After civil rights icon and Democratic Congressman John Lewis’ death was announced Friday, Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear honored his memory by sharing one of his tweets from 2015. The tweet, which included a smiling mug shot of the late congressman, said: “Even though I was arrested, I smiled bc I was on the right side of history. Find a way to get in the way #goodtrouble.”
While other SBC leaders like Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also noted Lewis’ passing as a great loss for the nation in fuller statements, some from the evangelical Christian community are unhappy with their praise of Lewis because of his support for issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights.
“What a loss to this country. Grateful for John Lewis’ courage and endurance and patriotism. I agree, with the many who have said so, that there’s a bridge in Selma that needs a new name,” Moore tweeted on Saturday.
“Rep John Lewis’s story is integral to telling the American story. His courage and suffering in the Civil Rights movement are inspirational to all Americans. He will be honored in the American memory. We dare not extend honor only to those with whom we are in political agreement,” Mohler also noted in a statement on Twitter.
A number of Christians, including pastors responding to both Mohler and Moore, refused to celebrate Lewis’ life.
“Get your mind away from the fog of academia and back into simple biblical truth. This is more than a small political disagreement. To bestow honor upon one whose political positions funded and endorsed the killing of millions of innocent babies is shameful leadership in the SBC,” Byron Williamson, senior pastor at First Baptist Pampa in Texas, noted in a reply to Mohler late Monday.
“Lewis had a 100% pro-baby slaughter record with NARAL. Let that sink in. Every single time he was presented with the option to advance the slaughter of the pre-born, he voted yes. Every. Single. Time,” wrote Pastor Derin Stidd of Harmony Baptist Church in Frankfort, Indiana, along with a link to Lewis’ voting record.
Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, noted, however, that it isn’t unreasonable to praise someone you disagree with on some issues.
“Look people, there will be a time to examine Rep. Lewis' flaws. Not now, though. Now is a moment to honor him for his virtues, for the good he did. That's why we honor flawed (like all of us) men like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, King--not for the flaws, but for the good,” he noted on Twitter.