By Miguel De La Torre
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., was quoted widely concerning the re-election of President Barack Obama. If afforded equal time, here’s how I would respond to comments attributed to him Nov. 8 on NPR, the New York Times on Nov. 9 and his blog on Nov. 7.
Mohler: “Millions of American evangelicals are absolutely shocked by not just the presidential election, but by the entire avalanche of results that came in. I think this was an evangelical disaster” (New York Times).
De La Torre: Brother Al, you confuse evangelicalism with white, male America. Continuing to fuse white/right political leaning with the message of Christ does a disservice to the gospel.
A majority of Christ-believing Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, women and the young — a good number who are evangelicals — saw this election as a blessing from God. Most of us feared Romney, because he was very open about his allegiance to the Golden Calf of Wall Street and capital. We were shocked by your support for those who follow such false gods.
Mohler: “It’s not that our message — we think abortion is wrong, we think same-sex marriage is wrong — didn’t get out. It did get out” (New York Times). “Our message was rejected by millions of Americans who went to the polls and voted according to a contrary worldview” (NPR).
De La Torre: Amen! White evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate — 3 percent more than in 2004. But what you and Gov. Romney failed to realize is that the evangelical share of the population is both declining and graying. The message of Christ was not rejected, just your interpretation of the message of Christ — a subjective interpretation based more on your social location than what the gospel calls for.
If you think abortion is wrong, then don’t get one. If you are against same-sex marriage, then don’t marry a man. If you are against contraception, then have more than two children. These are your rights as a U.S. citizen, but what you do not have a right to do is impose your interpretation upon others. In a pluralistic democratic society, no religious leader or group — no matter how much truth they claim to hold — can impose their interpretation of faith upon others who disagree.
Mohler: “It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed. An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them” (New York Times). “Far fewer Americans now attend church, and a recent study indicated that fully 20 percent of all Americans identify with no religious preference at all” (AlbertMohler.com).
De La Torre: Maybe this is because the racism, sexism and heterosexism of the church have not been honestly examined.
When the church hour continues to be the most segregated hour of the week, why are you surprised your positions are rejected? When women can be CEOs but not pastors, why are you surprised your positions are rejected? When our LGBT sisters and brothers in Christ are continuously told that they are an abomination, why are you surprised your positions are rejected?
Mohler: “Four states dealt with the issue of same-sex marriage, and after 31 to 33 straight victories we’ve been handed a rather comprehensive set of defeats on the issue of the integrity of marriage” (NPR).
De La Torre: Please understand that you were handed a defeat because you stand on the wrong side of history. Fifty years from now, if not sooner, Christians will look back at the church’s pronouncements against same-sex marriage with the same disdain as we who now look back at Jim Crow laws.
Mohler: “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, and that cannot, that cannot, serve the cause of Christ” (NPR).
De La Torre: If you want to reach younger Americans and Latina/os, then you will need to change to make God’s word relevant to the America of the 21st century. You can begin by redefining the “sanctity of life.” As a believer in the imago Dei which resides in all humans, sanctity of life must influence all your political positions.
You can’t say you believe in the sanctity of life and oppose universal health care. You can’t say you believe in the sanctity of life and support war or torture. You can’t say you believe in the sanctity of life and remain silent as the undocumented die crossing the desert.
You can’t say you believe in the sanctity of life and support a tax structure or an economic system that contributes to an increasing gap between the rich and the poor. You can’t say you believe in the sanctity of life and support capital punishment. I invite you to come join us who believe in and follow the God of life.
Mohler: “No party can win if it is seen as heartless. No party can win if it appeals only to white and older Americans. No party can win if it looks more like the way to the past than the way to the future” (Albert Mohler.com).
De La Torre: Si hermano Alberto, but I would add, neither can a church or a denomination.