The broad perception among centrists, moderates, conservative Democrats, renegade Republicans, etc., is that the GOP is the party of white Christians to the exclusion of others, some of whom might also be social conservatives.
One can believe this or not. But as the gazillions who have written me to say either that "God Is Here To Stay" or that "Conservatives Won't Be Silenced" ought best to know: Just because you don't believe something doesn't make it untrue.
It may be, as Ponnuru insists, that Barack Obama won for other reasons (health care, for instance) than that evangelicals repelled the less overtly religious. But oogedy-boogedyness remains a problem for the GOP, as hundreds of other letter writers confirm.
As long as the religious right is seen as controlling the Republican Party, the GOP will continue to lose some percentage of voters, and that percentage likely will increase over time as younger voters shift away from traditional to more progressive values.
The cause is not helped when someone of the stature of Rick Warren interviews the leading presidential candidates in his church, questioning them about their faith. If that's not a religious test, I don't know what is.
The glue that binds the GOP's religious right -- social issues, especially abortion -- is not insignificant and doesn't deserve to be dismissed. But nor should those issues be tied to scripture. Some religious conservatives understand this, but the memo apparently isn't reaching all the pews.
They might take a cue from Nat Hentoff, a self-described Jewish-atheist, who has written as eloquently as anyone about the "indivisibility of life" and the slippery slope down which abortion leads. He uses logic and reason to argue that being pro-life, rather than resolving the religious question of ensoulment, is really a necessary barrier against selective killing, such as when someone else decides it's your time to die.
Hentoff's arguments, and others on related issues, ultimately may fail. But at least they will fail for reasons other than that oogedy-boogedy got in the way.