A generation ago, Iowa Evangelicals would have regarded last night’s results as a sad display of spiritual decay in the GOP. A Mormon beats a Catholic by 8 votes, followed by a social libertarian who rarely ever mentions God? Results like that would have infuriated Pat Robertson in 1980.
The acceptance of Mormons and Catholics by Evangelicals is NOT an indication that religion is no longer important in politics, or that religious voters prefer to keep Christianity out of politics. What it shows is simply that the religious right has puts its differences with Mormons, Catholics and Jews aside while it takes on its biggest enemy: American secularism.
Christianity teaches us that there is only one way to God, and yet, as we have seen in recent decades, some of the most prolific promoters of that message are willing to make alliances with supposed heathens and heretics to achieve a common goal.
The Evangelical movement sees the Israeli Jewish population as a protector of the Holy Land from Muslims, which is curious, since it seems nearly impossible that Muslims could do worse than kill the supposed son of God himself.
Similarly, the Evangelical right has warmed considerably to Catholics, such as Rick Santorum. Sure, some might regard the Pope as the anti-Christ, but he’s still a hell of a lot better than Planned Parenthood.
Evangelicals are probably more reluctant to elect a Mormon, but at the end of the day, there are only a handful of states that have a cultural and political character more friendly to conservative Christians than Utah. A pro-life Mormon beats the hell out of a pro-choice Muslim, which is apparently the status quo.