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.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
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.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
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.
Lying for Jesus! Should be a new slogan for the GOP!!!
I also like starving the poor for Jesus.
or starting wars for jesus
How a new DNC slogan – "killing for convenience".
Here's one for Obama – "Forward over the Cliff! or "Crank up the Debt Meter".
wow! supporting this jerk is like supporting the pope for president
Smaller government.... Except in my bedroom, on my marriage certificate or my reproductive organs.
John F. Kennedy reportedly had extramarital affairs with a number of women, including Marilyn Monroe, Gunilla von Post, Judith Campbell, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Marlene Dietrich, and Mimi Alford. And what would Monica Lewinski have to add about the Republican party being bad for women? She would say, only Democrats can physically exploit young interns....
@Marcus Smith – Well, the Dems may (or may not) be the ones exploiting the female interns, but the GOP is like the RC church when it comes to the males. Mark Foley ringing any bells?
100 percent true
These guys are going to kill each other before the elections.
I wonder if more of the evangelical right new about what’s in those Romney tax returns that could be so damaging wether they would be so willing to give him their money. Mr. Romney had investments in aborted fetus disposal firm Stericycle. Thats right folks, the right to life candidate was making money off the disposal of human fetuses. Now, hows that for hypocracy. This makes it abundantly clear that there is even something far more important to him than even the the right to life, yes friends that would be money.
So how do the Christian Fundamentalist resolve the idea of voting for a Mormon?
You win Daniel. You have changed my mind on the abortion issue. You should have been aborted...
Right back at you, true hurts doesn't it
most of YOU should have been aborted...
@ pmangr You sour puss................................
I cannot understand justification for killing unborn children. Somebody please justify. By the way, pointing to people killed during pointless wars that past and current presidents and congress put soldiers into is not justification for killing babies (or you can use the euphemism "abortion").
You do know that babies are killed in wars also, don't you?
I'm wondering. Do you actually want people to give you their reasons, or do you just want to state your position?
woman is raped..
woman went through a hell.. and mental turmoil.
woman wants to forget the whole thing and want to move on with her life
woman is pregnant..
state forces her to remember her nightmare every second of every day for 9 months, then followed by life long responsibility with no regard to whether she wants it or not.
Great justification for pro-life.. eh?
Its not as simple as killing children. You are pitting one person's vital interests against the life of another. Carrying a baby full term entails great sacrifice, which you intend to force upon people. There are many innocent children in this world dying from poverty related issues. Should you be forced to give up all of your assets so that they may live? Is your lifestyle more important than their lives? Who's decision should that be?
Sigh don't forget that in some cases the rap.ist can also file for parental rights for the child too. It has happened.
In Brazil, a nine-year old girl became pregnant with twins after being rap.ed by her step-father. It would have been physically devastating, if not lethal, for that child to continue with this forced pregnancy, so her mother and the attending doctors decided that the pregnancy should be terminated. The catholic church excommunicated them for this, but the ra.pist remained in good standing with the church. This really happened. You can google it.
It's a crying shame that people like you lack the compassion to understand it's not about what YOU want. There is a unique story behind every abortion, a story you will never hear. You will never know what brings each woman to make the decision to terminate a pregnancy, but the simple fact remains: They know the circu.mstances of their lives better than any politician, priest or stranger like you. It is their choice, not yours.
The fact of the matter is it's none of your business what a woman does with her own body. You scream "pro-life" but what happens to all those kids born to poverty. It's all on our tax dollars to care them, yet you same pro-lifers tend to vote GOP and they are the very ones who want to cut funding for social programs. You people are so much in la la land from reality; you can't have it both ways. I say women need to have the freedom to make their own decisions.
If you don't believe in abortions, don't have one. It is 100% YOUR decision and no one else's. We all pray that every woman makes the right decision.
First of all no one owes you any justification, you are not God. Second of all, they are not babies.
I am so sick of men trying to control women, stop raping us, stop hitting us, start using condoms, start using the head on your shoulders instead of the one at the end of your penis. This is getting all to scary for me, Romney scares the hell out of me because this is a country where money rules and that is ALL he stands for. He must have religion in his life so he can ask forgiveness for all the crap he does.
Because not everyone considers a cluster of dividing cells a "baby." Because not everyone thinks that a soul is something that is deposited upon conception, but rather an abstract term for the character we build over years of living on this planet. Because not everyone sees this as a black and white issue, but one in infinite shades of grey.
While I personally feel that rights of the fetus to live eventually override the mother's right to voluntarily terminate, that point is near the end of pregnancy and I'm still hesitant to tell someone what to do with their own body.
Obama in the White House: "Please pass the popcorn".
I'm not surprised about the evangelicals support, their understanding of science is as good as Akin's, non-existent
So true. I'm a conservative Christian (Lutheran) and periodically the wife will turn up with some weird thing that she heard on an Evangelical radio or TV station. I'll spend about two minutes looking up what the Lutheran (and often Catholic) church teaches and discover that it's just not so. Note that many of them do NOT believe dinosaurs ever existed, and that the Earth is only 10,000 years old. Huh? They counted back generations mentioned in the Old Testament.... and dinosaurs are NOT mentioned in the bible, duh.
Many of my close friends are evangelical Christians. They are kind, generous people. But most grew up in the church and were taught to avoid ideas that contradict their religious beliefs. Basically, they follow the dictum "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it." When this mindset is taken into the political arena, anger, incivility and frustration often results.
While you rally around Todd Akin because of your faith and convictions, you continue to deny that the morning after pill is birth control. Are you sincere in your desire to stop abortions or is it about controlling women? If you want to reduce the number of abortions stop fighting the use of the morning after pill(which is a birth control pill).
david lane is the al-quada of the christian world.....he would love to see the world plunge into the darkness of biblical prophecies....in other words.....the perfect republican..who has a dislike for women who aren't subservient
Muslim fundamentalists destroyed the great culture that was medieval Islam by withdrawing from learning and focusing inward on faith; now, the christian fundamentalists are trying to do the same. In Islam, the result was the taliban; the US today is under silmilar attack from the teavangelical/tealiban know-nothings.
Kathleen Parker had a great oped about this. I wish more people would read it and comprehend that a theocracy is not what we need.
The GOP is becoming irrelevant everyday. We need a multiparty system for a healthy democracy in our country. The real Republicans need to stand up and take the leadership of the party away from bigots. It is time for chairman Limbaugh to go.
I would like very much for the Republicans to kick the Tea Party out of their party and make them form a third party. However, I think that Republicans are afraid that the Tea Party would actually become more powerful than the Republican party due to all the religious zealots in America today. Therefore, I do not expect it to happen anytime soon. Unfortunately.
Limbaugh is our Chairman? I thought it was Beck ... or was it O-Rielly... Cheney ? Rove?
Sigh... saying that the real Republicans should stand up and be heard is like saying that the real Americans should stand up and be heard. In the end the two parties are just like America with factions dividing them. Think the Al Gore folks are happy with Obama or the Gay and Lesbians. Heck, even the African Americans are not going to be coming out as strong to vote as last time.
there is a 3rd party, it just doesn't get the media exposure. Libertarian party has a republican as it's candidate Johnson from New Mexico.
Libertarians are just as extreme in their own way as republicans and democrats have become. We need a party that represents simple common sense and personal responsibility.
Ya, you don't want social-conservative Republicans in the... wait, what was the question?
@all of you. While I agree with the many pro choice sentiments on this page I simy must point out that when it comes to our supposedly democratic system I must disagree with those of you who clamor for a 3rd party. Many of you seem to be thoughtful articulate peolpe, however, I must call out the fact that many of you presuppose our system as the best possible system (by system I mean our capitalist society) ie it does not matter to great degree which party you espouse they still work within the confines of a system. Does
noone ever wonder why these politicians who constantly promise change can never deliver?? Think about it. They are all subjugate to the capitalist system. Much like a toddler at dinner time when mommy offers us a choice of peas or carrots, we dutifully pick one or the other, over and over and over and over again. And the crazy thin is most of us really believe we make a difference. It's sad. I will never vote or take part in this sham set up by our wealthy owners. It's time for a real change my brothers and sisters and it won't happen in a voting booth....not in the situation we find ourselves in today. They say if it ain't broken don't fix it, well I ask you my friends..is this system broken??
You can be against abortion, but you can't just make *&$% up to justify your position.
The 'Christian Conservatives' want this debate to be whether or not a fetus, at conception, deserves all the rights that a baby, at birth, is granted.
However, this is not the true debate. The true debate is whether or not the government has the right to force a ra pe victim or a child that has been molested or a woman who's life or long-term health is in jeapordy to bring that child to term.
If you believe that the woman who is pregnant should have no say in the matter at all, then you must be a 'Christian Conservative'. So much for smaller, less intrusive government...
You have a point skarphace, the conservatives wants less government but strangely they want more government for women. Power and control over women's reproductive organs. A big brother watching over them how ironic.
What do you call someone that never speaks what he/she really thinks but this one accidentally did? Case closed.
Keep talking, Repubs. You're nailing your own coffin.
The problem with most Conservatives is that they have no idea how uninformed and ignorant they are. They think they are brilliant.
Good let the Religious Right continue to show it's self as the extremist group they really are. They rival the Taliban in thier extreme doctrine. Let everyone see who the GOP has tied ti's future too.
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.