Politics

Riptide on the Religious Right

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The Wash Times reports nothing but trouble for the GOP when it comes to coaxing the religious right, one of their most reliable voting blocs over the past 30 or so years, to pull the lever or punch the screen for one of the party's leading candidates.

"The question is what will be less distasteful to many evangelicals: Mitt Romney's one-wife Mormonism, Rudy Giuliani's marital mayhem or John McCain's recent disdain," [Univ. of Texas professor and Christian journalist Marvin Olasky] said…. 

"I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances," James Dobson, founder of Colorado-based Focus on the Family, has said.

"I hate to say this, and I wish our people were bigger than this, but they do believe the Mormon Church is … not a church," said Free Congress Foundation President Paul M. Weyrich, a longtime leader in recruiting Catholics and Protestant evangelicals to the Republican fold. "But Mormons really do have decent families. In many ways, that ought to be looked at rather than a man's religion."…

Mr. Giuliani and conservative Christians "probably have irreconcilable differences on life and family and that kind of thing," said Mr. Falwell, adding, "I couldn't support him for president."

Richard Land, president of the Religious and Ethics Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, takes a hard line against virtually all the major Republican candidates. He says he'd vote for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, over Mr. Giuliani if the 2008 presidential race came down to such a choice. And if Mr. Giuliani wins, "he'll do so without social conservatives," Mr. Land said.

More here.

Update: Matt Hawkins of the ERLC of the SBC writes to tell me that that Washington Times misquoted Richard Land. From a story on the ERLC's site:

[Land] is on record as having said that if Rudy Giuliani were the Republican presidential nominee he would not vote in the presidential election for any candidate. It is also incorrect to say that Land has taken a "hard line against all the major Republican candidates."

Land has said he has taken a "hard line" with only two candidates in the Republican race-Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich-if the former House majority leader were to run. These are men for whom Land said his conscience would not allow him to vote because of character issues related to their marital infidelities.

In the same piece, Land calls for Mitt Romney to clarify Mormonism for voters. More here.

NEXT: "I Stand Accused of Doing Some Wrong Things, but I Don't Stand Convicted"

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  1. Boy, did Dick Land say it. I hope we do a lot more things without social conservatives, but voting for president is a good start.

  2. “He says he’d vote for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, over Mr. Giuliani”

    I don’t believe it. They may stay home, but they won’t vote for Hillary. It is a hollow threat.

    Being a South Park Republican, as far as I can see, it is good ridance to bad rubbish to the likes of Falwell and his camp. Those nut jobs hurt the Republican party as much as they ever helped it.

  3. The leaders of the hard right in the Repubican Party do this all the time when they think the Democrat is going to win – declare the Republican candidate to be insufficiently conservative, proclaim that their followers aren’t going to vote, and then proclaim the Republicans’ defeat on that.

    I remember Limbaugh doing the same thing to Dole in 1996.

  4. Well if those mouth-breathing mongoloids start staying home, I think that’s probably a net gain for the country.

    And I don’t mean just voting, it’d be nice if they’d all become shut-ins.

  5. Yes, Timothy, but shut-ins (especially mouth-breathers, be they of the right, left, or other variety) are disproportionately likely to troll in blog comments. I’d say we already have more than enough of those. So let’s keep them out in the real world, and away from the internet!

    🙂

  6. Once they’re not voting anymore, we’ll pass a bunch of “no mouth-breathers within 2000 feet of a school” laws, and by way of those and other zoning restrictions we’ll force them to live without electricity somewhere in Northern Montana.

  7. Is it wrong of me to be suspicious of Mormons? Despite what a lot of my friends think, I’m not really a social conservative, although I do get misty-eyed at Rockwellian sentiments. But, as nice as they can be, Mormons somewhat scare me. Yes, I have heard the comments about John Kennedy being a Catholic (oooo! potentially divided loyalties?!), and I think they are valid to some extent. But there is a very real difference between the RC church and the Mormon church.

    I like Mormons personally. I like having them as neighbours. I trust their kids, and I’ll even have them over to my place. But, they really do believe some weird stuff. It’s just not the same as the over-hyped JFK thing. Am I wrong to fret about President Romney, just because of his religion?

  8. Edwards just stumped in his hometown as a small town boy fighting for the life of small towns. He is talking about throwing billions at the problems of small towns. This, I predict, will play real well with the christians. They(we) are quick to harken back to a better time, when small towns WERE America. The Dems. are gonna try to steal the church by preaching family values. It just might work if they package it right.

  9. “But, they really do believe some weird stuff.”

    Yeah. As opposed to Catholics who believe in how do i say it…… crazy bullS&^t?

  10. brotherben,

    Nothing works in politics like co-opting your opponent’s (ostensible) message!

  11. Albionite,

    Mormon theology is pretty…uh…idiosynchratic, but their ethical and moral teachings are pretty standard stuff.

    The difference between Romney’s religion and Kennedy’s is that Kennedy said, “I believe the wall between church and state is absolute,” and promised that his religion would not influence how he performed as President.

    Romney has said just the opposite – that there should be less of a wall between church and state, and that his status as a “person of faith” will be a big influence on how he governs.

  12. But Mormons really do have decent families. In many ways, that ought to be looked at rather than a man’s religion.”.

    So, an atheist with a decent family would stand a snowball’s chance in Sheol of getting his vote?

    Didn’t think so.

  13. emme

    cheap cheap cheap shot. My comparison is to the much-lauded “mainstream,” and you know better. Grow up; Christianity, esp RC is part of our culture (and, no, I’m not an Rc’er).

    joe,

    yes! I think it’s exactly that which nags at me. You really hit the nail on the head this time. Like I said, I really like all the Mormons I know, and I respect their Norman-Rockwell-esque-family-values-thing, but the mere thought they might MAKE me respect their beliefs concerns me. Having a Mormon Senator (Hatch) is one thing; having a Mormon President is another. (Not that I fear a religious autocracy, but I am worried. JFK did, after all, state publicly that he might take religious orders from the Pope, but he would make his own governmental decisions.)

  14. I don’t believe it. They may stay home, but they won’t vote for Hillary. It is a hollow threat.

    If her name wasn’t Hilary Clinton, I could see it. The enmity that many religious conservatives bear for her is a product of her personality, not her policy positions. Outside of the pelvic issues, she’s as much of a moral scold as they are.

    If Lieberman — whose policy positions are quite close to Hilary’s — won the Dem primary, I could see evangelicals flocking to him over Giuliani, for instance.

  15. And, in line with the “decent marriage” criterion one of those quoted gave, she has had a stable, long-term marriage, her husband’s “indiscretions” aside. The fact that her husband is an adulterer certainly doesn’t make her any worse than the serial monogamists Giuliani and McCain.

  16. Am I wrong to fret about President Romney, just because of his religion?

    Yes you are. Believe me, there are lots of better things about Romney to be worrying about than his religion.

  17. As far as I know, BTW, Ron Paul has no untoward past, and is still on his first wife.

  18. I’m just worried that Romney will get elected president of another country as well, and claim that his interpretation of the Constitution doesn’t forbid such a thing…

  19. Seamus,

    you mean, e.g., his cover-up of the bribes involved in the SLC Olympics?

  20. “I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances,” James Dobson, founder of Colorado-based Focus on the Family, has said.

    I have never been a McCain fan, but if anything would make me vote for him, it would be the above quote.

  21. If I were to run for President, on the conditions that I will do nothing during my term but sleep late; play “Myst”-like games on the computers on Air-Force-One; make appearances on American Idol (in which I will be only slightly more sober than Paula); host fabulous state dinners for foreign heads at which I will promise nothing except good food; proclaim publicly that I am pro-education, anti-crime, pro-freedom, pro-puppies, pro-kittens, and pro-human; and veto any bill which would require the expenditure of any money not directly related to my liquor or the aforementioned quirks….

    …would you vote for me?

  22. The fact that the radical Christian right has a perfectly acceptable candidate in Sam Brownback, yet are avoiding him like a pre-op transsexual, proves that they are more interested in siding with the eventual winner than with trying to determine the eventual winner.

  23. “Christianity, esp RC is part of our culture ”

    Does that make it any less crazy?

  24. Albionite: Fuck yes.

  25. As far as I know, BTW, Ron Paul has no untoward past, and is still on his first wife.

    And he is, personally, a rather conservative Christian, IIRC. But he doesn’t want to push his beliefs on others, so he’s not acceptable.

  26. Ok, please stay home. I really dont want these people voting for anything.

    And is the reason they oppose McCain still because he “has a black baby”?

  27. As far as I know, BTW, Ron Paul has no untoward past, and is still on his first wife.

    In fact, you can hear her crying faintly, “Get off! Get off! Can’t breathe!”

  28. crimethink-

    If her name wasn’t Hillary Clinton would she even run for president in the first place. And maybe it’s just me but I don’t consider her “strong” for sticking with a guy who happens to be the most powerful in the country through many affairs. Oh …shit… this is why she did.

  29. …but the mere thought they might MAKE me respect their beliefs concerns me.

    This is not different than any other belief system. Pick any religion (or agnosticism or atheism) and you will find a few authoritarians that want to impose their beliefs on others, a few libertarians who don’t want to impose anything at all, and most who are in between. Acting like Christians are the only people who are uniformly statist is an incredibly naive viewpoint.

    The religious right would be a great ally for libertarians, if we can get them past their bias towards authoritarian government. Fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible are remarkably libertarian, this lovefest with temporal Caesars is a modern phenomena.

  30. The fact that the radical Christian right has a perfectly acceptable candidate in Sam Brownback, yet are avoiding him like a pre-op transsexual, proves that they are more interested in siding with the eventual winner than with trying to determine the eventual winner.

    It’s the Alan Keyes effect: Despite the fact Keyes agreed with just about Xian right stands for and then some, Republican’s shied away from him for two reasons: 1) It was obvious to even the Bible-beaters that Keyes was nuts, 2) lingering racism on the part of the Good Ol’ Boys who took over the GOP after the Southern Strategy.

    (That last reason is why you’d never see Collin Powell run for president when he was at the height of this popularity. There are probably a lot of Republicans who would rather vote for Ted Kennedy than a “nigger,” no matter what his military record.

  31. “And is the reason they oppose McCain still because he “has a black baby”?”

    Barrack Hussein Obama-McCain

    has a nice wring to it

  32. Fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible are remarkably libertarian, this lovefest with temporal Caesars is a modern phenomena.

    Riiiight… A religion that claims that the universe is ruled by a celestial tyrant who rains death and destruction down upon those who even think of stepping out of line with its divine commandants is just the bunch that libertarians want to get in bed with.

  33. Akira,

    The good thing about the belief in an omnipotent God who enforces his moral rules, is that it minimizes the need for omnipotent human rulers who enforce their moral rules.

    A man who does not bow before God will bow before a tyrant.

  34. Maybe Giuliani can’t get past the Republican primary gatekeepers (and let’s face it: the only way Schwarzenegger became governor was by bypassing them and eventually making himself palatable to the broad center of the electorate; Giuliani will have no such luxury as a recall election).

    But every poll I have seen (when you look at the internals) suggests Giuliani’s support is coming overwhelmingly from core Republicans, Bush’s own base. Why? I don’t know. Ask them (while everyone seems to be going out of their way to talk to Republicans who won’t vote for Giuliani few reporters seem interested in talking to the plurality of Republicans who seem to be supporting his candidacy).

    It seems to me that Republicans care more about the White House and executive power than Democrats do today, and may just be willing to overlook this guy’s peccadillos because he’s a big talent and because he seems to agree with them that invading lots of foreign countries and taking everyone’s civil liberties away is the most important and bestest thing ever (until of course the Democrats decide again someday that they like invading lots of foreign countries and taking everyone’s civil liberties away even more than Republicans). The cw is that Republicans are still hung up on the culture wars but judging from last week’s sad and malicious takedowns of one of the last talents in radio I’m not sure that’s the case.

  35. Linus,

    I’ve talked to several of them. There are a few factors at work. First, there is the fact that most religious conservatives are not as zealous as the ones that appear on TV and in the press. They are just regular folks who care more about making sure their families are safe than about gay marriage, for instance. And, deserved or not, Giuliani has a rep of being a strong leader during trying times.

    Also, there’s a great deal of fatigue in the political end of the pro-life movement right now. We’ve had a pro-life prez in the White House for 6 years, he’s nominated two justices to the SCOTUS, and Roe looks just as strongly entrenched as the law of the land as it was in 2000, if not more so. So a lot of people who never would have voted for a pro-choice candidate in 2000 are now going to base their votes on other issues.

  36. I’m a libertarian because of my fundamentalist Christian “religious right” upbringing. From the moment I was born until the day I left for college, I was taught that no man was my master, that free markets and enterprises worked, that government was enemy, etc. The conservative side of the religous right are all potential libertarians, just blinded by the statist rhetoric of Falwell, Robertson, etc.

  37. The LDS Church (what is commonly called “the Mormon Church”) has been drifting toward right wing Evangelical Christianity (theologically speaking) for the past 40 years. Despite it’s claims about Joseph Smith’s visions and gold plates, etc., an LDS Mormon in 2007 believes most of the things that the average Protestant believes–with regard to God. In fact, Smith’s most distinctive doctrines are on the outs in the LDS Church. Too bad, because an exploration of Smith’s later theology reveals it to be steeped in rationalism–advocating the supremacy over existence, the non-contingent nature of humanity, a linmited diety, individual freedom and the eternal progression of the human race here on earth. In fact, Smith in his last years rejected Mormonism’s earlier Christian doctrines and advocated a new religion that was essentially a theological construction to justify American individualism and the emerging revolution in scientific thought. If Romney actually believed in Smith’s more liberal religion, I’d be inclined to vote for him. But since he–like most currernt LDS Mormons–are essentially part of the Religious Right, this Reform Mormon would never vote for him.

  38. A man who does not bow before God will bow before a tyrant.

    Will I now?

  39. Albionite: I’d even consider re-registering to vote, if I thought you had a shot.

  40. This is not different than any other belief system. Pick any religion (or agnosticism or atheism) and you will find a few authoritarians that want to impose their beliefs on others

    For the umpteenth time, atheism is NON-belief. It is not the binary opposite of religious belief. The atheist has no obligation to prove a negative subsequently they are not “imposing” anything on anyone.

  41. G.B. Trudeau doesn’t exactly misrepresent Dobson’s comments here, but I’d say it shows Trudeau’s, uh, plasticity in regards to informing his readership. Also note that Gingrich isn’t running yet (can he then be a front-runner?) and that Trudeau conveniently forgets to mention Mitt Romney’s single, so-far-sustained marriage.

    This was released yesterday, so it’s not like I’m digging into the newspaper morgues to make cracks at Trudeau’s expense.

    http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.html?uc_full_date=20070415

  42. I’m a libertarian-leaning religious conservative (pro-life, pro-traditional marriage but don’t care what anybody does inside their bedroom, teetotaler myself but anti-drug-war, Boortzian Fair Taxer). Yet I hardly ever read Reason or visit this site — and the disdain, even hatred, expressed in these comments towards me and my coreligionists is the Reason why.

    Apparently, I am a “mouth-breathing mongoloid” who should be treated like a sexual predator, kept away from kids and schools, and shipped to a reservation in Montana somewhere without electricity and internet access. True, only two posters articulated those opinions — but not a single one of the rest of you objected.

    And *I’m* supposed to be the intolerant fascist? (Oh, and nice use of the deliberately insulting “Xian” moniker)

    And if you’re wondering why evangelicals like me are not falling in line behind Brownback, you need look no further than his desertion on the GWOT, and his pro-amnesty position on the border. Sure, these two positions endear him to both “free flow of labor and soveriegnty be damned”-style libertarians and Fortress America isolationist ones, but not to us.

    It’s not about getting behind the eventual winner — it’s that for many of us, non-support for the GWOT is a deal-breaker (just like for many of you, support FOR it is a deal-breaker). For some, the logic is: I can’t help the unborn and their mothers if I and everyone I love is murdered by terrorists with a WMD or another jet attack, if a surrender-monkey President’s weakness invites such an attack — hence, Rudy over Brownback. Others, like me, are still waiting and considering — convinceable. But telling me to “get over” — e.g. abandon — my principles as Rudy did Sunday (or calling me a mouth-breather and wishing I’d be relocated to a Brave-New-World-style reservation) is, suffice it to say, rather off-putting.

  43. “Edwards just stumped in his hometown as a small town boy fighting for the life of small towns. He is talking about throwing billions at the problems of small towns. This, I predict, will play real well with the christians. They(we) are quick to harken back to a better time, when small towns WERE America. The Dems. are gonna try to steal the church by preaching family values. It just might work if they package it right.”

    But the religious right won’t be voting for him if they get wind of his catering to the gay community.

  44. “And *I’m* supposed to be the intolerant fascist?”

    Surely you can agree that your co-religionists are as described, at least as a group. Don’t play coy and pretend that the “religious right” isn’t a cohesive voting block. Maybe my perception is off, but from what I’ve seen, the desire to make laws governing everybody else’s private business cuts across the various religious divides. Well, at least in the South.

  45. Chuck-
    I know you said you only lean Libertarian but being pro-life might be THE ULTIMATE anti-Libertarian stance. Even if you arge that the gooey new egg inside a woman has rights it’s still in the woman’s body. Also, if you were really libertarian you wouldn’t care (but not care) what people did in their own homes at all. Libertarians are cowards but don’t misrepresent them. Also, I thought evangelicals were pro amnesty for immigrants? If they aren’t why not?

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