In an opinion piece on Religion News Service, Tyler Huckabee quotes from an interview with Russell Moore. Moore has become semi-famous for having called out the Southern Baptist Conference on their sex abuse crisis, and getting savaged for it. Anyway, in the interview Moore says:
“…multiple pastors [told] me, essentially, the same story about quoting the Sermon on the Mount, parenthetically, in their preaching — ‘turn the other cheek’ — to have someone come up after to say, ‘Where did you get those liberal talking points?’ And what was alarming to me is that in most of these scenarios, when the pastor would say, ‘I’m literally quoting Jesus Christ,’ the response would not be, ‘I apologize.’ The response would be, ‘Yes, but that doesn’t work anymore. That’s weak.’ And when we get to the point where the teachings of Jesus himself are seen as subversive to us [evangelicals], then we’re in a crisis.”
Mind you, Moore opposes same-sex marriage, opposes abortion rights, and I don’t think I’d have much in common with him. But I admire the way he stood up for his core values. And I find it unfortunate that he paid a heavy price — he was essentially driven out of the Southern Baptist Convention, and is now pastor of a non-denominational church.
We’ve actually seen similar things happen within Unitarian Universalism. To give just one example, we drove out half of our African American members from 1968 to 1970, people who wanted us all to live up a moral standard that the rest of the denomination could not accept.
It’s difficult to live up to high moral standards. It’s even more difficult when someone challenges us, telling us that we’re not living up to the moral standards we claim to hold. Conversely, it’s very easy to convince ourselves that we are right and everyone else is wrong. Especially in today’s hyper-polarized society, where we seem to be unable to listen to any point of view that differs from our own. But if we can’t listen to others, we may find that ourselves saying something that contradicts our core values.