From The Gathering Storm Blog

The main issue of the religious right has always been the abortion issue. If a Republican candidate did not toe the line on this he or she could not expect to win that block of votes. But that may be changing.

Will religious right vote for an abortion rights candidate? Yes if he or she supports the war on terror. At last month’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, conservative Christian power-broker Gary Bauer sent an email to evangelical voters. Among the usual issues of opposition to “abortion-on-demand” and the preservation of traditional marriage there was a new take on the preservation of family values.

“The war against Islamofascism is in many respects a ‘values issue,'” Bauer wrote. “That may seem like an odd statement at first glance, but, as I have often said, losing Western Civilization to this vicious enemy would be immoral.”

From one perspective, branding “radical Islam” as a family values issue is yet another example of the broadening of the evangelical agenda. But next November, it also could energize one of the Republican Party’s key voting blocs, much like anti-gay marriage measures did in 2004.

“It’s the ultimate life issue,” said Rick Scarborough, president of the Texas-based conservative Christian group Vision America. “If radical Islam succeeds in its ultimate goals, Christianity ceases to exist.”

There have been several comments in evangelical political circles that in right-wing Christians are warming up to the idea that radical Islam is a threat to family values.

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.

This is good news for conservative candidates. The yoke placed on them by the narrow anti-abortion position of the Christian Right may be ready to be removed in order to face the larger threat of radical Islam. Good news for candidate like Rudy Giuliani.

The 2008 election primaries will tell the tale.

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