In the lead up to the 2020 election, white evangelical leaders were at a crossroads. While the majority of white evangelicals voted for President Donald Trump, a vocal minority was steadfastly against such a move. Notable white evangelical leaders like Beth Moore, John Piper and Max Lucado spoke up about their distaste for the incumbent President, even as others like John MacArthur and Robert Jeffress stood by their support for Trump. And few calls to vote for Trump received more attention than Dr. Al Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who condemned Trump as “the great evangelical embarrassment” in 2016. “Never. Ever. Period.” Mohler tweeted.
He changed his mind in 2020, arguing that Trump had governed as a good conservative even if his tweets had been unsavory. “President Trump has gone far beyond what would have been politically necessary to secure his base,” Mohler argued. “He has staked his place in history and has defied the accommodationist temptation and has given pro-life Americans more than any other president.”
But then Wednesday, Trump incited a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol building and sent Washington D.C. into nigh-unprecedented chaos. The riots sent elected leaders into hiding while marauders roamed the halls, and left four people dead. Trump has refused to accept the results of the election, baselessly alleging mass voter fraud on the part of Democrats and, really, any politician or public figure who fails to support his conspiracy theories. What happened was shocking though not, as many have noted, particularly surprising to anyone who was paying attention. Trump has been pushing his supporters to violence all along, and frequently declining to condemn them when they obey. His “both sides” comment regarding the Charlottesville riots is the most famous example, but there are plenty of others.
At the Houston Chronicle, reporter Robert Downen reached out to Mohler to see if Wednesday’s tragic events had provoked a change of heart. They have not.
“I stand by the comments that I’ve made at every point,” Mohler told Downen. “If I could rewind history and know then what I know now, we’d be talking about a different kind of judgment. But we have to live life in a temporal line and seek to be faithful in those moments.”
Mohler expressed shock and sadness over the events, and the Christian symbolism that was dragged along with it, but said he did not regret voting for Trump in the “binary system.” That said, Mohler did say that Trump “bears full responsibility for his actions and his words. And he bears full responsibility for encouraging what amounted to an attempted insurrection against the United States government.”
There’s a lot more to the conversation and Downen does a good job pressing Mohler on his opinions. You can, and should, read the whole conversation here.
On Mohler’s daily podcast The Briefing, he again addressed the issue of his vote, saying that while he was dismayed by what happened Wednesday, he had no regrets. “I voted for Donald Trump for president of the United States. I encouraged others to vote for him too,” Mohler said. “Based upon the binary choice we faced on November the third, I believe then that that was the right action to take, and going back to November the third, I would do the same thing again.”