Why Is Religion A Big Deal In The 2008 Election? A Candidate Is To Blame, But Probably Not The One You Think

by John Hawkins | December 10, 2007 5:15 am

Numerous people have noted that religion has played a surprisingly large role in 2008 primaries.

Is that because Mike Huckabee is a former pastor? Huckabee certainly has brought up Christian issues on more than a few occasions, but he’s not really the man primarily responsible for putting religious issues front and center in the campaign.

What about Mitt Romney then? Is it a reaction to the fact that he’s a Mormon? Perhaps, but Mitt has, at least partially, brought that on himself by so explicitly trying to cater to Christian conservatives. Granted, Mitt is trying to appeal to Christian conservatives because he’s worried that they might reject him for being a Mormon, but they’re also looking more closely at his religious views because he’s attempting to appeal to them on those grounds. So, it’s sort of a catch-22 for him.

However, the guy who’s really responsible is Rudy Giuliani. But, he’s pro-abortion, he’s soft on gay marriage, and he has done very little to try to appeal to social conservatives — so how can he have made religion a big issue in the campaign?

Well, that’s just it: because Rudy would represent such a radical change from the standard Republican standard bearer, he’s causing people to take a hard look at some fundamental assumptions that have been made by the GOP over the last couple of decades.

One of those assumptions is that the Republican candidate needs to cater to social conservatives to win the primary. If Rudy were to win, it would be a sign that you don’t need to even pay lip service to Christian conservatives to get the nomination, which would mean, in effect, that social conservatives are toothless.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that social conservatives have started talking more about what they want in a candidate so that they can find an “anybody-but-Rudy” candidate to rally around.

So, if you don’t like all this excessive focus on religion, you can blame Rudy Giuliani for it.

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