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.
I am glad they are standing behind him. Because you know how Jesus constantly encouraged his followers to judge other people, and to hate the poor. Yep, Jesus said over and over again if the needy can't help themselves, then screw them, they are not getting any of my tax money. He also spoke none stop about how abortion was murder. Oh, he didn't....never mind.
the church has always adjusted its message when needed. it wouldnt surprise me if the idea of christian compassion is being changed in the church into pure individualism. i mean look what evangelicals are. the message and meaning of Jesus has been changed. he no longer cared for the poor, but tried to teach them not to be pure and if they didn't get it they were cast out. he taught to condemn others that did not support his teachings. he taught that it is only just to help yourself before your fellow man. with this kind of religion imagine what the believes will believe 2 generations from now
You go Conservative Christians! Keep this guy in the news, by all means. And while we're at it, let's bring back witch burning
Or at least the 21st century version of it –
Frying crazy tea-party, Christine "I am not a witch" O'Donnell in the media. That is sooo much fun. I bet the GOP is paying her NOT to go on talk shows right now!
If you really believe there's a god in charge, social conservatives, then let him deal with women who abort their babies. I know you enjoy playing god here on earth, but the rest of us who live in reality are pretty fed up with it.
America is closer to becoming a Theocracy than at any time since its creation. This is why people like Akin get elected to leadership positions. The religious zealots have taken over.
God help us.
(Yes, that last sentence was meant to be ironic).
Where do you get your information from? Moveon? Media Matters? With the current regime in power and the push to force Catholic organizations to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives and abortifacients, I'd say we're moving in the opposite direction.
@notraitors: listen to you – 'regime'. Rhetoric, hyperbole. You're a fool. No one's forcing the Catholic church to do a damn thing and you know it. Are you honestly this willfully ignorant?
The Republican party is a joke. The evangelicals are fighting the establishment even tho the party policy is exactly what Akin advocates. There is no difference between what Akin said and what the Republican plank will say on abortion. Just different wording. These guys have taken over the Democrat mantle of standing in a circle and shooting at each other. I love it. Intrestingly enough the one guy who dosen't need to show up in Tampa is Romney. he has no control over wha the party is going to do. I love the chaos and stupidty. They should bring the judge from Texas to really make it lively.
This is it!!! The moment that is the beginning of the end of the nightmare – ICE is suing Janet Napolitano – backed by NumbersUSA – please go to NumbersUSA – register and take action. Stand behind these brave people
I love how the Akin supporter in the article is comparing the treatment of Akin to the treatment of Palin. Possibly because they both have said things that make the college educated and thoughtful members of our party groan? Throw in Dan Quayle and we have a trifecta for the plague that has enveloped the GOP since the seventies.
my thoughts exactly.
I KNEW it; they're all crazy as loons.
We loves ya todd. Pleez sta in their n fight fer us
As a republican leaning independent from the northeast all I can say is the GOP is doomed if it listens to crazies like this. The kids will never vote conservatively if they publicize social issues. Freedom, liberty, limited government, and low taxes are the GOP's only shot at a successful future.
rally around the f(*)ag.
Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo...........blinded by their religion again
You assume they actually know about their religion...
Jennifer you actually don't need to know about their religion to know they're crazy.
The best thing that could happen to our party is for the fundamentalists to take a hike and take the closeted socialists with them. Evangelicals, don't let the door hit ya!
Agreed! When did the party that was against a strong federal government decide it was a good idea to get the government legislating what goes on in my bedroom and uterus? If the religious nuts are taking over the GOP, then we need to create a new political party because the Democratic party is too far left for me anymore. Clinton was my last vote for a Democrat.
GOP & Dan – do you think it's too late to kick the nutters out of your party? They seem pretty entrenched.
I wonder if it wouldn't make sense to form a new conservative party – one based on true conservative principals?
Why would anyone want a man legislating women's rights regarding their reproduction who has shown he lacks even a grade schooler's knowledge of how their reproductive system works? You might as well allow comedians to be brain surgeons or have fast food workers run NASA.
There still seems to be a pervailing opinion around born-agains like Akin that women can't really make good decisions for themselves. They need guidance. Them whores don't know when to keep their legs closed, and should be in the kitchen.
Actually we have someone running NASA who believes one of the agency's primary missions is to highlight Muslim contributions to math and science
no traitors – you are aware of all the contributions to math and science the Islamic world brought us right? should we ignore and not teach where math came from? maybe it would bring us all more together when he didnt try to revise history and ignore the contributions other cultures have given us
I'm wondering if anyone, not just Akin, would care to explain the alleged biological ability of a female to "shut that thing down" 'only' during 'legit' r a p e. How a woman can stop s p e r m (which can live several days) from traveling up the tubes to find an egg. Please enlighten me.
Remember that Todd stated that medical professionals backed up this claim. I would love to have him tell us the names of these medical experts. I'm sure their patients would love to know who these medical imbeciles are as well, assuming they exist and he wasn't just lying, which is much more likely.
James: the 'medical experts' came from the pro-life movement. Their claims were debunked. Akin did not do his homework.
That shouldn't be surprising. If you believe in religion you don't believe in scientific theory, which includes research.
"Their claims were debunked. Akin did not do his homework."
The real issue here is that these claims were debunked more than a decade ago and not only are there still fringe idiots who believe it, you have GOP candidates parroting the blatant lie's to stir up their fringe base. Akin is only sorry he got caught letting people see that he is as insane as his tea party supporters.
I love hearing people like skar talk about science when the left steadfastly refuses to believe the decades of social science research that tells us single- and step-parent families are not in fact suitable alternatives to the traditional 2-parent family.
@notraitors – you posting that twice doesn't make it less bullshit. You just look more ridiculous. You're dropping the IQ of the whole board every time you post.
LOL! did this 'to' sarah palin? are you insane? sarah palin's brainless comments did this to herself. cry more, republicans.
They can't open their mouths WITHOUT making themselves look like fools.
I see your true colors shining through
I see your true colors, and thats why i wont vote for you
so dont be afraid to vote democratic
Im not a democrat, and will not usually vote for one, but dam these social conservatives challenge me to do so every day.
More proof that there is no such thing as a decent person on the political right. GOPTBers are a disgrace to this nation and to the human race in general.
Really? Comments made by one Republican idiot is proof to you that there is not one single person on the political right who is decent? When did the liberal party, who claimes to be representative of everyone, become filled with such narrow-minded, hatred for their fellow Americans?
Tad, Akin is not alone, and not the first in his party to say these things. You must know that. Look at some of the bills Akin and Ryan have sponsored concerning women, contraception, and abortion. It's getting scary.
TAD – review your GOP platform. it supports the same thing Akin stated. so you can actually round up all GOPers and say they are together on this. that is their platform, that is what it is supposed to mean
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 .,
Yeah, reason, critical thinking aren't healthy for children...you are soooo right. btw, you have evidence that prayer changes things, right?
Does it change diapers?
Evidence? Yes. God bless
He's right. I prayed that a Republican would say something so ridiculously foul and ignorant that nobody with even half a brain or an ounce of moral character could possibly vote for them but that lots of people would show how stupid they truly are and vote for him anyway. And, voila, prayer answered!
I also prayed to God for a bicycle. Then I realized that God doesn't work that way, so I stole a bicycle and prayed for forgiveness. (credit to Emo Philips)
The only prayer that God would hear from you is the sinners prayer. God bless
@justsayin – ok, well the crazy thing about assertions is that they are much more readily accepted when supported with evidence. Simply saying you have it does not equate to providing it. As for "prayer" I'd argue there's a lot of evidence it does not work.
That is because you do not have a clue as to what real prayer is. God bless
@justsayin – I'm openminded. Maybe you could explain it to me. Oh right, you'll just keep telling me I don't understand "real" prayer. Like the kind that dedicated folks use in hopes that their child won't die from a terminal illness; and when the child still dies, it wasn't that the prayer didn't work....it was just "God's plan".......what a load.
@justsayin – you just keep on justprayin and adding to the lunacy – you actually make the point. God bless.
One of you has my pants and should give them back. God bless
Why do Christians want to cast themselves as uneducated idiots? Abortion debate is one thing, magically being able to will yourself not pregnant is just plain stupid. But then again most conservatives are stupid whenit comes to science. Cabbage patch they think is where babies come from....
Funny, wallace, you mention science because the left consistently refuses to accept the decades of social science research that says single- and step-parent families are not in fact suitable alternatives to the the traditional 2-parent family. I guess the left is only interested in science if they think they can disprove the existence of God.
That's because single parent families are suitable alternatives to traditional myths. What's not suitable is thousands of unwanted children in foster homes or orphanages. Go pound sand dimwit.
@notraitors – you idiot. Stop peddling that bullshit, it's old. You want to compare sociological BS to actual basic science knowledge, go ahead, but it's old nonsense. Next you'll be spouting something about traditional family values. Whatever.
I hope you become a single parent so you can see that it is a perfectly fine alternative you bigoted, controlling pile of shit.
David Lane = Conservitive Christians ralling around Akin.
Nice hit piece Dan!!
I guess you didn't finish the article, Tony Perkins supports him 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.