At the top of the SBC Fred story

sbcAs a rule, GetReligion doesn’t spend much time addressing the contents of the religious or denominational press, as opposed to the coverage of religion in the mainstream press.

As a professor of mine used to say, we focus on religion news, not religious news.

However, I think anyone who is interested in how the crowded field of GOP presidential hopefuls will sort out has to be interested in how the Southern Baptist Convention’s elites view the various candidates. This is especially true in a year in which social conservatives have not been thrilled, shall we say, by the options they have seen so far. You can cut the doubt with a knife.

So now there is a new man on the shopping list.

If anyone needed proof that Roe v. Wade remains the central issue in public life for religious conservatives, all they would need to do is scan the top of the Baptist Press story covering Fred Thompson’s entry into the race. Check this out:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson announced his candidacy for president Sept. 5 after weeks of speculation, joining a field of eight other Republican candidates and giving social conservatives another top-tier choice.

Thompson told the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” audience simply, “I’m running for president of the United States,” and then hours later had a 15-minute video posted on his website outlining his vision for America. In that video he touched on two major social conservative themes — the sanctity of life and the role of the judiciary — and told how thinking about his children’s future drove him to run.

And later in the report:

“It’s very important that the next president appoint federal judges who interpret the Constitution, not try to make it fit their own personal or political views,” he said on the video. “I’ve seen both kinds of judges, and I know the difference.”

He said he believes in the “sanctity of life — the great truth that every life matters, that no person is beneath the protection of the law.”

This is an obvious fact of GOP life, especially in Bible Belt primaries. Issues come and go, but this is the one old fact that never goes away. That is just as true on the cultural left as on the cultural right. Sad, but true.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Jerry

    There is no surprise about Fred Thompson’s religious beliefs and not being a member of the SBC elites, I’m not particularly interested in how they view the GOP candidates. Rather, from the other side of the road, I’m interested in how the media is covering the Democratic candidates. The right’s bete noir, Hillary Clinton, has to me a very interesting religious background. Some of notable, um, heretics, at the Revealer have a fascinating Mother Jones story Being linked to the

    conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as the Fellowship. Her collaborations with right-wingers such as Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) grow in part from that connection.

    But wait, there’s more:

    Clinton’s prayer group was part of the Fellowship (or “the Family”), a network of sex-segregated cells of political, business, and military leaders dedicated to “spiritual war” on behalf of Christ…

    That’s how it works: The Fellowship isn’t out to turn liberals into conservatives; rather, it convinces politicians they can transcend left and right with an ecumenical faith that rises above politics. Only the faith is always evangelical, and the politics always move rightward.

    This is in line with the Christian right’s long-term strategy

    So, from the left perspective, Hillary Clinton is a fellow traveler of a right-wing, Christian conspiracy, while the right hates her because her last name is Clinton.

    All of this makes me wonder who she really is and what she believes.

  • Sean

    I think I found a ghost in tmatt’s post!

    Issues come and go, but this is the one old fact that never goes away. That is just as true on the cultural left as on the cultural right. Sad, but true.

    While I appreciate that this blog is opinion and not presented as unbiased news, I am very curious about “Sad, but true.” What does it mean?

    I can think of three possible meanings:

    1. Tmatt is strongly opposed to abortion and finds it sad that pro-lifers have not vanquished pro-choicers.

    2. Tmatt is strongly in favor of abortion and finds it sad that pro-choicers have not vanquished pro-lifers.

    3. Tmatt is ambivalent about abortion and finds it sad that we can’t all just get on with our lives and find new political/religious issues to fixate on.

    My conclusion is that he intended meaning number 3. But I don’t know.

    I thought this was amusing because it seemed to be the kind of unexplained opinion that tmatt would highlight if it appeared in a newspaper article.

  • tmatt

    4. Tmatt is pro-life Democrat who wishes that both parties contained more people willing to actual debate political compromises to limit the evil that is abortion.

    Tmatt is also an Eastern Orthodox Christian and agrees with the ancient Church teachings that abortion is evil and sin.

    Tmatt also knows that culture — sad, but true — is even more important than law and that Americans place a very high value on the absolute autonomy of the individual, often resulting in harm to the weakest of the weak, the unborn.

  • Sean

    Thanks for clearing up my confusion. I was aware you were Eastern Orthodox and that the Orthodox (and orthodox) church teaches abortion is a sin. That’s why I was confused about a statement I thought showed ambivalence. I’m glad there was an option 4 that I had not thought of.

  • Christopher W. Chase

    TMatt wrote:

    Issues come and go, but this is the one old fact that never goes away. That is just as true on the cultural left as on the cultural right. Sad, but true.

    Fascinating. But the debate about abortion is not an especially “old fact.” As historian Randall Balmer makes clear, concern over Roe v. Wade was not spontaneous but orchestrated in the late-1970′s and 1980′s as an outreach strategy. Even in the Roman Catholic Church, abortion has historically been the subject of various interpretations and has not always been equivalent to “murder.”