Since its emergence as a dominant political force in the '80s, the religious right has been a favorite whipping boy of the mainstream media and political left and a sometimes embarrassment to certain conservative elitists. Yet neither group of critics can deny the electoral power Christian conservatives have wielded.
The group's uncompromising commitment to protecting life and defending America's traditional institutions has been instrumental in beating back the left's relentless assault on our culture. Without its grassroots contributions, we'd be seeing a lot more Ruth Bader Ginsbergs and a lot fewer Antonin Scalias.
But this primary campaign season, because of the competing resumes and platforms of various Republican presidential candidates and the complex interplay of religion and politics that has emerged, I am concerned that Christian conservatives could lose sight of the big picture of conservatism, all of whose principles are vitally important for this nation.
In my view, there's no perfect GOP candidate, but all of the viable Republican candidates are immeasurably preferable to their Democratic counterparts, and we should all support the eventual Republican nominee. But not all Christian conservatives agree.
The venerable Dr. James Dobson, for example, has said he couldn't support Rudy Giuliani. Rudy is not my first choice either, but he's a strong, capable leader who will fervently protect our national security. I pray he'll honor his pledge to appoint constitutionalist judges. Rudy is a far safer bet on life than any Democratic candidate.
Next, speculation exists that some evangelicals wouldn't support Mitt Romney because of his Mormonism. While I believe there are greater differences between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity than some assume, I will certainly support Romney if he is nominated. Again, my reservations concern his recent flips on social issues and how they bear on his authenticity. But if Mitt is the man he presents himself to be, he could make an extraordinary president. If not, he'll still be head and shoulders above the unapologetic socialists on the other ticket.
Some Christian conservatives have criticized Fred Thompson for refusing to endorse a federal ban on abortion. I understand the concern but believe a legitimate conservative (and pro-life) case can be made for Fred's position. Thompson is an inveterate advocate of federalism and state's rights, and his view that the abortion issue should be left to the states as before Roe squares with conservative principles.