Bishop Al Mohler Calls the Election “An Evangelical Disaster”

So reports Barb Haggerty on NPR:

Many religious conservatives thought this might be the year of an evangelical comeback, when voters would throw President Obama out because of his support of same-sex marriage and abortion, and his health plan’s birth control mandate. It didn’t work out that way.

“I think this was an evangelical disaster,” says Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

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  • My favorite line: “If we do not become the movement of younger Americans and Hispanic Americans and any number of other Americans, then we will just become a retirement community.”

    Let’s hope so.

    • Brian P.

      The whole Mohler thing was quite delightfully quotable.

      Some many of my Evangelical friends are into this Chicken Little thing this week. The “God is ‘still’ in control” pop proclamations have reminded me, a bit, of Robert Wright’s ideas in The Evolution of God and the doubling down of monolatry of pre-Exilic Israel into the more full-fledged monotheism of the Babylonian captivity. Going into Babylon proved to ancient Israel that God was one and was the One and was in control. This incremental theological shift provided the meaning-making framework for why what they did got them into exile.

      Here’s how it works it seems. Nothing really happens elicits, “God is in control.” Something not so beneficial happens elicits, “God is still in control.” Something beneficial happens elicits, “God is awesome.” It’s all a designed self-reinforcement cycle and works whether than “God” it is YHWH, Jesus, self, Chemosh, Allah, or whatever.

      How all of that gets to the centrality of same-sex marriage or universal healthcare puzzles me.

      In some versions Henny Penny gets eaten by the fox and the moral is an admonishment not to believe everything you hear. In other happier versions of the ending Henny Penny is admonished to have courage.

      Sadly, no acorn has even fallen from the sky. It’s merely the chickens losing a historic hegemony on a different kind of animal farm.

    • Curtis

      The main problem is that a majority of Republicans still view non-whites as “other Americans”, not as Americans.

      • Brian P.

        In many ways similar to the Biblical “foreigners among you” concept.

        • Curtis

          Exactly. That is why you never hear Republicans never quote the Bible when it comes to immigration policy.

      • Best sound bite ever Curtis. Fits on a bumper sticker. No doubt will be seen on a T-shirt in the near future. This is not sarcasm, well said.

  • Brian

    Hmmm…Evangelical disaster…..takes one to know one?

  • George Minerva

    I’d like to think that God is bigger than our disasters. I hear him as he sees the lack of faith in the land, but that’s our job. It may be an evangelism disaster that started a long time ago when I chose to not share what God has given me.

    • Brian P.

      I believe this would be corresponding hermeneutics to, say, Isaiah.

  • exSBTS

    “Bishop”–I think I’ve been away from Southern Baptists too long. When did they start electing bishops?

    • Phil Miller

      Mohler acts more like a Pope than a Bishop, in my opinion.

      • Larry Barber

        He acts more like the head of The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (i.e. the Inquisition), who is generally a Cardinal.

  • Phil Miller

    I live in Minnesota, and I guess I still consider myself an Evangelical, but I voted no on the marriage amendment. Personally, I don’t think that gay marriage is something I could ever advocate from a scriptural standpoint, but, on the other hand, I don’t think that the state allowing it (ironically it is still illegal in Minnesota, which some people seem to forget) is the end of the world. To me, it seems like the completely wrong sort of thing we should be putting in an amendment. It was an abuse of the whole process. It does not seem like a politically conservative thing to do at all. If people are going to say they want limited and less intrusive government, I don’t see how that squares with creating an amendment with the express purpose of controlling behavior.

    My point is that even though I shouldn’t be surprised, I still kind of am surprised at the audacity of some Christians in politics to engage in a pure power grab.

    • Brian P.

      Phil, you’re confusing politically conservative means with politically conservative end. There’s a element of political science here going on concerning ends vs. means and that shouldn’t be surprising you at all.

      • Phil Miller

        Well, I know it shouldn’t, but it still is to a degree. What’s surprising to me is how incapable the movement seems to be of actual introspection.

    • Curtis

      I think your conclusion was a pretty common one in Minnesota. Statewide, only 48% voted in favor of the amendment banning gay marriage. And across all Twin Cities suburbs, a usual stronghold for conservative votes, only one city, St. Michael, voted yes. In St. Michael, the yes vote received a small majority of 54%.

      I highly doubt support for gay marriage is that strong in Minnesota. But it seems many people who might disagree with gay marriage reached the same conclusion as you: putting marriage restrictions into the constitution is an abuse of government and church power, and just plain silly.

  • Buck Eschaton

    I’m pretty sympathetic to the pro-life movement. The Mohlers of the world have been a disaster to Christianity. Maybe if they hadn’t given themselves over so completely to the boot-in-the-face capitalist party ideology they would have been able to make some headway, at least with that issue. I mean they support unlimited, massive bailouts of the financial elites whenever they’re faced with even the specter of some financial loss for their wild, casino capitalist bets. I mean why haven’t they come up with the same idea for women with unwanted pregnancies. Throw money at them, bail them out. Why can’t they say “Don’t sacrifice your baby to the market or to capitalism or to consumerism”? (I know there are other reasons for abortions)
    Why can’t they join a Jubilee party? If the pro-life issue is so important, and I believe it is very important, instead of their support for “Too Big To Fail”, why can’t they support the people of this country with “Too Important To Fail”.

  • Aesop wrote a fable in which a man, a boy and a donkey, travelling along the road, ended up carrying each other in turn because onlookers criticized each of them for not carrying each other. I find that analogy close to what I see in US politics. The GOP and the evangelicals have taken turns carrying each other and the voters BS tolerance, including many evangelicals, has reached its limit. The fusion of politics in the church and church politics in the GOP has finally been exposed as a mockery of the cherished church/state separation platitude. In this election, from my safe perch in Canada, it looks like the GOP elephant swallowed the evangelical church whole, and both are dying of DNA incompatibility. I think if either animal wants to recover, the GOP needs to quit trying to be the Pastoral Party and the church needs to come to grips with Jesus command to be in the world but not of it.
    I’m not expecting much though.
    Elephants and zealots don’t share DNA but they both mistakenly think that power moves men, when history shows the real force behind social change is servant-hood, sacrifice and integrity.
    And that doesn’t let the Dem’s off the hook either. As leaders, they have a responsibility to extend a humble hand toward the opposition, lest they sow the seeds of civil war.
    The Obama camp’s crass politics this election was sickening, and doesn’t bode well for future compromise. The GOP/evangelical coalition sees him as a toreador, to be charged and gored, and that’s the logical outcome of the doctrine of competing authorities that the churches have been inculcating into their members for several generations now.
    Sad, watching the mighty fall.

    • Brian P.

      When the chaff is blown to the wind, when the fire refines to little left, what is the appropriate emotional response?

      Should one be sad?

      Should one be delighted?

      I would think that Mohler knows how the God of the Bible works. Yet among the saddest disasters of the red letters of the NT are that Jesus recasts that worst smiting seems to get reserved for those who pompously think God is going to smite somebody else.

      I find how our contemporary American narrative is interpreted by believers in the Biblical narrative quite amazing.

  • Jim Armstrong

    “‘I think this was an evangelical disaster,’ says Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.” (per NPR). Arguably so, but part of a continuing disaster. …But not for the reason he thinks. What now comes to mind when the average Jill or Joe hears the word, “evangelical”?

  • I read “moment” as “movement” the first time, and got excited…

  • Larry Barber

    The evangelical disaster was in the 70’s and 80’s when the “Religious” Right came into being and became a wholly owned subsidiarity of the most obnoxious wing of the Republican party. If we are finally getting over the gospel-denying, Randian, capitalist worshipping, know nothing Religious Right, it’s more than about time.

    • Brian P.

      Hmm… Might remind a bit of Josiah and “foreign gods…”

  • Buck Eschaton

    I would love to see Al Mohler show up at Occupy Wall Street and say “Jubilee, baby!!!”. Jubilee, the original Christian message. Al could be like John the Baptist and go into the Wilderness where the debtors fled, because if you didn’t want the creditors to take you and your children as slaves you fled into the Wilderness. John the Baptist was out there saying “Return” the Jubilee is here. You can come back, because your debts will be forgiven.
    Mr. Mohler, if he wants to live out the Christian message needs to jump on the Jubilee bandwagon.
    I would daresay that Occupy Wall Street has a more Christian message than Al Mohler. They’re preaching Jubilee, check out their Rolling Jubilee website.

    • AJG

      If he did something like this, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Mohler, above all, is an opportunist and loves to be in the spotlight. I could easily see hime jettisoning his current political and theological positions because they have outlived their usefulness.

      Am I too cynical? 🙂

      • Buck Eschaton

        Another thing I learned recently. At Jericho, the NIV translates that the Israelites were to blast the “ram’s horn”. That’s not really an accurate translation. The Israelites were to blast the Jubilee horn. Jubilee, Jubilee until the walls fall down.

      • mike

        Mohler would draw the line. He is too much in denial.

  • Brian P.

    Can I just say I ***love*** being an ex-Christian!

    I no longer have to a) believe six impossible things before breakfast and b) be mean to other people.


  • Evelyn

    I think it’s time to let Frank know that we’re here for him if he needs us …

  • Brian P.

    I just re-read Schaffer’s prophecy from late 2011.

    He missed the part about weed in CO and WA.

  • When Mohler and other evangelicals recognize that their unquestioned alignment and allegiance to the one political party (Republicans) is the true “evangelical disaster” is the day when evangelicalism will get back on the right track. Until then … it will continue to be a disaster.

    (FWIW — I would say the same thing for liberal mainline Protestants who have an unquestioned alignment and allegiance to the Democratic party. Both extremes are unhealthy and un-Christ-like.)

  • Brian

    Yes, this sounds snarky. Still, any day is a good day when Albert Mohler is pissed off.

  • Larry

    Al Mohler is not a bishop. Baptists, at least Southern Baptists, don’t have bishops.

    • Larry Barber

      This is not me. I have a sense of humor and can (usually) recognize irony.

  • Sven

    “An evangelical disaster”
    Incidentally, that is a very apt description of the current Republican Party.

  • Not over I’m sure, but some retrenchng will be done. One thing for sure, focusing on the white male vote is a strategy that is unlikely to be attempted again.

  • Pat

    In its present form, I can only hope it’s over.

  • Evelyn

    Quote from the linked article: “This election signaled the last where a white Christian strategy is workable,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization based in Washington.
    “Barack Obama’s coalition was less than 4 in 10 white Christian,” Dr. Jones said. “He made up for that with not only overwhelming support from the African-American and Latino community, but also with the support of the religiously unaffiliated.”