Rev. Thomas Littleton
Evangelist Reaching New York City
During the Height of the AIDS Crisis
An Open Letter to Dr. Russell Moore
I write this letter to you, Dr. Moore, at a time when your reputation within the SBC has taken a turn. Being aware that many voices are joining the public discourse, I wanted to hit pause in the critique and appeal to you directly and openly. I am a minister in evangelism which places me on the front lines of culture and with the people you and others often refer to as postmoderns, nones, and millennials. These designations are persons in evangelism we have always referred to with deep affection as the lost.
The one constant in your tone and talking points has been that we have lost this generation and did so in part because we engaged the culture war. According to you, we have lost that as well. In your efforts to repair the breech, restore the tarnished image of the SBC and obtain much needed credibility for the ERLC in the public square, you have lost something yourself. Lest I weary you and go beyond my area of experience, calling, and expertise, let me focus on how you have engaged one of the most needy people groups in the current cultural theater, the LGBTQ.
As an evangelist, I worked in NYC during a decade of rabid activism and an unchecked AIDS epidemic. I have also ministered for 39 years on campuses and in cities around the globe. I know this segment of society and many in it very well.
Your Wall Street Journal interview in October of 2013 drew my attention and raised my concern immediately. You clearly did not understand this community, its history or its tactics. Perhaps being new to DC you failed to recognize the template I observed in NYC being overlaid in every federal agency by the Obama administration. LGBTQ activists were appointed in large, unprecedented numbers as hundreds of millions of dollars poured in to activate their radical agenda in America against the three Institutions of military, marriage, and faith. It appeared you were being played.
Picture yourself, Dr. Moore, as the newly appointed general placed at the head of 16 million troops fearful for their children’s future (most parents will agree with this, if honest), and concerned for religious freedoms, after decades of dealing with the true face of the gay rights movement, and your first words were: “We lost.”
Then we were ordered to “be winsome” and make more friends with those whose goals are to redefine marriage, family, faith, sexuality and gender for our five-year-olds. Here I speak about Planned Parenthood’s presence behind the LGBTQ movement with over a billion dollars per year (half of that tax dollars, and much of it Christian tax dollars), to accomplish long awaited cultural victories. Above all, the “outdated” institution of the church “needed to be done away with or its opposition crushed” to allow the advancement of their group.
You see, Dr. Moore, it is most likely you have taken this movement at face value or as it misrepresents itself. Following the manifesto of the late eighties, After the Ball, the gay rights movement has portrayed itself as victims (an intentional mask) not aggressors, and the worst offenders in this victimization are Christians and the Church. This approach over three decades has worked to disguise the movement, its tactics and its goals, hiding its silent partners like Planned Parenthood.
Ask the leadership of Focus on the Family when this hate-filled agenda came to their doorstep under the banner of the Human Rights Campaign and their For the Bible Tells Me So documentary, which was financed by the Huffington fortune. I have to ask how much you really know about this movement or its history. Your apparent naivete has allowed it to gain more ground during your tenure—even inside the church—than ever before.
My Personal ERLC Experience
After that October WSJ interview, I personally reached out to you as I was in the midst of a full-frontal assault from the LGBTQ activist community. My work with a Christian Arts and Historic Restoration legacy (something that would perfectly fit your view of engagement as an outreach to university students and the arts community) was being invaded. Our small but faithful group of volunteers needed allies to prevent an SBC minister’s legacy from becoming a platform for the LGBTQ funding of the NEA and private sector siblings, coupled with the National Park Service and Gill Foundation’s LGBTQ Heritage initiative for “Queering History.”
Again, as an evangelist, I was on the front line doing exactly what you say we should be doing—engaging. We looked for you, as an evangelical brother, who espoused the very kind of effort we were taking on, to help us. Our efforts to reach out for help were ignored as we watched a deceased fellow minister’s legacy be wrapped in an ongoing parade of gay artist works and the loss of ten years of ministry labor while suffering personal threats with no allies.
You had your talking points and were sticking to them, ignoring those whose real-life stories did not fit the narrative. We have met other ministers with the same experiences of abandonment by your ERLC as you pretend that the culture war is over.
Over the Top
Dr. Moore, for a time I gave you the benefit of the doubt in that you were new to DC and to the ERLC and were on a learning curve, albeit a costly one for your constituents in the SBC. I was still hopeful, and shared your desire to be more effective in our public engagement, but then you began your efforts toward public discourse in 2014. The ERLC appeared to be engaging the conversation not just about but with the LGBTQ on sexuality and marriage.
I was asked, by a Christian brother in convention leadership, to meet with the activist who came to our city and state to organize communities and jump start the Human Rights Campaign’s state offices. It was an unofficial sit down so as not to validate the activist while trying to understand better their intentions and methods, for which they had $8.5 million in new funding to engage churches in three Southern states.
Because of our candid approach to the meeting, we were told very openly that the goal was to silence opposition to gay marriage and to end the “traditional rhetoric that homosexuality is a sin and that we would go to hell if we engage in it.” The various groups who were partnering with HRC were sending gay couples and transgender or “gender bending” teens into our churches to “test reaction.” There were new training manuals and tool kits being developed to persuade “Conflicted Christians” out of long held Biblical views. (I have copies of these, Dr. Moore, if you care to become more informed.) But the next revelation is the most shocking.
I also found out about the ongoing dialogue between you and your offices on the one side, and the HRC and other LGBTQ activists on the other. The upcoming ERLC 2014 conference on the issues had created an excited buzz among LGBTQ activists especially on their social media. One of your conference speakers who was a “same sex attracted” or “Gay Christian” tweeted out mid-conference that “the Southern Baptist and gay community break bread together in Nashville.”
Some of your staff boasted to the LGBTQ representatives who had been welcomed to the conference that “Dr. Moore is rebranding the whole organization of the ERLC.” I watched the broad spectrum gay organizations hosted by the ERLC use their social media with the ERLC logo as a back drop to broadcast to their followers the excited news of their individual critiques of your conference, thus validating themselves no matter how radical or small or new to the public arena such organizations were. It dawned on me that, whether intentionally or not, Dr. Moore, you were allowing our ERLC to be used for the same type of platform we had fought to prevent our late SBC minister’s legacy from becoming—a platform to promote the radical LGBTQ faith agenda.
This was one of the most heart-sinking feelings I have ever had as a Southern Baptist, and one that came on the heels of my own personal loss, being threatened, invaded and unable to gain even an honest hearing from you. You were allowing all of our voices to be drowned out by your new talking points and rebranding efforts.
LGBTQ Furthers Agenda by Using ERLC
I then went to a former ERLC board member and personal friend to ask what was really going on. Their response was “I don’t know what he is thinking and he has a home full of young boys himself.” This response pointed to the most direct question of all: “Are we really aware of what is at stake in the struggle of our culture?” It is not just for Christians and SBC churches but for anyone who cares what we are leaving for the next generation or allowing to happen, on our watch, under our parenting and leadership.
So I ask you, Dr. Moore, what about your children and mine who are right now, not ten years from now, the aim of, not the lost cultural narrative, but organizations like Planned Parenthood, the major stealth partner in the LGBTQ movement? You are welcoming and dragging the SBC into these disingenuous and scripted conversations.
Do you know why PP redefined the meaning of Q in the alphabet soup of the new sexual minority big tent approach? Q means Queer. Its inclusion promotes the more radical elements of the movement, as they “own” the slur. But Planned Parenthood has substituted Questioning for Q, teaching our children it is normal and healthy to question their sexual orientation and gender AT ANY AGE. From K5 (and even Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 in some places), the rabid and aggressive PP agenda is on the march to redefine sexual norms and gender to our children in every arena of life, from education to recreation to houses of worship and in every source from which they obtain information, including Christian media and curriculum.
Do you understand this, Dr. Moore? Do you know with whom you have been associating? Do you at least understand their intentions, their history and their target generation? Personal efforts to follow up and raise these concerns with the ERLC and with you in late 2014 were met with this dismissive response: “We have a lot on our plate right now; we don’t have time for that.”
You have made your narrative based on the changing culture and, whether aware of it or not, made us and the ERLC the slave of public opinion and these false narratives which oppose the message of the cross. The cross says we are all sinners and that God Himself has intervened. The Bible still and forever says homosexuality is sin, which you agree with, but your assumption that the church is to blame for the tension between culture and the SBC ignores the fundamental opposition that exists between the Gospel Truth and a lost world.
We cannot advance the Kingdom by offering our children on the altars of a new sexual revolution fueled by progressive politics and the corporate foundation funding which is backing the very people to whom you roll out the welcome mat and portray as victims of the church. You have become a Prophet of Shame to Christians who want to be salt and light and to stand boldly and often under threat. Your opposition to preventing a second Clinton regime (and the would-be result of a continuation of Obama policy) is a total mystery to most thinking believers.
The idea that the LGBTQ agenda is a civil rights movement is false, yet you seem to have bought in. The culture war is not the construct of the Christian Right whose eulogy you and others so eagerly proclaim. This war is between light and darkness. The Christian ethic represents the Gospel Light which in our nation has had a great deal of impact on the culture in the past through the Religious Liberty you are commissioned to represent.
Who has bewitched you that you have not obeyed your calling? I love you and pray for you as many who share these concerns do. But I ask again what is going on with you? Why do you think we need schooling to correct our values or define our place in the public square? I point out that most of us live more in that realm than you do in light of your recent experience as a Seminary professor or in the offices at the ERLC.
You were not hired to improve the SBC’s poor image or to engage some public posture to rebrand us. Herein lies a possible insight into the core problem. Is the church’s mission and the SBC’s future success to be measured by how we poll in public perception or by the living epistles of those changed by the Gospel we preach?
Is the Great Commission nothing more than building Christian Community and delivering Social Justice to a collective victimized neighborhood so they might like us more one day and join our churches? Or is it the overall impact on cultural and national life resulting from the bold proclaiming of the Word of Truth, resulting in the individual salvation and transformation many of us in the church have both seen and experienced firsthand?
I say the latter.
Dr. Moore, the WSJ article of 2013 reminded me of the ten spies who came back with an evil report and discouraged the hearts of God’s people. Are you leading us into an Evangelical Wilderness? To watch you welcome to ERLC conferences the very people hired to target our churches and our children and to hear them boast that you are breaking bread together makes me wonder if you understand the communion of the saints at all. Do not imagine that you will remove the reproach of the Cross from Southern Baptist life without becoming the enemy of it.