Evangelical leaders ask McConnell, Grimes, to participate in forums

Alison Lundergan Grimes and Sen. Mitch McConnell
Alison Lundergan Grimes and Sen. Mitch McConnell

FRANKFORT — Three Kentucky evangelical leaders are inviting the state's U.S. Senate candidates — Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes — to participate in three forums "to explore matters of concern to evangelical Christians."

A news release Monday about the forums said McConnell had accepted the invitation and Grimes was reviewing it.

The two candidates appeared together over the weekend at the Fancy Farm political picnic in Graves County and have agreed to appear at a forum Aug. 20 hosted by Kentucky Farm Bureau.

Grimes also has accepted an invitation to debate on Kentucky Educational Television in October. McConnell has not said whether he would attend that debate.

A day after the primary elections, McConnell offered to participate in three "Lincoln-Douglas-style" debates with Grimes before Labor Day with no audience. She declined the offer, but during a speech Saturday at Fancy Farm in far Western Kentucky, she challenged McConnell to debate her on KET and in Beattyville and Pikeville.

"We've had discussions with multiple outlets about debates, and some are more advanced than others," Josh Holmes, an adviser to McConnell, said Sunday.

The evangelical issues forums would start next week and be hosted by R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville; Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention; and Bob Russell, retired senior pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville.

"The purpose of these forums will be to consider the urgent issues now presented to evangelical Christians in American society and in the engagement with our culture," Mohler said in a news release.

Topics for discussion mentioned by Mohler included "family, marriage, the sanctity of life and religious liberty."

Russell also mentioned "the freedom to evangelize, racial equality, the persecution of Christians in foreign countries, caring for the poor, justice in the courtroom, defining a just war and the proper treatment of immigrants."

Each event is to begin at 11 a.m. The hosts are to moderate an hour of questions and answers with the candidates, who will be expected to appear separately. The events will be free and public.

McConnell is a member of Southeast Christian Church, and Grimes is a member of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Lexington.

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