Leading Baptist defends call for Weiner to embrace Jesus


NEW YORK (JTA) — A Southern Baptist leader is defending his call for Rep. Anthony Weiner to turn to Jesus, answering criticism that he was targeting the embattled congressman because of his Jewishness.

Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. — the Southern Baptist Convention’s flagship school — had been criticized for urging Weiner to embrace Jesus following the scandal involving lewd photos of the congressman.

In response to news that Weiner intends to seek treatment for his problems, Mohler had tweeted, "Dear Congressman Weiner: There is no effective ‘treatment’ for sin. Only atonement, found only in Jesus Christ.”

USA Today religion reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman blogged that this "reads as an evangelism tactic, riding in on the Weiner headlines but aimed at people like Jews such as Weiner, Buddhists like [Tiger] Woods, and many others, such as Weiner’s Muslim wife, who hold different ideas about salvation, different approaches to atonement."

In response, Mohler wrote Tuesday that he had not mentioned Judaism. He said that he was simply stating the Christian doctrine that "every single human being is a sinner in need of the redemption that is found only in Christ."

In 2003 Mohler caused a stir with his staunch advocacy of evangelizing Jews. He had explained that warning non-Christians of the "eternal danger" they face in not embracing Jesus "is the ultimate act of Christian love."

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