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Moore to TV audience: Election was a statement from grassroots America
December 06, 2004
By Jeff Robinson
The re-election of President George W. Bush represented a grassroots rejection of a radical leftward shift in the culture, Russell D. Moore said in a television debate on Nov. 22.
Moore argued that the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage animated conservatives and led them to vote for a life-affirming president and for constitutional amendments protecting traditional marriage in 11 states.
Moore, who serves as dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, appeared on the "Kentucky Tonight" program on Kentucky Educational Television.
Three others appeared with Moore to debate the "moral divide" in the United States: state representatives Stan Lee and Kathy Stein and Albert Pennybacker, chair and chief executive of the Clergy Network.
"I think abortion and same-sex marriage were preeminent (issues in the election)," Moore said. "I think the reason for that is because they are so clear in terms of issues that the American people are looking at and saying 'that doesn't represent who we are as a nation. We don't represent the kind of nation that would attack our most vulnerable through something as barbaric as partial-birth abortion.
"'We're not the kind of nation that wants to say we are going to do away with 5,000 years of human civilization in terms of the definition of marriage. I think that these issues were really defensive as evangelicals and conservative Roman Catholics said 'we don't want that kind of radical societal change.'"
Moore and Lee were the two conservatives on the panel while Pennybacker and Stein represented the liberal viewpoint. Host Bill Goodman asked the four participants to define moral values and their answers demonstrated the sharp distinction between the worldviews.
Moore said people do not define the moral order but must recognize an unchanging pattern of morality that has been sewn into the fabric of the universe by a sovereign Creator. Since morals transcend human definition and are based on an objective standard, institutions such as marriage are defined by the ultimate Lawgiver and not by autonomous persons, he said.
"We don't decide what marriage is, we recognize what marriage is," Moore said. "We don't decide what is murder, we recognize and condemn that which is murderous. And so I don't think it is something that we simply gather round and decide.
"I think the term 'values' sometimes obscures that because it makes it sound as though we are just talking about the things that we tend to value rather than these things that are objectively true and right."
Stein listed fairness and equality as values that must always be cherished but challenged Moore's basing of marriage in terms of absolute truth. Marriage has "evolved over the past 5,000 years," she said.
Pennybacker also attacked Moore's definition of truth as holding propositional content. Truth is not about doctrine but about universal love, he said. Therefore marriage must not be defined according to objective truth but in terms of whether or not those within the relationship love each other, Pennybacker said.
"I believe in a God of absolute love," Pennybacker said. "That means that the center of religious life is not proposition or doctrinal, it is relational because love is a relationship. And I believe that when the Bible talks about the love of God, it really means it. Love is always relational."
While the panelists disagreed over whether or not America is a deeply-divided nation, both Lee and Moore agreed that grassroots Americans on election day demonstrated their distaste for the liberal ideology of elites in the so-called "idea centers" of the country. The red areas on the political maps and not the blue ones represent mainstream America, Moore said.
"The country is mostly red but when you notice what is blue, they are the idea centers of the country—Manhattan, Hollywood—these are very deep blue places that are really exporting a culture that I really think the nation was revolting against on Nov. 2,'" Moore said.
"The American people were saying, 'we really don't want imposed upon us the values of the Massachusetts Supreme Court dictating same-sex marriage; we really don't want Whoopi Goldberg speaking for the American people'… They don't represent the heart and soul of America as John Kerry said."
Americans also sounded their voices on abortion by voting for Bush, Moore said. Bush will likely have an opportunity to appoint more than one justice to the U.S. Supreme Court during the next four years and his reelection sends a signal that Americans have grown weary of government by judicial fiat, Moore said.
"We have a Supreme Court that is probably going to be in major transition, perhaps even over the next year and I think the voters had that on their minds," Moore said. "They want a president who is going to appoint justices who are not going to continue that kind of Massachusetts Supreme Court judicial activism."