Is the Religious Right beginning to coalesce behind Newt Gingrich? Yesterday, the former Speaker hosted a conference call with the members of his Faith Leaders Coalition: American Family Association founder Don Wildmon, Religious Right pollster George Barna and pastor Jim Garlow. Now, Gingrich is racking up additional endorsements from Religious Right figures just days before conservative activists are set to meet in Texas to see if they can get behind one of the presidential candidates.
Tim LaHaye, the author of the Left Behind series on the End Times and founder of the Council for National Policy, and his wife Beverly, the founder and chairman of Concerned Women for America, endorsed Gingrich, warning that America may “end up being like the godless socialist countries of Europe,” as did Mat Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel, one of the country’s most stridently anti-gay groups, and the dean of the Liberty University School of Law. “America will be unrecognizable if Obama is elected for four more years,” Staver said. “We need a strong leader with domestic, international and political experience who can inspire a new conservative resurgence in the line of Ronald Reagan. Speaker Gingrich is the clear choice.”
Tim LaHaye has claimed that President Obama is a socialist and not a Christian who is bringing America “closer to the Apocalypse,” and Staver has referred to Obama as a tyrant who is making the U.S. “one of the world’s immoral leaders” by opposing countries that criminalize homosexuality.
Gingrich even appeared in TV advertisements for Liberty University School of Law, and LU ran ads featuring Gingrich in Iowa right before the caucus. While appearing on David Barton’s radio program WallBuilders Live, Gingrich said he would look to graduates of Liberty University when making appointments to the judiciary.
The LaHaye’s, Staver and Wildmon all endorsed Huckabee in the 2008 election. While Rick Santorum has picked up the support of social conservative figures such as Gary Bauer, Maggie Gallagher and Bob Vander Plaats, it appears that Gingrich is winning over Religious Right leaders who are desperate to defeat Mitt Romney.
UPDATE: The Gingrich campaign released this statement from Tim LaHaye:
“During the last three years our nation has been led by liberal secularists who have tried their best to remove God from our public square and the elimination of the Biblical principles our founding fathers built this nation on” said LaHaye.
“Please prayerfully consider going to the polls on January 21 and help elect Newt Gingrich, a proven conservative who has the best chance of replacing the present occupant of the White House with a man with a proven record of appointing conservatives to office that can return this country to the constitutional principles that God has chosen to bless for over two hundred years” he said.
Pastor LaHaye also pointed to Speaker Gingrich’s qualifications as the best candidate to defeat President Obama as one of the reasons for his endorsement.
“It seems apparent the Republican candidates have come down to two possible winners,” LaHaye said. “As my friend, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell told me personally, ‘Speaker Newt Gingrich is the most qualified man in America to run as president of the United States”… We agree!’”
“I am honored to have Tim’s endorsement. His work as both a minister and author is truly unmatched,” said Gingrich. “Tim will be a terrific partner for the Gingrich Faith Leaders Coalition as we work to combat the influence of radical secularism and activist judges.”