paul3.jpgOutspokenly against the war and out of step with his party on much else–his support for tying American currency to the gold standard or for abolishing the Department of Education, for example–Ron Paul is typically portrayed as the libertarian bomb thrower in the Republican presidential field. Culturally speaking, though, Paul is in lockstep with the party’s base: a conservative evangelical whose worldview is shaped by his faith. Paul doesn’t typically discuss his faith life, but did in his recent Beliefnet interview:

Ron Paul: As the years went on [my wife and I] became more annoyed with the liberalization of the Episcopal church and it didn’t fit us. None of our children stayed in the church…. We now go to a Baptist church.
God-o-Meter: Does that mean you now consider yourself an evangelical?
RP: Yeah, I do. But I’m not sure that every single person that uses those labels are absolutely uniform and that people know exactly what they mean… some evangelicals get a little bit annoyed because I’m not always preaching and saying, “I’m this, I’m this, and this.” I think my obligation is to reflect my beliefs in my life. I like the statement in the Bible that when you’re really in deep prayer you go to your closet. You don’t do it out on the streets and brag about it and say, “Look how holy I am.” If a person has true beliefs and is truly born again, it will be reflected in their life.

And though Paul said his faith influenced his pacifist streak, he also discussed how it shapes such orthodox conservative positions as his opposition to abortion rights and support for religion in the public square:

A few years ago, you wrote a Christmastime essay that said there was a war on religion in this country: “The ultimate goal of the anti-religious elites is to transform America into a completely secular nation… biased against Christianity.” Do you still see that kind of assault happening?
I think it’s systemic… in court cases that say you can’t say a prayer at a football game. Where is it in the Constitution that said that somebody can prohibit prayer? The First Amendment says the federal government shouldn’t write any laws regarding freedom of speech and prayer. And if it becomes offensive… then the local people have to deal with it…. it should be the school board or somebody. But there can’t ever be under the First Amendment a prohibition. The Founders never thought that to be the case…. It’s systemic, especially the aggressive atheists who are always going to courts, to say that their attitude because they’re atheists means a prohibition against expression of Christianity and that of course didn’t happen 30 or 40 or 50 years ago. It’s much more so today because there are some people aggressively trying to undermine Christianity.

All of which makes God-o-Meter wonder: how out of step is a pro-life evangelical conservative who’s dark on the Iraq war with the rest of the GOP’s evangelical base? With Beliefnet’s new poll of evangelicals showing that “ending the Iraq war” is seen as more important than “winning the Iraq war” maybe less than he’s given credit for.


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