Theologian and seminary president Albert Mohler says in a new column he has changed his mind about Donald Trump as president, even if he hasn’t changed his mind about Trump’s character.
Mohler didn’t support Trump four years ago and spoke out multiple times against the Republican nominee, writing in the summer of 2016 that evangelicals were tragically being urged to support the “lesser of two evils.”
This week, though, Mohler said he now supports Trump. Mohler made his arguments in a column, “Christians, Conscience, and the Looming 2020 Election.”
“I have had to think more deeply about how character is evaluated in a historic context,” wrote Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Trump’s judicial nominations and support for the pro-life causes helped sway Mohler, who didn’t believe in 2016 Trump would govern as a pro-life president.
“I was wrong,” Mohler wrote. “... I have no means of reading Donald Trump's heart on this issue, but I can easily evaluate his actions. In terms of presidential action, Donald Trump has been the most effective and consequential pro-life president of the modern age. Furthermore, in both executive actions and court appointments, President Trump has gone far beyond what would have been politically necessary to secure his base.
“He has staked his place in history and has defied the accommodationist temptation and has given pro-life Americans more than any other president. … I sincerely hope that Donald Trump – and not Joe Biden – will be elected President of the United States on November 3.”
A Biden-Harris administration “would be, by any honest account, the most pro-abortion political force in American history.” The Democratic ticket supports taxpayer funding of abortion, Mohler noted.
“The mainstream media run cover for the Democrats, with ‘fact-checker’ columns claiming that the Democrats do not support abortion, right to the moment of birth,” Mohler wrote. “But the easily confirmed truth is that the Democratic Party is opposed to any restriction on abortion, up until the moment of birth. The party's dogma would allow for unrestricted abortion in the case of Down syndrome diagnosis, for reasons of sex-selection, or for any other reason, or for no stated reason at all. The Democratic Party is linked hand-in-hand with Planned Parenthood, which is not only the nation's largest abortion provider, but is also the engine for the Culture of Death, unmasked for having targeted unborn babies for the strategic removal of specific organs and tissues.”
Abortion “tears at my heart like no other issue,” Mohler wrote.
“I agree that there are many other issues that press on the Christian conscience – questions of economic policy and foreign affairs and energy and the stewardship of the earth,” Mohler wrote. “The searing pain of racial injustice and the unraveling of our social fabric demand Christian response and urgency. Christians must be concerned about questions of immigration policy and refugees – and these issues defy the simplifications of the sound-bite and tweet culture. But human dignity and the sanctity of human life are even more basic truths, and I believe there is no hope for defending human dignity for all if it is denied in the womb.”
The Trump administration also has benefited religious liberty, Mohler said.
“President Trump has corrected many of the infringements on religious liberty caused by the policy mandates of previous administrations. He has made religious liberty an American priority at home and abroad,” Mohler wrote. “... Biden, on the other hand, has already indicated that he would immediately put the Obama Administration contraception mandate back in place, stripped of the religious liberty protections President Trump has established.
“... The Democratic Party has also decried other forms of conscience protection and would deny religious liberty to Christian cake-bakers, wedding photographers, and pharmacists. Christians in many medical fields will face the reduction or removal of conscience protections related to abortion. These are not idle threats. The legal establishment of the Democratic Party is eager to press these agendas. Mr. Biden has made clear that he would appoint judges to follow that party orthodoxy.”
On the question of character, Mohler said, Trump still falls short in 2020, like he did in 2016. But a lack of character is not disqualifying, Mohler added.
“Let me be as clear as I know possible: President Trump's behavior on Twitter and his divisive comments and sub-presidential behavior are an embarrassment to me. Constantly. His arrogance and ego and constant need for adulation drive me to distraction,” Mohler wrote. “But character is some strange combination of the personal, the principled, and the practical. Let me put it another way – I cannot accept the argument that a calm man who affirms the dismembering of babies in the womb has a superior character to a man who rants like Genghis Khan but acts to preserve that life. In my ideal world, I would vote for a candidate in whom the personal, the principled, and the practical earn my admiration. I do not live in that world. I live in this world, and I must act accordingly.”
Meanwhile, Mohler said the election should not divide Christians. He said he respects evangelicals “who cannot in good conscience vote for Donald Trump.”
“I understand their predicament,” he wrote. “But not voting for Donald Trump, though a political decision in itself, is not the same as voting for Joe Biden.”
“... The Christian church,” he added, “cannot exist in a constant state of political fervor. Election by election, we debate, we organize, we advocate, we vote, and we pray. So much is on the line, but I thank God that the Kingdom of Christ is not up for a vote.”
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.