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November 7th, 2012
08:21 AM ET

Election results raise questions about Christian right's influence

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) – For many conservative Christian leaders, it was a nightmare scenario: Barack Obama decisively re-elected. Same-sex marriage adopted by voters in some states. Rigorously anti-abortion candidates defeated in conservative red states.

On multiple levels, Tuesday’s election results raised questions about the Christian right’s agenda on American politics, eight years after the movement helped sweep President George W. Bush into a second term and opened the era of state bans on same-sex marriage.

“For the first time tonight, same-sex marriage has been passed by popular vote in Maine and Maryland,” said Robert P. Jones, a Washington-based pollster who specializes in questions about politics and religion.

“The historic nature of these results are hard to overstate,” Jones said. “Given the strong support of younger Americans for same-sex marriage, it is unlikely this issue will reappear as a major national wedge issue.”

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Some conservative evangelical leaders echoed that line. Albert Mohler, who heads the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said on Twitter that votes for same-sex marriage suggested that “we are witnessing a fundamental moral realignment of the country.”

A Tuesday ballot measure to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state is still pending. In Minnesota, voters rejected a Tuesday measure that would have banned same-sex marriage there.

Thirty-eight states have banned same-sex marriage, mostly via constitutional amendments.

Obama’s victory also raised questions about the Christian right's influence in the electorate.

Though evangelical leaders as diverse as the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land and Christian icon Billy Graham voiced support for Mitt Romney (Graham stopped short of an official endorsement), Obama performed better among white evangelicals than he did in 2008 in some states.

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In swing state Ohio, exit polls showed that Obama got 30% support among white evangelicals. While that’s hardly a victory, it’s better than the 27% support Obama got among those voters four years ago.

Before the election, many evangelical leaders predicted that opposition to Obama over his support for abortion rights, his personal endorsement of same-sex marriage and his vision of government as a force for good would trump reservations evangelicals had about Romney’s past social liberalism and his Mormon faith.

“There is no evidence in voting patterns that President Obama's 'evolution' on same-sex marriage cost him anything,” Mohler said in another tweet Tuesday night.

Obama also narrowly won Catholics, even after the U.S. Catholic bishops waged a rigorous campaign against the Obama administration around the issue of religious liberty. The bishops alleged Obama was forcing Catholics to violate their own teachings by making health insurance companies provide free contraception coverage for virtually all employees.

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John Green, a religion and politics expert at the University of Akron, said Obama’s win among Catholics was partly a testament to the growing Latino demographic.

“Maybe Hispanic Catholics were not as moved by religious liberty-type arguments as by immigration and economics,” he said.

Unlike in 2004, when John Kerry a former altar boy lost Catholic voters, the Obama campaign had a robust religious outreach program aimed largely at Catholic and evangelical voters. The effort included videos from Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, a Catholic, talking about their Christian faith.

Obama's success among some religious demographics also illustrated how economic issues, as opposed to culture war concerns, dominated the election cycle.

The defeat Tuesday of two Republican Senate candidates who made national headlines with anti-abortion remarks also raised questions about the Christian right’s power.

In Missouri, U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, who in August walked back his remark that "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," lost his bid to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat.

Akin’s campaign became a national cause for conservative Christian activists after the Republican Party abandoned the candidate and encouraged him to drop out over his abortion remark.

In Indiana, Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock lost his race against Democrat Joe Donnelly after saying last month that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen.”

Conservative Christians did claim some victories Tuesday night, including helping the GOP retain control of the U.S. House of Representatives and helping elect tea party favorite Ted Cruz as a U.S. senator from Texas.

Ralph Reed, the leader of conservative group the Faith & Freedom Coalition, planned a Wednesday morning press conference to release his data about what he called the enduring influence of “values voters.”

“Preliminary evidence is they turned out and they voted heavily for Romney,” Reed said in an e-mail message Tuesday night.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (4,434 Responses)
  1. Paul

    Christian right nominated a heathen polygamist cult Mormon

    November 7, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  2. God's Oldest Dreamer

    Godliness is upon the top-niche and manliness is the ladder on which to reach the top-niche.

    Love Lettuce,
    Let Us Love,
    G.O.D.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Primewonk

      Even now you ignorant fundiot nutters demonstrate your misogyny.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  3. AGeek

    We can only hope that the Religious Right has been put in their place. Ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, and hatred have no place in a modern society.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Black kettles are black inside and out. It is not so much the kettle holding the soup but the fire underneath the kettle that makes hot the juices!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  4. TheVocalAtheist

    I would like to thank Science and Technology for its contribution in developing an infrastructure that allows the exchange of information and ideas, the Internet. If not for its existence this election may have gone in a different direction.

    I know it can be difficult at times to discern good information from useless but at least we have the platform to research and come to reasonable conclusions to what could be plausible. However, there still remains a segment of people that deny or refute the veracity of good information. What possibly could be their agenda? To suppress the true and unleash absurdities is an abhorrent abuse of our newly invented social network. In light of this being obviously meaningless and wrong, at least we have the ability now to actual interact and question and offer fact finding and rebuttals to the false discourse that is rampant in these so-called extremists. These are the people that denounce progress, fabricate and distort history while all the while using the mere technology they are so adamantly against. And thanks to this invention, we can clearly and intelligently see the indignity that perverts our many attempts to move to a more peaceful and productive environment for humanity, our planet and to the lives that we so preciously have the unique possession of.

    Thank you to the men and women that have the drive in their DNA (we know you can't help it) to be scientists. We couldn't do it without you!

    November 7, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Supressions are the lures of aggressions in either cases of populist applicabilities.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 7, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • AGeek

      Please provide an example that can be reliably repeated. Thank you.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Amanda

      I agree! At least religion gives you boundaries to interact with kindness and respect in society something it seems we are lacking these days. People are getting WAY to ignorant and rude.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayer-bot.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  6. Hessian

    Keep in mind that Mormons are more willing to vote Christian Republican than other way around. That is part of Christian right's biggest mistake: unwilling to form alliance or bloc with people with differing belief. There are evanglists who refused to support Romney because he is a Mormon but Mormon historically vote for Republician. Evanglists have problems looking at a long-term implication.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  7. Perrochato

    The extremism of the Christian Fundamentalists parallel the Taliban. Their trademark positions on women's issues, abortion, insistence on intrusion of religion into government and the denial of science are their trademarks, welcome to the stoneage, but it's your stoneage not ours. Keep your religion in your pocket, think of it like being a vampire, if your not invited into the house, you can't come in.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  8. Shiloh

    When it comes to government and life in general, the individual and the rights of the individual should be a major factor. The Christian Right has beentrying to put people back into the dark ages with a ludicrous and antiquated belief system. Common sense and a sense of right and wrong is a better inspiration to the people than any dogma that any religion has ever been able to offer, whereas a mass belief system inspires fear and narrow mindedness. Remember the witch and book burnings in our not so distant past. It is good to see people thinking for themselves again instead of letting a narrow minded majority do it for them. The results of this election show there is still hope for the country.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  9. united ?

    I'm glad to see everyone is working toward uniting as our president proposes. I won't shove my religious beliefs down anyone’s throat and I would request the same curtsy from others who are not religious. It’s sad to see such hatred on both sides and we should all be ashamed. The one thing that has made this country so successful economically, in winning world wars, and affording freedom is our unity. If we lose that and we have lost why this country was started.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Apple Bush

      If you are religious, you are necissarly an idiot. Doesn't mean I can't work with you, but your dumb. dumby dumb dumb.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Amanda

      Apple Bush you are an idiot your words do nothing.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  10. niknak

    It is another beautiful day without god(s), and even more beautiful that it is WITHOUT Mitt!

    November 7, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      R'amen!

      November 7, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Cup Noodle

      Udon!

      November 7, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • End Religion

      It is a beautiful day!

      November 7, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Amanda

      At least people w religion have morals.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • niknak

      Really Amanda?

      How moral were the xtians who were bringing in all those slaves, then lynching them after slavery was over?
      How moral were the xtians who burned witches at the stake?
      How moral were the same xtians who stole all the Indian's land, then wiped them out?
      How moral were the xtians who blew up the federal building in Oak City?
      Tell us about the morals of the xtians who kill abortion doctors?
      Please unlighten us about the morals of most of your leaders in the GOP who have gone thru multiple divorces.

      I could go on, but I think even you get the point.
      Just because you believe in the sky fairy, does not give you or you religious people any more morals then anyone else.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • /0\

      Amanda, you're right. So, wanna screw?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  11. Hey, and where's that Hundu Lies False Religion guy?

    Shouldn't he be showing up here soon?

    November 7, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Hindu sandwich ism

      According to book of potted plants Fern sim, sun light ism, Green thumb, seed labels, potted plants oxygen loving Fertilizer sprouted in to new blooms else on front of tree parasite, at last rainfall Fertilizer looked at Sun lamp and smiled and growth was answered by Sun lamp, Fertilizer kissed soil, Fertilizer turned in to Sun lamp, and Sun lamp turned in to Fertilizer, ONE ON windlow shelf WAS NOT FERTILIZER BUT SUN LAMP, EVERY potted plants, hippie follower of potted plants Fern ism, sun light ism waters to as his Fern, sun light man potted plant. Visit GreenThumb.com to learn potted plantsism, partial light of grow lamp absolute plant food, by potted plants parasites.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • End Religion

      I can't imagine the Herculean effort it takes to professionally heckle that dude day after day. I envision it cannot be one person but rather a team of people. Some non-profit somewhere doing us all a favor by crafting humourous heckles for that Hindu-hating whack-a-doodle.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Hindu heckle ism

      No man, it is not that hard. I have a system.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • LIES, HINDU SANDWICH-ISM, ALL LIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      IT IS BACK OF TREE PARASITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOT ON FRONT.

      MAY YOUR CHILDRENS' CHILDREN BE BORN WITH WOLVERINE HEADS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  12. Jesus is my King

    All I am going to say, is that as a follower of Jesus, I pray for each and everyone of you that you would meet my Jesus and know his hope, love, joy and peace someday. If I am wrong, o well, when I die I will be buried in the ground and cease to exist, and be remembered as a girl who loved others, and shared the love of her Jesus with others... but if I am right (and I am), I will live in HIS glory forever... I would love to meet you all in heaven someday. No matter how much you all bash christians, Jesus WILL reign forever, and His Glory WILL prevail over all of the earth! For real, what is wrong with living with good morals, values, and believing there is more to life than what is here... Earth is the closest I will get to hell and the closest you will get to heaven... why not just be better safe than sorry and give your life to him!

    November 7, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Huebert

      Typical christian post. Pascal's Wager followed by proxy threats. Do you all share a template or something?

      November 7, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Tread carefully. These words will anger the true Gods. Do not worship your false idol of Jesus. The Gods have elected Obama to punish the believers of the false religion of Christianity. You risk your soul and an afterlife of torment. Repent and turn to Zeus!

      November 7, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Larry Barry

      Prayer flopped miserably yesterday, and you tell us about prayer? Hilarious!

      We don't want your threats, and we don't want your condescention.

      That is what the majority said to you yesterday.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Ben

      I suspect a Muslim would tell me much the same thing

      November 7, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Amanda

      Jesus is the true king

      November 7, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • niknak

      Not once have any of us "bashed" christians.
      We just don't believe in your hypothesis of describing our natural universe.
      And we would not even think about you religious people IF you all would just keep to yourselves and not try to force your beliefs on us.
      But that is not acceptable to you.
      You want us all to follow you and howl at the moon too.
      You are trying to insert your god(s) into our secular government. And you also want tax exempt status for that.
      I am not interested in meeting your jesus, or your god. Neither does my family.
      Stop trying to force us.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • tallulah13

      You really don't "know" you're right. You believe you are right. Big difference. And Amanda? The United States has no king.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • dan

      You got your religion in my politics tab. Keep your beliefs to yourself please and I promise to do the same

      November 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Get Real

      the republican party better get off the Religion, Abortion and Gay topics – it's the third rail for them now. as a right leaning independant i want small Gov. Strong Military, measured spending. What I find funny is the fact that republicans want to get rid of abortion, but also take away gov support for those same babies – interesting. Get off of the social issues, the majority of america doesn't want your morality shoved down their throats – or get used to loosing.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Pascal's Gambit again!

      Seriously! Do they not teach basic logic in whatever fundiot nutter education program you attend?

      Oh...Wait...Nevermind.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Philipp

      There is nothing WRONG with believing in an afterlife or Jesus. What is wrong however, is trying to get religion and politics to mix. First off, when there are multiple religions and cultures like there are in America, there is bound to be fights and problems. Just look at the countries the world over where religion is intertwined with the government. Like Iran, Pakistan and Yemen. These are horrible places to live. A much better solution is to keep church and state separate. No one in America is saying you cannot go to church and they never will. We don’t even tax churches.

      Like the religious right says to gays, “I don’t mind them but I wish they would keep it to themselves” should apply to religious people also. Keep it to yourself.

      And finally, stop with the” I have morals and you don’t talk”. I never attend church but I’ll bet my morals are stronger than any of you churchgoers, period.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  13. jvance

    Christianity will be a continuing influence on how we do business in the US. But mainly as a moral guidepost, because if everyone lived by the basic principles of Christianity the country would be a lot better off.
    But trying to legislate for specific doctrinal positions from the different denominations is probably a thing of the past. The millenial demographic will never have it and I don't see a expansion of stringent, politically-active Christians in the future.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • oshptest

      This is the most reasonable thing I have read on the interwebs today. Thank you, sir.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • big brother

      Christianity has proven that it is no longer the moral guide post. Instead it is entrenched with hatred of those who choose not to belong to your club of bigots.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  14. Shake

    This...is the greatest day.....of my LIFE! The stupid election is over and now I can relax and enjoy my favorite show on TV, The Geriatric Vampire!

    November 7, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  15. Would everybody please "report abuse" on the 666 troll?

    It probably won't work, but give it a try.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Amanda

      I just did, whoever that is is an idiot.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • jvance

      I didn't even recognize it at first, I thought I had a computer glitch.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  16. cc

    There's a huge difference between those who call themselves Christian – which is the majority of evangelicals – and the true genuine Church of Jesus Christ. Be very careful who you call Christian. The true Church of Jesus Christ is alive and well but be very careful not to confuse the Lowly and contrite of heart with those that brag and boast of who they represent.

    22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

    Wake Up!

    November 7, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Apple Bush

      "Be very careful who you call Christian"

      LOL, I am going to run all over town today pointing at random people and call them Christian, then sit back a wait for.....wait for.....LOL

      November 7, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • jvance

      Well stated.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Amanda

      Amen.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  17. irunner

    "What gods do you pray to?"
    "I pray to the Four Winds. And you?"
    "To Krom. But I seldom pray to him. He doesn't listen."

    November 7, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Yes, but your god, lives underneath mine.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Bob-just Bob

      I've found when I tell him to go to hell, I get his attention.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  18. wooo hooo

    I love Jesus, he changed my life when I was lost and when nothing else could fill the void. I owe everything to him and would never turn back to my unbelieving mentality.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Bob-just Bob

      A genuine and profound psychological transformation for the better. Never underestimate the power of religion. Hard for many of us to suspend disbelief and buy into it, though.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • The Truth

      Much like the stone in the story of the stone soup, Jesus was not the main ingredient that made it all work, you are the one who added all the flavor and substance to your life. Yes, he may have been the benign beginning of your soup, the catalyst you used to rally hope in your own life, but the reality is any catalyst would do...

      November 7, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  19. oshptest

    Why did the Tea Party have to hijack the Republican party, anyway? Why not just form their own party and win or lose based on their own merits? I know lots of reasonable Republicans. I feel bad that their party is being hijacked in this way. Maybe it's finally run its course and the tea party people will get run out of hte party.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Larry Barry

      Why did moderate Republicans let themselves be bullied and dominated by the Tea Party for a while? The Tea Party would have failed long ago if people weren't voting their way.

      But this election hammered them. They had no candidate survive the primaries, and their Senatorial candidates lost the Senate for Republicans.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  20. Gerald West

    Please stop calling that bunch of hate-mongers the Christian Right! Call them the "Christian Wrong". Better yet, call them the "latter-day Pharisees", after a bunch of judgmental, self-righteous hypocrites who do not acknowledge or practice the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • big brother

      you are so right!

      November 7, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • The Truth

      I like it Gerald!! No more GOP, they are the LDP!! The Latter Day Pharisees ride again!!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
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About this blog

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.