As the [ultra-conservative] Washington Times reported, a leading Evangelical and former aide to President George H.W. Bush agreed with suspicions by other Evangelical and conservative Catholic activists that organizers “manipulated” the gathering, and may even have stuffed the ballot to produce a Santorum endorsement.
In fact, Gingrich supporters were allegedly given the impression that, after two ballots, the conference’s work was done, and were encouraged to leave. Only after many left did the final round of voting, and Santorum’s “win,” happen, with one Evangelical allegedly seen stuffing four ballots for Santorum.
Former White House evangelical-outreach official Doug Wead, who represented GOP presidential hopeful Texas Rep. Ron Paul, said the outcome was obviously was determined in advance by the choice of the people invited. “By the time the weekend was over, it was clear that this had been definitely planned all along as a Rick Santorum event,” Mr. Wead told the Washington Times. “The organizer was for Santorum, the person who created the invitation list was for Santorum, the emcee was for Santorum.”
And, the newspaper noted, “Some leading members of the Christian Right who attended the meeting later characterized it as disastrous for evangelical unity because it generated bitterness, suspicion and acrimony among the factions the meeting was supposed to unite.”
The decline among American Evangelicals parallels a similar decline in influence – or at the least a very public black eye – to fundamentalist leaders around the globe, whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim.
In Israel, organizers of a recent conference on women’s health and Jewish law barred women from speaking from the podium - leading to a brouhaha in which at least eight speakers canceled out. Ultra-Orthodox men in Jerusalem similarly spat on an 8-year-old girl wearing a long skirt - whom they nonetheless deemed immodestly dressed. Others depicted the Jerusalem Police Commander as Hitler on posters because he instructed public bus lines with mixed-sex seating to drive through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.
The difference between now and then? Such incidents were previously swept under the rug in the name of unity with Israeli. Now, such incidents are making the front page, as the secular majority pushes back against increasingly aggressive fundamentalists globally.
The same is true of Egypt’s Salafists, who could expound their fundamentalism without much ideological pushback while Mubarak was firmly in control. But with Mubarak deposed and the future of the country at stake, the Salafists’ formerly unchallenged beliefs on, say, the moral necessity for women to wear the hijab and defer to males in their family are suddenly being challenged.
The future is not much rosier for Iran’s Supreme Leader, who presided over his country’s fraudulent elections and then sent in his military to enforce the skewed results. Meanwhile, his country is in a frightening economic tailspin. Within the past month alone, the Iranian rial has fallen from 12,000 to the dollar to a whopping 18,000, its lowest ever, according to the Mehr News agency. Whatever promise the Supreme Leader may have held out to his people is long gone.
An old saying states, “Be careful what you pray for.”
In America, the Evangelicals have been praying for a political leader such as Santorum – and they got him. Yes, Evangelicals and their allies have proven their ability to disrupt the secular majority. What’s wanting on their part is not an ability to say “no”; rather it is their ability to say “yes” and lead, like their secular counterparts.
Without Santorum, their weakness in even a conservative state would not be so obvious. With Santorum on the ballot, the political fear that Evangelicals have inspired this past 10-15 years may well, after Saturday, be a thing of the past.
So will South Carolina prove the Evangelical Waterloo? Stay tuned!By Joseph Hanania, Aslan Media Columnist