Monday, August 06, 2007

Anti-Catholicism in the Republican Party --
Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee find themselves in a Christian catfight.

The current tensions stem from an e-mail message sent to two Brownback supporters by Rev. Tim Rude, the pastor of an evangelical church in Walnut Creek, Iowa. In the message, Mr. Rude, a Huckabee volunteer, compared the religious backgrounds of Mr. Huckabee, a Baptist pastor, and Mr. Brownback, who is Roman Catholic.

“I know Senator Brownback converted to Roman Catholicism in 2002,” Mr. Rude wrote. “Frankly, as a recovering Catholic myself, that is all I need to know about his discernment when compared to the Governor’s.”

Of course, Huckabee disavowed his supporter, as a candidate ought to do quickly and without much fanfare. Brownback, on the other hand, has had his campaign create a perception of whining. The absolutely wrong image for an aggrieved candidate to cultivate is that of a whiner, no matter how right one happens to be.

Shockingly, William Donahue of the "Catholic" League actually addressed this, writing:

Discernment. Evangelicals have it, and Catholics do not. But are those evangelicals who express themselves this way capable of discerning the difference between persuasiveness and abrasiveness? Do they really think all Catholics are rote-minded robots who let the Vatican do their thinking for them? We thought we’d gotten beyond such nonsense, but apparently some stereotypes are proving hardier than others.

“Like Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee is a man of character, and as such he would never choose to be associated with such bigotry. The blame for this incident lies squarely with Rev. Tim Rude, pastor of the church. Unfortunately for him, he has now compounded his problem by saying that he did not intend his e-mail to be made public, and that in any event, ‘All I was trying to say is that Protestants should vote for Protestants.’ Great. But now that his gig is up—everyone knows about his stealth campaign against Brownback—the time has come for Rev. Rude (what a great name!) to fess up and apologize. He might also take this opportunity to explain his lack of confidence in the ability of Protestants to discern whom they should vote for in the election.
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