Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's public affairs division, has shared some advice on how Christians should interact with one another regarding the outcome of the last presidential election and clarified his thoughts on President-elect Donald Trump.
In a recent blog post titled, "Election Year Thoughts at Christmastime", Moore explained that his earlier criticisms of Trump - he referred to the Republican as an "awful candidate" with "serious moral problems - were not meant to offend evangelical supporters of the President-elect.
"There's a massive difference between someone who enthusiastically excused immorality and someone who felt conflicted, weighed the options based on biblical convictions, and voted their conscience," he wrote.
Moore, who has received a significant amount of backlash for his criticism of Trump, acknowledged "pointed conversations in my denominational family about the election" over the past month, "some of them ... directed at me."
"I remember one situation where I witnessed a handful of Christian political operatives excusing immorality and confusing the definition of the gospel," Moore wrote. "I was pointed in my criticisms, and felt like I ought to have been. But there were also pastors and friends who told me when they read my comments they thought I was criticizing anyone who voted for Donald Trump.
"I told them then, and I would tell anyone now: if that's what you heard me say, that was not at all my intention, and I apologize."
Following a particularly contentious election season, Moore urged Christian voters to "have empathy with one another" and said that "we all owe it to our brothers and sisters in Christ to understand their convictions and be slow to judgment when biblical motivations are the primary motivators".
"[Regardless] of which side you're on, as Christians we are called to honor everyone,
and we ought to take the time to understand and not caricature one another," he explained.
"So, if you voted but your conscience wouldn't allow you to vote for either major candidate, don't stand in judgment over a Christian who prayerfully came to a different conclusion...On the other hand, if you find yourself frustrated with someone whose conscience would not allow a vote for either major party candidate, don't stand in judgment over that decision either," he wrote.
In concluding his post, Moore refused to back down on his statements regarding Trump, pointing out that 2016 had been "fraught with ugliness, much of which couldn't be left unchecked".
"...there were some outrageous moments in the midst of the campaign that I felt compelled by my job to address," he said. "...it is precisely because Southern Baptists are pro-life, pro-family, pro-religious freedom, pro-racial reconciliation, and pro-character-in-public-office that I felt it was my responsibility to speak out on those issues. For me, to remain silent-rightly or wrongly-felt negligent."