Friday, January 6, 2012

When "Evangelical" Meant Something Nice

For Evangelicals Wary of Romney, Time Runs Short

Evan Vucci/Associated Press
Newt Gingrich attending Mass at St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines on New Years Day.

Dismayed by the prospect of Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee, conservative Christian leaders are intensifying discussions about jointly backing an alternative candidate from a field reshaped by Rick Santorum’s strong performance in Iowa.

The plan disclosed this week for dozens of conservative Christian leaders and political strategists to meet in Texas next Friday and Saturday, a week before the South Carolina primary, is the latest of several such efforts in the last six weeks to seek an elusive unity. Among the conveners of next week’s gathering are luminaries of the evangelical movement, including James C. Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family, and Donald E. Wildmon, the retired president of the American Family Association.

Other evangelical leaders are holding discussions and raising the possibility of later meetings if the gathering in Texas does not yield a consensus.

But time is running short. Like evangelical voters, the leaders of the religious right have been divided over which Republican to back, dispersing their support in a way that has helped Mr. Romney and undercut their influence on the nominating process. With Mr. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, in a strong position heading into the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, the leaders said they knew they must move quickly if they wanted to shape the outcome.

In a campaign defined in large part by the conservatives’ intense desire to eject President Obama from the White House, the differences among evangelicals underscore the difficulties Republicans have had in putting aside divisions and getting enthusiastically behind someone they feel embodies their values and can win the election

The Practical Buddhist Responds

I am so old I remember when "liberal" was a compliment and "conservative" was polite code for fearful reactionaries. In those days, "evangelical" referred to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Now Santorum, who seems to hate just about everybody and to want to control everything from bedroom behavior to reading material, claims he is the "Jesus Candidate." This is how he allies himself with those who like capital punishment and wars of aggression and really hate Mexicans and think gays are about the same as polygamous pederasts.

Evangelicals fear Romney.  He's not a true conservative because he keeps changing his position on controlling women's bodies and extending civil rights to more Americans. Plus he's Mormon, and that scares them too.  Santorum (and Gingrich) are devout Catholics, and the evangelicals who used to claim both Mormonism and Catholicism were superstitious cults have had a convenient softening toward the Catholics lately.  No choice really, unless they like Ron Paul (dubbed "dangerous" by Newt  because he wants to end the wars.)

It's going to be Romney and Obama, of course, no matter how much self-interested TV journalists try to build the hype and the ratings with pseudo-suspense.

I used to be liberal, now I'm progressive. I used to be evangelical, now I'm earnest. I've always been moderate (the latest ruined word, now used to defame Romney and company).  I guess if I can't be moderate any more, I'll just be quiet and pay attention for a while.