The American Prospect:
George W. Bush was the last Republican candidate who was considered sufficiently socially conservative to garner approval from evangelical leaders like Robertson and Jerry Falwell and still win a general election. In January 2012, faced with the prospect of Mitt Romney—a moderate and a Mormon—as the presumptive Republican nominee, 150 members of the evangelical old guard gathered on a ranch in Texas to reach a consensus on the best alternative to Romney. After mulling their alternatives in the motley GOP field, which included Bachmann, Santorum, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich, the leaders endorsed Santorum, a Catholic with a strong emphasis on social issues and a sharp contrast to Romney the business maven.
Their followers’ response, in the primaries that followed, was mixed. Romney’s eventual nomination remained almost certain; conservative evangelicals’ support for Santorum only helped delay the inevitable until May. But in the general election, nearly eight in ten evangelicals voted for Romney.
“The days of evangelical leaders crowning political princes are well behind us,” says Robert P. Jones, the CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit public opinion research organization. “Evangelicals are still a huge part of the GOP base, but they’re no longer taking their cues from a handful of well-known leaders.”
Keeping the spotlight on Iowa is one of the best ways for Christian conservative leaders to retain some influence over the nomination process. But preserving their foothold will be an uphill battle. To Vander Plaats’ chagrin, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, is threatening to do away with the Ames Straw Poll, an event that’s traditionally been important for party fundraising, saying that it has “outlived its usefulness.” The Straw Poll, which was first held in 1979, has been a crucial way for the Christian Right to advance their agenda in the presidential race since 1988, when Pat Robertson pulled off a spectacular first-place finish, setting the tone for the rest of the primary. If the Iowa Republican Party scraps the event, Vander Plaats says, his group is ready to fill the gap with another Family Leadership Summit in 2015. But it wouldn’t be the same kind of media magnet as the Ames Straw Poll, which offers fried butter on a stick as well as GOP candidates.
If we are indeed witnessing the end of the Evangelical strangle hold on the GOP, and therefore the end of their influence in American politics, essentially my work here is done.
This blog was started in response to my rage over the fact that the religious fundamentalists had foisted upon this country an unfit leader, while also hijacking morality as something that could ONLY be achieved through attendance at THEIR churches or adherence to THEIR religion.
That was when I set out to point out their hypocrisy, undermine their claim to a higher morality, and hopefully help usher in the day when the least rational people in the nation would no longer hold sway over our political process.
To be honest I am not at all convinced that such a day is upon us, but I will say that every time even one finger from their choke hold relaxes it is a day to be celebrated.
I am in this for the long haul and hope to still be typing away when the majority of politicians no longer have to do their swearing in to office on the Bible, when our leaders can openly embrace atheism without fear of losing all support, and when science is taught in our schools based on research and unmolested by those who fear that its influence will impact church attendance.
I don't want to tell people what to believe or how to worship, I just want them to keep their religious influence out of my politics. That may seem fairly reasonable, but until recently that position marginalized me and made me the enemy of people whose ability to interpret ethics and morality is based solely on a belief in a higher power.