South Carolina is ranked the third “most religious” state in the nation, according to a Gallup poll; 80 percent in the state say religion is an important part of their daily lives.
Ties are found between faith and politics in the state, too. In a recent Winthrop poll, over two-thirds of Palmetto State Republicans identified themselves as born-again or Evangelical Christians.
And faith influences their votes. In exit polls from the 2008 General Election, 40 percent of South Carolina voters said they were born-again, and with religion influencing their candidate selection. Eight-five percent of these born-again Christians in the state voted for John McCain, who led South Carolina 54 to 45 over Pres. Obama.
More specifically, identification with the Christian faith is a factor for these GOP supporters. According to that same recent Winthrop poll, conducted just weeks ago in mid-September, 29.5 percent of Republican voters in the state incorrectly believe Obama is Muslim; only a third acknowledge him to be Christian.
That false assumption is a primary basis of their objection to the president, too, apparently; 88.6 percent of South Carolina Republicans disapprove of Obama, according to the Winthrop poll.
But if identification with the Christian faith is so prominent in the state, and has such influence on Republican voters, then why the hell (oops – I mean “heck”) have these same South Carolina Christian Republicans increased their support for Herman Cain after they learned of multiple claims of his alleged attempts of infidelity?
Just two days ago, which was two days after he made national news for past claims of sexual harassment, Cain had substantial lead in a Rasmussen poll conducted amongst South Carolina Republicans. From a slate of eight candidates, Cain took 35 percent, distantly leading closest competitor Mitt Romney, who had only 23 percent.
A few weeks ago, though, Cain only led Romney by one. An Oct. 10 poll of state Republicans by American Research Group found Cain to have favor from only 25 percent to Romney’s 24.
So has this news of sexual harassment somehow increased his appeal to these religious Republicans? Three-quarters of the Rasmussen poll participants admitted they knew of the harassment reports, after all. And Cain’s support is greatest (40 percent) from those who identify themselves farthest to the right as “very conservative.”
Additional claims of sexual harassment from Cain came out yesterday after the poll results were released, but that won’t affect his status here, either, apparently.
And why is that? Because these Christian Republicans in the state only seem to favor candidate identification with their faith, and not actual representation of it. Just take a look at their recent voting habits.
GOP candidate Nikki Haley was elected governor of the state after three claims of extramarital affairs – each made by another Republican in the state – were made public during last year’s campaign.
Haley succeeded former Gov. Mark Sanford, the Republican who made national news in 2009 after having an affair in Argentina at public expense.
Sanford’s ex-wife Jenny endorsed Haley last year (following her own divorce from the philandering governor), and defended Cain in a recent op-ed (although it was written before all the allegations became public).
Add in the Republican former state treasurer convicted of cocaine distribution; the Republican lieutenant governor cited for over 100 violations of using campaign donations for personal pleasures; the employee of the state Republican Party charged with illegal eavesdropping on teleconference calls; the Republican assistant prosecutor and former state representative caught in a cemetery with a prostitute; the SCGOP executive committee member who molested his step-daughter (who was also a coordinator with the state’s Christian Coalition); the Republican segregationist senator who impregnated a teenaged African-American girl out of wedlock and continually denied being father of her child …
Where, pray tell, is the Christianity in those South Carolina Republicans? Who were regularly supported and even elected by Republican voters in the state?
These Christian GOP voters of South Carolina – who credit non-support of Obama due to their false assumption of the president’s non-Christian status – apparently continue their trend of support for Christian-in-name-but-not-in-action candidates. This time in a man now accused of four instances of sexual harassment and assault.
And – given this established pattern – these Christian Republican voters might not be actually supporting the terms of their faith. Instead, they only like the name, it seems for at least some of them.
A 58-percent majority of them say they’re unsure of the validity in claims against Cain despite records of the National Restaurant Association paying out-of-court settlements to those women, apparently because of his consistent denial even though clear evidence is found.
But 73 percent of these same South Carolina Republicans claim the president is dishonest despite having no foundation to that argument; 37 percent of them still don’t believe he was born in the U.S., even, according to the recent Winthrop poll.
They supported the supposedly Christian platforms of Republican candidates who were convicted of heinous and unchristian crimes, but claim the president (who’s never had any charges or even claims against him) isn’t a Christian, and without any foundation to the argument.
They don’t support Obama’s proposals of apparent Christian themes, either; the healthcare program, social security, Medicare and Medicaid, environmental programs and even labor laws are under attack by Republicans who claim to be Christian, but who apparently need a bible refresher course. (“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’” [Matthew 25:40])
Faith is more than a badge, folks. It’s not just a sign to wave and hide behind, and it’s supposed to be evident not just at Sunday services alone. And these particular Republicans in the state need to remember that not only on the next time they go to the polls, but right now, too, when they’re still deciding between candidates.
These particular Republican voters in the state need to practice what they preach. If using candidate faith as a determining factor, then don’t just apply it in name alone. They need to apply those terms of faith to the candidates’ practices and actions, too. Maybe then will they stop electing persons who wind up charged with non-Christian crimes.