Weeks ago, in a sign of how white evangelical Christianity has become intertwined with the Trump administration, Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr. (below), a Southern Baptist Convention leader, announced that he would be voting for Donald Trump in November. Why was that news? Because, in 2016, Mohler famously urged conservative Christians not to vote for Trump because they could not “allow a national disgrace to become the Great Evangelical Embarrassment.”
Well, Trump has been worse than an embarrassment and evangelicals have become a punchline. Their constant hypocrisy has never been more apparent. Yet despite all that, Mohler said Trump had won him over by nominating a slew of anti-abortion judges.
The racism, sexism, corruption, nepotism, bigotry, stupidity, utter indecency, and negligence that has resulted in tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths during this pandemic failed to be dealbreakers.
Every time I point all this out, there are people who wonder where the sensible evangelical Christians are. Roughly 80% of white evangelicals voters backed Trump in 2016, but where are the rest of them? It feels like we never hear criticism from the inside.
So let’s give credit where it’s due: Joel Andrew Bowman Sr., Founder & Senior Pastor at the Temple of Faith Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, published an open letter to Mohler yesterday, blasting him for reversal when supporting Trump should go against everything Christians claim to stand for.
… It grieves me to say you have, in my estimation, lost all moral credibility. You no longer have a prophetic voice. Now, you simply blend in with popular, politicized evangelical thought. Rather than being an apologist for the Gospel, you have become an apologist for political conservatism. Your assertion that a vote for Trump or a Republican candidate is THE expression of a Biblical world view is myopic and tribalistic.
You once had my high respect, though we disagreed on some secondary and tertiary issues. As a Louisville pastor for 21 years with affiliation within the Louisville Regional Baptist Association, Kentucky Baptist Convention, and some involvement in the SBC, I am deeply disappointed. I feel like ripping your chapter out of the book, “Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention”. It is all meaningless chatter, empty rhetoric to me, now.
There was a time I was working toward stronger involvement within the SBC, through the Cooperative Program. Due, in part, to your recent remarks, I am placing this on hold. As an African-American of evangelical theology, I lack confidence in your leadership in the area of Biblical justice.
Telling a Southern Baptist leader who claimed to fight racism that he’s full of “empty rhetoric” on the subject is a shot to the heart. But it’s certainly valid.
Every Trump voter isn’t racist, but every Trump supporter isn’t bothered enough by Trump’s racism to vote against him. Same end result.
It’s not just Charlottesville. It’s not just the “shithole countries” remark. It’s not just his support for the armed white protesters outside the Michigan Capitol this past week. It’s ignoring a pandemic that disproportionately hurts people of color, and putting a rich donor in charge of public education leading to policies that hurt minorities, and singling out non-white members of Congress as being dumb, and pandering to African-American voters as if he’s their champion, and whatever he’s bound to do tomorrow.
Mohler is fine with all of that. Even if he gives it all a Susan Collins shrug, he’s still backing Trump, which means Mohler is more interested in a president who forces women to give birth rather than one who cares about life after people are born.
Bowman deserves credit for the public denunciation, just as the editor of Christianity Today deserved for saying Trump needed to be removed from office.
Now where are all the other Baptist pastors who feel the same? Silence isn’t helping anybody.
(via Warren Throckmorton)