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Splitting the evangelical vote: Santorum, Perry, and Bachmann

Splitting the evangelical vote: Santorum, Perry, and Bachmann

For the first time in recent history, evangelicals don't seem to know what to do or who to support.  Homeschoolers rally behind Rick Santorum, anti-gay groups like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, and some evangelicals like all of them because of all of their claims to be "constitutional conservatives."

This indecision has manifested itself in the various 15 minutes of fame the GOP candidates have enjoyed–first, Rick Perry, then Herman Cain, and then, when Cain imploded over various accusations of sexual impropriety, Newt Gingrich seemed like the logical pick.  After Gingrich announced he'd like to get rid of the 9th Circuit judges, amid evangelical uncertainty over supporting a man who has had multiple marriages to his various mistresses, Rick Santorum seems to be enjoying a surge. Here and there, Michele Bachmann has been hopping up and down grabbing a moment of the spotlight.

What's an evangelical to do?  God spoke to all of these people, telling them to run, but even God seems indecisive.  The blog Atheist Experience vocalizes, perhaps, even evangelical thoughts about the whole thing:

We all know that there is a big social taboo against questioning any candidate’s deeply rooted personal religious opinions.  But personally, I feel like the omniscient ruler over all creation ought to be a little bit more decisive about guiding an election, don’t you think?  In a world where God really existed and actively desired the election of one particular candidate, there might in principle be a single right answer to the question of who’s really God’s candidate.  It might, of course, be an undiscoverable answer; but if all these candidates are going around claiming they know they have God’s endorsement, at least three of them must be lying or mistaken, yes?  That ought to be a fairly obvious statement even for the most hardened theocrat.

And I’d like some follow-up questions, too.  Mitt Romney the Mormon is presumed to be the likely front runner right now; suppose he wins the primary?  Is somebody please, PLEASE going to go up to Rick Santorum and ask “So, Rick, you said that God wanted you to run, but that Mormon guy sure did kick your ass.  Why did that happen?”  And if Obama is re-elected, I’m dying for all four of them to answer the question about what the heck God was up to.

Yet evangelicals are still stuck.  The Washington Post interviewed a few, and their confusion was evident:

In 2008, evangelical support washed over former Arkansas governor and Southern Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee, but this year Bowen expressed bewilderment at the theological and electoral calculations that were leading conservative-values voters to bestow their blessing on one candidate after another.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Bowen said, as she set down a basket filled with fetus dolls.

For evangelical voters, this is not a season of clarity.

They are trying to decide if moral fiber is more important than religious affiliation, if the right relationship with Jesus Christ trumps the right portfolio to defeat President Obama, and if Mormonism is to be regarded with more suspicion than the Catholicism that many evangelicals have come to tolerate.

Perry and Santorum are now fighting a virtual tug of war over Iowa's evangelicals.  Reuters reports that Iowa's evangelicals are moving over to Santorum, because he's been actively lobbying the homeschool network, and preachers there like him.  They like him so much, they want Bachmann to either drop out entirely, or fold her campaign into his.   With the departure of Bachmann's campaign chairman Kent Sorenson over to Paul's campaign, and the loss of her political director Wes Enos, it would seem it's time for Bachmann to throw in the towel.   Does this mean that she misheard God?

It's a sticky situation that evangelicals are in.  They are splitting the GOP vote to the point where Obama might just win.  FOXNews has been very vocal with that fear, but who knows?  Only God knows.

 

About Dakota O'Leary

Dakota O'Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. She is a contributing writer focusing on eschatology, biblical prophecy, and general religious news. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week. We like to call her "our in-house Biblical prophecy expert" as her articles on eschatology have received over 200,000 views on God Discussion.
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