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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. Mormon Magical Underwear

    ROMNEY can take his Mormon Magical Underwear back to Utah,conservative christians wont vote for a Anti Christian who thinks his skidmarked Underwear has Magical Powers..........IDK Why mormons think their SKIDMARKS protect them from evil.........sickening just like their polygamist molesting religion......WHAT A SICKO

    August 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  2. carlos

    flushthemall....not the mall, YOU and will not be missed

    August 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • flushthemall

      hahahahahaha carlos, i will not miss you either but if you wear your pretty woven wool underpants you will be able to get your own planet with Mittens

      August 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  3. Wake Up

    The great GOP secret is out of the closet, their only interest in social conservatives is in being able to get them out to vote in great numbers. Otherwise, the agenda is simply baggage....

    August 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  4. David

    Drive out the social conservatives, and I may return to the Republican Party. Until then... NFW!

    August 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  5. Dread

    Are these the same people that protest at military funerals?

    August 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  6. Say No To Cult MORMONS

    Romney does not pray to Jesus,he Prays to Joesoph Smith the child molester,murderer.This is not the kind of VALUES we want in the whitehouse........POLYGAMY,MAGICAL UNDERWEAR,MOLESTATION,ABUSE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN,YEAH THE MORMONS ARE REAL SICKOS

    August 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • David

      yeah... haven't you ever seen "Big Love" on HBO...

      August 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • The Guy

      I thoroughly enjoy the love that christians possess and express

      August 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  7. jude

    Mittens thinks that Jesus Christ will return to Missouri and rapture up all the good Mormons; but I think the Catholics and other gentiles (non-Mormons) will no doubt suffer hellfire and perdition. This is the crux of Robmey's beliefs. The same holds true for his making nice with the Israelis–except for the dead Jews his Church has retroactively "baptised." Akin is just another science-denying, women-hating garden variety conservative. Dear God, if you do exist, save us from these deranged men.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  8. Mike Buck

    RepubliCON Agenda is the Four G's ; Gynecology, Guns, God and Gays.
    Liberal Agenda – Education, Economy, Environment and Equality.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  9. Wow

    "Conservative Christians" rally around this man? Not my idea of a Christian. Who are these nuts?

    August 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  10. Jorge

    CHRISTIANS walk with the RICH.. on the republican ticket. That's what JESUS did.
    Reminded me of that quote by Ghandi "Oh, I don't reject Christ. I love Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ."

    August 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  11. rob

    It's wrong to do this. Have your opinion on faith but church and state are not to be combined.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  12. ohioan

    what a bunch of clowns. I can't wait till the Republican National Convention...a week long comedy of errors.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • jude

      You're right. They'll have another one of their hate fests. Chris Christie will no doubt resort to his best bully-boy tactics and then they'll start weeping about fertilized eggs and how women should be barefoot and pregnant. At least they're sparing us Madame Palin. Thank Heavens for small favors.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  13. Jack 21

    I wonder if Romney was president if he would put his Magical pantys on his head to protect him from evil,kinda like a radar hat . Can you immagine if Iran was going to attack us before Romney consulted our generals he would pray to his skidmarked underwear for protection......LOL

    August 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things :

    August 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not, you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady; who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs .

      August 23, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • David

      Shut up.....

      August 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Mike Buck

      Another scientific comment by a member of the Take Education Away Party

      August 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • jude

      I wonder why prayer didn't work for all those very religious inmates of Nazi concentration camps.

      August 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • kindless

      Not true actually. It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. Teaching kids to be agnostic helps reinforce their understanding of the new real things they can see and learn about in life. It helps them properly separate the known from the unknown without confusing them. They just need to be taught things that are unknown, like god, and things that are made up, like all religion.

      Atheists have strong minds, and don't run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, disserving society).

      Prayer is really just a time-sucker-upper. We have only begun to scratch the surface in using the mind to its maximum, and damaging it with made-up junk that politicians and salesmen dreamed up long ago is senseless, and as history has shown, is dangerous to society.

      old mama kindless

      August 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Observer

      No atheist ever torturously drowned EVERY pregnant woman, child, baby and fetus on the face of the earth like God did.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  15. LWJR

    Would love to see CNN do a story on BIDEN the plagiarizer. Come on CNN, your DONKEY is showing again.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Wow

      The Republican's seem to have a new donkey appear every day!

      August 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    prayer changes things ;

    August 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not, you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady; who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs .

      August 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • cal usa

      In the words of Buckminster Fuller, I don't pray to God because I don't believe he's looking for recommendations from me.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      I took my ailing amaryllis to church and prayed for it. It died anyway. So much for that theory.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  17. craig

    It is sometimes said that voters will vote against their own best interests, and there are plenty of historical cases to demonstrate that it's true. In this case, however, it is true absolutely. The more the "Christian Right"...which is two oxymorons for the price of one...push the campaign to be about social issues, the more they assure that they will lose in November.

    Assuming he has any hope of winning, Rmoney's best hope is to press the issue of the economy and jobs. Never mind that the major problem is the House GOP, that won't allow a single constructive thing to happen, because Rmoney can still attempt to blame the whole mess upon the President. He can't, however, blame the extremist positions on things like women's health care, abortion, and birth control on anyone but his own party, and if he's forced to repudiate those positions, he'll lose his own voters in addition to not gaining votes from the skeptical center.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    prayer changes things;

    August 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not, you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs .

      August 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • todd

      judgemental are we?

      August 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  19. Vader

    Good to see how much of a "way out here pariah" he really is.

    Take note folks: these are the same people who could be put in positions of power over YOUR lives.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  20. flushthemall

    We need more of this kind of thinking and then maybe we can get women back where they belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen with no access to the liberal internet and all of its trappings.

    August 23, 2012 at 5:45 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.