Only Divine Intervention Can Make the Evangelical Endorsement Matter Now

Bookmark and Share  As disgruntled conservatives and the the doubting Thomases of the conservative evangelical community continue to fear the potential candidacy of Mitt Romney,  leading evangelicals met in Texas on Saturday, to finally decide upon a single candidate to unite behind in the hopes of denying Romney the nomination.

After all the hand wringing, they decided to get behind former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a committed Catholic and self-described consistent conservative.

In explaining the decision, Tony Perkins, the group’s spokesman and President of Family Research Council, said:

“Rick Santorum has consistently articulated the issues that are of concern to conservatives, both economic and social. He has woven those into a very solid platform. And he has a record of stability.”

While the decision and the statement supporting the decision to back Santorum has a plausible tone to it, the facts that led up to the choice of Santorum tell an ugly story which undermines the conclusion that these religious leaders and values voters made.

Rick Santorum is not articulating  “the issues that are of concern to conservatives, both economic and social”, any better now than he was two, three, or four months ago.  Rick Santorum has not “woven those” issues into a more “solid platform” than he already established when he first announced his candidacy.  Yet it took Mitt Romney’s winning of the first nominating caucus and primary for these religious leaders to suddenly decide that Rick Santorum is their man.

The indecision, procrastination, and lack of committment demonstrated by these evangelical leaders up to now,  has essentially made this way too late endorsement of Santorum as the consistent conservative, an incredibly meaningless move that in the final analysis seems to be based less on the actual issues and more upon religious bigotry.

Had these moral men and women been truly sincere and really did believe that Rick Santorum was the best candidate for them and the nation, they would have and should have reached this conclusion well over a month ago, when the decision may have helped Rick Santorum pick up the 9 votes it would have taken for him to actually win in Iowa.  If these people of conviction had the courage to turn their moral conviction in to political courage, they would have united behind Rick Santorum many weeks ago and while Santorum was campaigning in New Hampshire, the evangelical community could have been coordinating their efforts and preparing South Carolina for Santorum.

But for some reason, the spirit to support Rick Santorum suddenly struck these movement conservatives now, when it looks like Mitt Romney might lock up the nomination.

For some reason, I find it hard to believe that the so called consistency of Rick Santorum is the real reason behind their endorsement.  A part of me can’t help but feel that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism is more a factor.  While some of the most well known and popular mainstream evangelical leaders have stated that they have no issue with Romney’s faith in a political context, others have not been so tolerant.    One such person is Robert Jeffress of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Pastor Jeffress, a Perry supporter, essentially declared that he disqualified Mitt Romney’s candidacy simply because the former Massachusetts Governor is a Mormon.  And Jeffress is not alone in that sentiment among many people of more mainstream faiths.

In their defense, this group of 150 evangelical leaders may deny that religious bigotry played a role in their decision.  Such denials inevitably make this a my word versus their word issue, but what their is absolutely no denying is the fact that the evangelical base of the Republican Party, embarrassed themselves during this election cycle.

They essentially defeated themselves during this nomination process.  Their inability to agree upon a single candidate as their favorite social conservative, has in large part been the reason for Mitt Romney’s success to date.   Now, at this late stage in the game, their endorsement of Santorum seems to lack any real meaning.  The unavoidable impression they created here is one of last minute desperation which makes their endorsement of Santorum seem quite half hearted and disingenuous and most of all, a last ditch effort designed more to stop Mitt Romney than support Rick Santorum.

Meanwhile, as stated previously, the endorsement is too little, too late.

First of all, in the Bible Belt of South Carolina, Catholics like Rick Santorum are viewed only slightly better than Mormons and the weak endorsement of Santorum by conservative Christian leaders does little to chip away at that bias among the evangelical masses.  Under normal conditions, the endorsement would have certainly helped to convince this voting bloc to approve of the Catholic more than the Mormon, but the inept handling of the evangelical leader’s decision makes these conditions far from normal.  So it would seem that Santorum’s sudden spiritual based support will not save him in South Carolina and it will probably fail to gain traction in Florida, where conservatives are resigning themselves to the inevitability of Romney’s nomination and beginning to unite behind him.

Secondly, the unconvincing sincerity of the evangelical endorsement will do little to help Rick Santorum raise the amounts of money that will be required to continue competing with Romney effectively.

In the end, the entire process leading up to endorsement by these evangelical leaders seems to me to have been quite an unsavory one. I have also found it to be quite hypocritical.  During the Sunday morning news shows, several speakers for this coalition of Christian leaders made it clear that electability was the main reason behind their decision.  Tony Perkins added that Rick Perry was actually the favorite going in to their Saturday meeting, but he failed to meet their electability expectations.  So they went with Santorum.  The problem with that claim is that if electability of someone who promises to commit themselves to the same conservative values that they share, than Mitt Romney would have to  win on that argument.  But there was far more to this decision than electability and the consistency which this Christian coalition also claims led to their endorsement of Santorum.

I believe it came down to the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon and that any excuse to deny him their support provided these social conservatives with a quick and easy way to deny religious bigotry played a role in their decision.    Were that not the case, based upon the Christian belief that people can change and redeem themselves, Mitt Romney’s committment to their issues combined with his electability should have allowed them to unite behind Romney.  Instead these religious leaders were more hellbent on just stopping Romney.

The question now becomes, will they be hellbent enough to stop Obama that they will allow themselves to vote for a Mormon come November?

Bookmark and Share

Romney Addresses Values Voter Summit After Bill Bennet Defends Him Against Bigotry

Bookmark and Share  Today Mitt Romney took to the podium at the Values Voters Summit and delivered a speech that gave all whom call themselves Christians plenty of reasons to vote for him.  Romney’s speech came a day after Southern Baptist Convention leader Robert Jeffress, introduced Texas Governor Rick Perry at the Values Voters Summit and then proceeded to unleash extraordinarily unchristian-like conduct through bigoted statements that condemned Mormonism and disqualified Mitt Romney as a legitimate presidential candidate because he is a Mormon.

Upon hearing these statements, White House 2012 posted a scathing editorial which among other things, denounced Jeffress, suggesting he was anything but Christian in his conduct and attitude and called him a bigot.  The editorial also questioned the sincerity of Governor Rick Perry’s attempt to disassociate himself from Jeffress, who his campaign agreed to let introduce him at the Value Voters Summit.  In that post White House 2012 also called upon Governor Perry to not just distance himself from Jeffress, but to repudiate him for his bigotry.

I continue to stand behind this position.  It is a position that I have seen few other forums covering the Republican presidential nomination contest take.  For a while I was beginning to think that I was alone in  my harsh judgment of Jeffress.  Such loneliness left me with a feeling of great disappointment in my Party.  As I stated in the original post;

“In this day and age, for Americans to hold prejudices against a political leader because of their faith, is nothing other than an example of backwards thinking and a contradiction to the very constitutional principles that the G.O.P. is trying to stress the need for our nation to return to.”

To think that I was alone in that belief within the G.O.P., left me angry.

That is until today.

Prior to Jay Sekulow’s introduction of Mitt Romney, the events emcee, former Reagan Education Secretary and  George H. W. Bush Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Bill Bennett , addressed the remarks made a day earlier by Pastor Jeffress after Rick Perry addressed the gathering the day before [see the video below] .  Bennett called the pastor’s comments “bigotry” and added

“Do not give voice to bigotry,” …… “You stepped on and obscured the words of Perry and Santorum and Cain and Bachmann and everyone else who has spoken here. You did Rick Perry no good sir, in what you had to say.”

Can I hear a hallelujah, praise the Lord, and Amen to that!

I felt redeemed in my disgust with Pastor Jeffress and his anti-Christian remarks and at the same time, Bill Bennett helped redeem my Party.  I applaud him for stepping up to the plate and correcting the record for us all.  And at the same time, I must pat myself on the back  among the first to take the position which I did, a position that Bill Bennett happened to echo when he stated that the words which Pastor Jeffress spoke, did nothing to help his Rick Perry, his chosen candidate for President.

I presented the same argument when I wrote;

 “Jeffress did little to win over any converts to Perry.”

 Soon after Bennett spoke, Mitt Romney followed, and  stated;

“And how ’bout that Bill Bennett?  He really hit that out of the ballpark.”

After that, Romney proceeded to present a case which did not allow for any Christian to legitimately question Romney’s committment to faith, values, morals, and Christian principles.  He called for everything from the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and defunding planned parenthood, to reaffirming marriage as that of a union strictly between a man and a woman, and for our government’s need to respect religious values.  And he did so in a presentation that was relaxed, laced with mild injections of appropriate humor, and also outlined his presidential agenda beyond social issues.  In it’s entireity, Romney’s speech was articulate, convincing and a presentation of a strong case for his being our next Commander-in -Chief  [see the complete speech below this post].

Unfortunately though, the religious intolerance and bigotry of people like Pastor Jeffress was something which existed and among far too many of those attending this celebration of Christian values.  While those who possess the ugly prejudices which use religion to divide people rather than unite them were in the minority, the few that do subscribe to such intolerable conduct had often received levels of visibility that were distasteful representations of the Family Research Council which holds the annual Values Voters Summit.   For that reason, Romney found a legitimate need to allude to his opening references to bigotry, towards the end of his speech.

Scheduled to speak after Romney, was Bryan Fischer, a director at the American Family Association.  In the past, Fischer claimed that Mormons and Muslims have “a completely different definition of who Christ is” than the founding fathers did, and therefore, as a result,  do not deserve First Amendment protections.    That prompted Romney to note

“Now one more thing.  Our values are noble as citizens. And they strengthen the nation.  We should remember that decency and civility are values too.  One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line I think.”

And in a direct reference to Fischer’s call to deny Mormons and Muslims their rights, Romney stated;

“Poisonous language does not advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind. The blessings of faith carry the responsibility of civil and respectful debate.”

He added;

“The task before us is to focus on the conservative beliefs and the values that unite us – let no agenda  narrow our vision or drive us apart.”

It is both ironic and a shame that Mitt Romney, a Mormon, had to waste time pointing these things out to Christians. The shame is that Christians should be well aware of the point he made.  The irony is that a man of the very religion Christians are claiming is not Christian, is espousing the Christian values that some of them are not.    The whole incident helped to demonstrate to me that while Romney has changed his position on about three issues throughout his adult life, unlike some Christians who are inconsistent with their own values, Mitt Romney at least practices what he preaches.  For that reason, I am more than proud to disclose that I am moving closer to endorsing Mitt Romney for President.

With Daniels, Ryan, Pence, and Palin out, I am slowly returning to the confidence I had when I endorsed Mitt Romney over the false prophet Huckabee and the false Republican McCain in 2008.   I am close but I am not there yet.  I want to be sure that Republican nominee earns my vote.  As such, I am inclined to still give Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum the chance to do that.  All three of these candidates have served the conservative and/or represent the conservative admirably and have already earned my respect.  If any of them can prove to me that they would be a better candidate and conservative Commander-in-Chief than Mitt Romney, than  I will accept as the better candidate and support them until the end.

For now though, I will await for Governor Perry to do the right thing and like Bill Bennett, denounce his friend and political supporter Pastor Robert Jeffress for his bigotry and injection of hate in to the Republican presidential contest.  As I have indicated on a previous occasion.  This is Rick Perry’s Jeremiah Wright moment.

Bookmark and Share

%d bloggers like this: