"We set for ourselves one of the strictest, sternest codes in existence,” wrote South Carolina native Ben Robertson in his 1942 memoir Red Hills and Cotton, “but our country is southern . . . and frequently we fail.” Confusion as well as defeat is in the air of this most southern of states as South Carolina prepares to host two key presidential primaries—the GOP primary on January 19 and the Democratic contest on January 26. The winner of the state’s Republican presidential primary has won the party nomination every year since 1980.
Central to the outcome for both parties will be the “stern code” that Ben Robertson remembered as his childhood religious heritage. The Christian faith is woven into the social fabric of South Carolina. A Clemson University poll in August found that 66 percent of likely Republican voters and 64 percent of expected Democratic voters attend church each week.