Glendale-based evangelical pastor Johnnie Moore, who frequently visits Baku, was the lone voice dissenting against the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s recommendation this week to place Azerbaijan on the State Department’s “Special Watch List” for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act.
In his written dissent arguing that “Azerbaijan does not meet the threshold necessary to be included in this report,” Moore claimed that Azerbaijan has “achieved much more than any of its neighbors” in bringing religious freedom into a post-Soviet legal framework. He also warned his colleagues “not to arbitrarily disregard the [Aliyev] government’s concerns about violent, religious extremism and its national security.”
Moore made no mention of Azerbaijan’s pogroms against its Armenian citizens or its failed war against Artsakh, ignoring entirely Baku’s destruction of Christian Armenian cemeteries and churches – mostly notably the Djulfa cemetery in Nakhichevan, its ongoing cross-border aggression against Artsakh and Armenia, and its relentless state-driven demonization of ethnic Armenians.
Moore is a reliable advocate and apologist for Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev, regularly traveling to Baku as part of a program of well-funded “faith-washing” missions aimed at giving Christian cover to a violent and intolerant regime. As recently as last November, he was quoted by JNS, during a trip to Baku, as saying: “Azerbaijan is a nation that gives us hope that the world can be a better place, a place where religion is a blessing to the world and not a curse—where religion is used to unite and not to divide.” That same month, Christianity Today quoted him as saying: “I believe Azerbaijan is a model for peaceful coexistence between religions.
Moore, a 36-yer-old co-chairman of the Donald Trump 2016 campaign’s evangelical advisory board pays regular visits to the White House.
“This White House, the front door is open to evangelicals,” Moore told The New York Times in 2018, estimating at the time that had visited the White House at least 20 times since Trump took office, averaging nearly once every other week.
“It hasn’t been evangelicals reaching into the White House. It’s been the White House reaching out to evangelicals. Not a day goes by when there aren’t a dozen evangelical leaders in the White House for something,” he told The New York Times.
While Moore, Southern Baptist minister, regularly and robustly praises Azerbaijan on social media, he has remained almost entirely silent about Armenia, the world’s first Christian nation.