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Conservative churchgoers torn on presidential primary choices



Super Tuesday is less than two weeks away, but Oklahoma Republicans, reflecting a national trend, are still divided over GOP candidates Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

The rift in the Republican Party is being felt by Oklahoma evangelicals " a voting bloc that, since President Ronald Reagan, has been almost uniform in its political choices.

The idea that evangelicals and fundamentalists formed an univocal, monolithic voting bloc was disproved when Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy Giuliani last year, only to see the former New York City mayor fail to place in the top three in any of the early primaries.

Mike Laprarie, a metro-based conservative blogger and new media consultant, said Robertson's endorsement combined with the subsequent failure of Giuliani to do well in the early primaries shows Robertson's "irrelevance."

"Robertson backed Giuliani and Christians don't care," Laprarie said.

As for Laprarie's preference?

"I don't have a dog in this race," he said. "Right now I'm saying anyone but Hillary (Clinton). No one among the Republican candidates stands out."

Laprarie, who attends Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene, has his feet in two evangelical worlds: He's a political conservative, but part of the evangelical movement that places issues of social justice at the forefront of its faith.

"There are some very likable things about Huckabee," he said. "But the things I like are the very things conservative intellectuals hate: middle-class populism, expanding social programs, and increasing taxes or spending when necessary. The whole Southern Baptist pastor populist thing doesn't interest me." "Greg Horton

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