October 26, 2014

Open Mic: Evangelical Voters and Gingrich in S.C.

In our ongoing conversation about our faith and its relation to the 2012 election year events, I thought today we’d give the community a chance to discuss Newt Gingrich’s win in Saturday’s South Carolina Republican primary. Exit polls make it clear that the evangelical vote made a huge difference in this contest.

Here are some of the reports. Add your own in the Open Mic discussion in the comments.

• • •

In the ABC News report on Gingrich’s victory, they noted:

“The evangelical vote was crucial in today’s primary, more so than in Iowa and New Hampshire. Sixty-five percent of GOP voters in South Carolina today were evangelical Christians, compared with 57 percent in Iowa and 22 percent in New Hampshire.”

Dan Gilgoff, at CNN.com, reports:

“If there were any doubts that Newt Gingrich, a thrice-married convert to Catholicism, could connect with the evangelical voters who make up the Republican Party base, Saturday’s South Carolina primary put them to rest, with the former House Speaker winning twice as many evangelical votes as anyone else in the race.

“Evangelical Christians made up two-thirds of the South Carolina electorate on Saturday, and Gingrich took 44% of their votes, according to CNN’s exit poll.

“Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, who rode evangelical support to victory in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses earlier this month, each got 21% of the evangelical vote in South Carolina.

“Gingrich got roughly the same share of the South Carolina evangelical vote as Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, did four years ago.”

CBS News’ analysis from their exit polls indicated:

“Despite recent allegations from his second wife that he wanted an open marriage, Gingrich’s personal issues were clearly not a priority among evangelical voters. Nearly half of evangelical voters – 45 percent – cited the ability to beat Obama as the candidate quality that mattered most in their vote decision, and they awarded 55 percent of their ballots to Gingrich. Only 21 percent of evangelical voters indicated that having strong moral character was the most important candidate quality in how they voted. While these morality-driven evangelical voters preferred Santorum to Gingrich 53 percent to 7 percent, there were just too few of them to have much of an impact on the overall vote.”

• • •

So…what do you think?

As they might say in South Carolina, y’all know the rules — if you don’t you might want to read the FAQS/RULES under “About IM” at the top  of the page.

Be good, ya hear?

 

Comments

  1. Ahhhh…the smell of hypocrisy wafting over from SC. I think that is my biggest issue about evangelicals voting for Gingrich. Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot and Obama had three marriages as the result of adultery. The evangelicals would be the first in line to start casting stones and puffing up their ‘pro-family’ credentials, but because they love Gingrich, all kinds of loopholes are found to get around his distinct lack of any kind of pro-family actions. It is that hypocrisy that is the most galling.

    • I wish I could disagree. But I can’t.

      • I can. I’m voting Newt. I don’t much care about his personal life from a political perspective. He’s not my pastor, he’s a politician who I want to cut the budget and fix entitlements. He was able to work with Democrats to do that in the 90s. My plumber and mechanic lead terrible lifestyles, but they are good at their jobs so I keep hiring them. Same with Newt.

        Besides, everybody’s a hypocrite, except nihilists. Hypocrite is an accusation only to be used against the unrepentant to show that one’s actions fail to satisfy the Law. It’s not an argument for lowering the bar of the Law, which is how democrats use it against Republicans to avoid discussing abortion or social issues. The fact that Newt had three wives does not mean that family values is bunk; it means we need tighter divorce laws. Newt probably would agree with that.

        • I seriously doubt Newt would tighten the divorce laws. I think that his marriage(s) does concern many of us, regardless of his political agenda. For one thing, how should we think about such a woman that would become the first lady?

        • Boaz and Topher both have good points. Evangelical political behavior is very self-contradictory. However, though I do believe moral character to be important, I just can’t become a single issue voter over that. We don’t need an incompetent saint in office. And I’m not waiting until somebody “pure” enough comes along in order to vote for him. I will take the lesser of two evils any day of the week, and I will sleep at night guilt free knowing I used what little influence I had for as much good as it could do. A decent man seldom makes it in politics these days. Given a choice between a scoundrel bent on running the country into the ground, a scoundrel bent on making improvements, and a saint who has no idea how to handle our problems, I’ll take the second EVERY day of the week. When the competent saint comes along, I’ll vote for him, but until then…

          • The Previous Dan says:

            +1

          • I don’t care what Newt has or has not done, but if he would sell out his wives so easily, he’d do the same for the country. I honestly don’t think he’s stable
            The other thing is the evangelicals flocking to him while touting family values shows me that the religious right is a complete and utter sham. I urge them not to take all of us Christians down with them, but I fear that they will.

      • I agree with Tipher… Not only that but I find it interesting that the most conservative states in the country where the fundagelcilas toe the line tend to show the least grace or love otward people. I read an NPR article that talked about how people in South Carolina ended unemployment compensation than other states. So much for the least of these in the midst of “The Great Recession…”

    • It’s only bad if you are a Democrat and commit adultery, like Bill Clinton. Republicans are forgiven.

      • Republicans get a divine ‘reprieve’…

        while those pesky Democrats are ‘damned’ no matter how much integrity/character they may have…

        instead of encouraging people of good character & public office ability, the voters are always given the lesser-of-2-evils choices…

        or bad & worse…

        but the religious right stamp-of-approval will always be a compromise of some sort. it is all a power play & ego trip for all those on the political bandwagons…

        Lord, have mercy… :(

  2. David Clark says:

    I actually don’t think there’s that much to read into this, that is I don’t think religion played much of a part in this. At this point, Evangelicals don’t have one of their own running on the Republican side. You’ve got two Catholics and one Mormon. Ron Paul is a Baptist, which should make him part of the Evangelical club, but Evangelicals are not voting for him at all.

    No candidate really resonates with Evangelicals this year. I also think this is perhaps a good thing. Evangelicals are treated as a voting block, but I think their motivations this time around are more purely political and less religious than in other years.

    • The Previous Dan says:

      I agree with you. The media wants to make it about religion, but it isn’t. Perry was the last evangelical standing and when he flopped the voting block went into political mode. Right now it is all about voting for the pocket book and whoever can beat Obama.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        According to the exit polls cited in the CBS News article, Evangelicals favored Gingrich over Romney by over 2 to 1. Voters who cited strong moral character as the most important quality in a candidate massively favored Santorum over Gingrich, but “there were just too few of them to have much of an impact on the overall vote.”

        This is not about religion only in the sense that a religious cohort doesn’t want to talk about it as they vote for someone repugnant to the values they profess. If it really weren’t about religion, but rather about Romney’s political failings, then we wouldn’t be seeing Evangelicals voting together so much.

        I’m not sure, however, that I would characterize this as hypocrisy so much as prioritization. Confronted by two semi-viable candidates with a distinct set of strikes against each, we learn that Mormonism is more unpalatable to South Carolina Evangelicals than is serial infidelity. This is an interesting datum, but we knew all along that both qualities were negatives, even if we didn’t know the hierarchy of the two.

  3. Several observations.

    I have been prediciting for months to my friends who will listen that Romney would hit a wall in the South. People have issues voting for a Mormon. I’m not commenting on the right/wrong of that fact but there it is. The fact that evangelicals will vote for a RC is telling in two regards 1) just how much Mormonism seems odd to folks and 2) just how far many evangelicals have come in their thoughts about RCism.

    I don’t know why Santorum sp? is not benefiting other than he lacks name recognition and Gingrich just seems to enjoy punching Obama so darn much and let’s give it to him, he is good at it.

    • I think the Santorum situation is part of the issue. Since he won Iowa, I disagree about name recognition being a problem.

      Newt indicates people are more against something (the media)/someone (Obama), than they are for something/someone. They will put aside values they have expoused, even though more like-minded candidates are available, if that means victory.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Back before JFK (and during the 1960 election), the attitude towards a Catholic president was (in the words of the KKK) “He would bow before a Roman Dictator.”

      You can’t make the same claim about a Mormon president — the LDS originated in Upstate New York, migrated through Missouri, and is centered in Utah. 100% American in its origins and capital — you can’t claim a Mormon would have alliegance to anything “foreign”!

    • Why couldn’t I find that respect about Catholicism when I was an evangelical? (Eagle scrathces head….)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Because you ended up in a part of Evangelicalism where “No Popery!” was the Eleventh Commandment. It’s an attitude that’s kind of widespread among high-profile Fundagelicals and their media; I remember it from when I used to listen to Xian radio back in the Seventies.

        It’s like their still fighting the Reformation Wars, and if Papists do X, they HAVE to do Anti-X.

    • Great thoughts! I couldn’t concur more: I think more evangelicals are coming to accept the fact that Roman Catholics are technically within orthodoxy, while Mormons are not. That is progress now that we are learning what really makes a Christian a christian (not that I’m vouching for Newt just yet…).

  4. My mother-in-law (who lives in Greenville precisely because Bob Jones is there) hadn’t heard about Santorum. For the fun of it, I told her he was Catholic. She quickly said, “Well I’m not voting for him then!” Irony – I think she voted for Gingrich. Sigh.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    So “Godly Gingrich” trumped “Teh Mormon”. Especially funny when you realize that Romney is the one who seems to have the best chance in the general election. (In American politics, strategy in the Primaries is to appeal to the Party True Believers to secure the nomination, then “swing to the center” for the General.) And historically, the winner of the SC primary is most likely to be the final nominee.

    The GOP and Evangelicals might have another Clinton-vs-Dole on their hands in the General if it cotinues this way in the Primaries. (And of course the Paulistas will follow Ron Paul to the death, in an inversion of Messiah Politics.) Morning drive-time radio where I am keeps talking about “The Republicans can try to win the General in November, or they can Make An Ideological Point. And right now, Purity of Ideology is where they’re going. Expect four more years of Obama.”

    We saw a similar reaction in the Dems when Bush 43 won in that confusing 2000 tiebreaker. The Dems retreated into Party Ideology, Party Solidarity, Party Purity, The Party The Party The Party (reminiscent of another “The Party” of the 20th) until they recaptured the White House with a fast-tracked Senator. At which point the GOP had the same reaction, though with the GOP-Evangelical connection, their Ideology comes with “GAWD” and the Bible. Though the sense of Righteousness (and demonization of the Other) is very similar.

    • I get that hyperbole is part of your schtick here, but I think you’ve got the Paulistas wrong. I think people like me support Ron Paul because we find him to be the only sane voice saying what we have been waiting for someone to say for a long time. We don’t have a political voice and when someone finally speaks to us, we support him tenaciously.

      It’s not Messiah politics. If we believed electing Ron Paul could fix everything, we’d have given up long ago. It’s not really so much about electing him as it is about getting the message out.

      Ron Paul is the Gene McCarthy of our time. He won’t win, but he will change the conversation by allowing people who normally don’t have a voice in our politics an outlet. The wise will watch and learn, and shift their policies to appeal to the discontented. It’s already happening on several issues. Would pulling out of Afghanistan or auditing the Fed really be on the table today had it not been for Ron Paul? I doubt it. He’s changing the conversation and that’s a good thing.

      • I think the Paulistas trend young because the young tend to be idealistic. Ron Paul seems (to me, at least) to be living in an ideal world and not the real one.

      • Take away the idealism (on all the candidates platforms) and you are often not left with much. Ron Paul’s principles seem to be more grounded in his principles which allows you to evaluate him based upon character (to a small extent). For the other candidates… Well, you are left with who got the best mention in the media, or did some “trick” to swing the voters. (Just like a lot of the “famous” pastors use tricks to maintain their flock – not character or principles.)

  6. In an era of sex crazed pastors having bed-ins, writing christian porn self-help books, etc., is anyone really surprised there’d be support for the Swinger candidate?

  7. Does character matter?

    In this corner, we have Candidate A: married once; a known and proven leader in his local church/denomination; feeds the poor,takes care of the widow, and the orphan; goes on mission trips.

    Over here, we have Candidate B: married to his High School sweetheart; a veteran; narrow denominational diversity; has kept a consistent worldview; believes in “smaller government”.

    In yet another corner, Candidate C: married more than once; draft deferred; denominationally diverse; “ethically challenged”.

    And, in the last corner we have Candidate D: married once; active within his denomination; strong, conservative faith and values; public witness of such faith a bit shaky at times; consistent and encompassing worldview.

    So…which Candidate seems to fit best the broad, consensual, Evangelical model? ;D

    • Someone has to spell it out for us Canadians. Which Candidate is which?

      • Randy Thompson says:

        “Alice in Wonderland” might serve as a good guide. I’m thinking particularly of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. And, while I’m thinking about it, The Red Queen.

      • Michael Bell,

        That’s sorta my point. Based on the things Evangelical Christians claim they want (good character, active Christian values, putting feet to their faith, a private witness that matches their public life and so on), and removing, as best I could, any issue or political information, who would you vote for? A? B? C? or D?

        Do Evangelical Christians want who they say they want or not? I’m really curious now that the Good People of the Great State of South Carolina have spoken…

      • Douglas G. says:

        Romney, Paul, Gingrich, Santorum.

      • Douglas G. says:

        Who are respectively Mormon, Baptist, Catholic (converted ten years ago or so), Catholic.

    • The Previous Dan says:

      None of the above fit the Evangelical model and so they will vote for whichever one has the best chance of furthering the common agenda. It doesn’t much matter about his personal life since he is considered an ally but not “one of our own.” It is a pragmatic position.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      So…which Candidate seems to fit best the broad, consensual, Evangelical model? ;D

      (Shrieking baby Dinosaur voice) “NOT THE MORMON! NOT THE MORMON! NOT THE MORMON!”

  8. I really dislike it when candidates and voters bring in all the ‘religious stuff’.

    I’m with Luther. He said he’d “rather vote (be ruled by) for a smart Muslim, than a stupid Christian”.

    ________________________________________________________________

    The press really had a field day with president Johnson’s and Kennedy’s infidelities, didn’t they?

    And Judge Bork was borked for having smoked marijuana, but the cocaine snorting Obama wasn’t touched by the media.

    So there goes the ridiculous theory that Republicans can get away with murder and the Democrats can’t.

    Barney Frank. I rest my case.

    • cermak_rd says:

      Actually, Johnson and Kennedy belonged to an earlier time when the press didn’t cover a candidate’s or politician’s personal life. That all changed with Clinton.

      And once the genie is out of the bottle it becomes more hypocritical to put it back in. Sauce for the gander and all.

      That’s why I (even though a little squeamish about it) think that all the candidates religions and churches need a thorough vetting. After all, remember all the brouhaha about Obama’s church? Well, like I said, it would be more hypocritical to put the genie back in the bottle.

      • Steve, the Luther quote is apocryphal, though highly ironic. But if you have a persuasive citation for it, I’d like to be proven wrong.

        And I can’t resist: Bork wasn’t ‘borked’ for smoking pot. Please go back and read about his nomination fight; there’s a whole lot there about his past rulings, philosophy, etc. Reagan’s first choice for the Court, D. Ginsburg, was dropped for having admitted to smoking pot, but the pressure to do so came from cultural conservatives. Even Gingrich, by the way, has said he smoked pot in college. It’s become a non issue. I see your Barney Frank and raise you David Vitter. :)

        • Agreed. I think Bork was borked for his conservative (and vocal) stance against abortion. Other Supreme Court candidates have been more careful (and, ironically, more conservative) about what they say. After all, as a judge they can’t really have an opinion on Roe v. Wade until it comes before them in court. They could get thrown out of the running even for voicing an opinion—which wasn’t the case with Bork exactly; it was because he had the “wrong” opinion.

          I’ll get back to Gingrich in a different comment. But I should probably keep my mouth shut.

          • cermak_rd says:

            actually that reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon that ran some years back.

            The setup was that Dogbert had been nominated for the Supreme Court. A senator gets up and asks him about his opinion on something or other. Dogbert states he has no opinion on that or anything else. The senator says You are telling us that you have never formed an opinion on anything? You must think we’re idiots. To which Dogbert replies, OK one thing, that one.

          • Dogbert sounds like a Supreme Court candidate who came slightly after Bork. I think it was Souter. He was more cagey than Bork and turned the questions around and insisted that if he were to answer about his beliefs regarding Roe v. Wade he could be disqualified on the grounds of voicing any opinion ahead of a court proceding. I think he was right. It was a trap.

    • Why are your referring to “cocaine snorting Obama”? What is your factual basis for this?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The Party Can Do No Wrong.

      Ees Party Line, Comrades.

  9. PS- I really dislike Newt, and would not vote for him unless he was up against someone I disliked more.

  10. “Gingrich got roughly the same share of the South Carolina evangelical vote as Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, did four years ago.”

    And we all know how well that panned out in the long run for Huckabee vis the ultimate nomination.

  11. Never a comfortable topic, but a necessary one when discussing SC Republicans in ’12: Obama’s race. Gingrich showed that, if nominated, he’ll surely put the anti-colonial Kenyan Marxist socialist, food-stamp prez (the “MOST dangerous” prez in history, he called Obama) in his place. Gingrich, they concluded, may go down, but he’ll go down FIGHTING hard for the values of white America. I’m writing here about SC Republicans, and certainly not all of them. But a large chunk, including the evangelicals.

    Dreher or someone today wrote, under a photo of Newt, something like, Family Values: where you use the daughters of your first wife to tell people that what your second wife said about your third wife isn’t true.

    We Americans greatly overestimate our commitment to ‘family values,’ but, even so, a flagrant rejector of said values like Gingrich couldn’t succeed so well in SC unless he was running against a black man, even one who, by all accounts, leads an exemplary family life.

    • I really don’t think being black has anything to do with it.

      Hermain Cain would probably have gotten more votes in South Carolina than Newt did, if he had not dropped out because of his marital infidelities.

      • Uh-huh. And I have this bridge in Brooklyn going cheap. The press is focusing on the wrong thing. I’m southern born and bred. The fact that the GOP primary voters were 67% evangelical was not the most significant statistic. Rather it’s that they were 98% white. Gingrich knows how to speak that cultural language. Romney doesn’t. I wouldn’t even say it’s because they were all consciously thinking in racist terms as they voted. Southern culture is a lot more pervasive than that. It’s part of the air we breathe. You have to make a conscious and deliberate effort to be aware of it. No, I’m sure a lot of people felt Gingrich “resonated” with them or was in tune with them more than the others without analyzing the reasons for their reactions.

        But would the results have been the same without a black man in the White House and without the racial overtones to Gingrich’s statements about food stamps (which were distortions and lies, btw)? I don’t think so.

        The media almost always focuses on the wrong things when they report on the South.

        • Do you think the GOP would be calling Hillary Clinton the food stamp president if she had been elected instead of Obama? Of course they would have. It simply draws attention to the president’s record on poverty and ties in to the narrative of a failing economy.

          • You may be correct, but I doubt that a H. Clinton presidency would have the extreme emotions behind it that this president has engendered. Hillary is a liberal, but she is an intelligent liberal who can sense the mood of the country. I believe that she would have drifted to the center, just like her hubby, and might have been a shoe in for a second term.

            Obama’s disconnect from the vast number of voters in “fly-over” country that is neither New York, DC, Chicago, or Hollywood has allowed him to believe his own hype. He is so sure that most Americans are idiot children who need to be led and fed by the government, increasing the power of the feds (and the executive branch) and fostering dependency that he has outraged the middle class workers. His distain is palatable, wherever as Hillary can relate to the “people” when she chooses to.

            And for disagreeing with the man’s core values and leadership, one is forever dubbed a “racist”……which is in itself the most racist thing I can concieve of.

          • Pattie,

            Much in your above comment I agree with, especially the Hillary comment. If she were to run right now she could be a formidable opponent.

            Newt has gotten a lot of traction in the last week due to a couple of things – he’s great at the podium and he loves bantering with the press. He seems to become greater in stature the more he talks to media; in essense he gets the game. Romney on the other hand, who may be better qualified all the way around is not as stellar at the podium, and keeps the press at arms lenth, similar to Obama. That can give the impression of aloofness or maybe something to hide.

          • oh if only you were right boaz, but you’re not. The choice of the food stamp analogy was carefully chosen to perk up the ears of the “right” voters here.

    • I heard something the other day that I’ve been mulling through all the political ads. The Republicans are selling the return to the “good o’l days.” But for black people there weren’t any “good ‘ol days.” It certainly wasn’t the 50’s white gloved, Brill Creamed couple driving their car to church for much of SC folks. But try explaining that to my dad who still uses the “N” word without batting an eye. Sigh. As for him, I imagine he held his nose and voted for Santorum (despite being Catholic) because he couldn’t vote for a Mormon and wouldn’t vote for Gingrich because “I can’t trust him.”

      • “The Republicans are selling the return to the “good o’l days.” But for black people there weren’t any “good ‘ol days.” It certainly wasn’t the 50?s white gloved, Brill Creamed couple driving their car to church for much of SC folks.”

        Here’s a good illustration for that:
        http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/recession-american-way.jpg

        • Ted, I am a South Carolinian, and an Evangelical. My opposition to Obama has nothing at all to do with race. I wanted to see Herman Cain win. It does have a lot with the economy, and his attitudes towards small businesses, the Federal Government’s power, unions etc. Obama is in bed with the unions, this means that he is opposed to small businesses and wants to see them unionized.

          Small business owners in SC have seen a marked increase in the power that OSHA has in the state since Obama has taken office. The Federal Government is using OSHA to fine the snot out of small, non-union businesses down here. There are many other issues as well (like his comments about Christians wanting to hold on to their God and their guns, darn straight, I love God and like my guns). Small business is the backbone of the economy and it feels like Obama and others are trying to hurt them.

          So, please don’t play the race card. African-Americans make up a large portion of the middle class in SC. Stop trying to portray SC as still stuck in the ’50’s and ’60s. The reality is much more nuanced than what the media portrays often times.

          • Chip, I wasn’t playing the race card. I linked to an illustration that spoke to the comment by EV, above mine. And I don’t think EV was playing the race card either. Neither one of us mentioned Obama, andI I don’t understand why you did, throughout your comment.

            The photo in the link seems genuine, not photoshopped; and if so bears a lot of irony. I happen to like irony in cartoons and photos. It illustrated the story that EV told so well that I pretty much assumed that he (or she) had seen the photo first. I found It over on the Mockingbird blog, by the way, and since then found a better image of it which I posted.

            Sorry that it hit a nerve with you though, but this too illustrates the tension and inequality between whites and blacks. And with that comment I don’t think I’m playing the race card either.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Family Values: where you use the daughters of your first wife to tell people that what your second wife said about your third wife isn’t true.

      GREAT ONE-LINER!

    • That is EXACTLY what was going on, Jonathan. Newt’s race-bating dog-whistles have been in full swing during this campaign, and I heard from many South Carolina residents immediately after the primary who pretty much admitted it. Saying they voted for him because he was willing to get angry and offend the “politically correct” forces in this country.

      You have to be wilfully blind not to see it.

    • Many people will treat their own families great, but turn around and mess up other people’s families, or support legislation that would allow damage to be done to families and to societies. It’s like the film director who made a particularly graphic film, but acted horrified when someone asked him if his children would be allowed to see it, saying “no way”. (By the way Ravi Zecharias used that quote in one of his messages, but didn’t give the name of the author).

      What a president/elected official does in his own home with his own family has little to do with what he will try to make others do, or allow in their homes. I’ve noticed a disconnect there over the past years. To cite an extreme example, the commandants of the concentration/death camps in WWII were often times very loving husbands and fathers. My point in saying this is just to say that just because a person is a loving father, doesn’t mean that he will do the right thing by the entire country. I am not making any other comparisons.

  12. The Guy from Knoxville says:

    I don’t think it’s that people in SC so much want Newt as they, and a great majority in the country, want someone who can articulate things, handle the media and act as if they know what they’re talking about. Conservativly speaking, Santorum would be the candidate of choice here but don’t know if he can turn it around soon enough however, all Newt did is say and do what many have been wanting said and done for many years now and most of this comes from the mid-class folks. It’s the middle that gives both parties issues and problems anyway – the upper and lower are locked in to their chosen party and those in middle (incl independents) are what rub things the wrong way and give the party heads (both parties) sleepless nights and indigestion that prilosec or nexium couldn’t fix.

  13. I wrote about Gingrich last week; the short version of it is that people are voting for him because of his personal charisma. Certain politicians are blessed with the ability to get you to like (or, interestingly, hate) them immediately, and permanently. As a result, people will vote for them through thick and thin, even if their personal behavior is reprehensible. In fact, they bank on this ability to be so completely forgiven. But they don’t learn from their mistakes, which is worrisome.

    And yes, the irrational fears people have over a Mormon in the White House definitely are part of the equation.

    • Randy Thompson says:

      Evangelicals loved Nixon 40 years ago. He was not known for charisma, to put it mildly.

      • Well, Evangelicals were probably attracted to Nixon more so probably because he came off as a symbol of the status quo and stability during the riotous and chaotic year of 1968. All the hippiedom and race riots were probably too much for Southern white Evangelicals, so they picked the most whitest and respectable guy they could find: Richard Nixon.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Certain politicians are blessed with the ability to get you to like (or, interestingly, hate) them immediately, and permanently.

      Like FDR, Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I wrote about Gingrich last week… — K.W.Leslie

      Went over and took a look. Greate posting with a lot of really memorable lines — Wait! TIM LA HAYE IS BACKING GINGRICH?

      The only way I can see a rational Christian voting for the guy is if they want to hasten the End Times. And even then I wouldn’t consider that Christian to be all that rational.

      KW, that was almost word-for-word my reaction to LaHaye throwing in with Gingrich. I am always a bit suspicious of an endorsement from an End Time Prophecy freak for just that reason — with PMDs, you always have to factor in the possibility of “helping Prophecy along”. (Especially since Rapture beliefs mean they don’t plan on being around to face the aftereffects — “I’ll be Gone… I’ll be Gone…”.) Like the “Christians For Nuclear War” attitude I encountered during the heyday of Hal Lindsay. Scary.

  14. Evangelicals voted for Gingrich because deep down we all want what he wants: an open marriage.

    • But all kidding aside, Evangelicals like Gingrich for the same reasons we like celebrity megachurch pastors. They’re both good at putting on an entertaining show. Gingrich is just simply better than the other guys at running the show. Romney comes off as too robotic and Santorum looks and feels just too ordinary and normal, while Ron Paul comes off as some crazy old grandpa with kooky ideas. Gingrich though has all the makings of a successful megachurch pastor. He may not have moral fortitude or even real depth in his ideas, but he sure knows how to say things that make people feel energized and entertained.

      • You are right Huol, Newt says what people want to hear. He really isn’t a conservative,but he can talk the talk and sound like the down homepeople in Carolina.I don’t trust him.

    • cermak_rd says:

      Really though, it just sounds like Newt (does the poor man have an actual given name?) chose poorly when he chose his spouse if he wanted an open marriage. My understanding (I don’t have an open marriage, but know a couple of couples that do) is that the couple negotiates that BEFORE marriage and if they’re not both on board, then the proper thing to do is either opt for non-open or continue looking.

      If I knew a candidate was in an open marriage and s/he was caught “cheating” I’m not sure I would mind because there would be no victim.

      • Newton Leroy

        • Newton is a good and honorable name. Leroy sounds way too southern for my northern ears, and that alone could be a deal breaker. Besides, it means “the king” and we don’t want to pump him up too much.

        • He was named for Isaac Newton. I think my respect for him (or at least his parents) just went up a notch or two.

  15. Randy Thompson says:

    It seems to me that the basic rule of American politics is this: Politics is the dog, and Christianity is its tail.

    “Millhands and Preachers” is a study of the relationship between churches, politics and labor unrest in Gastonia, North Carolina 80 or so years ago. The author, Liston Pope (a long past Yale Divinity School Dean), found that people’s faith and church attendance had little or nothing to do with how they voted. I think that’s still true and probably always has been true. People vote their self-interest, class interests and biases.

    The Religious Right is more about the Right than Religion.

    • Interesting point there, but I wonder, how strong of a role does religion play in strengthening the various “self-interest, class interests and biases” of people. For example, take homosexuality. How much of the anti-homosexual rhetoric out there is reinforced by religious institutions? Surely that must be a way religion has a huge influence in politics.

      Anyways, if anything, doesn’t Listen Pope shed light on the severe lack of influence religion has on local everyday politics? If we believe in a New Kingdom ushered in by God through Jesus Christ, shouldn’t our politics be radically different and heavily influenced by our relationship with Christ? I’m guessing Pope is showing how little this matters to most people.

      • What will our politics be if we are truly Christian? Who has the answer? People in power have always tried to use religeon to their benefit to get people to obey them and submit to their power. Politics and religeon do not mix well.I woulde be like Jesus[impossible] but a good role model.It is not my business to tell others how to act.

  16. Anyone who group in the fundamentalist Baptist world of the South saw this coming for almost a year. We aren’t sure why anyone is surprised. When I was growing up in a SBC church in the 70’s, we were regularly taught Mormonism is a cult. We received pamplets and tracts from the SBC. The SBC even trained local pastors to go into churches and teach about Mormonism (a pastor I know was one of the trainers).

    Actually, based on religion, I don’t have problems electing a Mormon. I am not sure I would support an Atheist, but for me anything else would go. I do want my president to think he/she is accountable to a higher power.

    But, having said all that, it will be interesting to me whether the modern “Unitarian Jesus/Buddy Jesus…How to be a better person in 5 easy steps” kinds of evangelicals would buy into Romney. Since he announced, that has always been my question.

    • In some ways I’d almost prefer an atheist. They would most likely at least feel accountable to the American people. I think many of these clowns operate internally on a warped mirror of prosperity theology, where because they are prosperous it’s clearly a sign of God’s blessing and justification to do anything they want to make themselves more prosperous.

    • I don’t get this bigotry towards atheists. I mean Gingrich has always claimed to believe that he is accountable to a higher power, (he has always claimed to be a christian) but it doesn’t seem to have stopped him from sleeping with every woman he meets who is not his wife. I, and most atheist I know, spend a great deal of time thinking about our moral positions. It would seem to me that it would be the person who claims a moral position and stays true to it would be the better person. Not some empty profession of faith that any con-artist can openly say while doing whatever they want otherwise.
      That is what makes me really distrust Gingrich. He claimed to be a christian, broke the rules he claimed to follow, not once, but many, many, times over most of his life. How can an person who claims integrity support a person like that?

      • Agreed…I’ve spent 3 years trying to understand the moral problem of evil. Most Christians won’t touch that issue.

    • Allen would you vote for an agnostic like me!!! :-D I won’t wage the culture wars if I get elected… But my first executive order will be to make Christian”pop” illegal!! ;-)

      • Keep that campaign promise and you have my vote, Eagle!

        :-)

        (Of course, since I don’t actually have a vote in American elections, that isn’t much good to you, but just on general principles, you do have support).

  17. Matt Purdum says:

    Gingrich has a shameless ability to articulate the hates and fears of the hateful and the fearful. His biggest applause line was “Let’s kill them!” The whole campaign has been a shameful, frightening spectacle of hate and fear. God help us.

  18. I don’t want to hear any more talk from evangelical leaders about “family values” in politics, unless enough of them come out and speak to this phenomenon. Family values are in the toilet this election year.

    • Three out of 4 Fundagelical divorcees are opposed to gay marriage because they want to preserve the institution of marriage :-P

      • Just b/c one has failed in the institution of marriage doesn’t mean one wants to see marriage, which has always and can only be defined as a union of one woman and one man, discarded, and the homosexual agenda “boo I said It” and it does exist, elevated and advanced

        this is the wrong post, but if you do not think there is a homosexual agenda being actively promoted out there then you obviously have not spent much time observing popular culture ( I say this as a non-fuddie-duddie) relatively young school teacher that is around teenagers all the time- the agenda exist and there has been a concerted effort to force acceptance of a chosen lifestyle that is detrimental to society, families, and in the long term our nation- i make no apologies for stating so

        • Hard words, but true. I’m there with ya.

          • Ben and Austin. I can see that neither of you knows anyone who is gay. They “choose” to be gay just as much as you “choose” to be straight. Watching how Christians treat gays makes me quite glad that I am agnositc as I can show them more dignity and love than most Christians ever will….

          • The Previous Dan says:

            This is off topic and it is also an endless argument, but I’ll jump in never the less. A homosexual lifestyle is a choice. Take it from someone who has had close gay friends for most of their life and has personally made the said choice. A person may be born with certain tendencies, but every person chooses their actions.

          • Donalbain says:

            Ahh yes, a gay lifestyle. Having a job, having friends, playing sport, going to the theatre, going fishing, going hunting, flying planes, painting, having sex, acting, building dry stone walls, shopping, cooking, making furniture, driving cars, riding motorcycles, riding horses, sailing…

            Those are a few of the aspects of the lifestyles of the gay people I know.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            All bets are off and Joker’s wild — Teh Fag Card is now in play…

          • Brother Eagle,

            Don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions about those whom you disagree with. You don’t know me or Austin aside from occasional exchanges on this blog. You don’t know what our experience has been with gay folks or if we have had gay friends.

            You are using the same response mechanism that the fundagelicals use, only now you’re directing it against something different. Your views have changed, but your tactics have not.

            Saying that someone’s lifestyle is outside the norm is not being hateful but being realistic. Saying so does not imply that we wish it to be illegal, nor does it imply that we believe it to be a “choice” (which I do not believe, by the way).

            Dialogue goes better if you listen to what the other person is saying.

        • Donalbain says:

          Look at all the evidence for your conclusion. Perhaps you could distill it down and show exactly how allowing gay people to stay out of prison, or even marry has harmed any society where it has happened?

        • which has always and can only be defined as a union of one woman and one man

          This is just not true. Even the bible has plenty of cases where polygamous marriage was considered normal and fine. It looks to me that heterosexual marriage is more of a precursor to polygamous marriage. There are even real world examples, (Mormons, some Anabaptist etc…)
          In any case the question of same-sex marriage is an argument about the governments position vis-a-vis government benefits towards married couples. It will not change whatever any church wishes to claim as marriage. (and on a side note there are plenty of churches that believe in same-sex marriage. They have religious freedoms too.)

          • topher,

            I always laugh a little when folks who wish to redefine marriage in some form other than a man and a woman fall back to the old “polygamy” straw man. When in fact, I’m sure you know that polygamy was not how marriage started out, and was a distortion of that institution, but note even there, that we don’t see polygamy as several men do we? I find it odd that even those practicing polygamy saw marriage as a union of male and female

            If the government wants to enforce contracts between two people of any sex as they relate to all sorts of legal situations like property ownership, visitation rights in hospitals it can, but to call a union of two people of the same gender marriage is to redifine the word, in fact, I would argue that not only is same-sex “marriage” wrong and not good for society, it is by its very nature an impossiblity- and to your last point, any church that has ceased to follow clear biblical teachings and has polluted the sacramental nature of marraige by their own abhorrent teachings has ceased to be a Christian church and has become something else- a religous gathering perhaps but not a Christian church

          • Donalbain says:

            Did you ever come up with the evidence?

  19. So, how big a factor was Perry’s endorsement of Gingrich for evangelical voters?

    And did Perry make this endorsement because of anti-Mormon sentiment?

    • Don’t overestimate the anti-mormon sentiment. It is huge. Most evangelicals, at least now days, will grudgingly admit that RC’s at least worship the same Jesus:) despite their priest craft and idolatry (sarcasm people) where as Mormonism does not

      that doesn’t mean Mormon’s aren’t and can not be nice folks, great leaders, good neighbors, but to try to say their definition of who Christ is fits any of the three orthodox creeds is to stretch it

  20. Yes. Newt’s marital record is appalling. As big of an issue this is, it is still a strained gnat compared to the camel – the Randian anti-poor, anti-working class, anti-minority ethos – that moral conservatives have eagerly swallowed. This immorality is represented by most of the Republican candidates, but best articulated by Newt’s criticism of Obama as the “Food Stamp President” (even though the true “politically incorrect truth” is that more people entered the program under Bush than Obama). Listening to the debate South Carolina debate sound bites of an ugly crowd booing and attacking someone challenging Newt on his view of the poor was chilling – especially when realizing that a majority of those voters considered themselves “evangelical”. How does Newt square his Catholic faith with the Pope’s compassion for the poor?

    The logic is painful to follow: The poor (most of whom are white, not minorities) are supposed to give up food stamps and get jobs, but there are no jobs – not even jobs that can’t put food on the plate. What are the poor supposed to do, except die? The rhetoric is institutionalized euthanasia, economic cleansing, social evolution of the darkest sort. This is perfectly consistent with Randianism but should be more shockingly appalling than Newt’s alleged interest in an open marriage to alleged evangelicals.

    Why are there so many people on foodstamps? Because we’re in a recession, multinationals control the food chain and drive food prices beyond the reach of the poor, and the rich sent all the jobs overseas. But we are supposed to accept the notion of millionaires and billionaires as the victims needing tax cuts, deregulation, and government subsidies. Those who control the political system control the rhetoric.

    • That Other Jean says:

      We often disagree, dumb ox, but not about this. Spot on.

    • I second. Right on.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      This is perfectly consistent with Randianism but should be more shockingly appalling than Newt’s alleged interest in an open marriage to alleged evangelicals.

      But “alleged evangelicals” are always hung up about Sex Sex Sex.

      Don’t you know the only REAL sins are Sexual Sins?

    • “What are the poor supposed to do, except die?”

      They are supposed to send their children to work as janitors! Silly, Newt already solved this problem for you.

  21. Randy Windborne says:

    “There are lies, [expletive deleted] lies, and statistics.” – Benjamin Disraeli?

    The voter analysis presented in this article is bogus. Religion had precisely zero to do with the SC vote.

    Newt was scrappy and combative in the debates, and people like fiesty old guys – even if they can’t admit to it in polite company. It’s just human nature – fallen perhaps – but human nonetheless.

    But fret not, neither shalt thou worry, young padawans. The dead hand of Hari Seldon will prevail.

    • I don’t think the point was that “religion” determined the SC vote. Rather that self-identified evangelicals voted the way they did for the reasons they claimed.

  22. The real hypocrisy is still on the side of Republicans and moral conservatives. In Iowa, when Newt called Romney a liar, Republicans chastised him, “Now, now. Nice politicians don’t call each other names”. But when Newt called Romney a vulture capitalist, Republicans shrieked in horror and rush Newt off to the bathroom to wash his mouth out with soap. He obviously blasphemed the true Republican sanctity and core values: money above human life. It’s too bad he didn’t waffle on that position. (In an interview this morning, a representative of Romney’s Bane Capital admitted that pension funds were one key asset that they prized when considering to take over a company. Vulture capitalism does seem to fit.)

  23. Whichever way you look at it. This is a crazy way to fill THE Most important job in the country and maybe the world. What corporate selection panel would test a candidate by having him go around everywhere tickling ears, and ids, with all the half sublimated rage and hostility they could possibly want, carefully tailored to the prevailing local fears and prejudices?

    Even though the job itself requires very different skills including the ability to negotiate, to trade, and to stand up for important value or policy positions in the face of well organized opposition. No, captains of industry are more carefully groomed and selected than that…and yet here so much more than profit is at stake.

    I think of the day Bin Laden was taken out; that video from the White House. Clinton white as a sheet, I thought she was going to faint. Obama looking more grim than I’ve ever seen. American lives on the line and the political stakes at home and abroad could not be higher. Think of GW Bush hearing the news of 9/11….These are the conditions that American Presidents sometimes have to face. There isn’t always a cheering, adoring crowd lapping up every word.

    Well, I am not American, but I hope that whoever wins the nomination, whoever is eventually elected, will have qualities of guts, grace, intelligence to grasp complex problems, communication skills, and above all honor and real integrity. If Christian voters don’t take their own moral integrity to the polling booth ready to hold candidates to these standards, then clearly they have a very different idea of “calling” and faith.

  24. Douglas G. says:

    It’s like a neo-conservative wet dream from the 1980’s. So who’s going to be his vice president–Rush Limbaugh?

  25. Elizabeth says:

    I’m in South Carolina and have an opinon on this one. First a bit of history. In the upstate is King’s Mountain Military Park where the English tried to humiliate and threaten people into submission and where the Scots-Irish frontiersman, with a long memory of being pushed out of Scotland and then pushed out of Ireland by the English had their tempers and pride riled up. They poured out of the mountains and valleys and in a matter of hours, stopped the advance of the English from the south and turned the course of the American Revolution.

    South Carolian didn’t vote it’s heart or conscious and for that, we should be chastised. What it seems we did vote was our anger – at the current administration who unjustly (in our humble opinion) cost us the Bowing plant in the low country in favor of the union preference when we have nearly 10% unemployment, telling us we can’t have voter ID the same as many, many other states, etc (and the list goes on…..) and at the media who are preceived as holding GOP candiates to a standard they would never consider for Obama. It was that last debate that won Gingrich the state – his display of rebellion and righous anger was what many connected with here.

    (just fyi, I didn’t vote for him, so my thoughts are observations from conversations with others who I know did)

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yikes Boeing, not Bowing (how embaressing)

      After I posted this, I turned on one of the local conservative radio talk shows, and there seems to be a high level of ‘buyers remorse’ going around.

    • Well, as a Washington state resident, I would remind you that there are two sides to every story. Forgive me if I can’t get all worked up if my country tries to stop this endless race to the bottom when companies like Boeing try to take jobs away from one state and move them to another.

  26. Douglas G. says:

    Newt’s elevation to the presidency (from House Speaker) was predicted in the 1996 Jack Lemmon film “My Fellow Americans.” Granted, Newt wasn’t specifically named (and the two ex-presidents were pastiche characters), but the joke assumed audience awareness that it was supposed to be him. One scene took place in a gay rights parade, if that helps ring a bell.

  27. ChevalierdeJohnstone says:

    It’s a simple answer. Republicans are stupid. They always manage to lose, even when they win. The Republican “Contract with America” – half of American adults believe that this was Bill Clinton’s Idea. Republicans are the losing party. They are not willing to be against Progress. They want to defeat the progressive Democrat agenda, but they are not willing to stand up for an alternative. Their wont is to stand athwart the advance of history and shout “this far and no further.” But Progress is patient. It licks at their boots and pushes at their outstretched hands. Eventually, they falter, and Progress advances. Republicans only stand in the way: they are not willing to push back. They are afraid that by standing up for moral and social values, they will be called racists, or sexists. They will not be allowed into all of the nice clubs.

    Evangelicals are even more stupid. Evangelicals voted for Jimmy Carter. Woodrow WIlson was one of the most evangelical Christian Presidents ever. Evangelicals, like many True Believers, believe that their faith protects them from stupidity. Thus they believe that their own reason is right. They do not pray for guidance: they pray for support. They do not read the Bible to discern God’s word: they read the Bible to find proof of what they already believe. Thus they are all too willing to believe silken-tongued serpents who preach to them that they need government programs to ensure Christian charity.

    This is not to say that evangelical Republicans are bad people. Far from it. Their problem is that they truly want to do the right thing. They are God-fearing and God-loving. Because they know they want to do the right thing, they are incapable of entertaining the idea that they may be going about it in the wrong way. Progressive atheist Democrats do not have this problem. They do not care about doing the right thing. They do not accept the existence of right and wrong. Thus they are comfortable simply doing what is right for themselves. This means that they always win in the long run.

    Of course, they do not win in the end. God wins. But too many evangelical Republicans believe that they can do no wrong because God is on their side. They are wrong. God is not on their side. God is on God’s side. He invites us to stand by him. When we are too busy fighting for what we believe in, we miss his careful directions as to where to stand.

    It is always those whose faith is the strongest who are at the most risk of damnation. The man who is confident in his faith will charge down the road to Hell secure in the Armor of the Lord, only to find that having gone willingly, he cannot get out again. The man who is confident in God but who knows his faith is human and imperfect is always ready to listen for God’s direction. He willingly asks for help in bolstering the frailty of his human faith.