One of the more interesting subtexts of the 2008 presidential campaign has been Rudy Giuliani's popularity among religious conservatives. Given his stark pro-abortion views, his sympathy toward gay rights, and the "turbulence" of his private life, one might expect especially evangelicals to view his candidacy with skepticism.
Just to be clear, I've said before around here that under no circumstances would I vote for Giuliani given his very robust abortion rights stance. Others apparently disagree, at least as evidenced by the very warm reception he received at Pat Robertson's Regent College. Apparently, whatever other virtues Giuliani has outweigh in these folks' mind his clear disagreements with their putative claims. Of course, it's probably a mistake to expect some intellectual and moral consistency (not to mention integrity) from Pat Robertson, but if the polls are right, some significant portion of religious conservatives are willing to forbear on their movement's signature issues. Why?
There are, I think, two answers. First is the War on Terror. They think he'd be the best guy on that set of issues. More broadly, though, it suggests that at least some portion of what's termed the Christian Right is as much concerned about what we might call "social order" as it is about "social issues". Here's what I mean. Giuliani seems to me to be running essentially on two things: a promise to fight successfully against the Islamists and a promise to help "clean up" (my phrase, not his) the nation in the same way that he helped clean up NYC. Conservative Protestants were mobilized into politics in the 1970s much more by what they saw as threats to the moral and social order than by the specific issues of abortion and gay rights. (The SBC didn't affirm a pro-life view until, if I'm not mistaken, 1979, for example.) The disorder of the late 1960s and 1970s was unleashed by the sexual revolution and social permissiveness of the era and the "Christian Right" hoped to reverse those. (Hence the term "Moral Majority.") Giuliani appeals to them, I'm hypothesizing, on the grounds that he is promising "order," and at least some of them are buying.