Southern Baptist figurehead Russell Moore will not be fired over his outspoken criticism of Donald Trump after rumours circulated around a meeting he had with a senior denominational leader.
The embattled Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's influential Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, met with Frank Page, the president of the denomination's Executive Committee on Monday, but emerged unscathed. A statement said the two-hour meeting strengthened the pair's friendship and understanding on how to move forward.
'We fully support one another and look forward to working together on behalf of Southern Baptists in the years to come. We will collaborate on developing future steps to deepen connections with all Southern Baptists as we work together to advance the great commission of our lord Jesus Christ,' the statement read.
The pair 'met as colleagues committed to the same priorities of proclaiming the gospel' to everyone, it added. They also discussed biblical and gospel issues, including religious liberty, racial reconciliation and the sanctity of human life.
It came amid controversy over Moore's trenchant opposition to US President Donald Trump and speculation suggested Page may ask him to step down.
Exit polls suggested 81 per cent of self-proclaiming white evangelicals voted for Trump, many of them Southern Baptists.
More than 100 SBC churches have now said they will withhold contributions to the denomination's Cooperative Program, from which Moore's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is funded, in protest at his outspoken criticism.
Former president of the SBC Pastor Jack Graham has accused Moore of 'disrespectfulness' towards his fellow evangelicals. Graham's Texas church is withholding $1million in funds over concerns at the denomination's direction, he told the Baptist Message.
But Moore has been backed by black Baptist leaders calling for a reconciliation between the ethicist and his critics.
Byron Day, president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote in an open letter to the SBC posted on Baptist Press that while 'feathers have been ruffled on both sides', 'obedience to the Bible's teaching can surely offer a solution so that we can get back to working together to share the good news of God's love, forgiveness, and gift of eternal life'.
He said: 'There are some who have suggested withholding cooperative dollars until Dr. Moore is either disciplined or fired. However, Russell Moore has done nothing worthy of discipline or firing.'
He added: 'He has represented all Southern Baptists, contending for the highly visible ethical issues of abortion and biblical marriage; but he has also addressed social injustices such as racism which have been long overlooked.'