Al Mohler dismayed by 'American nightmare' on US Capitol, but stands by Trump vote

President Donald J. Trump walks from the Oval Office to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2021, en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md. to begin his trip to Georgia. | White House/Joyce N. Boghosian

Though dismayed by the “American nightmare” that took place on Capitol Hill, Southern Baptist leader Al Mohler said he stands by his vote for President Donald Trump, as he “could not” vote for Joe Biden in a binary system.

“I stand by the comments that I've made at every point,” Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told The Houston Chronicle on Wednesday evening. “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.”

The evangelical leader, who did not vote for Trump in 2016 but later supported him in 2020, called the storming of the U.S. Capitol “the unfolding of an American tragedy and scandal.”

“This is a sight I never thought Americans would see: The necessity of the National Guard called out basically to protect the United States Capitol and the work of Congress in fulfilling its constitutional responsibility,” he said.

He condemned those who protested while carrying “JESUS 2020” signs and “In God We Trust” banners, stressing that though “attempts to co-opt Christianity for political purposes” aren’t new, there is “absolute shock in the extent to which it was on full display in Washington.”

Mohler said he does not regret voting for Trump in the “binary system,” but argued the president “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.”

“Today I could not vote for Joe Biden any more than I could not vote for him on November the third,” he explained.

“But what we have seen is the true character of Donald Trump come out in a way that I do find not — that I don't accept was merely inevitable.”

When pressed, Mohler reiterated he did not choose Trump as the nominee of the Republican Party, nor did he “choose a binary in which I have to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, or Joe Biden and Donald Trump.”

“So there's no way to enter into this as if there is some realistic alternative. And so the Never Trumpers can feel quite self-satisfied. But the reality is that I don't believe their position was any more tenable,” he said. 

Mohler later reiterated his position on his daily podcast The Briefing, explaining that while he was dismayed by what happened Wednesday, he had no regrets about his voting choice.  

“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.”

Other SBC leaders condemned the violence at the Capitol, including Russell Moore, J.D. Greear, and Beth Moore.

“I don't know the Jesus some have paraded and waved around in the middle of this treachery today. They may be acting in the name of some other Jesus but that's not Jesus of the Gospels,” Beth Moore tweeted. 

In a lengthy op-ed for the Gospel Coalition, Russell Moore lamented it will take “decades to rebuild from the wreckage in this country.”

“But, as Christians, we can start now—just by not being afraid to say what is objectively the truth,” he said. “Joe Biden has been elected president. Millions of babies are being aborted. The pandemic is real. So is racial injustice—both personal and systemic. So is the sexual abuse of women and children. If Christians are people of truth, we ought to be the first to acknowledge reality.

The stakes are high. As the church, we, like Augustine at the fall of Rome, have another city—a city that will outlast all the others,” he added. “Countries can fall. I hope this one doesn’t. But, either way, let’s not fall with it.”

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