Politics,  Theology/Bible

Al Mohler on “Larry King Live”

Dr. Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, appeared on “Larry King Live” last night to discuss religion and the 2008 Presidential race. He was among a panel of guests that included Jim Wallis, David Kuo, Barry Lynn, and David Gergen.

The conversation was very illuminating not for what we learned from those representing the secular left (Barry Lynn and David Gergen), but for what we learned from those representing the religious left (Jim Wallis and David Kuo). Wallis and Kuo both argued that evangelicals should not base their vote in the upcoming election on a candidate’s views concerning abortion and same-sex “marriage.” They argued that poverty, aids, and Darfur are just as urgent as life issues and family issues.

I have talked about this before on this blog, and I will say it again. The religious left is trying to downgrade abortion on the list of evangelical priorities. They are not the only ones doing this. Ever since election 2004, many on the left side of the political spectrum have been trying to figure out how to capture or mitigate the evangelical vote. The Democrat party in particular has been trying to make inroads into the evangelical voting block by appealing to the moral conscience of evangelicals. They have been trying to convince evangelical voters that poverty, the environment, and aids are moral issues that are every bit as important as the sanctity of human life. “Evangelicals” like Jim Wallis and David Kuo are helping them make this case. The Democrat party, however, wants evangelicals to vote for them even though the party has every intention to continue their support for the right of mothers to kill their unborn children at any stage of pregnancy (0-9months).

In my view, Evangelicals should not be the lackeys of partisans when they are thinking about where to cast their vote. Rather, we should allow our political priorities to be shaped by a robust Christian conscience. For this reason, we must insist that the abortion issue is the greatest human rights crisis of our time and that we should not be distracted from the cause by politicians (Republican or Democrat) who care more about shoring up a constituency than protecting innocent human life. It’s an issue of priorities, and while the deleterious effects of poverty and “global warming” may be in the offing, the death toll of Roe v. Wade is already 40 million and counting. In my view, it’s not difficult to see which is the more urgent cause.

That is why I am so happy that Dr. Mohler was there to defend the priority of the pro-life cause:

What I don’t like and what I, frankly, find somewhat artificial and false here is the suggestion that evangelicals need to broaden their agenda, which means abandoning simple convictions on the family, on sexuality and on abortion and the sanctity of human life. I’m all for broadening the agenda. There’s a whole lot — given this country and given our responsibility that ought to be on our agenda, but evangelical Christians are not going to surrender those primary issues. We all have a hierarchy of concerns. And politically speaking, the sanctity of human life and the sanctity and integrity of the family are at the very top of the evangelical agenda. So, by the way, are issues of personal morality…

Here’s the transcript of the entire show: “Larry King Live” (May 14, 2007).


  • Faimon

    What I find troubling is that Dr Mohler (in the quote you provided) seems to equate the importance gay marriage (‘the sanctity and integrity of the family’) with the sanctity of human life. He then adds ‘issues of personal morality.’ If we do, in fact, have a hierarchy of values with the sanctity of human life at the top, shouldn’t the Darfur situation and AIDS rank above gay marriage? Millions of people are dying becuase of those situations, while I don’t think rampaging pairs of married homosexuals are killing that many people. It seems to me that Dr Mohler has downgraded abortion to the same importance level as ‘personal morality’ and ‘sanctity and integrity of marriage.’

  • Paul


    as someone who is both a Christian and pretty far to the left, I think that you’re twisting words a little bit.

    I don’t think that anyone on the religious left is trying to “downgrade” the abortion issue. It is hardly downgrading it to say that it’s as big of an issue to protect the unborn (abortion) as it is to protect the already born (Darfur, and anywhere where these kinds of atrocities happen). In both situations, it is innocent people being put to death because of someone else’s selfishness. To say that one murder is more important than another murder is flat out disgusting.

    I think that if you’re going to be pro-life, then that encompasses a WHOLE BUNCH OF THINGS. Being pro-life, to me, also means being proactive in ensuring that those lives that we save have a fighting chance. Being pro-life means saying no to capital punishment. Being pro-life means being smart about where we send soldiers off to die, if we must do so at all.

    The republicans get one thing right: abortion. But they get everything else SO COMPLETELY BEYOND WRONG that I can’t in clear conscience vote for them.


  • BrianW

    I echo Faimon’s point. I’m not sure why an unborn’s life is worth more of our attention than the life of the innocent in Darfur. Why does an evangelical’s passion for the unborn need to be more intense than his/her passion for other innocent victims who’s lives are in peril to get the evangelical stamp of approval? It easy to see that to get the Al Mohler seal of approval, we need to heighten abortion and homosexual marriage at the expense of other needs. Honestly, the fact that evangelicals like Mohler neglect these other needs, it seems clear that they are not being led by Kingdom values, but by political sentiments.

    Also, I’m not sure why poverty is less important homosexual marriage. With all the attention towards the poor in the NT, I’m not sure why it is so low on Bible-believing conservative evangelicals priority list. The Jerusalem’s church’s request to Paul in Gal. 2 should ring in the evangelical conscience; “Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” The one request from these leaders.

  • Gray

    I’m not sure why you guys (the 3 posters above) feel the need to make the statements by Mohler into something they are not. He never said poverty is less important than anything.
    He simply said that those 2 issues are “at the top”…he did not say other issues are not up there, he just said those 2 are, and those are 2 that often get denigrated as being less important than other issues (as you have demonstrated here).

    Now, I find it rings very hollow when people cry out for mercy for people thousands of miles away and yet neglect the millions of people killed here.
    Do we need to stop genocide? Yes!! But why do you only care abour Darfur? Heck, Wallis was in support of the Cambodian genocides. Hypocritical much? (yes).
    We needed to stop the man who killed millions of Iraqis (Hussein)…but that was met with objections too.
    I think some people will only be happy if we stop the genocides that they choose…or the ones that fit their political agenda.

    Why are you guys not crying out for mercy and justice for the millions of babies killed in America? Try and be consistent.

    I am with you that we need to be concerned about life issues and particularly genocides…but I think we need to fix our problems here in America with our own genocides (abortion and euthanasia) before we can go anywhere and stop any other killing.

    We also need to be concerned with the poor. But, again, it rings hollow to me that rich Democrats make accusations that rich Republicans don’t care about the poor.
    I’m also unconvinced that welfare (it has not and will not worked…anywhere) and universal healthcare means we actually care about the poor.

    You guys say that the evangelical right are a bunch of sheep that follow whatever the GOP says….you guys aren’t much different….just a whole lot more pretentious and less consistent.

  • BrianW


    If you consider the context of my post, I’m referring to evangelical world. In evangelical world, homosexual marriage and abortion are THE issues… the only issues for conservative. Only recently (say, last 6-10 years) have these other issues been addressed and only by those like Wallis, Compolo and company. So abortion and homosexual marriage are hardly “denigrated” in evangelical world. In secular culture, sure, but they don’t have the biblical values that we have.

    Secondly, re-read Mohler’s comments. He clearly says homosexual marriage and abortion are “primary issues”. Can we “broaden the agenda?” Sure, as long as these two primary issues stay just that, primary. Then he says, “We all have a hierarchy of concerns. And politically speaking, the sanctity of human life and the sanctity and integrity of the family are at the very top of the evangelical agenda.” Maybe you misread what was stated (like we all do from time to time), but he obviously is saying poverty and other issues are less important than abortion and “family issues.”

    I can see why you think that “us 3” neglect abortion, but think about what this is; a response to a blog. If I were laying out my agenda, I can guarantee you that abortion would be up there. But I would go about it a little more biblically. Rather than focusing on getting the right President, Supreme Court or Congress, I would spend more of my time encouraging prayer, charging others to live the gospel life and love those confused young women in such a way where they understand what true life really is.

    Finally, are you sure you want to say that Wallis was FOR the Cambodian genocides. As “he wanted them to happen.” I don’t know Wallis; don’t ‘follow’ him, nor am I interested in his agenda unless it deals with Kingdom values in Kingdom ways. But I’m guessing he wasn’t FOR genocide.

  • Paul


    ask before you state. It makes things much easier.

    1) #1 trick of the right: don’t like the message? Kill the messenger! Wallis made a mistake. Asked about that mistake today, I am sure he’d have a change of heart. Many people support things that they know little about, and this might have been one of those scenarios.

    2) Euthanasia is hardly genocide. And if someone wants to take their own life, who are you to stop them? AND(!!!) wasn’t it your buddy Bush who signed into law in Texas the law that states that hospitals can pull the plug on poor terminally ill patients? Talk about hypocritical!

    3) At the rate we’re going, we’ll have caused the death of more Iraqis than Hussein. At least he kept a lid on all of the sectarian craziness that we’re seeing now.

    4) The reason why Welfare won’t work in America is simple: give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a night. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime. Same deal with welfare. Make job training a component of welfare, and we might get somewhere. Just keep giving poor people money, and they’ll spend it like poor folk do. Oh wait, Clinton tried that (Americorps), it was working, and Bush pulled the plug on that, too. And on empowerment zones, which was another Clinton idea that worked, that Bush killed within a week of being in office. Want me to keep going, Gray?

    4a) While we’re on the topic of welfare and or state subsidies, mind telling me who got helped by tying student loan rates to the fed rate? Because every last one of you that voted for the idiots that put that one through probably just kept your own kids out of almost any private college in the country. Nice work.

    5) You can make a case against Universal Health Care when the rate of health care induced bankruptcies in this country goes down.

    6) That gay marriage is an issue at all proves that the right are sheep. Sorry. Our treasure is in heaven. Theirs, as unrepentant sinners, is here. I say let them have theirs. But hey, it’s the greatest wedge issue of the last 50 years!

    Should abortion be at the top of the heap? Maybe, although I doubt we’ll ever see a comprehensive ban on abortion in all 50 states, and short of that, what’s the point?

    And if there is little to no point, then it’s time that we start electing leaders who care about the people that they’re supposed to be representing.

  • jane

    I think the Evangelicals should get down on their knees and ask for forgiveness for sending their sons to kill in Iraq, instead of focusing on abortion and stem cell research.

  • Gray


    1. Those issues are glazed over by many on the “evangelical left”. They say “yeah, but” when talking about those issues. So, they do not hold those as key issues…if they did, they would say so. But they do the opposite.

    2. Maybe you misread him. He said those are primary…but he did not say they are the ONLY primary or important issues. He was definitely stating that those 2 issues are primary, but that does not mean he was saying poverty was secondary. Maybe you are reading that into what he was saying.

    3. Fair enough.

    4. Well, sadly, he did support it. Look into it a little bit…very scary what men will support when they are so adament against a political party or ideal that they let their politics trump their Christianity. Hmm, I guess that charge can be made against the left too.

  • Gray


    Be careful not to assume, Paul. You know what it does.

    1. I’m not killing the messenger. I am not even advocating dismissing everything Wallis says. I am simply pointing out that he is severely inconsistent in his stances, especially when it comes to genocide. Now, I’m not sure how one can be a “pro-genocide Christian” who later changed his mind on genocide while not changing his views on anything else…but I suspect that his views on genocide have to do with supporting communism, and letting communistic ideology determine his stance on moral issues. So, his politics are primary to his morals. That is sub-Christian.
    Moreover, it is very pertinent to this discussion….inconsistency in the application of “moral outrage”.

    2. Who says I am “pro-Bush”? (Remember be careful about assuming.)
    As for euthanasia, clearly that is a tough issue…and the fact that we routinely encourage (both actively and passively) the killing/suicide of the elderly, terminally ill, and retarded is a sad reality.
    BTW, if our belief is “who are we to say something someone does is wrong?” then all of the political discussion is useless. Let’s just not have a government and let man do what he feels is right.
    If you really believe that, then you are inconsistent in your application of it.

    3. Hmm…nice logic. Once again, your political bias has informed your morals rather than vice versa.
    What makes Darfur a more just situation for us to be involved in than Iraq?

    4. Once again, don’t assume I support Bush or that I agree with his decisions. (We’ve covered this, right?)
    Also, how do you know those programs were working? They were in place, sure, but was that actually curing the problem? Welfare seemed like a good idea (to some) at the beginning too. It was thought to have worked. Heck, some still think it is working. (But it clearly NEVER has!)

    BTW, concern for the poor is not limited to Clinton. I’m sure as he is sitting in his large mansion (or should I say multiple mansions) he is not thinking about the poor and how he could live off less money and give more to the poor. None of the politicians are…Rep. or Dem.
    BTW (2), concern for the poor cannot be summed up with support for social programs. That is not the only way, nor is it even the best way, to combat poverty.

    5. LOL

    6. At least TRY and be consistent. If you really think that Christians should not and try and push morality into the marketplace, then why do you use morality (and Scripture) to push more support for fighting poverty and genocide?
    Either quit pushing for change in the name of Christ, or do it in every area and not just the ones that fit your agenda.

    Now, to be honest, I am more concerned with believers making clear what Scripture teaches about these issues than what laws government passes.
    My hope does not rely on a certain person or party getting into office…sadly, it seems yours does.
    You seem to be more concerned with Reps. not being in office than the people there making the right decisions.

    If the govt sees fit to make gay marriage legal…then that’s the way it is. It doesn’t make it right. Currently, abortion is legal…yet it is still wrong.

    I am more concerned with encouraging believers to support and do what is right (rightly declaring the truth of the gospel, rightly declaring the teaching of Christ on all these issues, supporting life in all arenas, aiding the poor and needy, etc.) than I am getting people into office. It’d be nice if people who think the same way get into office. But I have little hope that government will successfully be able to hold back sin…yet, they have a responsibility to do so…and I have a responsibility to try and hold them to their job.

    Your attitude toward abortion in your statement shows what you really believe.
    “If we can’t stop it wholesale, why try?”

    Is that your view of genocide?
    Is that your view of poverty?
    Is that your view of murder?
    Is that your view of stealing?

    Unless we can stop it completely, why try?

    Like I said…your lack of consistency is your weakness in this.
    Your politics inform your morals, rather than vice versa. As long as that is the case, you’ll be led down the wrong road.

    Scripture informs our moral stances…not politics.

  • BrianW

    Gray, then I guess this is where we differ. When Mohler says, “We all have a hierarchy of concerns. And politically speaking, the sanctity of human life and the sanctity and integrity of the family are at the very top of the evangelical agenda” these stand above all other political issues. If they weren’t the only two, then Mohler and other conservative evangelicals wouldn’t be one/two-issue voters. If you don’t think he means that, but that poverty and other issues are of equal importance, you’re fooling yourself.

  • Gray

    Oh, I fully recognize that for most evangelicals those two are the main (for many, the ONLY) issues.

    But Mohler did not say those are the ONLY important issues, he simply said that those two are at the top.

    Do you not see the difference?

    Mohler is not a 2-issue voter. I am a conservative evangelical, but I am not a party-line voter nor am I a 2-issue voter.

    My problem with those on the “(quasi)evangelical left” is that they take the issue of abortion and downplay it as if it was not that big of a deal. If it was really a concern that millions of babies are killed then we’d hear the left screaming about it. But they don’t scream about it. Considering I hear screaming about organic food and nukes, I assume it is because the left cares more about nukes and organic food than killing babies…unless those babies are in Darfur.

    IMO, all those issues are important…but you don’t think we look completely ridiculous when we complain about killing in other countries, yet we ignore it here?

  • Jason

    I think the main point I personally feel obligated to regarding the abortion issue is this. Supporting (sincerely) a pro-life/anti-abortion stance alone does not qualify anyone for my vote, but not supporting it automatically disqualifies a candidate from my consideration regardless of the stance they take on other issues. I think it is entirely possible for a Republican candidate to adequately address issues such as poverty, or Darfur, or global warming, but I’m finding it harder and harder to believe a Democratic candidate would have to courage to take a pro-life/anti-abortion stance. That’s how the issue is defined in my eyes.


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