Though the Southern Baptists' ethics commission hasn't taken a side on the Scientology case, Moore said he isn't afraid to stand with strange allies against affronts to religious liberty.
"What's happening now is that with the secularization of American culture and a pluralizing American religious scene, there are so many new incursions upon religious liberty that very diverse coalitions are being formed," he said. "There is definitely going to be more of this. Religious liberty is going to be a pressing issue for the foreseeable future, and one thing we have to do as evangelicals is to stand for not only our own religious liberty, but religious liberty for everybody."
University of Saint Thomas law professor Thomas Berg agrees. "That is a genuine question: Should you weigh in on behalf of a group where you have serious problems with some of the group's actions? You have to be willing to do that in some cases."
But he thinks churches should also be willing—even eager—to acknowledge the troubling moral issues when taking a side in a case that involves allegations of abuse, forced abortion, and other heinous behavior.
"There are more costs to intervening in cases with heinous behavior. They're still only allegations, but yes, you have to acknowledge these things are alleged. It's important for moral and legal reasons, and for the public's perception of what you do, to make proper acknowledgement of what you agree with and what you're defending and not defending."
The NCC brief, which it filed with two Scientologists and the Queens (N.Y.) Federation of Churches, doesn't make any mention of the abuse allegations. Published reports said officials at the Episcopal Church, a member of the NCC, objected to the brief after learning about it. CT was unable to confirm those reports.
The Supreme Court, which accepts about 80 cases each year, will announce the list of petitions granted after its September 30 conference.