Two headlines today report seemingly contradictory developments in the Bush era’s love affair between the GOP and the religious right.
First we learn in Laurie Goodstein’s article in the NY Times that Senator Charles E. Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent evangelistic ministries to determine whether they have illegally used donations to finance opulent lifestyles.
Grassley is questioning these preachers about their compensation, housing allowances, checking and savings accounts, cars, airplanes and overseas trips.
Goodstein quoted Sen. Grassley from a telephone interview: “Jesus comes into the city on a simple mule, and you got people today expanding his gospel in corporate jets. Somebody ought to raise questions about is it right or wrong.”
While Grassley is reminding six high-living preachers of the humble lifestyle of Jesus, Republican presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani, despite a few liberal social views, and John McCain are celebrating endorsements today by a couple of other prominent leaders of the evangelical Christian movement.
CNN reports that Pat Robertson, the television evangelist and Christian Coalition founder — not seen recently astraddle a mule — endorsed Republican White House hopeful Rudy Giuliani for president when the two men appeared together at the National Press Club in Washington on Wednesday.
In more breaking news from CNN, former White House hopeful Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who is the leading voice for Christian conservatives in the Senate, will endorse Sen. John McCain for president, McCain's campaign announced Wednesday.
The headlines cited above in the NY Times and CNN appear to support rumors of the splintering of the religious right. If so, Giuliani and McCain have each latched onto a remaining well-funded splinter, hoping it will contribute to the success of their respective campaigns.
Dare I ask, "What would Jesus do?"