Christian Right leaders are not rallying behind Michele Bachmann for president and it’s “probably” because they are sexist, contends a writer for Time.
Amy Sullivan, in a Tuesday article, says Bachmann has been on “a hot streak” but Christian Right leaders “continue to be far less willing to embrace her than the rank-and-file or more secular politicos.”
“Is that sexism at work? Possibly. Maybe even probably.”
Sullivan writes about a conference call among Christian Right leaders to discuss who they might support for president. They are excited about the possibility of Texas Governor Rick Perry running, Sullivan explains, because they are dissatisfied with the rest of the field thus far.
These Christian Right leaders find fault with each of the current crop of candidates, according to the Time writer. Former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, for instance, has refused to sign an anti-abortion pledge, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum lacks electability.
Even though Bachmann (Minn.) has been topping polls recently, these Christian Right leaders have not been enthusiastic about her candidacy, or a potential run by “Sarah Palin for that matter.”
“Totally unfair and inaccurate” is how Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, described Sullivan's characterization. Nance was invited to join the conference call but was unable to do so.
“Social conservatives are ready for a woman president,” Nance said. “In fact, the McCain campaign really took off,” added Nance, “after Sarah Palin was nominated.”
Nance remembered that during the 2008 election she was mostly standing on the sidelines until Palin was added to the ticket. Then, she began volunteering for McCain and she has many friends that did the same. Palin “was a woman they identified with,” Nance said.
Regarding a Perry candidacy, Nance said, “It's still very early” and “it's good for the country to have lots of choices.”
While Perry has a good relationship with social conservatives, they have not always seen eye to eye. In 2007, Perry proposed requiring all school-aged girls to receive the HPV vaccine. Concerned Women for America was one of the groups that thought that the vaccine should carry an opt-in provision, in which parents would sign their kids up to receive the free vaccination, rather than Perry's proposed opt-out provision, in which all female school children would automatically receive the vaccine unless their parents explicitly requested that they not receive the vaccine.
Ann Hettinger, Concerned Women for America's state director of Texas, was instrumental in convincing Perry to change his proposal to an opt-in provision. When asked if Perry's original plans for the HPV vaccine would be an issue if he were to run for president, Nance replied, “It would've been an issue if he had not fixed it.”
Sullivan has written much about social conservatives and the intersection of religion and politics. In 2008, she wrote The Party Faithful: How and Why the Democrats are Closing the God Gap, in which she encouraged Democratic candidates to focus more on reaching out to voters with high levels of religiosity.
According to Sullivan's most recent article, the conference call with Christian Right leaders included David Barton of Wallbuilders, Pastor John Hagee, and Family Research Council's Tony Perkins. In an e-mail with The Christian Post, a representative from Family Research Council said that Perkins did not participate in the conference call as Sullivan claimed, and Time has been contacted about the error and has agreed to correct it.
David Barton declined an interview request by The Christian Post for this story.