Faith-Based Groups Call Out Presidential Candidates for 'Anti-Christian' Behavior
Two different organizations — one faith-based and the other more human rights-focused — have criticized GOP candidates Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich for 'anti-Christian' behavior, both personally and politically.
Television ads airing in Iowa — one attacking GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich for his extra-marital affairs and the other promoting Texas Gov. Rick Perry — inflamed the political rhetoric this week.
Leaders with the Human Rights Campaign lambasted Perry on Wednesday for what he says about gays in the military and a lack of prayer in schools in a new television ad.
In the ad titled, "Strong," Perry says, “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As president, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion.”
The Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization fighting for equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, issued a news release criticizing Perry for using religion to create a divide between Christian conservatives.
“Rick Perry is continuing to misrepresent the views of the hundreds of thousands of people of faith in this country who live openly or advocate as allies for the LGBT members of their community,” said Dr. Sharon Groves, director of the HRC's Religion and Faith program. “We cannot be in the business of forcing people to choose between who they are, who they love, and their faith. Rick Perry’s rhetoric presumes that you can’t be Christian and supportive of LGBT people. Yet many Christians see in Jesus’ example a call to love and support their LGBT neighbors."
Steffen Schmidt, a political science professor at Iowa State University, said the effort may garner a few new supporters, while others might suggest that he's not addressing the real issues.
"Perry needs some traction in Iowa and a religious attack is always good to get the juices flowing, especially among conservative, Christian Republicans," he said. "It may get him some new supporters, but gays in the military is largely yesterday's issue and I’m not sure many Republicans want to go there right now with jobs, the economy, unemployment and gay marriage as more compelling."
Perry's efforts may be further thwarted by research conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research that found that nearly 90 percent of Christians believe their faith leads them to conclude the law should treat all people equally. A majority of Christians, 52 percent, also support the repeal of the Defense Against Marriage Act, and 70 percent of Christians believe that when religious leaders condemn LGBT people, it does more harm than good.
Dennis Goldford, a professor of political science at Drake University in Des Moines, said with the Iowa caucuses less than a month away, Perry's push for new voters might be too little, too late.
"Perry is advertising like there's no tomorrow," Goldford said. "What he's looking for is a second chance at making a first impression. He needs to pull himself back into the top three."
"Newt Gingrich. Judas."
Gingrich, meanwhile, is being criticized for immoral, anti-Christian behavior in his personal life.
In a television spot titled "Newt Gingrich. Judas," the group Iowans for Christian Leaders in Government points out the irony in comments the former U.S. Speaker of the House made about global warming in an ad he did with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling it, "the dumbest single thing I've done."
The commercial highlights Gingrich's extra-marital affairs and asks voters to consider whether they believe, if he can't be faithful to his wife, can he be faithful to conservative voters.
The ad began running in Iowa this week.