Earlier this week, during the “Pray Vote Stand Summit” in Georgia, hosted by Christian hate group Family Research Council, Dr. Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the audience that they had a religious obligation to vote a particular way or else they were being “unfaithful” to God.
It was a coded series of winks implying that the Christian God wants His follower to always vote Republican.
Every single election matters. But every single election is followed by the next one. And faithfulness now is absolutely necessary—and, frankly, just given the temporality of life, we’ve got to give primary attention to faithfulness right now, 2022, in the United States, means votes matter.
And 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. 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.
Mohler has since clarified that, yes, he means Christians need to vote for Republicans, or at least the Republicans who oppose abortion rights and support anti-LGBTQ bigotry.
That statement is appalling for a number of reasons, but one of them is that there’s a competitive race for U.S. Senate in Georgia pitting Herschel Walker against Sen. Raphael Warnock. Voting “wrongly,” in this case, would mean supporting the Christian preacher over the utterly incompetent lying buffoon whose claim to fame is that he was a good college football player once and who is on the ballot only because Republican believe he can swipe Black votes away from Warnock while falling in line with whatever positions they tell him to support.
More broadly, though, Mohler is saying that God has a political preference… which almost downplays God’s supposed power. It’s a lot more effective to say God transcends politics than to treat Him as a mortal who supports one party over another.
But Mohler doesn’t care about any of that because he’s not interested in spreading the Gospel. He’s a political activist who thinks the Republican Party’s cruelty—from trafficking refugees instead of welcoming them with open arms, to making the lives of LGBTQ people as miserable as possible, to forcing children to give birth to their rapist uncle’s baby—is the best vehicle to promote his faith.
He’s using Christianity to pressure gullible Christians into vote against anything Jesus ever wanted because Republican power in the short term matters a lot more to him than Christian influence in the long term.
No wonder so many people are running the hell away from the Christian label.
Mohler himself gave up any claims to decency years ago. At one point, in 2016, he took the high road. He wrote in the Washington Post that conservative Christians should not vote for Donald Trump because they could not “allow a national disgrace to become the Great Evangelical Embarrassment.”
By 2020, Mohler had embraced the Great Evangelical Embarrassment, which says a lot more about his own lack of ethics than anything else.
He claimed he was only supporting Trump “reluctantly” because “the alternative is increasingly unthinkable.” The alternative being a centrist Joe Biden who wears his faith on his sleeve and whose desire to bring everyone together (much to the annoyance of even more progressive Democrats) ought to be embraced by religious leaders.
That means Mohler has gone from condemning Trump, to reluctantly casting a vote for Trump, to implying that a vote for any liberal politician whatsoever is being “unfaithful” to Christianity. We’re witnessing Mohler’s descent into extremism in real time.
He’s also inadvertently implying that Black Americans, the vast majority of whom support Democrats, aren’t True Christians™.
Even theologically, Mohler’s not even right to pretend voting for Republicans means advancing Christian ideals. As sociologist Phil Zuckerman has said so eloquently, if you’re looking for ethics and values, you’d be wise to ditch Christianity altogether at this point (while voting for the more progressive options on the ballot):
In terms of who supports helping refugees, affordable health care for all, accurate sex education, death with dignity, gay rights, transgender rights, animal rights; and as to who opposes militarism, the governmental use of torture, the death penalty, corporal punishment, and so on — the correlation remains: The most secular Americans exhibit the most care for the suffering of others, while the most religious exhibit the highest levels of indifference.
That doesn’t even get into the abortion issue, where Mohler and his Republican allies are happy to sacrifice living women for unborn fetuses.
In a way, Mohler is helping prove a point about Christian nationalism: He’s tying his religion to the Republican Party. You can’t support one without supporting the other. And at a time when Republicans are embracing extremist candidates, cruel policies, and fighting against the very idea of democracy, Mohler is all too eager to drag the entire Southern Baptist brand down with his preferred political party.
Decent Americans, religious and secular, are better off ditching both groups.