Seminary president and theologian Albert Mohler on Monday called comments by President Trump about the election “troubling” and said Trump is “endangering” his legacy by labeling the vote-counting rigged.
Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., made the comments on The Briefing, a news-themed podcast he records on weekdays. Mohler supported Trump’s re-election.
The seminary president said the electoral system “has been undermined by both parties” – Democrats, Mohler noted, called Trump illegitimate – but said statements by the president about the election being stolen and rigged are “fundamentally troubling.”
It is a “matter of intellectual honesty,” Mohler said, to call Joe Biden “president-elect.”
“The election was won by Joe Biden,” Mohler said before referencing Trump’s comments. “... It simply doesn't work to say that the political system is rigged in such a way that ‘I could not have won re-election, because even if the people wanted to vote to re-elect me, they could not because of a rigged election.’”
Even before the election, Trump had said he “could lose the election only if the election were rigged,” Mohler noted. He compared the situation to sports.
“It is not an act of integrity to enter into an athletic or sporting competition with the claim that there is no way one could lose the meet, the match, or the game, unless the situation is rigged,” Mohler said. “That would be considered illegitimate from the very beginning.”
Trump’s casting doubt on the electoral process, Mohler said, has negative ramifications outside the U.S.
“The watching world is made up of a lot of regimes, a lot of governments, that simply can't or won't carry off a free and fair election,” Mohler said. “Thus, the United States has a major role as a constitutional republic in demonstrating electoral credibility. When doubt is cast on that credibility by our own president, it weakens America's posture before the entire world.”
Trump’s legacy is at stake with how he handles an election loss, Mohler said.
“It is clear that the election in 2020 for president of the United States did not turn out as I had hoped,” Mohler said. “It is also clear that right now, President Trump's refusal to separate the personal and the political is endangering the reputation of the United States around the world, but it's also endangering President Trump's place in history, which will record not only how he came to the office in that remarkable election of 2016 when no one believed that he could win, how he served in the office for four years of making history, but also how he left the office and ensured the peaceful transfer of power, which is the hallmark of America's constitutional order.”
Both parties, Mohler said, are to blame for any lack of trust in the electoral process.
“The Democrats who are now criticizing President Trump … need to turn the criticism on themselves and on the leaders of their own party for saying very similar things throughout the administration of Donald Trump,” Mohler said.
Meanwhile, Mohler said he favors Republican-backed lawsuits in Pennsylvania that argue the state Supreme Court overstepped in allowing mail ballots to be returned after Election Day. Such a change in law, Mohler said, is a role for the state legislature. Even if such ballots are not counted, it would not “change the outcome of the election,” Mohler said.
“If the legislature of Pennsylvania adopts and enacts into law policies for the election, then Pennsylvania had better follow those policies and had better follow those laws. The Supreme Court of that state should not, certainly in the days and weeks leading up to the election, decide that it is going to legislate the issue by its own authority and power,” Mohler said. “That is the overreach of the courts that we have seen at the federal level, and it is no prettier, it is no healthier, and it is no more in keeping with our constitutional order when it happens by a state court.”
Photo courtesy: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Facebook
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.