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Conservative Christians rally around Akin in face of GOP criticism
Rep. Todd Akin has defied GOP pressure to get out of the U.S. Senate race in Missouri.
August 23rd, 2012
01:12 PM ET

Conservative Christians rally around Akin in face of GOP criticism

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – Even as the official Republican Party continues to try to derail Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin over his remarks about “legitimate rape,” a powerful force within the GOP has begun rallying to the candidate’s side: the party’s socially conservative base.

Powerful Christian activists in the GOP have begun pushing back against party leadership, alleging it has gone too far in trying to thwart Akin and that it is attempting to sideline issues that social conservatives care about, such as abortion.

The criticism is creating major tensions between the mainstream Republican Party and a key part of its base days before the GOP’s convention is set to open in Tampa, Florida.

“Following the pounding of Todd Akin by the GOP kings and lieutenants in the last 36 hours, I've come to the conclusion that the real issue is the soul of America,” wrote David Lane, an evangelical activist who’s influential in the Republican Party, in an e-mail to fellow activists Thursday morning.

Top Catholic to close GOP convention

“The swift knee-jerk reaction to throw Akin, a strong conservative pro-life, pro-family born again Christian under the bus by some in the Republican Party is shining the light on their actual agenda,” Lane continued.

“We haven't seen anything this vicious since some of the same operatives did this to (Sarah) Palin.”

While many conservative Christian groups have criticized Akin over his “legitimate rape” comment and for claiming that women’s bodies can prevent conception in such cases, the groups have also emphasized that they stand with Akin in opposing abortion, even in instances of rape.

Not all conservative Christian activists are taking Akin's side against the GOP.

"I think it splits the social conservative movement," says Richard Land, who heads public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention. "Some people say, 'Look he is our guy, we are going to stand with him.'

"And some people are saying the odds are this is a fatal blow at least in this election cycle," Land says. "For the good of the movement, for the good of the pro-life cause ... he needs to do what's best for the cause and throw himself on his shield."

Land, who was in Tampa on Thursday attending meetings around the convention, said he thinks Akin should drop out.

Many Republican leaders, from presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, also have called on Akin to get out of the race.

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the American Crossroads super PAC that backs GOP candidates both announced that they will stop spending money on the Missouri Senate race. Even tea party groups that have backed Akin in the past said he should step aside for the good of the party and the conservative cause.

The Republican National Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the social conservative criticisms of the party on Thursday.

Akin, who won a tough primary battle this month, has apologized for his comments but also defied pressure to get out of the election.

Republican officials have told CNN on condition of not being identified that the Akin controversy hurts on several fronts. It decreases the chances of capturing Missouri’s Senate seat, which is crucial to GOP hopes of winning control of the chamber, they said.

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And the brouhaha shifts the national discussion to divisive social issues that could repel swing voters rather than economic ones that could attract them in a climate of high unemployment and stumbling recovery, the GOP officials said.

Akin has bowed to Republican pressure to skip the Republican convention next week. But the Senate candidate was in Tampa on Wednesday night to meet with a powerful group of religious conservatives, according to a source familiar with the trip.

In a note to supporters Wednesday night, conservative Family Research Council President Tony Perkins heaped criticism on the GOP for abandoning Akin.

"Todd Akin has a long and distinguished record of defending women, children, and families and unlike the GOP establishment, I refuse to throw him under the bus over one inarticulate comment for which he has apologized,” wrote Perkins, who is in Tampa attending events leading up the convention.

“As for the GOP, it has no rational basis for deserting Akin when it has stood by moderate Republicans who've done worse,” Perkins continued. “Singling out Todd suggests a double standard, designed to drive out social conservatives.”

CNN’s Tom Cohen and Peter Hamby contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Abortion • Politics • Tea Party

soundoff (1,510 Responses)
  1. ArthurP

    When the phrase “In God We Trust” was going to be placed on the $20 gold coin in 1907, President Teddy Roosevelt was against it:

    “My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege…”

    That, from a president who was a Christian, a Sunday school teacher, and a Republican… those days are long gone.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • skarphace

      Ted would definitely be considered a RINO today.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  2. Terry

    Land says. "For the good of the movement, for the good of the pro-life cause ... he needs to do what's best for the cause and throw himself on his shield."

    Throw himself on his shield? That's gotta hurt.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • ArthurP

      Not it it is a Trojan Shield.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Veritas

      If he wants hurt – he should throw himself on his sword.

      August 23, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  3. Reality

    A related but more important issue:-->>

    ONLY FOR THE NEW MEMBERS:

    The reality of se-x, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

    Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

    Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

    The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":
    – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
    – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)
    Followed by:
    One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
    Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
    The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
    Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
    IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

    Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

    August 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  4. ron

    Excuse me. This was not "one inarticulate" remark. This is not just about one word that was "misspoken." This is about blatant ignorance, someone stating something factually wrong, when he should have known better. Instead of science (he's on the science committee) he used folklore to go along with his own beliefs.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • skarphace

      Well, it is the 'one inarticulate remark' that Republicans want to focus on because they want people to miss the big picture, which is that overall they completely agree with Akin.

      Heck, the House passed the 'personhood' amendment the very next day after Akin's remarks which would do exactly what Akin implied should be done: make abortions illegal in all cases without exception.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  5. Mbane18

    CNN, please do not call these people Christians. The people are, if anything, satanists! There is no such thing as a Conservative Christian or a Republican Christian! The 2 idiologies are contradicting. Christianity is a liberal and socialist religion if you want to give it a lable. It's about helping those in need and sharing what you have and helping each other. It's not a religion of hate!

    August 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • ephraim

      AMEN to that!

      August 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  6. blahblahblah

    @CapnKirk You're right about these people lumping themselves with him (I was wrong about that). However, I doubt the coincidence of CNN demonizing this man like noone I've ever seen (saying the whole globe is up in arms about this, etc..), then after everybody hates him, report that Christians are siding with him.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • skarphace

      I hate to tell you, but Akin did a very good job of not only demonizing himself, but also the entire Republican Party. Why do you think the establishment is so upset with him?

      August 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Commonsense

      Only some Christians, not all, not by a long shot.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  7. Nietodarwin

    xstians deserve to be persecuted. They have freedom of religion in this country, and still end up just vomiting their BS over the rest of us. Religion is abuse, and if the GOP (the american TALIBAN) win, we are finished. Xstians don't care about the future of society and the planet, because they are so sure they will go to some "heaven." This is MENTAL ILLNESS taking over the government.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  8. Edward in Maine

    Yeah Baby – Conservative Christians – those are the people who should be running this country. I can't wait 'till they come and get me and make me into one of them.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  9. revensaw

    In God we trust

    Not the GOP

    August 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Athy

      Actually, you can't trust either one.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  10. Commonsense

    Rev. Dan Hartley, you honestly believe that a woman's body can just shut off a pregnancy that she doesn't want? Remember, God is listening to your answer.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  11. skarphace

    Meanwhile, Obama keeps slipping in the polls.

    Oh well. What can you do? At least I am not a woman. They are going to be hating it when the religious right controls all branches of the government.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Slipping in the polls"? Not what I heard.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  12. Kathryn

    "Todd Akin has a long and distinguished record of defending women, children, and families – and unlike the GOP establishment, I refuse to throw him under the bus over one inarticulate comment for which he has apologized,” Defending women? From what, truth? This guy's a Congressman for heaven's sake, doesn't it scare people that someone this clueless is in a position of power? If you continue to defend him, it makes you look equally as clueless. And, how will that help your "cause"?

    August 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  13. EatRunDive

    The same type of idiots who appointed this moron to the House Science Committee.

    I wonder how ignorant one must be to be considered inelligable.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  14. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The "My name is Earl" rubes support Akin and the rest of the unhinged GOBP tea potty.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  15. Loathstheright

    Well of course i g n o r a n t, s u p e r s t i t i o u s, low IQ conservatives support more i g n o r a n c e.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  16. Kathryn

    "... he needs to do what's best for the cause and throw himself on his shield." Fallon his SHIELD? Shouldn't that be SWORD. Sometimes people like the sound of their own voice so much they dont' pay attention to what they're saying!

    August 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  17. William Demuth

    Christians loathe abortion because the cult must recruit. As for myself, I am Pro Abortion.

    That's right, I did not say Pro Choice, I said Pro Abortion.

    As this simpleton demonstrates abortion is often more mercifull on the mother, the greater society, and indeed even the candidate himself.

    Idiots we have PLENTY of :(

    August 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Ever hear of The Voulntary Human Extinction Movement?
      VHEMT motto: "May we live long and die out"

      August 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • William D' MOOT

      Idiots have an IQ=/<3-yr. old who couldn't grasp that merciful has only one L.

      August 24, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  18. blahblahblah

    Step 1: Blow a stupid comment way out of proportion, thereby demonizing the man who said it.
    Step 2: Lump conservative Christians with said man, thereby demonizing conservative Christians.
    Wouldn't expect any less from CNN.

    August 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Lol

      isn't it the same trick christians have been using for ages already? why the bitterness now? coz its used against you now? oh gee..

      August 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • CapnKirk

      @blahblah First off, glad you admit is a stupid comment. Ignoring the 'legitimate' part it does show where Aikin stands on the issue. As fur CNN lumping nayoen with him, these folks are coming out in support of Aikin. They are lumping themselves with him.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • blahblahblah

      So you admit to it being a trick (nice!). And provide no examples of how Christians have used it in the past (nice!).

      August 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Kathryn

      A number of Conservative Christians seem to be lumping themselves with Akin.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • kurtinco

      Not a very bright comment considering it is the so-called christian conservatives themselves whom have thrown their lot in with Akin. Reading is fun!

      August 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • skarphace

      Step 3: have the House pass legislation that would do the exact same thing that Akin was defending, hence the 'personhood' amendment passed the day after Akin made his quite ignorant statement.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • blahblahblah

      @Kurtinko as a news source, you have the power to report stories you want when you want. I doubt the coincidence of CNN demonizing this guy (reporting story after story of how the "whole globe" is outraged at this!), then shortly after saying, "and look at those conservative Christians who agree with him!!@"

      August 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  19. rev dan hartley

    i live in missouri.im voting for todd akin.i thank god that a man will stand up and declare that a womans womb is precious,and shouldnt be treated as a torture chamber.claire im sure will be voted out.just like obama will be.romney will win missouri,and so willl akin.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Huebert

      Akin couldn't get elected to a student counsel. And personally I want a senator who treats a woman's body like SOMEONE ELSE'S BODY, by that I mean realizes that he has no control over it.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Cap locks stuck Reverend? Or did an altar boy break it when your illiterate attempts at affection left him strapped over your altar?

      August 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Jim Hahn

      You go Dan! A woman's womb in not her own. The Government should be free to preserve what lies there and to manage it as it sees fit. There should not be any women's rights when it comes to unborn fetuses! Republicans should stand with Akin and make sure that a few cells have more rights than the person carrying them!

      August 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Your god blows donkeys

      Does your god hate capitalization, punctuation and grammar too?

      August 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Commonsense

      You give all decent, sane, caring Christians a bad name. Please remove yourself from my state.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • blahblahblah

      @William how can an attempt at affection be illiterate?

      August 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Leza

      Reverend: We are in the 21st Century now. Our country was founded on the SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. As clergy, you should have no say in what a woman, especially outside of your congregation does with her body.

      I find it quite interesting that the very people making and pushing these laws on our society are the ones that will NOT be affected by them directly.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  20. JenniferUCD

    LZ Anderson was right. The comments expressed by Akin are representative of the feelings of many, many republicans, not just himself. They may not be dumb enough to shout it out during a tight election year but they think it. And the fact that Akin has supporters willing to go on the record for him is proof.

    August 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • skarphace

      That, in a nutshell, is why so many establishment Republicans are angry at Akin. They are not angry because of what he said, as they agree with him completely. They are angry that he actually said it out loud as it makes all of them seem just as loony as he is. Which they are.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      So, you think all Republicans agree with him. So the Democrat who was caught having a se'xual relationship with a 17 year old boy, the Democrats who were mad at him, where they just mad because they do the same and that he was caught?

      August 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • skarphace

      Mark: spin it all you like. The fact remains that the Republican agenda is to pass the 'personhood' amendment which would do the exact thing that Akin suggested: make abortions illegal in all cases without exception. This policy is what Akin was defending when he made those ingorant remarks and is exactly the policy that Republicans are pushing.

      Are the Democrats pushing legislation to make se-x with 17 year old boys legal? No. So it is not the same thing by a long shot.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • JenniferUCD

      sharkphace: Thank you. I couldn't have responded to Mark's absurd rebuttal any better.

      August 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.