Friday, February 16, 2007

Giuliani and "Social Conservatives"

Nashville resident Richard Land, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, says that "social conservatives" will not support the presidential candidacy of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Land cites Giuliani's support of abortion and gay rights, as well as character questions raised by the New Yorker's well publicized affair with the woman who is now his wife, as reasons for non-support. All of those are valid concerns, but Land's certainty that people who sit in pews will not vote for Giuliani -- even if he is eventually pitted against Hillary Clinton -- may ultimately undermine the movement he represents.

Conservative Christians, who are often portrayed as a monolithic group, consider these types of issues to be important, but like most other Americans, they are not single issue voters to the extent that their own leaders and their liberal opponents unite in believing them to be. In spite of Giuliani's deficits, many will support him because of the perception that he led New York competently and valiantly in the wake of 9/11.

And many Republicans who are not socially conservative would like to see Giuliani win because his doing so would marginalize social conservatives inside the party.

Should evangelicals throw their support to Giuliani? Probably not. But instead of Land's empty assurances about an ability to deliver votes, it might be smarter to remain silent.

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