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.
Please don't think because these rightwing ultra conservatives are showing what ignorant fools they are, that they will not win their upcoming elections. churches are preaching to their "followers" openly to vote republican. They have convinced the masses that democrats are anti-religion. These people vote! Democrats have a tendency to sit back and not get all puffed up and excited because we come from many differentl backgrounds, ethnic and cultural and are not united in a goose-stepping, all think alike, all look alike theocracy of republicans. P.S: I am a "recovering catholic." I believe the man, Jesus, who's story is recorded in the 4 gospels – would never recognize the American christian churches as anywhere near followers of "love one another as I have loved you" and "do to others as you would have them do to you."
>>>" churches are preaching to their "followers" openly to vote republican."
I must remember that this Sunday when I go to church and see all of "the get out to vote" billboards with Obama's image close by.
CNN has lost all credibility. The link says "KEY GOP activists." Interesting how CNN find them to be KEY, isn't it? Or is CNN just trying to confused voters to push its own political agenda?
Please. They called a blogger that no one had ever heard of a "prominent atheist" when she converted to catholicism. CNN loves to as.sign artificial importance to individuals in order to get readers.
Gotta agree whole heatedly with Tallulah on this one.
Yes, rally around him, show the world what an ignorant bunch of hypocritical people are in the republican party. We really must start calling the hate and stupidity of this party out before we allow them to make decisions for the sane in our society.
One of the central arguments of the anti-ab*rtionists, that never seems to be discussed, is that they feel a clump of cells, that is at best the potential for a human, is of more value than the health, well being and quality of life of an actual human. I wish they would have the courage to come out and say this plainly. Cells matter more than women.
You too are a bunch of cells dear. but in your case the brain part does not exist.
ensense - You don't so much argue as insult. Come back when you have a logical argument and something substantial to say.
Don't be afraid to examine your beliefs. Don't just try desperately to support them. There are actually folks on the right who have some facts that they feel support their positions. You seem only to have rhetoric.
religious beliefs from the -Mid dle east- do not belong in American politics.
Going by that logic you dont belong in america either.
ensense – Apparently, you never took a course in logic. There is no logical connection between what he said and what you said.
===== Translation ====
Will you social types please shut up about the real agenda we are trying to con the independents to vote for us.
indeed so sir.
Brought to you by the same people who took a tee-totalling, born-again, former drunkard and business failure (desipite daddy's wealth and power) and turned him into 'a guys folks would like to have a beer with' and almost won him an election.
When will these religious extremists realize that not everyone on this planet follows thier version of God?
There are a heck of a lot of us Christians who actually follow the laws of God and the teachings of Jesus and don't plan on trying to FORCE everyone else to follow God.
We are taught to bring other to God by our own behavior, not by forcing them to be like us. these extremists are perverting God to thier own means rather than actually following his teachings.
Agreed but it should also not be the other way around.
With respect. While I agree with you and often hawk about the extremist in the Faiths. Is what is considered extremist behavior universally the same with each of us?
RE: Is what is considered extremist behavior universally the same with each of us?
Ummm, .... No?
Those of us up top know that the whole religion thing is bunkum, whether Christian or other cult. But it's sure useful for keeping the sub-O's under control.
Well said, god does not judge our actions, god judges the motivations behind our actions. The actions of the GOP are quite evident, it's their motivations that scare the hell out of me
It's a Marine joke, Markie. Got it yet?
They do realize that the majority don't agree with them. But they believe that authority (their own, of course) should trump reality, and that's why they are trying to force the rest into submission.
hahahaha – this is hilarious. Bye Bye Conservatives. Hello Obama.
this will just be water under the bridge by election time. You cant hide obama's economic record no matter how much you and your CNN cornies try to distract from the main issue. your post sounds a littel nervous to me
esense – Don't you mean "swept under the rug" rather than "water under the bridge"? The tightie righties are always working on their extremist agenda of theocracy, whether it's out in the open like now or not. With a theocracy, the guys at the top have maximum control, and the rest have minimum freedom, so naturally, the dictatorial Repugnant party wants a theocracy.
Can't sugarcoat it. Akin and Alfalfa(lyin)Ryan ARE the unhinged GOBP tea potty.
"Conservative Christian" is an oxymoron. Being one negates being the other.
The Republican Party has lost their minds. Aikin is vile and should be run out of town. That judge in TX talking about Civil War should also be impeached. Even Rick Perry wanted to be President and he was talking about succeeding from the union. He wanted to President of a country that he doesnt want to exist...and the Republicans think it is ok. When Palin and Limbaugh are the party spokespersons, you know the party is lost!!
going by your logic saul alinsky and the weather underground are the democratic spokespersons?
You know...would losing Texas be all that bad? Perhaps they should leave the Union and become a Theocracy. It would be interesting to see how long that would work out for them.
Middle-eastern religious beliefs do not belong in American politics.
Why, because you can not see how someone could be American and something else as well.
How about Irish? Ready to cancel Saint Patrick's day?
I suspect he is talking about the American Taliban. The cabal of the religious right that Karl Rove gave the GOP leash to.
Well, the problem with that are the Rev Wrights and Al Sharptons on the Left that ones such as Bill and Oba gave the leash ... or chains to the African American vote to.
I think he was talking about Xianity...
American politics don't belong in American politics.
great let rightwing nut religion people support him and the crazy judges keep talking then even the "normal" republicans won't show up in Nov.
Are they trying to prove that religion makes you crazy?
Anyone that would stand up and defend the paranoid judge should be sent in for a mental evaluation asap.
Can you spell Supreme Court appointment under a Romney/ Ryan administration complimented by a super majority in the House and Senate? Get your sinning done quick the daylight approaches.
RELIGION IS LIKE A PENIS!...It's fine to have one...it's fine to proud of it...
BUT – PLEASE don't WHIP it out in public and start waving it around, and PLEASE don't try to shove it down my children's OR anyone else's throats.
Outstanding. Now one of my new mantras. Thanks!
LOL ! 8O
Warning this may be due to a tongue alignment in cheek, but...
How does this all affect birthdays? Is Christmas really March 25? How exactly does that approxiamtely 9 months record in one's actual age. How does one possibly observe Conception day?
Are you a conservative republican teabagger who dislikes President Obama?
Well, here's some food for thought...
Life begins at conception? Why not before? A sperm and an egg are clearly living tissue, so wouldn't it be murder to expel these from the body? Shouldn't we lock up all non-celebate men and women who have periods? Kill a sperm or egg, go to jail, I say! That's no crazier than the Repugnant platform on abortion.
so when does is begin pray tell your highness?
Obviously, life begins when the sperm or egg is formed. So, don't go spilling any sperm unless you mean business!
Life is an ongoing chemical reaction that started a couple of billion years ago.
So you have your own definition of when it begins. and you are over here criticizing the other definitions?
ensense – My point is that it is just as valid to believe life begins at the moment an egg or sperm is formed as it is to believe like the Christers do. However, the evangelicals want to establish their definition in law and make everyone accept it. Then they want to penalize people who don't follow their religion-based law, turning the U.S. into a theocracy.
Then, of course, the evangelicals have never explained how their so-called "pro-life" position justifies letting poor kids go hungry and uneducated and then sends them off to die in one of George Bush's wars.
@ensense – are you having a seizure or something? Hardly anything you post makes sense or has anything to do with what you're responding to.
OK, can't resist.
First, countries don't have 'souls.' They're countries. Dirt, rocks, mountains, streams?
Second, nobody has ever been asked to 'Throw himself on his shield.' Sword, maybe? Perhaps this guy could try and read a book other than the Bible someday?
Incredible to me that these people have so much power in this country. Scary.
I don't know how a Christian would want to be associated with this twit. He must be smoking something, to make the comments he made. He should be fired.
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.