Evangelicals, Rudy Giuliani, and the Republican Party

On Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani will make yet another attempt to court the vote of evangelical Christians:

In what may be one of the most important speeches of his campaign thus far, Mayor Giuliani will make his pitch tomorrow to Christian conservatives, aiming to convince them that his bona fides on leadership and fiscal discipline should trump his views on social issues like abortion.

The Mayor should save his breath.

Giuliani has never had any real traction among social conservatives, especially after his stated support for public funding of abortion. His unorthodox stances have even raised questions within his own Roman Catholic Church, where Guiliani seems to be on the verge of excommunication. But what of evangelicals?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the thinking seems to go like this: evangelicals are (rightly) concerned about terrorism. Rudy has positioned himself as the “strong leader in the fight” candidate. The Democrats’ leadership in that arena is lacking, to say the least. Therefore, evangelicals will vote for the pro-abortion, pro-gay rights Giuliani in this time of crisis.

Besides, for the last quarter century, evangelicals have voted Republican for president. There’s no way they’d cross the aisle for Hillary, right? Evangelicals will have no other choice but to vote for Giuliani.

This line of thought is correct insofar as most evangelicals aren’t going to vote for Hillary. But would they leave the Republican party over simple social issues like abortion?

If necessary, they will.

What Mayor Giuliani is forgetting is that evangelicals are the heirs the Protestant Reformation. In the sixteenth century, their forbearers saw corruption and misrepresentation in the established ecclesiastical body of their day. They left the Church of Rome, often at great peril. Leaving a political party is second nature after leaving a church. They can and will leave if the candidate leaves them.

Should Giuliani win the Republican primary, there will inevitably be some evangelicals who will vote for him. Some. Not the already slim margin that’s needed to win. If Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican primary, we should all be prepared to say “Madam President” in January of 2009.

The good news is that there are other candidates who are more representative…