Abortion, gun control and gay marriage are the three most reliable issues that get conservative and religious “values voters” to turn out in the primaries. This election cycle, there’s another issue that trumps this unholy trinity: the global spread of Islamic fundamentalism (or Islamofascism, as some prefer). The Associated Press reports:

† Televangelist Pat Robertson, explaining his endorsement this week of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said “the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists.”

† Perhaps the nation’s most influential evangelical leader, James Dobson, has spotlighted the issue a dozen times over the past year on his Focus on the Family radio show. Dobson has warned that both Republicans and Democrats need to “wake up” to the dangers of militant Islam.

† At the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in June, evangelical thinker Charles Colson spoke of a “long war” against Islamofascists. …

Christian conservative leaders acknowledge their elevation of the issue has contributed to an ironic twist at the top of the polls: Giuliani, the candidate most associated with the war on terrorism, not only won Robertson’s endorsement but is polling well among evangelicals despite his two divorces and support for abortion rights and gay rights.

As Vision America president Rick Scarborough put it to AP: “It’s the ultimate life issue. If radical Islam succeeds in its ultimate goals, Christianity ceases to exist.”

Scarborough won’t get an argument from Newsday columnist and Fox News analyst Jim Pinkerton. In a recent article for The American Conservative, Pinkerton takes the view that “the biggest danger we face is the Clash of Civilizations, especially as we rub against the ‘bloody borders’ of Islam” and asks:

What if, in the coming century, we lose that clash – and the source of our civilization? What if Muslims take over Europe? What if “Eurabia” indeed comes to pass? Would Islamic invaders demolish the Vatican, as the Taliban dynamited Afghanistan’s Buddhas of Bamyan in 2001? Or would they settle merely for stripping the great cathedrals of Europe of all their Christian adornment, rendering them into mosques? And what if the surviving non-Muslim population of Europe is reduced to subservient “dhimmitude”?

Pinkerton makes the case that it’s not a matter of “what if” but “when”:

On the other side of the great divide, militant Muslims are feeling the wind at their backs. Last November, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, leader of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, released an audiotape in which he vowed, “We will not rest from our jihad until we are under the olive trees of the Roman Empire”—which is to say, much of Europe. This August, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, traveling to Afghanistan, declared, “There is no way for salvation of mankind but rule of Islam over mankind.” …

If demography is the author of destiny, then the danger of Europe falling within dar al-Islam is real. …

[I]f present trends continue, the green flag of Islam—bearing the shahada, the declaration of faith, “There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God”—could be fluttering above Athens and Rotterdam in the lifespan of a youngster today. …

Nor can we ignore the painful reality of a genuine fifth column in the West. This summer, Gordon Brown’s government concluded that 1 in 11 British Muslims—almost 150,000 people living in the United Kingdom—”proactively” supports terrorism, with still more rated as passive supporters. And this spring, a Pew Center survey found that 13 percent of American Muslims, as well as 26 percent aged 18-29, were bold enough to tell a pollster that suicide bombing was “sometimes” justified. These Muslim infiltrators, of course, have potential access to weapons of mass destruction.

To push back, Pinkerton proposes “a revival of Christendom … as a political concept” taking the form of “a Council of the West, bringing all the historically Christians countries of the world into one communion”:

Some will insist that this neo-Constantinian vision of muscular political Christendom is implausible—or inimical to world peace. But in fact, whether we like it or not, the world is forming into blocs. Samuel Huntington was right about “the clash of civilizations” – but with political skill, we can keep clashes from becoming larger wars.

A sweeping – evangelical – vision, to be sure. No doubt Pinkerton will win converts to his cause amongst conservative Christian leaders – as well as those of us who emphatically do not believe that praying to G-d and to Allah are the same.

In the near-term, however, while conservative Christian leaders recognize that radical Islam is Issue No. 1, they disagree on the best candidate to deal with the threat (second item). Last week’s Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that one-third of conservatives who plan to vote for someone other than Rudy in the primaries cite him as their second choice – none of his rivals even came close – suggesting that he may be the consensus candidate values voters and Christian leaders alike can ultimately get behind in the general election.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.

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