US Social Conservatives Criticise Robertson’s Giuliani Endorsement

One leader calls endorsement "a significant political retreat by the religious right"
Fri Nov 9, 2007 - 12:15 pm EST

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

  November 9, 2007 ( - The reaction from leading US social conservatives to Pat Robertson’s endorsement of pro-abortion and pro-gay Rudolph Giuliani for the Republican presidential nomination has ranged from outraged denunciation to conspicuous silence. Robertson’s move is especially significant since the evangelical protestant leader’s "700 Club" program influences millions of Americans and he has in the past had a major influence on US elections.

  According to One News Now, the news agency of the influential American Family Association, only one pro-family leader they contacted agreed to respond—anonymously.  A close friend of Robertson, he reportedly said that the endorsement is "tragic", and nominating Giuliani "will destroy the Republican Party."

  However, other social conservatives were quite public in their reaction to the endorsement. Randy Thomasson, president of the pro-life Campaign for Children and Families, told the Christian Post that "Pat Robertson is leading pro-family voters astray by abandoning moral standards for government," and, "This shocking news is a 180-degree turn by the founder of the Christian Coalition."

  Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, announced that a protest would be held outside of Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network offices in Washington, D.C., stating that "I am literally sick to my stomach over Dr. Robertson’s decision. He wrote a forward to my book, Operation Rescue, I have been on the 700 Club, I have spoken at Regent University, CBN helped me get started in radio, and the attorneys of the ACLJ have been heroic advocates for our pro-life mission. This is what happens when a leader puts party ahead of principle; it corrupts ones ability to reason consistently."

  The endorsement seems to indicate a change in priorities for Robertson, who has traditionally emphasized human life and family issues. He justified his decision to support Giuliani by referring to the candidate’s leadership on law enforcement, tax cuts, and military aggressiveness. He listed social concerns as third, after military and economic issues. 

  Robert Tracinski of Real Clear Politics sees the endorsement as a sign of "a significant political retreat by the religious right". In his recent column he notes Robertson’s altered priorities and says, "we have reached the point at which a long-time top leader of the religious right has conceded that the religious social agenda should not be the Republican Party’s ‘overriding’ concern."

  Tracinski says that the significance of the endorsement is that "the religious right has apparently accepted much more modest political goals, settling for Rudy Giuliani’s promise about judges…In short, the religious right is preparing itself to settle for a kind of bare minimum from the Republican presidential candidate. It is preparing itself to subordinate its religious agenda to a secular agenda."

  Another highly influential conservative political activist, Paul Weyrich, released his endorsement of Mitt Romney just before Robertson came out with his announcement. Weyrich recently told Newsmax, I’m not for Giuliani. I want to try to stop him from getting the nomination."

  However, the liberal publication "Mother Jones", which has an incentive to play up the Robertson endorsement to discredit Giuliani, opines in its blog that the Robertson event is "irrelevant": "Does this mean evangelicals don’t care about abortion and homosexuality as much as people think? No. Frankly, I think this just underscores Robertson’s irrelevance. He’s a cranky old man who has been replaced by younger and more energetic leaders in his movement."

  The Times of London, after dismissing Robertson as a crackpot based on a series of well-known public gaffes and embarrassments, sees the event as evidence of a "crackup" in the evangelical protestant movement in the U.S. "It was always a neat fiction put about by the godless media that evangelicals were like some giant army of automatons who could be programmed to march to the voting booths, Bibles aloft, ready to vote for God’s way exactly as defined by their preachers" writes the Times. "There was always more diversity than that, but these days the diversity is startling. Evangelicals are fracturing."

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