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In a recent column, Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, told the story of how years ago, a church in Alabama stayed silent while civil rights protesters were beaten and children blown apart by bombs. The members said that to speak up would be “political” and the church should stick to gospel preaching. Years later, that church, concerned about its dwindling membership, decided to reach out to its African-American neighbors, but couldn’t get them to join. As Moore says, “Those neighbors now had no interest in bailing out a congregation with a ministry too cowardly to speak up for righteousness when it had seemed too costly to do so.”

Russell Moore likens that church’s failure to speak up to the challenge evangelicals face today to not align with a political party, but instead to speak against the darkness of hate speech targeting minorities, immigrants, people of other faiths, the politically powerless. To be the light Jesus calls us to be in this dark world we cannot be silent. Indeed, preaching the gospel requires us to speak out on behalf of those being targeted by the hateful rhetoric we are hearing this campaign season. As Moore says, “American Christianity faces a test of whether we will identify as Christians first.”

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Weekend Masses in English

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