A megachurch outside Dallas has announced it will place the $1 million it would have sent to the Southern Baptist Convention in escrow over comments a member in SBC leadership has made against President Donald Trump.
The move by the 40,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church and its pastor, Jack Graham, could embolden more churches to follow, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"A lot of people don't want to look like troublemakers, until someone like Jack Graham, who's well known, does something," William F. Harrell, former member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee, told the Journal. "Then others will say they can follow."
Graham is a former president of the 15 million member denomination, and is one of many members upset with Russell Moore, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, for publicly rebuking Trump during the campaign. Much of the concern came from a perception Moore belittled Southern Baptists and conservative Christians in general for supporting Trump, though many did so only reluctantly, Graham has said.
Moore apologized and said he did not mean to attack supporters when he wrote in January 2016 he feared Trump would not protect the unborn, the sanctity of marriage, and religious liberty for all. He ended the column saying social and religious conservatives would "lose their soul" to now support someone with a narcissistic message.
The Prestonwood church's decision to hold back funding could most hurt the state Baptist organization, since about half its $1 million is normally sent there.
"It's real money," state convention spokesman Gary Ledbetter told the Journal, but said he hopes at least the state will eventually be able to obtain funding from Prestonwood.
According to Christianity Today, Graham said to the Message he is "not angry at the SBC, and neither are our people, and I'm not working to start a movement to fire anyone."
In addition to Moore's criticism of Trump, many Southern Baptist churches also are upset at the SBC for joining a friend of the court brief in support of a Muslim community in New Jersey denied a permit to build a mosque.
In January, the 2,800-member First Baptist Church of Morristown, Tenn., announced it was withholding its funding over the SBC's support over the mosque issue.
Though the purpose of support was to support freedom of religion for all, some churches felt the move was promoting another religion, which they said goes against Christ's commission in the New Testament.
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