McCain “too liberal” for Many Conservative Christians

In a phenomenon that points to the relative nature of categories like liberal and conservative, some conservative Christians are suggesting that they will “hold their noses” and vote for John McCain, despite the fact that he is a liberal.

Senator John McCain has pledged to nominate conservative judges and to oppose abortions, if he is elected President, but his stance against a constitutional amendment defining marriage and his positions on immigration have made some conservative evangelicals leery.

In a recent article, Reuters interviewed self-identified conservative Christians at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. Most of the people they interviewed offered lukewarm support for McCain’s candidacy. A vote for McCain, some suggested, was less a vote for the Arizona Senator and more a vote against Senator Barak Obama of Illinois.

Reuters interviewed Dan Yoder, a pastor of a congregation in Springfield, Tennessee. “I’m going to have to hold my nose while I vote for McCain,” he said, “but Obama’s a die-hard socialist.”

The anecdotal evidence gathered by Reuters at the SBC meeting is supported by a recent study by Calvin College’s Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics. Their study found that the close ties between evangelical Christians and the GOP may be weakening.

The ambivalence of many conservative evangelicals toward McCain has lead to speculation that McCain may be forced to select a running mate with stronger conservative credentials to shore up his political base and increase voter turnout among conservative Christians. Many conservative Christians and Southern Baptists in particular suggest that Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas Governor and Baptist minister, would be an excellent running mate with strong Christian and conservative credentials. Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, also consistently earns high marks form conservative evangelicals.

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