Moore didn’t expect to see female bodybuilders tanning naked across the street on a hot June day.

So the eighth president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, took to one of his pulpits: Twitter. “These people told me we ought to keep all the neighbor kids inside while they are naked out here. Y’all have never seen me this mad,” tweeted Moore, a father to five boys.

Moore chuckled recounting the story while holding his youngest during family dinner. The day after his neighbors agreed not to tan naked in their front yard, Moore tweeted, “So far today we still have our First Amendment religious freedom and everyone in my neighborhood has their clothes on outside. #winning”

Compared with today’s myriad court battles in which Christian individuals and organizations worry that their religious freedoms will soon vanish, tanned bodybuilders seem like a minor threat. But the encounter epitomizes the way Moore is practicing patient pluralism—and helping a denomination of about 16 million do the same—in a time when Christianity seems to many as odd as the notion of female bodybuilders was a century ago.

“When identifying as a Christian, there’s an oddness and strangeness to the claim in some places,” Moore, 44, told Christianity Today. “But the conception of Christianity as a strange thing is a good thing for the gospel because it lines up with what the gospel is.

“Christians are becoming aware that there’s a large portion of society who would be relieved if all the evangelicals were raptured.”

While Moore’s youngest son ran around the house after dinner, his shorts ...

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