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.
The GOP does not believe that women are smart enough to make our own decisions.
GOP is waging a war on women.
Leave us alone! We women are smart enough to make intelligent decisions!
And the most intelligent decision of all is to not vote for Romney who is against women, and Ryan who is against senior citizens.
Or for Obama who flip flops between saying he is against Gay marriage until the poll numbers tell him he is now for Gay marriage.
...Not to pass a Gay marriage law.. but just to blow smoke up the communities in words alone, rear to believe he is really for Gay rights.
Mark I think you misspelled finger and put river in it's place.
The greatest trick the Republicans ever pulled was convincing the evangelicals to vote for a Mormon.
I thought I was the only one noticing that. Pastors have sold their flock for a Randian utopia.
If you are thinking about voting for Ryan/Romney search for Buckley on Ayn Rand.
The GOP = anti-women.
The GOP are peeping toms.
Stay out of my bedroom!
If these people were so influential in the Republican Party, Romney would have not only never have won the nomination, he wouldn't have finished close. Santorum would have won. He didn't, but why would CNN start worrying about the truth now?
Romney only beat out his contenders because he outspent them over 10 to 1. Money talks. In addition, Santorum was not that far behind when he dropped out. He still had a good chance, especially if he got the delegates that were previously assigned to Gingrich.
Haha Romney is a freak that wears Skidmarked Magical underwear from the Mormon church......Just what we need is this sicko as president.Any Man who thinks his skidmark has powers does not belong president
And anyone who thinks Paul Ryan is going to be the demure wallflower VP is crazy. It will be a co-presidency like #43 and DC were.
You are a sick, pathetic bigot.
"Conservative Christians rally around Akin..."
Not one bit surprised. Extremists en masse.
Maybe all christians are conservative but not all conservative are christian. Religion sucks, free market capitalism is great.
Gager: you are talking about two factions of conservatism: social conservatism and fiscal conservatism. Christian Conservatives are social conservatives. Libertarians are fiscal conservatives, and the two no longer overlap.
No, not all of us are Conservative. We're supposed to try and be Christ-like, and Jesus was rather Liberal.
SO.............ROmney wears magical Underwear huh???
Make no mistake about it, there are two core agendas of the Republican platform:
1) they mean to take control of the Executive Branch as well as both houses of the Legislative Branch. They already control the Judiciary Branch. This would give them control of the entire government.
2) once they have complete control, their second agenda will be to pass the 'personhood' amendment to the Consti tution, rendering Roe vs Wade illegal as it would now conflict with the Consti tution, and this amendment would be upheld by the Supreme Court. This would make abortions illegal in all cases without exception. It would force a woman who has been ra ped or a child who has been molested or a woman who's life or long-term health is in jeapordy to carry the child to term.
If you do not believe this, you have not been paying attentinon.
Maybe it's time this generation takes responsibility for their actions instead of the hit and run routine, pollinating all the flowers in the field.
HS: How the hell is one to take responsibility for being raped or getting pregnant due to incest? How exactly is it your business how a woman handles her body? What if said pregnancy leads to death in either case-the mother or the unborn child? Oh wait...I forgot, you don't give rats ass about anyone unless they agree with what your imaginary friend apparently said in its book of fairy tales!!! Get over yourself and learn to stay the fuck out of peoples bedrooms-you were not invited in.
Romney is flip flopper,so many times he held the same beliefs on abortion,then he switched back and forth......I am a repub who is not voting for Romney because he cannot be trusted.Romney wants to destroy medicare,veterans benefits,and the middleclass. I also know Romney is a cult member for the church of Mormon and he has no core christian beliefs. Romney has lost the conservative christian vote and I hope all of those christians who considered voting for him realize that selling out your faith to a cultist is not the way to go.Romney does not respect christianity and Worships Joesoph Smith the Mormon Messiah who was a child molester and Murderer,polygamist..............We do not want anyone representing us christians who belive in the wodrs of a molester as gods word. The repub parrty really screwed up by having a Mormon cultist as our candidate.....What a JOKE ROMNEY IS
The repubs are against Akin and the Christians are for Akin. I go with the repubs. I don't trust christians.
Ask yourself why the Republicans are against Akin, and you may change your stance. They do not disagree with his agenda, which is to make abortions illegal in all cases without exception. The reason they are angry with him is because he would not step down and allow another Republican to run instead of him.
They are afraid that if Akin does not win his seat then the Republicans will not gain control of the Senate. This is all they are concerned about concerning Akin.
Shit, I don't like either one of them!
Prayer changes things'
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!
Prayer is the cause of many innocent deaths.
The Bible PROVES that God was not "healthy for other living things."
So what happened to the millions of people who lived before christianity? Did they all go to hell? GOD-"Sorry you didn't know the rules so you must go to hell, you should have been born after christ you heathens."
The only think prayer does is make the person who prays feel better.
I took my ailing orchid to church and prayed for it. But it died anyway. So much for that theory.
truth be trolled,
You should have picked an orchid that was a believer rather than an atheist.
Step right up folks step right up! Romney is going to give out some campaign goodies! First you will recieve a FREE pair of MORMON MAGICAL UNDERWEAR that mormons believe protects you from evil!! Next you will recieve an autographed picture of Joesoph Smith who is the Mormons Founder and Messiah who is a child molester,conman,polygamist,and murderer. Next you recieve a Free BOOK OF MORMON,its the book Joesoph Smith wrote to control his followers. Then you recieve free directions to the planet in outer space named KOLOB,where Mormons believe their god lives,one day you become a god too and will fly their with your MAGICAL UNDERWEAR! Then you recieve sacred writings that explain how all darkskinned people are subhuman and evil!!! Folks Romney is a CULT BISHOP FOR THE MORMON MAGICAL SKIDMARKED UNDERWEAR CHURCH,we do not want him representing christians.Romney belongs in a PADDED room along with all the opther crazies and child molesters........
Look at this man. This is who we have elected to speak for us. Pathetic. There needs to be a huge shake-up of Government in this country and the where the power resides currently = Wall Street.
If you don't want to participate in wall street, that is your choice. Wall street has been good to me, I am not a burden on anyone.
Abortion is purely a political issue, not religious. The God of the Bible ordered the killing of babies in multiple occasions, so I don't see why people are against abortion just because they're Christians.
Right. Wasn't every Egyptian first born killed by god? That is if you believe that fairy tail.
..a.nd todays reports is that West Nile and Malaria are making a comeback in the United States. Better hope its a Fairy Tale cause I think if a few Locust show up we won't be able to handle the influx of born again former Atheist. :)
No worries Mark. I live in Alaska and don't have to worry about you boogie man.
Mark it must because of all those heathens living in Texas that is bring upon this plague.
Jesus Christ: "What the hell is WRONG with you people?"
Yes, PLEASE stand behind this OLD MAN with a tenuous grasp on science and biology! Trust me, you are doing the rest of us a favor by backing this wingnut!
Wow! You mean there are other GOPers that support Akin> WHAT A SHOCKER!!!
Why do social conservatives want to control what everybody else does? I could care less how they live their life and wish they would do the same. They say they want less government but want government to do their bidding to determine how we should live our lives. Talk about hypocrites. What ever happened to live and let live. You cannot legislate morality. That is unless you want us to be the christian version of Iran.
I believe that they are well aware of their hypocracy. The just don't care.
>>>"Why do social conservatives want to control what everybody else does?"
So when social Liberals push for things such as what we can and can eat. Or say thigns such as ... we are going to raise taxes on cigarettes because the public is still smoking and now we must "educate" them to make healthier choices.
The social Liberals are no better than the Republicans. I guess back in the 80s, Tears for Fears was right and everyone wants to rule the world.
>>>"That is unless you want us to be the christian version of Iran."
Also, in Iran has one of the largest Jewish populations in the Middle East outside of Israel. Just google the synagogues in Tehran alone. They have learned to live and let live with their minorities.Maybe you meant Saudi Arabia.
Mark: "So when social Liberals push for things such as what we can and can eat. Or say thigns such as ... we are going to raise taxes on cigarettes because the public is still smoking and now we must "educate" them to make healthier choices."
So it seems like Liberals want people to be healthier and Republicans want rapists to have parental rights. Which does the most damage to our society? You decide.
Mark I don't believe I endorsed the far left either. Both the far left and far right are the cancer of this great nation. If people want to slowly kill themselves with cigarets that's their choice to make. And trying to say the other side is trying to do the same thing doesn't justify the social conservatives agenda. Again you would be a hypocrite by saying we don't believe in what you are doing but we want you to accept what we are doing.
The astounding hypocrisy of those poseurs who call themselves "Christian" is astounding. They claim to be be pro-life, yet are more than thrilled to kill any number of men, women, or babies as possible when it suits their political or financial interests.
How disheartening. Supporting individual liberty against further government control and restrictions are obviously considered moderate by many. It appears Mr Perkins is confusing his authoritarian religious beliefs with political conservatism. Todd Akin wants more government intervention in our personal lives – please let him stand aside and let us get on with dealing with our economy.
Remember the GOP believes in a small government...JUST small enough to fit in your bedroom!
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.