The likely Republican primary voters in the adult Bible study class at First Baptist Church have seen candidates’ ads and devoured news coverage, but they listen most to a higher authority: God.

They worked through a lesson Sunday about the sanctity of human life, made in His image, discussing Genesis 1:27, snippets of Deuteronomy, and Matthew 5: 17-24.

Although Southern Baptist churches observe the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision in this way every January, the timing was fortuitous, coming as it did right before Saturday’s GOP presidential primary here.

Evangelical Christians have dominated Republican politics for decades in South Carolina, rated one of the most intensely religious states in the nation by the Gallup Poll, based on attendance at worship services. Four years ago, 60 percent of those who voted in the party’s primary identified themselves as born-again Christians.

“Morality will be the deciding issue for me,” said Adam Burger, 31, a computer programmer from nearby Lexington, S.C., and a member of First Baptist. “It’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t share your faith and values.”

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