By David Roach
NASHVILLE (BP) — Southern Baptist Convention entity presidents have registered a range of personal views on the 2016 U.S. presidential election — from supporting a major party candidate to opposing both major party candidates to advocating prayerful voting without naming a candidate.
Below, Baptist Press has compiled the views of six SBC entity presidents, excerpted — and in some cases adapted — from writings and public remarks.
— Frank S. Page, president, SBC Executive Committee: “We hear a lot in the current election cycle about what a Christ-follower should do as the sprint to the White House begins. Some say a true follower of Jesus shouldn’t vote. Others advocate for a ‘lesser of two evils’ approach. Still others hope a viable third party candidate will suddenly emerge. And, as always, some are already ardently committed to their party of choice, irrespective of who the nominee will be.
“I suggest another option — let’s approach the election with the ‘greater good’ in mind. Why not ask the LORD to guide you to cast your ballot for the greater good for the nation? For the greater good for our Christian liberties. For the greater good for our children and their children and their children’s children. But, most importantly, for the greater good for God’s will and purposes for our nation and for us as His people” (SBC LIFE, June 2016).
— Russell Moore, president, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Moore said May 8, 2016, on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” reflect “an embrace of the very kind of moral and cultural decadence that conservatives have been saying for a long time is the problem.” A segment, particularly of “under-50 evangelicals,” not quantified by Moore, are “saying, we cannot in good conscience support either of these two candidates because what we end up with at the end of the day is one sexual revolutionary party that is hostile to everything that we believe in.” Moore has said repeatedly that Southern Baptists long have insisted character matters in elections for public office, including this election.
Moore intends to write in a candidate for president, he stated June 14, 2016, at a Baptist 21 luncheon held in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting in St. Louis.
— Daniel Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary: “Followers of Jesus find themselves in a unique and difficult situation when it comes to this year’s presidential election. Many of us see no qualified candidate for whom to vote. At present, that is my personal conviction and position, something I have been clear about on multiple occasions and through various channels. I cannot, as I currently see things, vote for either of the major party candidates. My conscience will simply not allow it, even as I consider the voting process to be a wonderful blessing and privilege we all have in America” (“Between the Times” blog, Aug. 1, 2016).
Akin told BP in an email, “I will be in the ballot box on Nov. 8 fully participating in this wonderful blessing [of representative democracy] and voting according to my convictions and conscience.”
— Jeff Iorg, president, Gateway Seminary of the SBC: “In forty years of voting (yes, I was eager to vote when I turned 18 just before the 1976 election), I have never been more ambivalent about an election. And it’s not just me. As I ask friends and colleagues for their perspective, there’s little conviction about either candidate and much lamenting about having to make a choice between the lesser of two inadequate options.
“… Yet, people of faith believe God is working through people and circumstances to accomplish His purposes — no matter how unlikely that may seem. So, while you may be voting for who you determine to be the least offensive candidate, settle your confidence on God and His ability to work above and around the people who think they control global affairs” (adapted by Iorg for BP from “Gateway Blog,” Sept. 27, 2016).
— R. Albert Mohler Jr., president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: “Those who are driven by an affirmation and conviction of the sanctity and dignity of human life cannot vote for a Democratic nominee, whoever that nominee may be, who would be committed to the Democratic Party platform’s call for abortion to be legal under virtually any circumstance.
“… But the very fact that someone is pro-life, or claims to be pro-life, is not a sufficient reason to elect that person or to vote for that person over against every other consideration. And when you look at someone like Donald Trump, you’re looking at someone who has made his entire fortune through immoral enterprises such as casino gambling. You’re looking at someone who has bragged about his extramarital affairs even to the point where, in his own words, he has warned husbands that their wives are not sexually safe so long as he is in the room. You’re looking at a major party candidate who has actually framed in his office a cover story from Playboy magazine showing his own face” (AlbertMohler.com, June 24, 2016).
Mohler added in written comments to BP, “I believe that both of the major party nominees for 2016 fail the test of a plausible vote. I am concerned that evangelical Christians will harm our witness by making arguments in this election cycle that will be a great embarrassment in short order. Even though I do not intend to vote for either of the two major party candidates, I will vote.”
— Paige Patterson, president, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: “There has never been an election quite like it. The two presidential candidates both sport disapproval ratings among the highest of any candidates in history. What on earth shall Christians do? …
“We must hear the warning of Christ and see to it that the children of this world will not be wiser than the children of light. Every infant must be the recipient of a voting parent or grandparent who wishes to give that child a chance to live. And our religious liberty must be preserved!
“Choose the candidate who offers hope, not the candidate who guarantees disaster. And you will make that decisive choice” (“Theological Matters” blog, Sept. 27, 2016)
David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.