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God-O-Meter

hagee4.jpgIn light of all the flack John McCain is catching over his endorsement from John Hagee, God-o-Meter was curious as to just how much Hagee’s voice matters in the evangelical world. So it rang D. Michael Lindsay, Rice University sociologist and author of the recent book Faith in the Halls of Power.
Simply put, Lindsay says Hagee isn’t as influential as the current outcry over his McCain endorsement would have you believe:

The media is making him a far more powerful figure than he is. Hagee represented the old guard of evangelicalism. He still speaks to core constituency that is conservative politically is located in the South. My research shows that that’s not reflective of evangelicalism today… he represents an ever dwindling segment of the evangelical population.

Lindsay says the Hagee fallout illustrates an important divide in the evangelical movement between what he calls the populists–Hagee’s constituency–and the cosmopolitans. The cosmopolitans, he says, are almost as likely to be concerned about the Catholic outcry over the Hagee endorsement as some Catholics:

Among cosmopolitan evangelicals, I think they are more likely to stand shoulder to shoulder with Catholics and be quite concerned when Catholics are saying Hagee is… against us. That could be quite disconcerting to them.

All the talk you hear about evangelicals becoming less Republican and more Independent, Lindsay says, more or less centers on these cosmopolitan evangelicals:

The cosmopolitan evangelical vote is far more important this year because those are the votes who are up for grabs. Who [candidates] can influence among cosmopolitan evangelicals are far more important. Their numbers may be fewer, but their influence is far greater.


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