The Times – Rudy, the chosen one<br/> The fracturing of the American evangelist movement, by Gerard Baker

On Wednesday Pat Robertson, perhaps the best known of America’s televangelists, endorsed Mr Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York, as the Republican nominee for president. It was stunning news for a number of reasons. Mr Robertson and his like have made a passionate cause – and a handy living – out of denouncing politicians with Mr Giuliani’s political views. The “church” he leads, generally thought of as having outsized influence in the Republican Party, is fervently anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, pro-traditional family values.

But Mr Giuliani is trying to become the first Republican since 1973 to run for the presidency while openly supporting abortion. He has markedly liberal views on gay rights and a colourful personal history to boot. He has been married three times, and once cohabited (or co-cohabited) with a gay couple.

But on Wednesday Mr Robertson insisted that what mattered was that Mr Giuliani had demonstrated, through his leadership of New York in the tragedy of 9/11, that he was the man best equipped to lead the nation. “To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defence of our population from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists,” he said.

What made this doubly extraordinary was what Mr Robertson said about New York the day after the 9/11 attacks. They had happened, he said, as divine retribution for America’s slide into permissiveness and, along with his fellow televangelist Jerry Falwell, he blamed abortionists and feminists for what had happened.

Yet here he was this week, telling the world that the man whose personal morals and public policies had been partly responsible for incurring the Divine Wrath was now the man best equipped to deal with it. It was a little like hearing that God had chosen not only to spare Gomorrah from destruction, but had picked its rather camp mayor as the next Moses.

You can read the whole thing, but I get the feeling our Gerry doesn’t much like Rudy. Nor Pat, for that matter, but I think that’s probably already been made clear somewhere.