Magazine article The Christian Century

First GOP Debate Airs Differences on Abortion, Evolution

Magazine article The Christian Century

First GOP Debate Airs Differences on Abortion, Evolution

Article excerpt

Differences on abortion rights, stem cell research and even the veracity of evolution became evident this month among the Republican presidential candidates in their first major debate.

While Democratic hopefuls--who held their first debate earlier--mainly steered clear of these controversial social issues, the GOP candidates dove into the issues most important to their conservative religious base. The May 3 debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, revealed one of the most ideologically diverse Republican fields in years.

Of the 10 candidates, three raised their hands when asked by a moderator if they disagreed with evolutionary theory. They were former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a minister and former president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention; Kansas senator Sam Brownback, a Catholic convert from evangelical Protestantism; and Colorado representative Tom Tancredo, whose congressional biography describes him as an "evangelical Presbyterian." None of the antievolution candidates is among the party's front-runners.

Arizona senator John McCain qualified his answer to the evolution question by saying that while he believes that life has evolved on Earth, he also believes that a divine force guided its development.

Only one candidate affirmed abortion rights--though he seemed to modify his position during the debate. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, when asked about his pro-choice position, reiterated his personal disapproval of abortion but also his support for a woman's right to have one. …

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