Gov. Mike Pence Defends Against 'Avalanche' Of Criticisms

By Todd Heywood

Indiana's Republican Gov. Mike Pence spent Sunday defending attaching his signature to the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. His appearance on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos -- a former advisor to President Bill Clinton -- was widely panned.

Lurking under the Indiana RFRA PR battle is an insidious shift to theocratic government. Pence was widely mentioned as a likely GOP Presidential candidate -- until RFRA exploded. Now many are dismissing his potential as a candidate, claiming the RFRA debate has made him damaged goods.

Don't count on it. For all the bloviating swirling around Indiana's RFRA, the howls of "license to discriminate" from one side and the screeches of delight on the win for "religious freedom" on the other, the reality is fundamentalist Christian theocrats are on the rise in the U.S.

Let's not make any mistake about that.

One need only look to the only declared presidential contender -- Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas -- to affirm that reality. Cruz chose Liberty University to make his announcement, and that was no mistake for the rise of the American Theocrats.

Peppered throughout his announcement speech, Cruz openly called on evangelicals to take to the voting booths and "vote our values."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is expected to throw his hat in the ring again this year for the GOP nomination. So is Pence. Expect a lot of pandering to the American Theocratic establishment by the GOP. Despite the negative press garnered by Indiana's RFRA, Pence has become a darling of the right wing American Theocrats. And he could very well use that darling status to ramp up a presidential bid.

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