I continue to puzzle over this issue. How, I wonder, can evangelicals who emphasize "Biblical values" vote for people who have allowed and even endorsed torture? How can they still support people like Tom Delay when there is ample evidence of his corruption?
Mainstream Baptists points to this insightful essay that may offer the best take on it I have read. Here are a few key paragraphs:
[Conservative columnist Maggie] Gallagher's pithy commentary raises an intriguing question: If the killing fields in Iraq, the Republican Party paying lip service to their agenda, and the GOP's ethics breakdown didn't dissuade the "values voters" from straying from the fold, what ever could cause them to desert the Republican Party?
While he doesn't speak directly to this question, Ken Connor, a Christian conservative leader who has consistently spoken out against this eras ethically-challenged GOP leaders and the evangelicals who support and enable them, lays part of the blame for the GOP's defeat at the doorstep of Christian evangelical leaders: "It is clear that Christian conservative leaders contributed to the Republican defeat, and in the process they've lost credibility," Connor wrote in a post-election commentary titled "Defending the Indefensible: The Road to Defeat."
Connor, the former president of the Family Research Council, who currently heads the Center for a Just Society, wrote that "When Tom DeLay's excesses were exposed, Christian political groups closed ranks to support him. When congressional Republicans put on their phony legislative parade, Christian political leaders were willing accomplices. When the Mark Foley scandal hit, Christian groups faulted everyone but Republican leaders. Why have prominent Christian organizations and leaders behaved in this way? The sad reality is that many have been seduced by the Washington, D.C., political culture. They have identified themselves so closely with persons and parties that they have lost sight of principle. By excusing the behavior of the Republican Party, Christian conservatives set the party up for the 2006 defeat."
Cal Thomas, one of the country's most widely syndicated columnists, maintained in a recent report that intoxication with political power "often dulls the senses to morality and 'values.'" In a story titled "Where do conservative Christians go from here?" Thomas argued that the "unholy alliance between people of faith and politicians ... often ends in compromise on the part of the faithful and the cynical harvesting of their votes with little offered in return." The case of Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.), who lost his seat to a Democrat, is particular instructive said Thomas. Here is someone who "cheat[ed] on his wife and allegedly abus[ed] his mistress, Cynthia Ore, [yet] he still gets an 85 percent approval rating from the Focus on the Family Action organization. The delicious irony here is that he might have earned a 100 percent rating had he voted for the Marriage Protection amendment, which he supported.""