A private gathering of 150 unnamed religious activists tried to throw the South Carolina evangelical vote to Santorum. That gathering was held at the ranch of a Southern Baptist Convention conservative takeover heavyweight – retired Texas Judge Paul Pressler. As Interfaith Alliance head Welton Gaddy said on the Jan. 21 broadcast, it had all the hallmarks of Pressler’s manipulations of the SBC:
The eventual victors touted the movement as the “conservative resurgence” and claim that it rescued the nation’s second-largest faith group from liberalism and decline. Gaddy, who was active in SBC leadership until the 1980s, said he called it “political fundamentalism,” which he defined as “a manipulation of theological issues and church loyalty to advance purposes latched on to interests in politics, money and power.”
The politics of religion still prevailed in South Carolina, albeit without being bent to Pressler’s will by handing the primary to Rick Santorum.
Mark Silk found that the evangelicals instead chose Catholic Newt Gingrich as their alternative to Mormon Mitt Romney:
The Mormon Gap killed Mitt Romney. Defined as the percentage-point difference between the evangelical and the non-evangelical vote for a given Mormon candidate in a Republican primary, it turned out to be 16 points; i.e. Romney won 38 percent of non-evangelicals but only 22 percent of evangelicals. By contrast, Newt Gingrich won 44 percent of evangelicals, as opposed to only 33 percent of non-evangelicals.
New York University Professor Jay Rosen parses Republican views as reality vs reality-denial. Similarly, an irrational anti-Mormon religious reflex may be seen as having had a determining effect in South Carolina. It may do so again in Florida.
One of 2008’s most important pieces of religious journalism: By Elizabeth A. Castelli:
A historian of early Christianity looks at contemporary evangelicalism’s persecution complexes in light of the Christian martyrdom tradition and the dangerously bruised egos of a massive movement that sees itself as victimized minority.
For passing Proposition 8, tolerance of Mormons is fine, says the behavior of Focus on the Family chairman & founder Dr. James Dobson.
He signed the AboveTheHate.com letter which opens with:
We write firstly to express our deep gratitude to you and the entire LDS community for the large and impressive contributions of your church and its members in protecting marriage in California and Arizona.
When Underground Apologetics objected to Mormon author Glenn Beck’s interview promoting his book “The Christmas Sweater,” though, Focus caved. They pulled it off the Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink site.
The Focus explanation to Joel Campbell of The Mormon Times:
You are correct to note that Mr. Beck is a member of the Mormon church, and that we did not make mention of this fact in our interview with him. We do recognize the deep theological difference between evangelical theology and Mormon theology, and it would have been prudent for us at least to have pointed out these differences. Because of the confusion, we have removed the interview from CitizenLink.
Bruce Tomaso wrote for the Dallas Morning News Religion Blog:
Focus on the Family represents itself as promoting Christian values. Many — but clearly not all — Christians believe that one of those values is tolerance.
To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.
Absent such reform, she says, “the nation may need a new party.”
Read it here.