BOWLING GREEN – U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell told Kentucky evangelicals on Thursday that he’s “100 percent pro-life” and that he defines marriage as “between one man and one woman.”
McConnell, quizzed by evangelical leaders during a forum at Eastwood Baptist Church, shared details about his religious background, including his baptism as an 8-year-old in a Southern Baptist church, his current involvement at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, and his heritage as the great grandson of a Presbyterian circuit-riding preacher.
The Republican senator is involved in a hotly contested re-election bid with Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director Paul Chitwood, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler and former Southeast Christian Pastor Bob Russell spent about an hour questioning McConnell on matters of faith in the forum that Grimes also was invited to, but did not attend.
McConnell, who has the endorsement of National Right to Life, said re-electing him will ensure Kentucky has a senator who supports pro-life legislation. He also said he’s positioned to become Senate majority leader, depending on how the GOP fares nationally, and that would mean legislation to protect the unborn could be passed.
“The prerogative the majority leader has that no other senator has is to set the agenda,” McConnell said. “ If I were setting the agenda, instead of the current fellow, we would be having votes on a number of issues, including abortion-related issues that have been blocked from votes in the Senate.”
McConnell, in the broad-ranging discussion, also said he supports religious liberty and that he favors tax breaks to encourage adoption and foster care.
Grimes had a conflicting campaign engagement in Louisville on Thursday morning.
Campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton said in a statement that Grimes is committed to ensuring that “all Kentuckians have a voice.”
“Her faith is deeply important to her daily life and grounds her work to serve the greater good,” Norton said.
McConnell blamed President Barack Obama’s decision to pull all troops out of Iraq for the persecution that led to 40,000 religious minorities, including Christians, being trapped on a mountaintop there.
“This is the inevitable consequence of having no residual presence,” he said. “I don’t think any of this would have happened if we had some kind of presence.”