|Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler warned that electing Sen. Barack Obama as president would send America on a trajectory toward "normalization" of homosexuality and gay marriage.
In a radio broadcast aired Monday alongside Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Mohler called Obama "one of the most attractive, charismatic candidates to emerge on the political scene in a long time," perhaps on par with John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Part of Obama's momentum, he said, is "excitement in the country that maybe we are the kind of nation that would elect an African-American president."
Mohler said he "would want to vote" for Obama, "but the closer I look at his position, the more alarmed I become."
"We're looking at the most liberal candidate, I think, to gain a party nomination probably in the history of this country," Mohler said, describing the presumptive Democratic nominee as "on so many issues, far beyond even where Bill Clinton was."
Dobson agreed, saying the prospect of an Obama presidency "keeps me awake at night, frankly."
Mohler said Obama bills himself as the candidate of change, but it's not the kind of change that most Americans would want.
"I don't think America is ready to sign on to the full normalization of homosexuality and to the elimination of marriage as a union between a man and a woman as a distinctive institution," Mohler said.
"When you put someone in the office as president of the United States, with full constitutional authority, with the kind of ambition that Barack Obama clearly has to reshape the culture, you're really looking at an incredible challenge for evangelical Christians to understand," he continued. "There is more here than meets the eye."
Dobson said "we could spend a whole program" talking just about Obama's theology.
"Barack Obama comes from a very liberal strain of Christian theology," Mohler commented. "He's very explicit about that. When he mentions the people that he reads, people like Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr … it comes out in that he really believes that Christianity can be a functional impetus toward social change in a liberal direction. I don't think that's what most evangelical Christians think of when they think of a basic understanding of Christianity. But it comes out of the fact--and here's a basic reading--if you believe the civil rights movement is the model for every social issue, then you will paint every single social issue as one of relieving oppression."
"I don't think evangelical Christians share that worldview, but I don't think they understand, at least many do not understand, just how radical that Barack Obama is on this," Mohler said.
Mohler said many younger evangelicals believe the evangelical movement "has gained a bad reputation as being against things rather than for them."
"I think the younger generation of evangelicals looks at a lot of older evangelicals and says: 'You just don't get it. You're not connecting with the issues. You're too happy. You're too consumerist. You're too materialist. You're living in an evangelical subculture,' and they're not all wrong about that," Mohler said.
Mohler said he was not endorsing Obama's opponent, Sen. John McCain, but he implied that conservative evangelicals have a clear choice at the polls this November.
"I do not endorse candidates, and I'm not making an endorsement, but I want to say I think you're looking here at two very starkly different choices," he said. "When you look at Barack Obama you look at someone whose general trajectory, I think, is at odds with many of the things we hold most precious.
"When you look at John McCain, let's be honest, there's a major failure to connect some dots. I don't see why, when he defends the institution of marriage, that he doesn't see the need for a federal marriage amendment. I think it's very important that we help people to understand that in terms of the trajectory of these men's beliefs and their political philosophies, they are starkly different. I have to say John McCain is far closer to where I am, and I believe where most evangelical Christians are, than Barack Obama. But I'm not going to be naïve and say, like was said back years ago, there's not a dime's worth of difference in the candidates. Oh there is, and we need intelligently to think these issues through."
Dobson, who has in the past criticized McCain, said for the first time "the possibility is there" that he might endorse him before the election.
"I don't even know who his vice presidential candidate will be," Dobson said. "You know he could very well choose a pro-abortion candidate, and it would not be unlike him to do that, because he seems to enjoy frustrating conservatives on occasion. But as of this moment, I have to take into account the fact that Senator John McCain has voted pro-life consistently, and that's a fact. He says he favors marriage between a man and woman. I believe that. He opposes homosexual adoption. He favors smaller government and lower taxes, and he seems to understand the Muslim threat, which matters a lot to me. I'm very concerned about that."
Monday's broadcast was taped at the studio at the SBC Executive Committee building in Nashville, Tenn., that is normally used for "Richard Land Live," a weekly radio broadcast featuring the head of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
The program was sponsored by Focus on the Family Action and paid for by contributions that are not tax deductible, giving Dobson and Mohler "the flexibility to talk about" presidential candidates without violating IRS rules that prohibit tax-exempt charities from electioneering.
Mohler's own daily radio program is heard on more than 50 radio stations nationwide, including XM Radio, on the Salem Radio Network. He is a member of the Focus on the Family board.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.