Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler Jr. believes that some politicians are using the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to enact policies that reflect an “overt hostility” toward churches.
The president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, was a speaker at the Values Voter Summit on Wednesday evening.
The event, which normally brings large numbers of conservatives to the Washington, D.C., was largely virtual this year due to the lockdown of venues in response to the novel coronavirus.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins interviewed Mohler for the segment, with the former talking about a “spiritual dynamics” to recent events in the United States.
At one point, Perkins asked Mohler when churches should start to question “the motives of government” regarding COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on in-person worship.
Mohler responded that he believed “some politicians have used COVID-19 as an opportunity for overt hostility to religious congregations and especially the Christian churches.”
“And that overt hostility is what we have to confront,” said Mohler. “No government authority has a right to say that the church isn’t essential.”
“No government authority has the right to tell us how we are to order our worship services, and no government has the authority to say that Christian churches or other religious gatherings can be uniquely discriminated against.”
Mohler did express support for “reasonable, temporary, generally applicable rules” aimed at curbing the pandemic, but warned, “that’s not what we’re looking at in some cases.”
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As an example, he referenced Capitol Hill Baptist Church of Washington, D.C., which recently filed a lawsuit against Mayor Murriel Bowser over outdoor worship gathering restrictions.
The suit accused Bowser and government officials of being “discriminatory in their application of the ban on large scale gatherings,” pointing out that the mayor herself spoke at an outdoor event in June that had thousands of attendees.
Mohler, who spoke to Perkins from Louisville, was also asked how to approach the recent grand jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case.
A Jefferson County grand jury announced on Wednesday that they would not indict three police officers over the March 13 shooting death of Taylor, which sparked outrage and protests. Police had a warrant to search Taylor's residence, which was the address for her ex-boyfriend who was a longtime drug dealer in the city. Taylor was shot by police after her boyfriend first fired at and shot a police officer.
Regarding the fallout from the decision, Mohler said that “justice comes by means of the rule of law” and that “the rule of law never achieves perfect justice in this life.”
“Only God can execute perfect justice,” said Mohler. “Attorney General Daniel Cameron here in Kentucky had to make a ruling according to the law as special prosecutor and I think he set up that case just extremely well.”
“He set the contrast well too. We either have the rule of law or we have mob justice. And as I often say, two words that never go together are ‘mob justice.’”
Perkins agreed with Mohler, adding that “you’ll never achieve justice through lawlessness, it just doesn’t work that way.”
Created in 2006 and hosted by FRC Action, the Values Voter Summit is the annual D.C.-area gathering of social conservatives from across the country.
In the past, prominent public figures such as members of Congress, Vice President Mike Pence, and President Donald Trump have given speeches at the summit.
On Tuesday night, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave remarks as part of the virtual VVS event, defending his tendency to talk openly about his evangelical Christian beliefs.
“People appreciate knowing who you are, that you are authentic and that you don’t hide the things that drive you, the central underpinnings of who you are,” said Pompeo.
“For me, I am an evangelical Christian and I believe Jesus Christ is my Savior. I think when I meet with counterparts, whether they are from an Arab state that is a majority-Muslim country or in Israel, a predominantly Jewish country, I think they appreciate people who are consistent and know where you are coming from. We all have different ideas. Those three religions have some centrality. They come from Abrahamic faiths. But they appreciate that.”