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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 (4,433 Responses)
  1. toydrum

    The so-called "Christian right" political movement has amply demonstrated to most of God's children that they were neither Christian, nor right. Their intolerant, judgemental and just plain mean speech and behavior is far from the love that Christ modeled for his followers.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  2. Martin

    The Republican Party nowadays is like an old Grandpa that has started to lose his mind, you start listening to something they are saying and go yeah he has experience I’ll listen to him. Then half way through you start feeling embarrassed by all the craziness he’s spilling out and you just go well grandpa that’s great but I really have to go and on the way out you think to yourself man he really lost his mind, I don’t think I’ll come over to visit often anymore.. lol

    November 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Since 33 AD

      "Remember your leaders (elders), who spoke the word of God. Consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith."

      November 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • LittleHero

      Republican party = Grandpa Simpson

      November 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  3. Atheist Hunter

    I'm trying as hard as I can to spin my humiliation into some kind of perverse victory, but I just can't seem to find the right sophistry.

    Can anyone help me?

    November 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  4. mama k

    Thomas Jefferson – 3rd POTUS.

    I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and state.

    (A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785, delivered to the Virginia General Assembly)

    I believe the eight Virginia-born presidents and their wives would be satisfied with the outcome of this election.
    I also believe the new coat of blue paint that covered Virginia when the President was first elected will last a long time.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • mama k

      Correction for source – should be: (Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, January 1, 1802)

      November 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  5. Watching in NC

    "... (Obama's) vision of government as a force for good ..."

    So conservative Christians would feel better if he proposed using government to step on the downtrodden and further abuse the marginalized? What this comes down to is anything that is not "pay less taxes" is seen as evil, no matter what it involves or who it helps. Conservative Christians have completely lost touch with Jesus' message. And as for Catholics feeling threatened by Obama's position on contraceptives, with the exception of laity on the extreme like those who align themselves with groups like Opus Dei, this was all about the church hierarchy's views ... the majority of rank-n-file American Catholics have no problem with, and actively use, contraceptives themselves.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Open your mouth and down the hatch contraceptives destroy God's building workers' scaffolding and sends God's building workers home with pay of course.

      1Cr 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  6. Dave

    The Christian Wrong (they can hardly be called "right") has sabotaged Americans for far too long. If they choose to preach politics, tax their churches.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  7. whitepine

    It's simple. The Christian rights is constantly preaching suppression and negativity. Some group is always bad and going to hell. What they should be preaching is hope and positive thinking. Learn to appreciate your neighbor, work with a diversity of people, views and culture. Give people a reason to enjoy life and each other here on earth.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  8. Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

    It is a great day when God's Own Party loses. Sorry GOP until you kick the religo nuts to the curb...get used to this. More and more of us will leave for a 3rd party which will only weaken you.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  9. Forward

    "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."Mahatma Gandhi Love is binding. How do we work together when hate is unmasked?

    November 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  10. William Demuth

    Jeebus just blasted the Guatamalans

    Why is he angry at them?

    Plus the market is TANKING people.

    Head for the hills, Jeebus is coming, and man is he cranky!

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

      Hi William, where have you been?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Dodging hurricanes dude!

      Sandy blasted the Shore.

      Amazing stuff, and next a blizzard!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      William Demuth........he's been reading your posts. Explains a lot!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Which God?

      Jeebus is coming? Oh, I thought he was just breathing hard, (not).

      November 7, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      The election did not cause the market to tank, William.

      Refocusing on the budget (and the fiscal cliff) and Europe's debt crisis is the cause. The first would have happened no matter who was elected (given that the Dem senate and Rep house didn't change, as no one expected them to, anyway) The latter , also, would have affected us anyway.

      Don't believe me if you must. But I'm the one with Bloomberg newfeed on the bigscreen across the room from me every working day.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  11. mama k

    James Madison – 4th POTUS, and chief architect of the U.S. Constitution:

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.

    (A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785, delivered to the Virginia General Assembly)

    I believe the eight Virginia-born presidents and their wives would be satisfied with the outcome of this election.
    I also believe the new coat of blue paint that covered Virginia when the President was first elected will last a long time.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  12. Sheila

    The top 3 things the GOP should do right now are:

    1) PR campaign – identify and advertise successful 1rst/2nd generation capitalists – espec. women and people of color

    2) stop tacitly promoting the notion that 'less than far right, toe the party line' folks are not real republicans and don't count

    3) empower the politicians you helped get elected by allowing them to sit at the table with the dems and get on with doing the job we the people expect them to do

    November 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Top three things the Dems should do right now.

      1 Start a war in Iran, but send only Fundies to fight it.
      2 Tax the Churches
      3 Relocate Gay and Muslim colonies into the deep south

      November 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Souljacker

      I absolutely agree Sheila. I like a lot of things that the Republicans stand for, and I would have voted for Romney if it weren't for two key issues:

      1. The war on women. Mysogyny has to stop. It just has to stop.
      2. The open disdain and dismissal of all minority groups as irrelevant (including LGBT and the Latino community).

      If they get on board with the rest of the nation on these two issues, I can see myself voting one of their businessmen into office in four years to help get the economy under control. However, those two issues are dealbreakers for me, and obviously for the rest of the country as well. Barack Obama might be strugging to get the business side of the country back under control, but there's no way I will sacrifice my rights as a woman just to see a few jobs come back faster. The price is too high.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Primewonk

      @ Souljacker – the problem is that a country is not a business. When Rommney was governor, Massachusetts ranked 47th in new job creation.

      If someone like Romney wins president, what happens to the southern states? After all, these states are getting back more in fecderal aid than they pay in – in some instances double or more. In a business model, these would be let go. Can we "fire" Mississippi? Maybe they would outsource them? Have Alabama now report to Brazil?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      @William

      The first idea is possible. The other two... Unlikely as long as the religious right has a hold on the party. Religious ideologues brook no compromise. It's the same thing as – you don't believe literally as I do, therefore you aren't a 'real' christian. You don't have a problem with hom0s3xuals, therefore you aren't a 'real' christian.... and on and on.

      And I doubt they'd jettison the religious right.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  13. Apple Bush

    @Amanda

    Wipe the sleep out or your eyes, take your morning pee pee, eat a bagle and then go to church and discuss your fantasies with other deluded idiots there. You can all talk about how moral you are.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Apple Bush,

      Afternoon AB! My pick was the right one even though as I told you last night I didn't vote! My psychic abilities are astounding! Not that this matters.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Morning GOD. Well I did vote, and I voted for Obama. It was a good night.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      :-)

      November 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  14. Bill Douglas

    Sorry folks the hand basket to Hell if full and over flowing. The way our Western Society is heading we are in the process of building lots more. The Rise is over and the decline is in full swing!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Ben

      Our Western society will be just fine without illiterate christian bigots

      November 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • JPX

      Bill Douglas, you sound like a nut-job. What in the world are you talking about? I think we will be just fine without your silly "gods".

      November 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • That's BillBull

      Hitler loved the "Western civilization is in decline" lie too. So did Lenin and a lot of other dingbats.

      You see, the only people who ever say that have an extremist agenda they are trying to force upon their country. The reality is that this is actually a great time to be alive in Western civilization. Freedoms are high, the state of medical care is far better than any time in the past, prosperity is surprisingly broad-based (did you know that lower income people today would have been considered almost rich just a century or two ago?).

      Western civilization is doing fine. You only say that because you are selling fear to foist a political agenda on the world.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Drummergrl

      This is why Romney did not win..get the religious wack jobs out of politics...

      November 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  15. waitasec

    it was gods will...

    November 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Topher

      Absolutely right.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • BRC

      @waitasec,
      that's a good point. Shouldn't true evenagelicals look at this and say "Okay, Obama is who God wants, so let's see what he has to say"? There are a number of Christian groups that believe that "God" has a direct and guiding hand in all that happens on Earth. If that's the case, doesn't that mean that "God" wanted Obama to win?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Topher

      God's will and what God wants are not necessarily the same.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • You must be kidding

      Topher, that was super extra stupid, even for you.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Souljacker

      It sure was. As I drove home from work last night I looked toward the sky and spoke to Jesus. I said to Him, "It's all in your hands now, where this nation goes. I'll be ok with whatever you decide." The next morning, I saw a resounding victory for Barack Obama, and I knew that Jesus Himself has had enough of the hateful things spoken in His name.

      It's over.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Topher

      What's super extra stupid about it?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Which God?

      Topher, just how the hell did you come up with that statement? "God's will and what God wants are not necessarily the same." Will is where the the want is. If you want something, you will it. If you will something, it's beacause you WANT it. Your goD just proved itself IMPOTENT. You are seriously twisted in your logic.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Which God?

      Still waiting for your reply, topher.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Topher

      Well, God would certainly want us to choose to support Biblical principles, but could have willed the opposite to result because it sets something else into motion for good.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  16. And it's all over now, baby red

    The Religious Right – D.O.A.

    The Tea Party – Dead and buried in the primaries, tried to go zombie with the senate, but received Zombie Rule #2: Double Tap

    The Mormon Political Onslaught – Brain dead on life support, goes flatline when Prop 8 dies in the Supreme Court.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  17. W.G.

    As a Christian I just couldn´t and wouldn´t vote for a Mormon . Mr. Obama says he´s a Christian
    and I take him at his word . The Bible says to look at the fruit of the tree . Mr Obama is trying to
    take care of the old , the sick and the poor . Romney said he wouldn´t . He´s trying to end wars
    and bring murderers to justice . Romney said he wouldn´t do that . The Christian Conservatives
    have villified single Moms and children and even men that are down and out and calling them
    "Welfare Thieves " . Mr. Obama understands that sometimes we fall . About abortion and being
    gay . Yeah the Bible says that´s wrong But what did "W"Bush or any of he GOP predecessors
    ever do about abortin ? Nothing . "W"Bush´s vice-president had an openly gay daughter but nobody
    would´vr dares to confront Chenney about that . Romney wa famous for not answering questions
    about certain tax years when any honest man with nothing to hide would´ve . These !Pulpit P/ mps"
    are just Bullies they point the finger at who they want to and then keep living in multi million dollar
    houses and drive expensive cars and wear the best clothes and jewlry . I don´t knock anybodies
    success but the way they live is just OBSENE . Mr. Obama understands that he´s not just a president
    for Christians , but is a president to us all America .

    November 7, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      "As a Christian I just couldn´t and wouldn´t vote for a Mormon"
      .
      Christians sent that message loud and clear to Romney the White Horse Prophecy

      November 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Topher

      Yes, I'd be very curious to see the "born again" voting numbers in comparisons to the last couple of elections.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • We MEANT to lose miserably!!!!!

      Really

      November 7, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Joe

      W.G. I believe you just voted for a Muslim disguised as a Christian. Don't take my word for that just yet but he will eventually reveal that. How about doing a youtube on Jeremiah Wright and watch some of the sermons he listened to for 20 years. That is far from Christianity.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • pmo34

      I agree with your support of President Obama, but I can't agree with your decision making process. As deeply personal as religion is, it has no place in a governing body, and should have no influence on government elections.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  18. mama k

    James Madison – 4th POTUS, and chief architect of the U.S. Constitution:

    What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.

    (A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785, delivered to the Virginia General Assembly)

    I believe the eight Virginia-born presidents and their wives would be satisfied with the outcome of this election.
    I also believe the new coat of blue paint that covered Virginia when the President was first elected will last a long time.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  19. W.

    Hey David, I read the bible page by page... every time I ran out of the Charmin.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  20. Atheist Hunter

    swing state voter.........maybe, lets start with giving the children their right to life. I would call that love and caring. Then we can give our children their right to a Godly family that can actually grow and create them further biological family. I would also call that love and caring. Depriving children of live and mother's and father's is anything but love and caring. It is sinful evil adults worshiping self! The hatefulness comes from the hands that shed their innocent blood and don't care if they feel pain or not. The hatefulness is twisting the mind of a child who see's dad make out with dad #2 and never has a real sibling because it is humanly impossible for dad and dad to make kids. Hateful is teaching children to hate a God who gave them life and loves them more than any of you ever will or could!

    November 7, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Ben

      sorry man, the culture war is over. You guys lost. Go die in a corner somewhere

      November 7, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • midwest rail

      You don't read much, do you ?

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

      Ben you go to hell.

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

      Sorry Kelsey, no such place.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      You should worry about your own body and worry about your own marriage and let others worry about theirs.

      Who appointed you god?
      Oh, that's right... no one.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • ARV

      When every straight couple adopts every child sitting in a foster home or adoption agency then maybe you can start arguing about not letting gay parents adopt. Typical conservative hypocrysy....less government intrusion except of course the gov't backs my moral beliefs.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Wowzers!!! What you said made absolutely no sense. You seem to have a real hate on for reality. I gather from your delusional ranting that you are referring to abortion and same gender relationships.
      Your opinion doesn't matter on these topics. What you're not comprehending is that your book of fables can't be used to make any law in your country and therefor what it says in it doesn't matter in the real world. Science has already clarified that being gay is natural and that trumps your belief any day (denying the facts to suit your belief, doesn't make them less real). We further know that most abortions can't be held past the end of the first tri-mester when the fetus is the size of your thumb and could not survive outside of the womb. If you want to argue for your imaginary friend here, we should start with the fact that 50% of all children do not make it to adulthood-your imaginary friend is apparently a child killer. What about all those pregnancies that end in miscarriage? That alone makes your imaginary friend the biggest 'baby' killer around. What about all those eggs that are never implanted or the millions of sperm never utilized?
      Do you not ever think about what the hell you are saying and how absolutely moronic it makes you look???

      November 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Amber

      You have a very negative, judgmental opinion of the people you described in your post – very, very sad and discouraging.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      Compassion toward others is hardly an attribute one associates with Christians these days, and certainly not this poster. Does anyone think he cares about unborn children, or anyone else? His whole schtick is imagining that he's better than somebody, which he clearly is not. You'd think these people would stay under their rock for at least a day after their stunning defeat.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:17 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.