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Religious Leaders Press McConnell on Social Issues

Lisa Autry

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell sat down with some of Kentucky’s religious leaders Thursday to talk issues of faith ahead of the November election. 

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, asked McConnell about the current persecution of Christians in the Middle East. McConnell said he thinks the militant violence is related to the troop withdrawal from Iraq, which he blamed on President Obama.

"This is the inevitable consequence of no residual presence," claimed McConnell. "I don't want that confused with thinking I want another Iraq war, but I don't think this would have happened in the first place if we had not taken the opportunity to give these characters a chance to assert themselves again."

The forum, held at Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green, also touched on the issues of abortion, gay marriage, and immigration. The five-term Republican Senator suggested that religious liberty is under threat in America and pointed to the contraception mandate in the federal health care law.

"People on the political left believe that freedom of religion means the freedom to go to church, to worship," he said. "I think and I suspect most people in this room think that freedom of religion means the freedom to practice your religion."

On a personal note, McConnell described himself as a Southern Baptist who was baptized at age eight.  He currently attends Southeast Christian Church in Louisville. 

McConnell’s Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes chose not to participate in the forum. 

McConnell reminded the audience the U.S. Senate confirms judicial nominees and a Republican Senate, he said, would make it less likely the president could send up far left nominees. McConnell is in line to become majority leader if the GOP can gain six Senate seats in November. 

McConnell’s Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes chose not to participate in the forum. 

"I think any honest assessment of the issues before the nation indicate the importance of this senatorial election in Kentucky. At this point, the differences between these two candidates on issues of crucial importance to the Christian community need to be talked about," Mohler told WKU Public Radio. "I appreciate Senator McConnell was willing to come and speak openly about these things and I only wish Alison Lundergan Grimes had accepted our invitation to do the same."

Two similar forums will take place later this month in Louisville and Somerset.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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