Albert Mohler Is Worried. And He Should Be.
Yesterday, I published a commentary at Women's eNews
titled: U.S. Religions Quietly Launch a Sexual Revolution
. Its about how the Religious Institute, a progressive religious think tank has issued a 46 page manifesto about breaking the silence in religious communities about a host of sexuality issues; and although many mainstream religious institutions have a long way to go, many have also come a long way.
Unsurprisingly, the manifesto was immediately denounced by Religious Right leader Dr. Albert Mohler, the fundamentalist president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
But when progressives get focused, and mean what they say and say what they mean, the Religious Right loses control of the narrative.
Clergy are often first responders in matters of domestic violence and potential (and actual) suicides by young people struggling with sexual identity. The Religious Institute points out that these first responders have usually received little to no training for the job.
A singular strength of the document is that it offers an uncompromised progressive vision that does not conform to recent fashions in seeking "common ground" with conservative evangelicals and Catholics.
Particularly striking in this regard is its call for a society in which there is full access to reproductive health care, including abortion, marriage equality and full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the life of religious communities.
Since it was announced two weeks ago, the report, "Sexuality and Religion 2020: Goals for the Next Decade," has generated little media attention beyond a few regional newspapers and online news sites.
Especially given the relative lack of media interest, I think it is significant that Mohler is paying such close attention. I think he is worried that progressives are getting focused and organized. I think he has good reason to worry.
Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., immediately responded to the manifesto on his blog. He saw it as "evidence of the continued subversion of biblical authority and confessional integrity that characterizes the revolt against orthodoxy in so many churches."
Nevertheless, he acknowledged: "Our pews are filled with people worried about their sexuality, wondering how to understand these things, struggling with same-sex attractions, tempted to stray from their marriages, enticed by Internet pornography and wondering how to bring their sexuality under submission to Christ."
And while he thinks evangelicals "will rightly reject just about everything" in the Religious Institute's report, he did conclude that "they should not avoid its urgency in calling pastors and Christian leaders to teach and preach about sex and sexuality."
Indeed, he seems to be worried about the competition. "The Religious Institute wants liberal preachers to talk more about sex. My guess is that they will. But what about evangelical pastors?"
The Religious Right has been wrong about everything from abstinence eduction to the many cultural, political and economic reasons that sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy rates (among other things) are so much higher in states where Mohler's Southern Baptist Convention is a major force.
And Dr. Mohler knows it.