.- Given a recent poll that shows a drop in the number of people who view the Republican Party as friendly to religion, Catholic writer and publisher Deal Hudson offers 10 tips for the GOP to “reinvigorate its religious base” and keep the religious vote, in his most recent edition of “The Window.”
Hudson’s first point is that the Republican Party must consistently defend life. “President Bush's decision to allow Plan B, the morning-after pill, to be sold in the United States contradicts his consistent defense of the culture of life,” he noted.
It must also keep the marriage amendment alive, avoid demonizing Islam, not compromise on Iraq, and emphasize judicial appointments.
“After successfully nominating and confirming two solid Supreme Court justices, Republican leadership lost track of the importance of this issue to religious conservatives,” Hudson says. “Liberal judges legislating from the bench are one of the main reasons that religious conservatives became active in politics in the late 1970s.”
The GOP must approach the immigration debate and treat immigrants with compassion. “For religious conservatives compassion is a genuine value that should infuse political rhetoric and public policy,” Hudson adds. “Polling shows Catholics, for example, who attend Mass regularly, are more supportive of the Bishops' lenient attitude toward illegal immigrants than inactive Catholics.”
Hudson also suggests that the GOP “laugh at” accusations made by the left and some Republican moderates that religious conservatives and President George Bush have turned the country into a theocracy.
He strongly advises the GOP to pick the right presidential candidate for 2008, noting that former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Senator John McCain lead the polls.
“Nominating a pro-choice candidate would be disastrous for the Republicans,” Hudson states. “The argument, ‘where else can they go,’ does not work because religious conservatives are religious first and Republican second: They will stay home or form a third party.”
He urges the Republicans to remember that terrorism is a life issue and the government’s first obligation, as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is to protect the lives of its citizens.
Finally, says Hudson, the Republicans must communicate that “the administration of President George W. Bush did more for religious conservatives than any other president, including Ronald Reagan.”
The New York Times recently reported on a Pew Forum poll which found that the proportion of Americans who say the Republican Party is friendly to religion fell 8 percentage points in the last year, to 47 percent from 55 percent. Among Catholics and white evangelical Protestants, the decline was 14 percentage points.