has escaped your disapproval. We believe it is important for this movement to be addressed, for at its core it is a white identity movement and the majority of its members are white nationalists or white supremacists," the letter states.

"This movement gained public prominence during your candidacy for President of the United States. Supporters of the movement have claimed that you share their vision for our country. These same supporters have sought to use the political and cultural concerns of people of goodwill for their prejudiced political agendas. It concerned many of us when three people associated with the alt-right movement were given jobs in the White House.

"Alt-right ideology does not represent constitutional conservatism. The Constitution promotes the dignity and equality of all people. It maintains that we all have the ability to contribute to a just and free society .... We request upon you to join with many other political and religious leaders to proclaim with one voice that the 'alt-right' is racist, evil, and antithetical to a well-ordered, peaceful society."

The leaders further noted that, especially in the current political and social climate, the country needs "unifying leadership."

"Our country desperately needs unifying leadership again. We need you, President Trump, to lead us in such an effort. America needs your voice and your convictions to defeat racist ideologies and movements in every form that they present themselves. America is profoundly fractured and divided," they said in the letter.

"We are praying, and call upon God's people to humble themselves and pray that you would take the bold and moral step to denounce the alt-right. And we pray that we may see the beauty of people from all racial backgrounds dwelling together in unity, from which the blessings flow; and then we may see—God Bless America (Psalm 133:1)." 

Among the signers are:

Dr. Danny Akin
President
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, NC

Dr. Bruce Ashford
Provost
Professor of Theology and Culture
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, NC

Dr. Michael Bell
Senior Pastor, Greater St. Stephens First Church
Fort Worth, TX

Rev. R. Marshall Blalock
Pastor, First Baptist Church
Charleston, SC

Dr. René F. Brown
Pastor, Mount Zion First Baptist Church
Baton Rouge, LA

Rev. Alan Cross
Executive Director, Community Development Initiatives
Missional Strategist, Montgomery Baptist Association
Montgomery, AL

Dr. Tony Evans
Senior Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship
President of The Urban Alternative
Dallas, TX.

Dr. Nathan Finn
Dean of the School of Theology and Missions, Union University
Jackson, TN

Dr. Robert E. Fowler
Senior Pastor, Victory Missionary Baptist Church
Las Vegas, NV

Rev. Micah Fries
Senior Pastor, Brainerd Baptist Church
Chattanooga, TN

Rev. James D. Gailliard
Pastor, World Tabernacle Church
President - The Impact Center
Rocky Mount, NC

Dr. Steve Gaines
President of the Southern Baptist Convention
Senior Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church
Cordova, TN.

Dr. Ronnie W. Goines
Founding Pastor, Koinonia Christian Church
Arlington, TX

Dr. J. D. Greear
Pastor, The Summit Church
Raleigh-Durham, NC

Dr. Joel Gregory
George W. Truett Endowed Chair in Preaching and Evangelism
George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University
Waco, TX

Dr. T. D. Jakes
Bishop of the Potter's House
Dallas, TX

Dr. John Jenkins
Pastor, First Baptist Church of Glenarden
Glenarden, MD

Rev. Kenneth Jones
Senior Pastor, Como First Missionary Baptist Church
Fort Worth, TX

Dr. Ed Litton
Senior Pastor, Redemption Church
Mobile, AL

Dr. Fred Luter
Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church
New Orleans, LA

Dr. Rayford E. Malone
Pastor, Greater Beulah Baptist Church
Dothan, AL

Dr. William Dwight McKissic,
Senior Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church
Arlington, TX

Dr. James Merritt
Lead Pastor, Cross Pointe Church
Duluth, GA

Dr. John Ogeltree
Senior Pastor, First Metropolitan Church
Houston, TX

Rev. Vance Pitman
Senior Pastor, Hope Church
Las Vegas, NV

Dr. R.A. Redwine
Senior Pastor, Soldier Creek Baptist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

Dr. C. J. Rhodes
Pastor, Mt. Helm Baptist Church
Jackson, MS

Dr. Manuel Scott, Jr.
National Evangelist for the National Baptist Convention
Los Angeles, CA

Dr. Ed Stetzer
Executive Director, Billy Graham Center for Evangelism
Wheaton College
Wheaton, IL

Dr. Walter Strickland
Associate Vice President of Kingdom Diversity
Assistant Professor of Systematic and Contextual Theology
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, NC

Mr. Jemar Tisby
President, Reformed African American Network
co-host "Pass The Mic" podcast
Phillips County, Arkansas

Mr. Lawrence Ware
Co-Director of the Center for Africana Studies and Diversity Coordinator
Philosophy Department of Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK

Dr. Maurice Watson
Senior Pastor, Metropolitan Baptist Church
Largo, MD

Dr. Keith S. Whitfield,
Dean of Graduate Studies
Assistant Professor of Theology
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, NC

Rev. K. Marshall Williams
Pastor, Nazarene Baptist Church
Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Jerry Young
President of National Baptist Convention
Senior Pastor, New Hope Baptist Church
Jackson, MS

Daniel Darling
Vice President for Communications
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Dr. Russell Moore
President
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission