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Condi Rice: Pro-Choice, Libertarian . . . and Evangelical

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Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared in a recent interview that she is proudly evangelical but also distanced herself from many of her fellow believers by saying that she tends to support abortion rights and civil unions for gay couples, and she feels evangelicals too often alienate others with in-your-face rhetoric.

"It's extremely important not to assault people," Rice told Christianity Today, the flagship evangelical magazine, in a Dec. 20 interview. "Sometimes I think evangelicals come at people so hard and so fast and don't take time to listen to where somebody is," she added. "We can just try to have a lighter touch sometimes."

Rice, who served first as national security adviser and then secretary of state to President George W. Bush, also voiced strong disagreement with those who would meld religion and politics, citing religion-infused violence in the Middle East as a warning sign:

condoleezza rice "You suddenly realize the extent to which man will go to use God for his own purposes rather than the other way around," she said. "That for me is the most terrifying thing about the combination of religion and politics, because that is really when man is trying to use God for his own purposes."

Rice has long been known as moderate on social issues, having described herself as "mildly pro-choice." And her role in foreign policy kept her away from hot-button domestic agenda items like gay marriage. But her recent comments go beyond what she has said in the past, and she is like many prominent Republican women who have staked out positions to the left of the men they are associated with -- though generally after those men have left power.

After Bush left office, his wife, Laura, said she supports gay marriage and abortion rights (his mother, Barbara, has in the past voiced her disagreement with the pro-life position), and Sen. John McCain's wife and daughter have been increasingly vocal on behalf of gay rights.

Rice told CT, "I'm evangelical and I'm proud of it." But she made it clear that she thinks evangelical Christians like herself need to witness to their faith through their lives and actions rather than solely through their words -- to be, in her phrase, a "contagious Christian."

"You try to live a life that makes people say, 'Oh, that's a life I'd like to emulate.' Then they realize your faith is somehow linked to it."

If many evangelicals would endorse that sentiment, it's unlikely that any evangelical leaders will be endorsing her public policy views.

Rice said she is "generally pretty libertarian" on moral issues, and said her views on government regulation of abortion are still evolving.

"I don't like the government involved in these really hard moral decisions," she said. "While I don't think the country is ready for legislation to overturn Roe v. Wade, certainly I cannot imagine why one would be in favor of partial-birth abortion. I also can't imagine why one would take these decisions out of the hands of the family. We all understand that this is not something to be taken lightly."

On same-sex marriage she said that while she believes marriage is between a man and a woman, "I don't ever want anybody to be denied rights within our country." She suggested that civil unions could be a "way for people to express their desire to live together," and said that "the country, if we can keep the volume down, will come to good answers."

"Americans are quite good, actually, at finding a way to deal with these extremely divisive and difficult moral issues. And it's not that I'm a relativist. It's not that I believe everybody has their own morality. But I do understand that there are different ways of thinking about how these issues are going to play out in people's lives, and I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt in governing their own lives."

Much of this sounds more like Barack Obama than George W. Bush, and Rice acknowledged that even some of her friends have questioned whether she can describe herself as an evangelical Christian. But she rejected that criticism.

"You really want to know me?" Rice said. "You need to know that I'm a devout Christian. But I'm not going to lecture you about it on a daily basis."

In the Christianity Today interview, Rice came across as a believer who is as much a pilgrim as someone who has settled positions on every public policy issue related to her faith.

"Every spiritual journey is different in some sense. It's a matter of circumstances. My spiritual journey is one of trying to deepen that faith, trying to struggle with it, as my father taught me to do, not to become complacent."

Rice has just written a book about her upbringing as an African-American in 1960s Alabama, called "Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family."

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19 Comments

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marfour3

It is called taking a stand. Killing innocent babies is wrong, wrong, wrong. Turning your back to innocent babies being killed is wrong. Mildly pro-choice makes no sense. Marriage is a legal state that has been ordained by God. This means that God ordained a woman and man to be married and the which is governed by the state. Condi is seriously confuse and definitely straddling the fence. Take a stand and if you are truly a christian stand for Jesus.

December 31 2010 at 1:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tistolaugh

Is there ayone who really believes Ms. Rice did not misreprsent the facts to take America to war?

December 29 2010 at 10:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
iumbusy

I have read Condi Rice reported by David Gibson
I find her straddeling the fence as far as her evangelical proclaim. She"s either for gays marriages or she has to be BOLD of what is said in scripture of gays
Which quotes: Man shall not take a man as he would a woman" Wrong is wrong right is right> There's no in between according to the bible. It is what it is.

December 29 2010 at 7:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to iumbusy's comment
Parris

BOLD about the scriptures.. no lying, cheating, stealing, bare false witness, adultery... ye without sin cast the first stone

December 29 2010 at 10:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Greg

An intelligent devout Christian? I can dig it.

December 29 2010 at 3:17 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
tnickerson08

It's funny that the media didn't ask if she would run for President in 2012? I guess they wouldn't like to compare her poll numbers to obama; although there is nobody more qualified then her. Condi Rice 2012.

December 29 2010 at 2:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jfrobe

RE;Trudy

I didn't get the feeling Trudy was angry. I read the post as unvarnished truth. Y'know,.... the kind of statement EACH christian is expected to make. A problem with "the church" today appears to be that many seem more concerned with offending someone than upholding the truths they know to be contained within the christian bible.

Human kind has been given the ability to make desions w/o the interference of Deity. God will not judge YOU based upon the things I say or do.....you have free will.I WILL be judged upon the things that I say or do AS WELL AS the things I do NOT say or do. A real christian doesn't need to bully a homosexual person, but a real christian does need to stand up and make the vote publicly that homosexuality is offensive to God.Now to me that means that Homosexuals do not get the privilege of an institution that in any way is "like" a marraige.That said, one more time.... it is NOT my place to "judge" a homosexual person.I kinda think that is where Trudy is/was coming from. Or mebbe you'd prefer Hate the Sin but Love the Sinner.

December 29 2010 at 1:09 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jfrobe's comment
Ralph

You probably also think that homosexuals should be thrown out of their jobs in order to get brownie points with your non-existant god. Believe what you want, but stop forcing it on others who know better.

January 24 2011 at 1:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tulipforme

So, Condi Rice has remade God in her image. Nothing new there. People try to speak for God all the time. Perhaps she should see what God has to say about these matters in the Bible.

December 29 2010 at 12:10 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
tplapper

How can someone be "mildly pro-choice?"

December 29 2010 at 10:58 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to tplapper's comment
boogywstew

Like myself ... I'm totally against partial birth abortion, and in my own world against abortion, BUT I don't have a right to tell a woman that she should have to carry a child full-term . How do I know what damage might be done to a woman's psyche to have to bear a child that she doesn't want. So what am I ... Vehemently PRO-Choice, Pro-Choice, Anti-Abortion, Anti-Abortion-Pro-Choice ?

December 29 2010 at 11:40 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
pa1abra5

Simple: You believe that abortion is wrong, but that government shouldn't outlaw the procedure. That leaves the decision to have (or not) an abortion between the woman and her physician -- which is legally a protected relationship (as is lawyer-client privilege). Ms. Rice seems to say that she empathizes with women who choose the procedure, but that she -- herself -- does not condone it.

December 29 2010 at 3:18 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
pgbrooke

An evangelical with common sense and an open mind. What won't they think of next?

December 29 2010 at 10:43 AM Report abuse +15 rate up rate down Reply
dreamer376

To Trudy...you are definitely entitled to your opinions but that is the point, they are YOUR opinions. Condi is just saying that using God as a political tool goes against what being a Christian means. "Judge not lest ye be judged"...we all will meet our maker and only He can judge our earthly decisions and actions. Condi is intelligent, thoughtful, conservative and she is obviously doing her best to walk the walk of a true Christian. By the way, I do not believe in abortion. However, I do believe that I cannot know what may be in someone else's heart. All I can do is pray for every lost soul and every broken and hurt heart that had to make that kind of choice. I have to trust that God knows better than me and leave those kind of judgements or lessons to Him. I believe that Condi Rice would make a great President. She is a patriot, she loves her country but she also loves God first.

December 29 2010 at 9:20 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dreamer376's comment
pa1abra5

I agree that Condi Rice has the experience, the talent, the drive and the intellect to "make a great President." Since I don't agree with many of her past policy positions, I wouldn't necessarily vote for her. However, she represents a role model for the qualifications of President of the United States that the current crop of GOP "contenders" woefully lacks!

December 29 2010 at 3:21 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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