2012 Election

Will Those Against Women Leading Churches, Support a Woman for President?

| by Jerome McCollom

Michelle Bachmann, a Republican member of Congress from Minnesota, and Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska and former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, are beloved by the religious right.

At this point, it seems that Bachmann has the inside track, of the two, in the presidential race. But the question arises: Would individuals, who believe that women should not have leadership positions within their churches and that wives should be subservient to their husbands, vote for a female president?

In the Republican primaries, the religious right have tremendous power. While not as much as in relatively secular New Hampshire, GOP candidates have to kiss the ring of Bob Jones in the South Carolina primary. The Jones family, going back generations, operates a university (aptly named Bob Jones University) that banned interracial couples from dating until fairly recently.

Even in less religious Iowa (compared to South Carolina) the religious right wield great authority in the nation's first primary. Among Southern Baptists, the second-largest Christian denomination in the U.S. (and largest protestant group), women are commonly denied positions of authority, as being unbiblical. Women, though not as much as in the past, are often pressured not to work and stay in the home within that church.

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Many, if not most, of the people in these churches believe that their deity created men as having essentially greater status than women. Indeed, less than a century ago, Southern Baptists were one of the last holdouts in opposition to the right of women to vote. Polls within the last decade show only 8-12% of Americans will not vote for a female president. But, of course, those numbers aren't distributed evenly among the American population. It is hard to imagine even 1% of self-described humanists (which I am a member) stating they would rule out a woman for president. It's hard to imagine more than a couple percent of liberals stating that, if that.

But, for those who say women cannot and should not hold any positions of authority within their own church because their god says it, logically the numbers will be much higher than 8-12% rate of rejection. In fact, among the most religious 30% Americans, who make up the base of the Republican party, those stating that they would not vote for a female presidential candidate might be as high as 25%. Among men within that group, it probably would be even higher.

So, while Bachmann might believe she has done well in the last debate among GOP voters, she must consider the fact that while she is a member of the religious right who strongly opposes gay rights and wants the government more involved in our nation's bedrooms, those who support those policies might not necessary want them enacted by a female president.