Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, sparked controversy this week by stating that Christians are “unfaithful” if they “vote wrongly.” Mohler is a staunch Republican, and many interpreted the comments as condemning Christians who vote Democrat.
“We have a responsibility to make certain that Christians understand the stewardship of the vote, which means the discipleship of the vote, which means the urgency of the vote, the treasure of the vote,” Mohler said. “And they need to understand that insofar as they do not vote, or they vote wrongly, they are unfaithful because the vote is a powerful stewardship.”
The comments were made Wednesday at the Family Research Council’s Pray Vote Stand Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, and sparked strong backlash.
“Here we have a sitting president of an sbc (Southern Baptist Convention) seminary who is emphatically saying to vote ‘wrongly’ matters to God,” tweeted prominent Texas Pastor Dwight McKissic. “Voting ‘wrongly’ to Mohler means voting Dem. God is not a Dem or Republican. To imply that voting exclusively Republican is God’s choice defies Jhn. 18:36”
In a follow-up tweet, McKissic said Mohler had also “categorized 90% of African Americans as non-Christians. This statement places the SBC in opposition to Black Christians. Painful & shameful.”
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Mohler is saying if you don’t vote Republican, you aren’t a Christian. He just categorized 90% of African Americans as non-Christians. This statement places the SBC in opposition to Black Christians. Painful & shameful. https://t.co/dsw9GBO8fn
— Dwight McKissic (@pastordmack) September 15, 2022
Expressing a similar view was popular author and historian, Beth Allison Barr. She tweeted: “Because I thought being a Christian was about Jesus. Who knew it was actually about voting Republican.”
Because I thought being a Christian was about Jesus. Who knew it was actually about voting Republican.
— Beth Allison Barr, PhD (@bethallisonbarr) September 16, 2022
Likewise, Scott Coley, a philosophy professor at Mount St. Mary’s University, tweeted: Either evangelical gatekeepers have lost the ability to distinguish their own opinions from the will of God, or they’re aware that they have no actual argument to make and so they’ve resorted to claiming that we should share their opinions because God says so.”
Mohler responded to the backlash boldly.
“If you are offended that I encourage Christians to vote FOR candidates who defend the unborn and support the integrity of marriage and to vote AGAINST candidates who support abortion and subvert marriage, that has been my message for my entire adult life,” he tweeted.
Mohler directed people to his website and added, “It’s not like the argument is in secret code. I am confident the vast majority of Southern Baptist agree.”
More than 2,100 people liked Mohler’s tweet.
It’s all there on the record in written form for you to read. Better make a strong cup of coffee, there are a few million words. I direct you to https://t.co/Frg6grY0D6. It’s not like the argument is in secret code. I am confident the vast majority of Southern Baptists agree. 2/2
— Albert Mohler (@albertmohler) September 15, 2022
More importantly God agrees
— Refining Rhetoric (@TheRobertBshow) September 16, 2022
But others took exception.
“To be clear . . . I renounce his statement and I believe that a fair segment of the SBC joins me,” tweeted Dave Miller, an SBC pastor from Sioux City, Iowa. “We are saved by grace, not by voting GOP. . .”
Pastor Joel A. Bowman Sr., a Black pastor whose church recently left the SBC, tweeted that Mohler had “doubled down on his belief that the bulk of Black Christians are ‘unfaithful’ because they vote for Democrats. . . . (T)he SBC is not a very safe place for Black people.”
Bowman added in a follow-up tweet, “When the seminary presidents are willing to oppose what they deem to be ‘critical race theorists,’ rather than racists like Donald Trump as well as Christian nationalism, that tells me it’s not safe.”
When the seminary presidents are willing to oppose what they deem to be “critical race theorists,” rather than racists like Donald Trump as well as Christian nationalism, that tells me it’s not safe. In fact, Mohler has embraced these.
— Joel A. Bowman, Sr. (@JoelABowmanSr) September 16, 2022
Some pointed out that in 2016, Mohler argued that support for Donald Trump was “the Great Evangelical Embarrassment,” stating: “How could ‘family values voters’ support a man who had, among other things, stated openly that no man’s wife was safe with him in the room?”
Yet, in 2020, Mohler changed his position and announced he’d vote for Trump. He also stated he’d exclusively vote for Republican presidential candidates from now on.
“In retrospect, I made my vote of minimal importance,” Mohler said. “I don’t intend to do that in 2020. There’s a bit of regret in that.”
In addition to heading Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Mohler also is editor of WORLD Opinions.
Earlier this week, former longtime WORLD editor Marvin Olasky accused the magazine of becoming partisan and compromising its news coverage with potential “pay-to-play editorial favoritism.”
Mohler ended his message Thursday by stating that Americans will know “greater joy” when they have “righteous laws.” This, he said, depends on voters voting the correct way.
“We need the right voters showing up with the right convictions at the right time to vote the right way, in order that our children and our children’s children may inherit this grand constitutional experiment, which I believe under the providence of God is unprecedented in human history,” Mohler said.
Albert Mohler – Pray Vote Stand Summit – Sept. 14, 2022
Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. Before that, she hosted a national talk show on the Moody Radio Network, called Up for Debate. She’s also worked as a TV reporter for a CBS affiliate, a newswriter for WGN-TV and Fox News Chicago, and has published articles in numerous periodicals.