The row in the US Southern Baptist Convention over its Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has deepened with the decision by a Texas megachurch to withhold contributions of around $1 million a year to the denomination.
Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas has decided to set aside or 'escrow' the money, it said in a statement to the Louisana Baptist Message.
The church's pastor Jack Graham had previously complained about ERLC president Russell Moore's 'disrespectfulness' toward supporters of Donald Trump during his election campaign. Graham is a member of Trump's Evangelical Executive Advisory Board.
Moore has also faced criticism for the ERLC's decision to jon an action in support of the New Jersey Islamic Society's application to build a mosque on religious liberty grounds.
Graham told Baptist Press Prestonwood is engaging in 'an internal evaluation' of its giving and its desire was 'not to seek publicity so we can make the right decision for our church and Southern Baptists'.
Moore told Baptist Press in a statement: 'I love and respect Jack Graham and Prestonwood Baptist Church. This is a faithful church with gifted leaders and a long history of vibrant ministry working and witnessing for Christ.'
The SBC's International Mission Board also came in for criticism after supporting the mosque application and one trustee, Rev Dean Haun, pastor of First Baptist Church in Morristown, Tennessee, resigned over the issue. Haun told the Tennessee Baptist and Reflector: 'If we defend the rights of people to construct places of false worship are we not helping them speed down the highway to hell? I want no part in supporting a false religion even if it is in the name of religious freedom.'