I was intrigued last week by the results of a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that found more support for a gay or lesbian presidential candidate than for an evangelical Christian one. According to the poll, 61 percent of Americans would be enthusiastic about or comfortable with a gay candidate; only 52 percent, enthusiastic/comfortable when it came to an evangelical Christian.
Most notable was the 18 percent growth in support for a gay/lesbian candidate since a similar question was asked in 2006 --- from 43 to 61 percent. The support/comfort level for an evangelical Christian grew, too, but by a lesser amount --- 11 per cent, from 41 to 52 percent.
The poll also found, as many others have, rapidly increasing support for same-sex marriage --- from 56 percent opposition in 2003 to 59 percent approval in 2015. Support levels for female and black candidates were even more reassuringly high --- 85 and 86 percent respectively. And these are bipartisan figures, although of course overwhelming Democrat support for minorities and women offset tepid support among Republicans.
One of the great challenges for evangelical Christians who have entered the presidential sweepstakes is the fact increasing numbers tend to laugh at (but still be troubled by) their delusional claims to have been anointed by God --- and the fact that they're consistent, but not especially accomplished, liars.
Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and former Southern Baptist preacher --- is among the best examples of that difficulty. He's such an effective "vote Clinton" incentive that did he not exist, Democrats would have had to invent him.
For example, whilst visiting with Iowa's right-wing rabble-rouser and WHO-Radio talk show host Jan Mickelson back in April, Huckabee trotted out the orthodox evangelical accumulation of lies about the U.S. military and its chaplains.
The Obama administration is openly hostile toward Christians in the military, Huckabee maintained --- chaplains ordered to put their Bibles away, not to pray in Jesus name, etc., etc. Because of that, he suggested, Christian parents should encourage their kids to wait for a new (presumably more godly) commander in chief --- before allowing them to join up.
That, of course, is nonsense. Military regulations regarding issues of faith haven't changed during the Obama administration. While conducting services for their own voluntary congregations, evangelical chaplains can thump the Bible to their hearts' content, pray in any name they choose and offer counsel in line with their denominational preferences. Catholic, Jewish, Protestant mainline and other chaplains have the same freedom to follow their own consciences and traditions while fulfilling their pastoral responsibilities.
Of course, military chaplains also may perform same-sex marriages on or off base where such unions are legal and the chaplains willing --- and that has caused the occasional evangelical chaplain's head to explode and roused the ire of his evangelical denominational endorsers.
During public events or mandatory-attendance events --- when chaplains are participating in their official capacities --- they're directed without regard to denomination to offer non-sectarian prayers. They're also allowed to opt out of these public religion opportunities entirely if they're uncomfortable with the rules.
What chaplains, and politicians, occasionally overlook is that the military chaplaincy is constitutionally established only to ensure that military personnel who may be physically constrained by their assignments have the right to worship as they see fit and have their spiritual needs tended to. Chaplains are not missionaries, and that's hard pill for some --- including the Huckabees of the world --- to swallow. So they resort to lies.