Define evangelical leader, give an example

Lahaye Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times wrote an intriguing story about elite evangelical opposition to Mitt Romney, a prospective GOP vice-presidential running mate:

Prominent evangelical leaders are warning Sen. John McCain against picking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as his running mate, saying their troops will abandon the Republican ticket on Election Day if that happens.

They say Mr. Romney lacks trust on issues such as outlawing abortion and opposing same-sex marriage and because he is a Mormon. Opposition is particularly powerful among those who supported former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the Republican presidential primaries earlier this year.

"McCain and Romney would be like oil and water," said evangelical novelist Tim LaHaye, who supported Mr. Huckabee. "We aren't against Mormonism, but Romney is not a thoroughgoing evangelical and his flip-flopping on issues is understandable in a liberal state like Massachusetts, but our people won't understand that."

The Rev. Rob McCoy, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, Calif., who speaks at evangelical events across the country, told The Washington Times, "I will vote for McCain unless he does one thing. You know what that is? If he puts Romney on the ticket as veep.

"It will alienate the entire evangelical community - 62 million self-professing evangelicals in this country, half of them registered to vote, are going to be deeply saddened," Mr. McCoy added.

Only LaHaye and McCoy are quoted directly saying that McCain would lose evangelical support if he chooses Romney as his running mate. Other evangelicals give ambiguous remarks about whether they would vote for a McCain-Romney ticket.

Here's my main problem with Hallow's story: It failed to define the term evangelical leader. I mean, is Tim LaHaye really a leader? A well-known novelist and supporter of Mike Huckabee -- he is, yes; but someone whose views affect others -- I don't know. With the possible exception of Upton Sinclair, novelists are not conventional political leaders.

That's OK. Maybe LaHaye is breaking the mold and plans to call evangelical pastors to not vote for the Republican ticket. But Hallow needed to give at least one example of LaHaye's efforts.

Perhaps McCoy, too, is a leader. But Hallow does not cite any ways in which he is.

The term evangelical leader, as I noted months ago, has been used far too loosely this presidential campaign season. Sure, some evangelicals clearly are leaders. But for evangelicals whose political credentials are questionable, a little definition would go a long way.

Please respect our Commenting Policy