Evangelical Leader: No Strong Connection to the GOP

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins indicated that he sees a growing chasm between social conservatives and the Republican party amidst overtures from Democrats to communities of faith.

"Social conservatives are still committed to the issues and still involved in the political process, but don't see the GOP as the only means to affect things in this culture," Perkins said in an interview with U.S. News. "There is not the strong connection to the Republican Party that there once was."

Perkins said social conservatives greet new Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele with caution, saying that Steele will have to reach out to people like Perkins, not the other way around. The influential social conservative leader, who was a strong backer of President George W. Bush's presidential campaigns, encouraged Steele to maintain tradition Republican stances on gay marriage and abortion.

Perkins also commended the Obama administration for reaching out to communities of faith, though he saved criticism for the president for having reversed policies on U.S. support for family planning agencies abroad.

"I'm not saying I'm taking everything at face value, but the Obama administration is trying to have a conversation about faith-based initiatives," Perkins said. "Whether they do it is another question, but it's a positive development."

Perkins said that the relationship between the GOP and social conservatives soured after Bush's 2004 election, when, Perkins alleges, social conservatives' issues were cast aside.