A Southern Baptist seminary president will join four well-known Republican politicians as a keynote speaker at an upcoming conference on “national conservatism.”
According to online publicity, Al Mohler’s topic will be: “‘Your God Will Have Been Supplanted by an Idol’: The Dangerous Illusion of a ‘Secular’ State”
Mohler is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and an influential leader within the Southern Baptist Convention. He is listed as a keynote speaker alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a likely 2024 presidential contender; Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who has been harshly critiqued for his tacit support of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol; Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, also a possible presidential contender; and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who preceded DeSantis as Florida governor.
All four politicians are closely aligned with the ideals of Trumpism. Mohler also famously endorsed Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
The National Conservatism Conference, scheduled for Sept. 11-13 in Miami, “brings together public figures, journalists, scholars and students who understand that the past and future of conservatism are inextricably tied to the idea of the nation, to the principle of national independence, and to the revival of the unique national traditions that alone have the power to bind a people together and bring about their flourishing,” the group’s website says.
“We see national conservatism as the best path forward for a democratic world confronted by a rising China abroad and a powerful new Marxism at home. We see the rich tradition of national conservative thought as an intellectually serious alternative to the excesses of purist libertarianism, and in stark opposition to political theories grounded in race.”
The conference is a project of the Edmund Burke Foundation, a conservative network founded in 2019. Its objectives were outlined in an essay published June 15 in The American Conservative.
“We emphasize the idea of the nation because we see a world of independent nations — each pursuing its own national interests and upholding national traditions that are its own — as the only genuine alternative to universalist ideologies now seeking to impose a homogenizing, locality-destroying imperium over the entire globe,” the essay said.
“The Bible should be read as the first among the sources of a shared Western civilization in schools and universities, and as the rightful inheritance of believers and non-believers alike.”
Regarding God and public religion, the essay explained: “No nation can long endure without humility and gratitude before God and fear of his judgment that are found in authentic religious tradition. For millennia, the Bible has been our surest guide, nourishing a fitting orientation toward God, to the political traditions of the nation, to public morals, to the defense of the weak, and to the recognition of things rightly regarded as sacred. The Bible should be read as the first among the sources of a shared Western civilization in schools and universities, and as the rightful inheritance of believers and non-believers alike.
“Where a Christian majority exists, public life should be rooted in Christianity and its moral vision, which should be honored by the state and other institutions both public and private. At the same time, Jews and other religious minorities are to be protected in the observance of their own traditions, in the free governance of their communal institutions, and in all matters pertaining to the rearing and education of their children. Adult individuals should be protected from religious or ideological coercion in their private lives and in their homes.”
The essay also extols the virtues of free enterprise, limits on immigration, and the sanctity of the family as upheld by marriages between one man and one woman who produce children.
An Aug. 5 article in Slate cited Mohler as an example of yet another evangelical leader who has changed his mind and now embraces “Christian nationalism” as a good thing.
After the 2021 insurrection at the Capitol, Mohler called Christian nationalism “idolatrous,” author Molly Olmstead wrote, and “pushed back on the idea that evangelical Christianity was linked to what had happened at the Capitol.”
She quoted Mohler as saying one week after the insurrection: “Nationalism is always a clear and present danger,” and it is an unfair accusation to link it to American evangelical Christianity.
Olmstead then reports: “By this summer, Mohler had updated his thinking. Speaking on his podcast on June 15, the theologian said: ‘We have the left routinely speaking of me and of others as Christian nationalists, as if we’re supposed to be running from that.’ He added: ‘I’m not about to run from that.’”