Al Mohler Defends Obama...Sort of
The President's address to students has stirred controversy. How should church leaders respond?

Al Mohler, the outspoken president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written about the controversy surrounding President Barack Obama's address to school children today. Normally Out of Ur doesn't venture into the political fray, but in this case Mohler models a thoughtful and moderate response–one that might be helpful to other church leaders struggling to communicate with their congregations about the matter.

Here's an excerpt:

Much of the controversy is reckless, baseless, and plainly irrational. Some have called the speech an effort to recruit America's children into socialism. Others have argued that any presidential speech piped into classrooms is illegitimate. But a presidential speech to students is hardly unprecedented. This speech by this president has led to an unprecedented uproar.

At this level, the controversy is a national embarrassment. Conservatives must avoid jumping on every conspiracy theory and labeling every action by the Obama administration as sinister or socialist...

Furthermore, this controversy smacks of disrespect for the President and, by extension, disrespect for the presidency itself. Both fly in the face of Christian responsibility to pray for those in authority.

After reading President Obama's entire speech, Dr. Mohler concludes: "This message should be welcomed by America's parents, both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives."

However, Mohler doesn't place all of the blame for the controversy on conservatives. He believes the Obama administration's maneuvering and its stoking of Obama's iconic cultural power have led to the paranoia. Read Mohler's entire post on his blog.

In the end Mohler says:

Barack Obama is President of the United States. Christians must be the first to pray for this president and to model respect for the presidency, even when we must disagree with the President's policies and proposals. Given what this president intends to say tomorrow to America's students, count me as one who hopes many are listening. If even a few young hearts are encouraged, those moments will be worth all the controversy.

What do you think of the controversy? And how should pastors and church leaders direct their flocks?

September 08, 2009

Displaying 1–10 of 16 comments

Rob Dunbar

September 12, 2009  12:15pm

Whoa. Take a breath, Sheerakhan. Frankly, I think both conservatives and liberals give offense to Christ–often in the same ways, just over different bullet points. Both sides are hatefully partisan (hey, I read comments on all kinds of political blogs). Both sides create a straw man for the other. Both sides swallow the camel from their own heroes and strain at the gnat from the opposition. Neither side plays fair. Neither side gives the other an honest hearing. Someone (I think in a CT article) gave this, roughly, as the definition of fairness: If you can define your opponent's point of view in such a way that you then turn to him/her, say: "Is that your position?" and hear him/her reply, "Yes, that is exactly my position," then you've been fair. Neither left nor right, by that standard, is fair.

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September 10, 2009  2:40pm

Lots of snide comments here. I think bloggers are a bigger part of the problem than Obama or Mohler. Sheesh. Count me out.

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September 10, 2009  2:31pm

So the whole political, "let's take a stand" thing, sounds fantastic, as far as consenting adults go. I mean if we want to behave like idiots and cast one another off the island that is Christianity over stupid, short-sighted, self-seeking, self-consumed politics, then that's to our discredit (and dishonor of the God we serve), but here's why the fluff-up was so hard on families...or at least THIS family: - we ended up getting permission slips from the district which *had to be signed* for our child to hear from the President of the United States! Students who did not have a signed form were given "other activities" during this class time. I later found out that those "other activities" were sitting in the hall on the floor reading AR books. Who wins in this situation? - so this political football became my child, and forcing him or her to be ostracized over POLITICS!! - I would gladly have my son or daughter be "cast out" or "in" as it were, for the cause of Christ, but red vs. blue?!!?! Come on!! We are living in the land of the looneys on both sides these days...and our kids are the pawns being wasted. So, what did we do? After much prayer and discussion we signed the form, tuned in ourselves, and sat around the dinner table together that night discussing the President's words, intentions, and our thoughts. We reasoned together...I only wish the same could be said for political junkies among Christians.

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September 09, 2009  2:21pm

Good for Al on getting at least this right. But I have to wonder why it took him until September 7 to post it on his blog. Seems like that was after there were already a number of conservative voices saying about the same thing. I'd be more impressed if he had made his solid biblical arguments earlier, when it was a little less safe to do so but no less true. Sorry to sound so skeptical, but this is, after all the same denomination, and the only major Christian group in the world, that was in favor of the Iraq war when it started.

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September 09, 2009  11:13am

"...especially Piper, who has repeatedly blogged about reasons to be thankful for President Obama even thoughwemight disagree with him.", as in you included? Okay, I can work with here is my response to the framework of your response... "Um, not exactly. It's hard to see how someone could write that who is actually conversant with what Piper and Mohler write,.." Conversant, and yet you disagree...good for you that you are not a lemming. However... If you were, I wouldn't have responded but since you are response... The creature they have made, and they being not just Piper, and Mohler, but all the rest of the socially and politically (note, the effort I'm making in the distinction even though the two walk hand in hand) conservative pastors who try not to sound like the nuthouse pastor praying for Obama to die, die, die are the creators of this creature. All of them have contributed to the building of their monster...which is an entire national congregation of biblical and theological nit-wits and half-wits who are so confused about who G-d is that they have no idea where the line between being a transient traveler on this planet ends, and being a fully baked fruitcake, with a thick glaze of crazy begins! This is why we had self-professed Christians yelling during the presidential elections "He's a terrorist!" or "Kill that Terrorist!", or "I don't want a Terrorist as a President!" And why, still, to this day, not even a year has traspired, and the threats from the loony Socially and Politically Conservative Christians RightWing continues unabated and often encouraged. Guns at Presidential speaking engagements?!? G-d help us all! I want you to realize that your side of the asile has gone completely and totally insane. And Mohler, Piper, all those evangelicals who sang the praises of all things socially and politically conservative and denounced all things Democratic or secular as Satanic in the past are now faced with the creature that they have made and taught. And they want to talk reason with it now? Pfft...let me grab some popcorn...this should be very interesting.

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Josh C

September 08, 2009  10:31pm

I just think it's odd that so many parents are frightened by the President having 30 minutes to an hour to talk to their children. Especially after sending them through the public education system 8 hours a day for how many years? I'm not an anti-public school guy or anything either. I just wonder how that logic plays out in the heads of conservative parents. If they are confident in the influence of their parenting in their child's life enough to work through possible discrepancies in the public education system as they arise over the years, why would this one speech really matter that much? And if they don't care that much about what their child learns on a daily basis, again why would this one speech really matter?

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Justin Keller

September 08, 2009  7:52pm

"...over on Piper's blog his constituency is flaying him alive for having the nerve to say this same thing." Um, not exactly. Posts in support of Piper outnumber critical posts at least 2-to-1. "And pretty much this is the beast these men have created...their monster which has turned on them because they dared to say, "hey, Obama isn't the anti-christ!"" Um, not exactly. It's hard to see how someone could write that who is actually conversant with what Piper and Mohler write, especially Piper, who has repeatedly blogged about reasons to be thankful for President Obama even though we might disagree with him.

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September 08, 2009  7:23pm

I think the presidents address to kids is the best thing for the democrats right now. The 90% of Americans that aren't far right wing nut-jobs can easily see the absurdity of this controversy. It won't take much for them to connect this absurdity to the the others spread by Faux News.

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September 08, 2009  6:18pm

"...over on Piper's blog his constituency is flaying him alive for having the nerve to say this same thing." And pretty much this is the beast these men have created...their monster which has turned on them because they dared to say, "hey, Obama isn't the anti-christ!" The falling away predicted in the bible wasn't that people would actively follow the anti-christ because he was the anti-christ. No, they follow him because he told them what they want to hear, and would shun any who dared question the direction that they were following. So the crazier, angrier, and more bizarre, psychoitic behavior Christians exhibit about Obama the more I'm comfortable with not calling myself a Christian. For Mohler, sorry pal, you're trying to play both sides of the fence...trying to prove to the rest of us you ain't crazy like your followers, but also placating your followers so they still donate to your "ministry." And Mohler, one more thing, you are soon going to find out that fence sitting is only going to get yourself impaled, Vlad style, by both camps demanding you choose a side.

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Joshua Allen

September 08, 2009  5:41pm

Right on. The outrage was completely mystifying to me.

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