January 28th, 2012
02:00 AM ET
Florida Evangelicals a different breed of voter than brethren in Iowa, South Carolina
By John Sepulvado, CNN
(CNN) - Conservative Christian activist Ralph Reed has called the Bible Belt home for decades, but he grew up in Miami in the 1970s, when the city was emerging as a diverse megalopolis.
Among his middle school friends were Jews, Catholics and Methodists.
Then, at age 15, Reed's family relocated to the sleepy mountain town of Toccoa, Georgia, so his dad, a doctor, could take a better-paying job.
“It was very conservative,” says Reed, who now lives outside Atlanta. “At first – as would be true of any 15-year-old – I didn’t like it. I think it was a culture shock.”
Ultimately, the mostly evangelical residents of Toccoa shaped Reed’s faith, helping lead him to Jesus in his 20s. But in terms of his faith-based organizing, the well-known activist drew more on his experiences in hyper-diverse Miami.
"Later on in life, when I became a leader in the Christian Coalition, I had a greater appreciation [for] ethnic and religious diversification,” Reed says.
That could be good news for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is looking to regain momentum from chief rival Newt Gingrich, after the former speaker’s upset in South Carolina, in Florida’s Tuesday primary.
There are signs that Florida’s evangelical voters may be more forgiving of Romney’s past social liberalism than their Iowa and South Carolina brethren – and more willing to support a Mormon candidate.
“I think Romney could do well in Florida,” Reed says.
A more centrist evangelicalism
As a percentage of GOP voters, there are fewer evangelicals in Florida compared to South Carolina and Iowa, where Rick Santorum won the presidential caucuses, according to CNN exit polls from 2008.
In that year, evangelicals accounted for 40% of Republican primary voters in Florida, compared to 60% in the Iowa caucuses and South Carolina primaries.
And compared to those other early primary states, Florida is much more religiously diverse. In the 2008 primary there, Catholics were nearly a third of the Republican vote, with other kinds of Christians, Jews and those with no religious affiliation each claiming a chunk of the vote.
Still, evangelical Christians claim a bigger share of the Florida Republican vote than any other religious tradition. There also are signs they may be more tolerant of a Mormon candidate than born-again Christians in the Bible Belt and Midwest.
In the South Carolina primary, Romney claimed 22% of the evangelical vote, compared to 44% for Gingrich, according to CNN exit polls.
Florida’s evangelicals are “more open” to the idea of a Mormon in the White House, according to Orlando area pastor Joel C. Hunter.
“Our nature, of being a fairly mobile state, with a lot of tourism and a lot of transcultural and transnational interaction really makes us boundary spanning, rather than sticking to our own affinity groups,” Hunter says.
He leads a congregation of 15,000 at Northland, a Church Distributed, a nondenominational megachurch of the kind that are more popular in Florida than in Iowa or South Carolina.
“For any independent church, you’re going to be open – necessarily open – to non-ready made boundaries, open to other religious groups,” Hunter says. “You’ll be more likely to partner with groups that aren’t necessarily like your own.”
The pastor cites his church’s partnerships with local synagogues and mosques to help local homeless children. For Hunter, teaming up with different religious traditions follows the example of Jesus.
“Jesus talked to the people, the religious leaders others wouldn’t talk to,” he says.
“As an evangelical, I should be ready to talk to a lot of people that aren’t like myself, because that’s what I see in the life of Christ, and I’m looking to build relationships.”
Mark I. Pinsky, the Florida-based author of "A Jew Among Evangelicals," says there are other key differences between evangelicals in Florida and those in Iowa and South Carolina.
“In Iowa,” Pinsky says, “they tend to be rural and older. In South Carolina, they tend to be more fundamentalist, and more likely to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention,” a denomination that isn’t shy about pointing out theological differences with Mormonism.
Pinsky says Florida evangelicals, especially in the central part of the state, are more likely to have Mormons as neighbors, compared to their brethren in South Carolina and Iowa.
“Nondenominational evangelicals are less likely to demonize someone who is a real person,” Pinsky says.
Less Preaching, More Teaching
Even in smaller Baptist churches in Florida’s Panhandle, there are “notable differences” with Christians in more historically evangelical parts of the country, according to pastor Curtis Clark.
“There’s still a lot of yelling from the pulpit in South Carolina,” says Clark, who leads a congregation of 2,500 at Thomasville Road Baptist Church in Tallahassee. Clark says his congregation is split between Republicans and Democrats, that almost all the adults have college degrees and that the parishioners want to be led, not yelled at.
“I try and teach, try and encourage,” Clark says. “Florida evangelicals are a little bit more educated, and have a broader experience.”
Census figures from 2010 show Florida has a slightly greater share of college graduates than South Carolina.
Both the Romney and Gingrich campaigns are reaching out to evangelicals to quell concerns about their candidacies. Both campaigns held conference calls with influential conservative religious leaders last week, discussing religion, personal and policy decisions.
Many evangelicals have expressed concern about Romney’s past support for abortion rights and gay rights and over Gingrich’s failed marriages.
But Romney doesn’t need to win big among evangelicals to take Florida, Reed says. Because evangelicals make up a smaller portion of Republican voters, Reed says Romney only needs to win a sizeable share of their support.
“If Romney gets a third of evangelical voters” Reed says, “he wins the primary.”
While Romney skipped meeting with some evangelical leaders in South Carolina, including officials at Bob Jones University, his campaign has started more aggressively courting pastors and religious community networks in Florida. The campaign has participated in multiple conference calls with religious leaders and activists.
“In part, I think [the Romney campaign is] more open to outreach by virtue of the Florida demographic,” Reed says.
That suggests the Romney camp suspects Florida’s evangelicals will be more open to his candidacy than other evangelicals in the primary states so far.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
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Prayer changes things
God will judge
The ends of the earth
God will give strength
To his ruler
Prayer changes things
teaching children about a god and jesus as fact, when they are not provable, is teaching children to lie and manipulate.
Let kids be kids without the brainwashing, be fair to them. Oops, the brainwashing sticks better when you start as children – I see now.
My favorite character in the religious set is Satan. Now there is a cool guy. He never hurt anyone, but all the christians bash him. All the writings never gave him a chance to stand up for himself, yet he gets bashed. Sounds like a cool dude.
Satan never hurt anybody? He is the reason for all the suffering in the world.
Just pick up your Bible. It began in the Garden of Eden and is continuing through to this day. Satan reigfs today on earth, but soon Jesus will return and throw satan and all his minions onto the lake of fire. This is why we pray for Jesus' return.
you've proved nothing yet.. All you do is bash Satan again. Never once were his words written to give him a chance to defend himself.
George – the snake was called Satan by your fundamentalist preacher, not the bible.
"Oooooooooo, look at me. I believe in Satan. He's cool."
George – satan is the reason for the suffering in the world?
No, religious zealots pushing their belief on "non-believers" is the cause of the suffering in the world. Take personal responsibility for relgion's actions. Stop blaming some non-existent diety.
yep.. satan doesn't threaten you either. Satan rocks.
"religious zealots pushing their belief on "non-believers" is the cause of the suffering in the world."
Really? I've heard that spouted about on places like this before. It's a popular thought among those who don't know their history. At the least it is ridiculous overstatement. What of cancer? earthquakes? Stalin? football? Justin Bieber?
My concern is healthcare and the economy. Who cares what religion a person is if he is the best man for the job. There is one river and many wells when it comes to religion. We already have the best man for the job in office anyway unless you are of the 2%.
We already have the best man for the job in office already? You have got to be kidding.
Yes, we do have the right man for the job. A loving family man who wants all to receive quality health care..
It is very sad that the election of a president of the U.S. is based od the vote of delusional voters.
they are a very mean group, they call themselves religious. Toooo sad
Oh really? In what way are they mean? Give me specific examples.
You may understand some day. Discernment it for a certain group and all are invited.
"Discernment" - is that one of those few $.50 words that you have learned... like, "incarceration" and "revelation"? All da ghetto boyz know dem.
So, no it's from the Word of God.
Shame on CNN for gushing over Ralph Reed, who has backed some of the most vile and un-American political causes of the past 30 years. Just google his name and you will find him linked to fanatical anti-choice groups, anti-gay movements and just about every other hateful, backward cause you can think of. I can't image why CNN would lionize such a person.
This seem like a stupid thing to try to second guess. The people will vote how they vote and we will be stuck with it. The voters will pick the next president good or bad...with good reasoning or bad. I don't think Jesus would vote for any of these candidates. Sadly they are running for personal gain or ego. Maybe not Ron Paul but his ways may bring unintended arnachy. Come on CNN you can to better than this. The days of an Ab Lincoln are gone. Both Nut and Mitt want to do away with inheritance tax. I wonder why that is? Inheritance tax came after the civil war because the country was broke. Now it only applies to those with a new worth of $5,000,000 or more. Now we are not broke we are Trillions because of the wealthy. Let them kick in. Nutt and Mitt can afford the life insurance to pay for it.
I know jesus wouldn't vote for any of them because he doesn't and never did exist. That includes "gawd" in all of it's vile forms. People voting based on religious values is no smarter than people voting based on which Disney character they like better. " I can't vote for that person because they don't like Donald Duck ". The logic is just as flawed when it comes to voting based on religion.
M, discernment of God is only available to those who believe in your potential savior Jesus. Hope that helps you out some.
FYI God loves you even though you choose the darkness for now.
Sort of the opposite of an oxymoron.
As in: complete morons.
Politics and religion. There is nothing more divisive than that.
Giants and Patriots (go Giants)
Bill. I think Jesus may agree with that.
The "evangelical vote" is a media creation. People (even Christians) vote on the basis of so many things. Sure people who have similar views sometmes vote similarly. But, why camp out on the "evangelical vote?" What about the fat-greasy-food eating vote? What about the suit-and-tie wearing vote? What about the cocaine vote or the crystal-power vote?
Frankly, I know people who call themselves evangelicals who are all over the political spectrum. Generally, I find that they are against killing babies and for caring for poor people. That doesn't make their voting very predictable.
My fairy tale is better than yours. Its like arguing that Picasso is a better artist than Rembrandt. Interesting discussion if you are into it but meaningless for a president.
That's Right. And no one is into it... Even evangelicals.
Even Jesus in his day, knew not to mix politics and his faith! Luke 20:
21And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:
22Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?
23But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?
24Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's.
25And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.
26And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.
I'm just wondering if all the hell and damnation is what turned little Ralphie gay?
This is more asinine drivel than I can tolerate. I'm getting out of here!
mormons aren't Christians and are destined to Hell, because mormons are in a cult. a cult denies that Jesus Christ is God and that He is the Son of God.
Wrong! All religions are cults and the LDS cult accepts the jesus myth so they are 1 of about 38,000 christian cults.
But it makes perfect sense! God sacrificed himself to himself to exploit a loophole in his own plan he made so that he could save people from an eternal torture chamber that he made himself. duh.
The actual name of the Church of candidate Romney is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". The religion has the name of Jesus Christ in its name. So candidate Romney and his religion believes in Jesus. To say that Mormon's don't believe in Jesus is like saying a Christian doesn't believe in Christ.
Hotairace knows less about Mormons than he does about canada . Go pound salt hot air. There's your sign
It has been explained ad nauseam that Mormons are not Christian but still some ass hole like hot air will try to put them in that category. Mormons are no better or worse than other people groups they are just not Christians.
i hear people say Jesus Christ all day long, that does not make them Christians
@Captain: Thank you for providing another vivid example of why first cousins shouldnt breed.
captain america knows less about idioms and slang maxims than he does about politics and religion.
It's, "go pound sand". Maroon.
p.s. You go well with nincompoop, Nancy Grace, and her, "not worth a box of salt"!
HotAirAce got his own name right.
sand doesn't hurt in an open wound, Go pound salt moron .There's your sign
All religions are nothing but cults no matter what they worship. It is a control mechanism passed down through the ages. The problem now is that it is scrutinized by the light of verifiable science and is crumbling. Even the most well known scholars agree that the "bible" was written over centuries not a few years after a fairtale death. In time, hopefully in my lifetime religion will be nothing but a blip on the life of mankind.
When religion in all of it's forms finally dies, mamkind will begin to truly reach it's potential. Until then we have people that pick their leaders based on what version of the fairytale they like most.
Ah, so inflicting physical pain is your goal?! Go join your "God" in the torture chamber. Scat.
Sir Galahad – Jesus can't be both. You are either Monotheistic or you are not.
It seems very logical that a (large) group of believers claiming belief in the jesus myth should be considered one of the 38,000 variants of christianity. But let's leave logic and bickering over who believes what, and whose beliefs are true, for a moment...
To all those that claim mormonism is not a christian cult, please provide unequivocal statements from recognized cult shamans saying mormonism is not part of Christianity. No personal opinions please – official statements only!
study the writings of joseph smith, but do so on your own time in your own country please.
I post under "HotAirAce" so that people with nothing of substance to say have something to talk about. You are welcome!
I'm confident you have good reasons to claim to be a king.
Please give us the text.
So, not a single believer can provide one authoritative statement saying mormonism is not a part of christianity. Seems reasonable to conclude that it is.
A lot of us Christians got it right the first time.
It's tough to get it wrong! Of course it's true because it's so simple: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.
Now that you put it that way... where do I join up?
LOL. Momoya is right on target. It's the most accurate description of Christianity I've seen in a while.
But an explosion in space, 14 billion years ago, that left infinite material spread across an entire universe that evolved into what we call the present day........is a plausible story? My fiction is just as good as yours by that standard. And before you start quoting "scientist have proven".......no they haven't. They are just theorizing also cause they can't go back and take a picture either.
Ummmm we have science to back that up, remember? You can't cancel that by saying "And before you start quoting "scientist have proven".......no they haven't.
Yes, they have. Have you been in a hole since 1920 (Einstein)?
bff.....As I said...Theory of Relativity.....theorizing...postulation......educated guess!
Take a science class, learn about what a theory is, then come back and discuss. For crying out lod, gravity is a theory too. Oh, but you don't believe that either since it is science.
bff. It's called Newtons Law of Gravity. The theory of gravity is a way to try and explain why gravity works, yet has never been measured or quantified and is to this day under debate. You need to read some more yourself and distinguish the difference.
I think the term "Evangelical" is very confusing. What does it even mean? There are so many churches that preach from the Bible why cant they agree? An "Evangelical" in Texas most likely differs in his/her doctrine views then one in Georgia or North Carolina. I grew up a Mormon in Atlanta. Surrounded by Protestants. My religion was bashed everyday by people claiming to be "Christians" little did they know that I believed in the Bible, especially where it says "By this shall Men know, that ye are my deciples, if ye have love, one to another" We sit here and bash each other because of our religious views. Im one for equality. I have been to Iraq where they do not have a choice, they have to be Muslims. Why cant we all just respect each other, and stop bashing beliefs. If you wanna learn about another faith, thats your right in the country. But if you dont agree with what they say, why make a big deal bout it? Just go about living your life. Why do people bash Romney just because he's a Mormon. If he was an atheist/jew/catholic/muslim/gay/ whatever, I would still vote for him because he is SQUEEKY clean, he kicked butt in the private sector for 25 years and hes loyal. How many politicians have been faithful to their wives? How many politicians dont have people comming out in the media saying they did insider trading, or broke the law for the politicans so that they could gain something? Not too many. Ron Paul is another one, but he just doenst have the charm or the expirence of Romney. Althought I think he'd make a great VP. At any rate, lets ban together as Americans and support a great candidate in Mitt Romney. Everytime Newt opens his mouth all I hear is "I AM ABOUT TO LIE TO YOU" Put a colony on the moon? Are you kidding me? VOTE MITT for a BETTER AMERICA!
No – don't vote Romney – Vote Obama! He is the best choice at this point, unless you want the rich to keep getting richer and the middle class and poor to keep getting poorer?
Wow, you have very low standards for a presidential candidate. If you don't understand that it really doesn't matter which GOP front man is chosen, you just don't get it. The GOP'ers are just front men for the Republican corporate machine. Why participate in your own fleecing? Do you really want the top 1 percent to continue screwing America?
Problem is that there is no true "Religion" There are real Christians everywhere but most of them are not associated with any church.
It is very sad that they are being taken in by Romney. Do they honestly think that with a $4.1M donation to the LDS last year by Romney that they will not play a vital role in his Presidency to the detriment of every other religion.
That's fairly pessimistic and conspiracy-theory-esque to think that the LDS is seeking for the "detriment of every other religion."
I can't believe the fear that I read here. You think that candidate Romney will suddenly do something that would make the LDS Church grow in power or stature. The man voluntarily gave money to a charity. That charity happens to be the Church/religion that he believes in. And that Church has donated millions of dollars and countless amounts of food, clothing, first aid, etc. to those that are not even a part of their faith to relieve the suffering of others. That doesn't sound like evil to me. That sounds pretty good. I wish more candidates would voluntarily give of their means to a charity of their choice. They, and our country would be better off for it.
I wasn't going to vote for him but if he can be a detriment to every religion he has my vote.
can anyone look dumber than the guy in the picture? He is under some effect
Yup... self-induced euphoria - it is very pleasurable and seductive and addicting.
Could be the Holy Spirit.
How can Florida Evangelicals be different than those in Iowa, if they follow after the same spirit?
The answer based on spiritual truth is that they follow after an image of a false god and Christ in which there is no salvation (Matthew 24:24). This is the reason religion is so divided (Matthew 12:25).
The Bible is not only the Word of God, it is God (John 1:1) and it is the discerner of every thought and intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12).
The Bible tells us that it is a deep hidden mystery (Mark 4:11). It was written for the believers who are able to understand every word including the parables (Matthew 13:11), as the Bible is spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). The Bible was not written for the unbelievers (atheist, members of the religious and gay community, etc) and in their sinful state they are alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them (Eph. 4:18).
To further explain the Mystery of God we have added the article ‘The Natural Body vs the Spiritual Body to our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
Two thousand years ago the Apostle Paul recorded in 1 Cor. 15:44 that there is a natural body and a spiritual body and in our article we explain and describe the meaning of it. The understanding of the new article will provide you with the key that will unlock all the mysteries of the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11).
All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain the deep hidden mysteries of God and how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.
The Word of God is God (John1:1), it is truth and there is no lie in it (Hebrews 6:18).
Seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).
Thank you AvdBerg. That makes total sense.
The Bible alwasys says this.
Jesus has white hair, eyes of fire, feet of brass, and has a sword
sticking out of his mouth. 1:13-16
Jesus know "even where Satan's seat is." Wow! 2:13
Repent - or else Jesus will fight you with the sword that sticks out of
his mouth. (Like the limbless knight in Monty Python's "Holy Grail.")
John repeats his description of Jesus, saying he has eyes of fire and
feet of brass. 2:18
God has seven spirits. (Counting the Holy Spirit?) 3:1
God recommends that you wear "white raiment" so that "the shame of thy
nakedness do not appear." 3:18
John sees four beasts, each with six wings and "full of eyes." 4:7-8
John sees a dead lamb with seven horns and seven eyes. He explains that
the seven eyes "are the seven spirits of God." 5:6
"And the four beasts said, Amen." 5:14
God tells his murderous angels to "hurt not the earth, neither the sea,
nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of your God on their
foreheads." This verse is one that Christians like to use to show God's
loving concern for the environment. But the previous verse (7:2) makes
it clear that it was their God-given job to "hurt the earth and the sea"
just as soon as they finished their forehead marking job. 7:3
144,000 Jews will be going to heaven; everyone else is going to hell.
Those that survive the great tribulation will get to wash their clothes
in the blood of the lamb. Gee, that sounds like fun. But how would
washing robes in blood make them white? 7:14
"And there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and
it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of
waters." In the bible, stars are just little lights that can fall to the
ground from the sky. 8:10
God makes some horse-like locusts with human heads, women's hair, lion's
teeth, and scorpion's tails. They sting people and hurt them for five
An angel tells John to eat a book. He does, and it tastes good, but it
makes his belly bitter. 10:10
Anyone that messes with God's two olive trees and two candlesticks will
be burned to death by fire that comes out of the sticks and trees'
God's magic candlesticks and olive trees have special powers. They can
shut up heaven so that it cannot rain (There are these little windows
that open up whenever it rains.), turn rivers of water into blood (like
the Egyptian magicians [Ex.7:22]), and to smite the earth with various
plagues "as often as they will." 11:6
After the candlesticks and olive trees are done talking, burning people
to death with the fire that comes out of their mouths, shutting up
heaven to prevent it from raining, turning rivers into blood, and
killing people with plagues whenever they get the urge, they are killed
in a war started by a beast that came up out of a bottomless pit. 11:7
After the war between the candlesticks and olive trees on the one hand
and the beast that crawled out of the pit on the other, there will be
dead bodies rotting, unburied everywhere. And those that are not killed
by the candlesticks, trees, or beast will "rejoice over them [the dead
bodies] and make merry, and shall send gifts to one another." A good
time will be had by all. 11:8-10
"And there was a war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against
the dragon." So even in heaven, one can't be safe from war or dragons.
John says that wisdom is knowing that the mark of the beast is 666.
Everyone will be marked on their right hand or their forehead with this
number. (And I thought it was going to be my social security number!)
Only 144,000 celibate men will be saved. (Those who were not "defiled
with women.") 14:3-4
John sees three frog-like unclean spirits come out of the mouths of the
dragon, beast, and false prophet (Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell,
Mary Baker Eddy, Pat Robertson?). 16:13
The great harlot is described as being "full of abominations and
filthiness of her fornication." She has a rather large and prominent
sign on her forehead, she will get drunken with the blood of saints and
martyrs, she will be made "desolate and naked," and her flesh will be
eaten and burned with fire. 17:1-16
This verse refers to Jesus as the "bright and morning star", as is
Lucifer in Is.14:12. So is Jesus Lucifer? 22:16
Anyone who adds to the words in Revelation (or to the rest of the
Bible?) will be struck with plagues, and anyone that tries to remove
anything from it will have his name removed from the book of life.
The Bible *alwasys says this.
There is some deep hidden mystery here, and as soon as I stop laughing I am going to get right on it.