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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. Libfreak48

    Jesus, as I recall, told his followers His kingdom wasn't of this earth: "If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world."

    Yet Evangelicals demand political power, demand control of society, demand that everyone follow their morality.

    Just like the mullahs in Iran.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Evangelical Christian

      If we did not take control, the minority and the atheists would have turned this nation to communist satanic countries like North Korea, China and Cuba. Thank God and us for saving you from evil stuff.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • sam

      Evangelical Christian gets the funniest post of the day award.

      August 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  2. Evangelical Christian

    I'm an Evangelical Christian and I will vote for Mitt Romney. Obama is too secular for mine and my local church's taste, sorry. I want a president that is extremely religious, and Romney seems to be the one (at least more than Obama). Since Obama became president the Muslim population has increased :/

    August 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Jack 21

      You are selling out your faith to a Mormon cultist that makes a perverted Mockery out of the bible and the teachings of god.Sorry but a true christian would never sell out their faith and support a cultist.If you were a true christian and dont like Obama you would stay home and vote in 2016 like the other christians who will not sell their sole to the cultist....

      August 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • sam

      Get the popcorn, kids, and watch two 'true christian's fight it out.

      August 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • mig

      Oh sure! Romney is extremely religious! Ask all those people who lost all their jobs when Bain took over their companies.And blame Obama for the increase in Muslims.He's running around fathering Muslim children by the thousands.Moron!

      August 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • mig

      If you want an extremly religious leader why dont you vote for the Ayatollah Koemani,so he can make all your dreams come trueThen of course you might be behaded if you expreessed any thoughts contrary to his doctrine.Watch what you wish for, it might come true.

      August 23, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Athy

      Holy sht, EC. You said "Obama is too secular for mine (sic) and my church's taste". If that's the way you decide on who to vote for, you shouldn't be allowed to vote. A simple IQ test would eliminate people like you from registering to vote. You're a mindless moron.

      August 24, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  3. Jack 21

    Warren Jeffs is ROmneys Role Model and Hero..............

    August 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  4. Jimy

    I say let Akin run. What he said was in step with Dr Wilkie, the same man the advises Mitt Romney. I can not vote this year as I will not be voting for a Mormon.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  5. HarvardLaw92

    Nothing suits us better than a fractured Republican Party which is mired up in internecine warfare going into an election.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  6. Agnostic

    What's up with this hatred of Mormon sect? Most Americans are forgetting first amendment -> FREEDOM OF RELIGION.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • jdoe

      Freedom doesn't mean people have to like it.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  7. Nikki

    I wonder if Romney has to click his heels together to activate his MORMON MAGICAL UNDERWEAR?

    August 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  8. OMG!

    nonbelievers should be put in concentration camps.... sick and tired of them

    August 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Sue Macco

      You sound just like Hitler

      You are ugly

      August 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Hipochracy_at_its_best.

      So you are a flat out HIPOCHRITE! You supposed to "forgive" EVERYBODY; no exceptions.

      August 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • sam

      Nonbelievers of what? Catholicism? Mormonism? Buddhism? Norse Gods? You're going to have to narrow it down before you start frothing at the mouth. Of course, whatever it is, I'm sure you're a stellar proponent of it, and a lovely example.

      August 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • mig

      Is that what Jesus would do? Hipocrite!

      August 23, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  9. Draco Protein

    Religion is a man-made construct we create to deny the reality of our aituation.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Draco Protein

      of our situation

      August 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  10. Johnny

    I'll rather have a Mormon than a Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist President....

    August 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  11. MikeB

    Conservative or Moderate 'Anything' needs to realize that they alone cannot preserve our Personal and Collective Liberty. We must join forces to have a Critical Mass to oust those that are stripping us of our Personal Liberties and National Sovereignty.
    Being headstrong in standing behind someone that has been tagged by our domestic enemies to run against will not help those doing so or the cause for Liberty.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Try again, but less cryptic. What and who are you talking about?

      August 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • MikeB

      Moby Schtick – Those who divide us are not our friends.

      August 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  12. Ehh

    Romney said he will turn this nation into his religious faith :o

    He will shovel his religion in our throats

    August 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Mormon Magical Underwear

      Romney will give everyone a free pair of MORMON MAGICAL UNDERWEAR JUST LIKE HE WEARS!!!

      August 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • MikeB

      What? We already have Obama's 'Social Doctrine' in the form of the Affordable Care Act as our National Religion. So, perhaps Romney can use that new power to do exactly what you claim.
      Although what you are saying is Obama's shovel ready B.S.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • MikeB

      Mormon Magical Underwear – So you claim that people's emblems or reminders of their faith are magical.
      True. If anyone is actually capable of following through on their adherence to their faith; that would be magical.
      Some wear Crosses, Outward Clothing, etc ... to stick their religion into our faces. How kind of the Mormons to cover their emblems of faith and keep it personal.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • skarphace

      Mike: the ACA will provide healthcare to all Americans, which finally brings us into the 21st century alongside other industrialized nations. If there is a better way than ACA to provide healthcare to all Americans, I have not heard it from Republicans. In fact, the basic tenants of the ACA were created by Republicans and first put into legislation by Romney.

      Why, then, is the ACA so evil? Could it be that what was once a Republican idea was hijacked by a Democrat?

      Or could it be something even more basic...

      August 23, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  13. Math

    You have got to be kidding? How? I just, I can't believe it, I think I am having an anuerism...

    August 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  14. Sam

    Mythology is where all gods go to die....a fresh grave should be dug for the God of Abraham

    August 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • MikeB

      And the all merciful, peaceful, and kind Athiest are eager to burry them so they can claim their own status as Gods.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • sam

      Mike...dumbass...the point is no gods at all.

      August 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  15. President

    Mormons = Christians

    END OF STORY.................. NEXT!

    August 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Mormon Magical Underwear

      Wrong,Mormons are nothing like christians...........

      August 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • skarphace

      1) Mormons do not believe that Jesus is the biological son of God. They believe he is A son of God, but they believe that we are all sons and daughters of God.

      2) Mormons do not believe that Jesus rose from the grave in physical form. They believe that he rose in spiritual form, just like everybody else does.

      3) Mormons do not believe in the Trinity. They believe that God is separate from the Holy Spirit and that Jesus is a great man, but not the one and only son of God.

      4) Mormons do not believe that the path to God is through Jesus Christ. They believe that Jesus was a great prophet, but there were many great prophets on the level of Jesus. In fact, they hold Joseph Smith above Jesus.

      5) Mormons believe that when you die, if you were high enough in the Mormon Church, you get your own planet and will serve as a God to this planet. Don't believe me? Look it up.

      Therefore, Mormons believe in exactly NONE of the basic tenants of Christianity.

      Sorry, but Mormonism is NOT Christianity. Not even close.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • jdoe

      Clearly you don't read much.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  16. mig

    No-one was so worried about so-called hand-outs to the poor until we gave too many tax-cuts and hand-outs to the rich.We could well afford to help others achieve the American Dream until those who have already achievd it took advantage of globilasation and outsourced all our jobs and put their tax cuts in Swiss bank accounts.They owe their good fortune to the American public,all us consumers including those on wealfare, social security,or unemployment benefits.Even a thief pays taxes at the gaspump or buying alcohol or cigaretts.No-one her gets off scot free except a lot of the wealthy who use loopholes and foreign bank accounts.They prey on all of us and want to cut all the benefits we worked for so they can buy a yacht for junior"just like daddys"

    August 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • skarphace

      Well, the wealthy have always been concerned with their taxes. Look at the tax rate for the wealthy since America came into being. The rate has dropped steadily. It has, however, dropped faster since Reagan, but a drop is still a drop.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  17. ReligionSucks

    Religion is the root of all EVIL.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • President

      Hi Stalin...

      August 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • MikeB

      Then why to we have Obama's Social Doctrine embedded into the Affordable Care Act. It's now our State Religion.

      August 23, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  18. Mormon Magical Underwear

    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 other crazies and child molesters........Romney is pathetic and hates christians,he only believes his Mormonism is the true word of god,everyone else is going to hell.......Romney is a sick sick man,people need to know what his mormon religion stands for and the abuse of women and children is one of their biggest offences. I guess this is typical for a cultist to not have moral values. Sorry no vote for you Romney ....

    August 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • skarphace

      The problem is that evangelicals would much rather vote for a Mormon than a minority. Mormon is bad but minority is pure evil.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      You do realize that christians believe in just as much crazy, stupid sh!t as the Mormons do, right? It's just crazy and stupid in a different way–talking snakes, invisible body parts and diseases, zombies, etc, and etc.....

      August 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • MikeB

      You are a cancer to Civility.

      August 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  19. skarphace

    Non-Christians =/= True American says that we are a Christian nation. However, he/she intends to vote for a Mormon for President rather than a Protestant.

    Why, you ask, when Mormons are clearly not Christians? Hmmm .. you tell me, Non, you tell me. Personally, I can only think of one reason, but I will let you speak for yourself.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • President

      Mormons are Christians.... look at their church name

      August 23, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • skarphace

      Mormons want us to believe they are Christians because they are afraid of the backlash that sent them to Mexico over a century ago. They shouldn't be, as we are more tolerant now. (Ok, that was a joke).

      To me, it doesn't matter. However if evangelicals are going to shove their version of Christianity down my throat, I am going to shove Romney down theirs.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Bman

      And what makes you think protestants are christians? Is murder your wife if she doesn't give you male heirs in the ten commandments somewhere? Yes folks Akin has opened up the can of tribalism and applied it to religion... Boy this carnage is going to be fun to watch!

      August 23, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  20. ExGOPLoser

    I believe the Tea Party should break away from the GOP and become their own separate party. It's obvious that they are both on two separate levels of crazy and need their own voices.

    August 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • bme

      59 yo "used to be republic/ind" ...no frigging way would I ever vote romryan...and have been watching/absorbing/reading/thinking... no way..just none...an embarrassment/smoke/mirror of reality.

      August 23, 2012 at 6:55 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.