I'd like to apologize, America, because we call ourselves brave Christians, but my region of the South possesses political hypocrisy and moral cowardice that knows no bounds.
Recall Mark Sanford, for example. Before he neglected his wife and sons -- and his duties as South Carolina governor -- to have an illicit affair, he and I had several discussions about faith and politics. This is why I was convinced that once he was found out, he'd resign, because of the principles he had long told me were important to him. He didn't, and a few years later was sent back to the US House of Representatives for a second time.
And recall Louisiana politician David Vitter, admitting to a "very serious sin" after being caught up in a DC prostitution scandal, breaking his vows to his family and faith -- and voters sent him back to the US Senate anyway. There are more examples.
Political hypocrisy is a bipartisan, nationwide affair. But in our region, it's different and cuts deeper because Southern conservatives wrap themselves in the cloak of Christianity, which is supposed to be a sign that they operate on a higher plane and know when to stand on principle, irrespective of politics.
But it hasn't meant that at all. Conservative Christians frequently give their leaders "immorality passes" because their allegiance to the Republican Party has grown as strong as their allegiance to the church. That's particularly damaging because Southern liberals have yet to find their public religious voice to counter the spiritual rot on the right.
Finally, I'd like to apologize because we are not who we've long claimed to be, and it is hurting what we desperately want to believe is still a great nation.