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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. david

    I hate the Christain right. They are rude, disprectful, arrognant, obnoxious, violent, selfish, mean, ignorant, dumb, irrational, bullies who want to tell eveyone how to live their life even when people are not breaking the law. Good riddance Christian right people. Priests, Ministers whatever.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  2. hank danger

    Atheist Hunter? Ha Ha Ha Ha...Come get me. I promise I wont hide. You wont have to hunt very hard. We are growing in numbers and hopefully within my life time I'll get to see the tables shift and the fall of christianity.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Would you be ok with a rise of loving, non-judgemental Christiany that followed the gospel message of loving your fellow human and helping those in need?
      It's the Christianity I was raised with.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • KeyWester

      Swing state voter: sure, do whatever you want, just don't try to impose it on anybody else. That's the point.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Jesus is my King

      Fall of christianity = never gonig to happen. whether you like it or not, Light will prevail over darkness and the glory of God will shine FOREVER

      November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Jesus is my King

      I dont understand why people are so opposed to a relationship with a savior who gives us the free gift of salvation... whether or not you beleieve it, God loves you and wants you to have a full joy and peace and salvation that only comes from him.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  3. Reasonably

    Oh please please please go away Christian Reich.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  4. chicago7

    Headline: "Is Christian Right's (political) influence over?"

    From your mouth to God's ears.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  5. flatpicker

    You can sit in the garage all day long and that does not make you a car. There were no Christians that voted for Obama.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Don't be ridiculous.

      75% of Americans are Christians. You can't get 50% of the vote unless a lot of Christians vote for you.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Real Christians voted for Obama.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      What he meant was no White Christians voted for Obama.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • flatpicker

      And they are christian because they say they are Christian ? Like I said, you can sit in the garage all day, that doesn't make you a car. Going to church once a year does not make you a christian. it's just lip service. It just really shows how immoral our country has become. Can't get much lower than we are right now. United Gutters of America.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      "And they are christian because they say they are Christian"

      If they believe themselves to be, yes. Who are you to judge who is a real Christian?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • MCR

      You just called the majority of the US black population fake Christians. You folks really know how to build a oalition.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • sam stone

      fatpicker: what time are you pointing to that was some moral utopia we have supposedly fallen from?

      when we could own other people?
      when women could not vote?
      when a husband could legally r-a-p-e his wife?

      tell us of your fantasy land

      November 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  6. Dave Jaipersaud

    Ha! Ha! – Romney/Ryan & the Republicans lost. What a bunch of losers. People saw through all the lies and nonsense they were selling. I hope the Republican learnt a lesson that the American people are not forgetful and stupid. We can remember clearly what happened when the Republicans were in charge of the White House.

    It was painful watching Fox News try to spin a major Republican loss into a major
    Republican win. All of their projections that Romney would win were dead wrong.
    It proves that Fox News has not credibility. Everyone of them. So for those folks who watch Fox News and listen to House and Senate Republicans and their surrogates spew
    their lies as gospel, this is a wake-up call. They are leading you down a losing
    path.

    Now we can continue to build and move this country forward

    November 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      It was funny watching the Fox News talking heads crow over any poll that favored Republicans, and come up with a thousand reasons not to believe those that didn't (which was most of them). The idea of scientific objectivity seems to be completely foreign to them, as is science itself.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  7. EnjaySea

    I have a message for the evangelical Christians who made a valiant attempt to impose their narrow-minded world view on America in 2012. Great campaign! Hope to see you again in 2016. Bye bye now!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • So What?

      These damned evangelicals with their sick and vile twisted religion of intolerance: Jesus NEVER said a thing about abortion or gays. That was the OT to the Jews and it does not apply to the NT. Love God and treat others well is greatly lost on these GOP religious people. The real Jesus is not who you think he is.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  8. tam

    I am receiving Facebook messages from a distant relative by marriage who has really gone off the deep end during the electon and now the election. She sounds like she can't handle the result. Photos of the President as Hitler, as a zombie, as the devil, as the anti-Christ, "he must be assassinated," him in the crosshairs, and on and on - such hate, such vile images. One of them comes from some WorldBaptist something or other. She is not creating these images, just passing them on. How many of these people are out there, and how disturbed are they? Just venting? That's all? I don't reply, I don't want to start something that won't end well. Is someone checking things like this, or is it "free speech"?

    November 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • tam

      I meant during the campaign and now the election.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Dave Harris

      We all know people like this. Most of them are harmless, and you'd never know from their public behavior that they're crazier than bedbugs. But you might drop a line to the Secret Service about this one.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Wow, if you find any of it offensive you can report it. That's just crazy. I wouldn't so much be worried about the ones claiming Obama to be the anti-christ or whatever fictitious character but the ones where assination is threatened is a little more curious...it only takes one of these whack-job believers to follow through.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • So What?

      Do what I did to some of them, unfriend them. People did it lots of times.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  9. hank danger

    Dear Christians,
    Shut up. Stop judging and controdicting every thing you say at every turn.
    The numbers are in, atheism is on the rise. Being Sheep is on the way out.
    Peace.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      I sure hope so.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  10. Apple Bush

    Good morning Topher. How many souls have you saved today my friend?

    November 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Topher

      Hey, Apple Bush. How's it going?

      None yet. Want to talk?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  11. Nate

    Jesus is the Son of God, I will die for this statement, but the only efective way to convey this message is through love. These laws can't harm the kingdom. The Holy Spirit is a big boy. Matthew 22 says Love God & Love Others. There were no other specifics. Just Love, and out of that love will manifest great joy for all nations.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Judas is my homeboy

      Then die already. The rest of us are tired of hearing about your imaginary lord.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Thomas Feline

      You can lead a Christian to reality, but you can't make him drink.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Oh Nate, yeah man I can totally dig that love vibe man. I am picking up what you are putting down brother. Love baby, just love. ah yeah.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron...If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed" (1 Timothy 4:1-2,6). Notice that Paul specifically exhorts that the brethren should be made aware of false teachings. Notice that he says "if you point these things out to the brethren, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus" (emphasis mine). So Paul is telling us that a "good minister of Christ Jesus" points out false teachings.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Finally, the true gospel message of loving your fellow man.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • KeyWester

      Atheist Hunter, yeah whatever.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Athiest Hunter, you come across just like the Pharisees Jesus talked about.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • chicago7

      Watch that big, broad paintbrush guys. I think we all have to understand that that, by "evangelicals," we're talking about a fundamentalist mentality unshared by most Christians. Outside the South anyway.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Vorgs

      I think the Beetles said that... Were they God's inspired prophets?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  12. ironman59

    This is very simple. The far right screams about government interference in their lives. Yet, they have no problem trying to make their flavor of religion & law of the land for everyone. The simple fact is that people are tired of having religion attempt to dictate every aspect of their lives. From birth control, abortion, adoption, how to live life all the way to whom to marry in a secular ceremony.

    This trend will continue because unlike past generations while times "changed" the level of education in the country stayed fairly static. You know have the 2nd generation of people assuming they will go to college and get higher education. Education in all of it's forms is the achille's heal of religion and fear. That is also why you see the far right trying to limit public education and access to higher education except for an elite few. It simply takes away their power to manipulate the masses.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  13. Sly

    Wow, lot's of 666. What is that anyway, some binary code or something? Football fan counting Chicago Bears TD's last week?

    Oh well, I must be missing something.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • It'slike this

      It's the same person who does the "prayer changes things" troll posts. Who is also just sayin, captian america, truth be told, and a number of other angry, bitter, feculent dingbats.

      Please don't feed the trolls.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  14. Dave Jaipersaud

    Ha! Ha! – Romney/Ryan & the Republicans lost. People saw through all the lies and nonsense they were selling.

    It was painful watching Fox News try to spin a major Republican loss into a major Republican win. All of their projections that Romney would win were dead wrong. It proves that Fox News has not credibility. Everyone of them. So for those folks who watch Fox News and listen to House and Senate Republicans and their surrogates spew their lies as gospel, this is a wake-up call. They are leading you down a losing path.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I almost never watch Fox News but when CNN projected the reelection of the President, I checked all the networks.

      Even after the off-camera, genuine experts at Fox declared our President's reelection, Karl Rove was still trying to make a case that Ohio would magically swing back to Rmoney. Hannity kept asking "how could this happen?" The atmosphere of denial was palpable.

      Then not much later, the pundits turned on Mittens like there was blood in the water. It was quite an ugly spectacle.

      My response to the Fox telecast after 8:00pm? Schadenfreude.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  15. Havildar

    The so called conservative right wing Christians seem to have forgotten Jesus Christ's words. Being a Christian means that you would pay a fair wage to all who works for you. As CEO of a Business you would make sure your employees have not only a decent Wage & Benefits but also a Pension in their Old Age.
    No where in the Bible does it say that getting rich is the main goal for a Christian. This world's wealth has no place in Heaven. We are born NUDE and leave this world Nude.
    In fact the "poor" have a special place in Heaven where the "rich" are not able to go. (Also Poor does NOT mean poor in spirit that is a corruption of that word by the conservatives Christians).

    November 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Souljacker

      This is exactly true, and unfortunately, a lot of folks have lost sight of this goal. The Word has been perverted, and it's sad.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  16. pam

    If God would have wanted Romney to win and ban gay marriage and abortion, He would have made it happen. God has spoken, people. Time to move on.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      God has given you what your evil souls wanted. Let's see how you deal with the consequences without Him!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Judas is my homeboy

      Life is great without your god. So there.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      We Christians LOVE to sell fear.

      Fear fear FEAR!

      We don't have facts or evidence or truth or anything like that, just fear.

      SO BE AFRAID!!!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • JesusFreak

      Not true. God will allow things to happen. He wants us all to turn to him, not things of this world.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      I'm the lord. For I have voted.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Atheist Hunter,

      Either your god does not exist.....he doesn't agree with what you think he does....or he is impotent.

      (hint, it is the first option)

      November 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Let's see how you deal with the consequences without Him!"

      Get back on your knees, b!tch

      November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  17. Shake

    People! The election is over...already. Go outside! I need to use the internet to look at something important.

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

    Boy do I look like an idiot today. I think I'll act like a cat that just fell into the toilet – I'll just pretend it didn't happen.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Topher

      Why do you feel the need to steal my name and what am I supposed to feel like an idiot about?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      I suppose your lack of logic would be a good start real Topher

      November 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  19. JesusFreak

    It's not that "Christians" are shoving their beliefs down anyone's throat, it's that what the bible says is the truth and the way, and when we start to accept "gays" just because it's the nice thing to do, it is not the right thing to do, and NO WHERE in the bible does it say that, rather the bible says man and woman Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it. Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. Genesis 2:22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman and brought her unto the man. 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh. No where in the bible does it talk about man and man or woman and woman. This has nothing NOTHING to do with "Christianity" but rather the WORD OF GOD HIMSELF, anyone who thinks different is rejecting the Word for the LORD GOD himself.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • JesusFreak

      Gosh my grapes are really extra sour today!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Oneironaut

      Good thing we live in democratic republic that separates church and state and not a fundamentalist Christian theocracy!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Judas is my homeboy

      God doesn't exist. The bible is a book of fairy tales. Believe what you want and shut the fvck up about your non existent savior.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • So THAT'S where that rib went!

      I was pressing down on my lower chest, and I said to my wife, "Hey, do you have a hole here on your torso like I do?'

      She said, "No, I have a rib there"

      And I said, "Huh, wonder why you have one more rib than I do."

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

      Thanks Jesus Freak for your comments.

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

      The Bible is not an authoritative document. And this comment is inspired by God, therefore it's true. EnjaySea 1:1

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

      the bible is a fairy tale for adults, accept it and grow up.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • hank danger

      Barf. This is a pile of bigotry. Humans are godless but not lawless animals that should have the right to love and be with whomever they choose. To say that being gay isn't right is a terrible thing to say.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • ConsiderThis

      Your religion isn't my religion. Your religion isn't the religion of the United States. This is not a theocracy. Religion is not the guiding principle of a country that has freedom of religion, which includes freedom FROM religion. Just because you have some stupid book that says something is wrong, doesn't mean its true. The bible has absolutely no place in governing this country. If you want a theocracy, move to Iran.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Jonathan

      It doesn't matter what the bible says....it's fiction......read Matthew 27:52-53, total fiction.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Jane2u

      If I don't believe in a 'Lord God', then why would I believe in 'his' word? What if I believe in a merciful 'Goddess' or perhaps just Mother Nature?

      You sound like religious zealot -pretty much along the lines of those Muslim fanatics.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Souljacker

      And then Jesus was among us and he threw out the Old Testament for His version, that gave us a lot more leniency. He knew that humans were not perfect, and we constantly battle our nature. He then sacrificed himself at great pain so that through him we might be saved and be with Him in His kingdom.

      Stop picking apart Bible verses and talk to Jesus. He'll show you the way.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • It's that what the bible says is the truth !

      and the way, and when we start to accept "gays" just because it's the nice thing to do, it is not the right thing to do..."

      Well, THERE's an air-tight argument.

      Darn, what can I do but surrender to Aristotlean logic when I see it and leave the field in shame.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • b

      Actually, there are references in the bible to gay activities and GOD condemns them.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      Santa Clause is making a list...

      It takes some loss of reality and brain power to think the Bible has some supernatural message in it. You have to be raised into thinking that ghosts and magic exist.

      Let's all go back to worshipping Zeues. At least his stories had action, romance, and adventure! Jesus is boring and church smells like old people.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  20. Sane Person

    Christianity is dying out and losing its power in society. And it's ABOUT F***ING TIME!

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

      Keep dreaming. Satan will wake you up soon!

      November 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • me

      Christianity is actually experiencing a rise. And Christian aren't the problem here, our government has caused our problems by thinking of their own agendas more then that of the people. You think all Christians are to blame look again those who call themselves Christian in the government never walk that talk. So, your hate is seen and heard but that's all it is.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I'm so sorry, Atheist Hunter, but I don't believe in Satan (or Santa for that matter). You seem to be very familiar with the fellow however, since you appear to know how he thinks, and what he's going to do next.

      Oh wait. Maybe you're just making it all up, and just wish that your scary, scary, evil red lizard would come out and vanquish all your enemies. That's probably it.

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

      Me – In regard to your statement that "our government has caused our problems by thinking of their own agendas more then that of the people". The government is supposed to represent ALL of the "people" regardless of religion. That is THEIR proper agenda. Of course they are not helping advance a "christian" agenda even if they follow that religion personally. You can't impose your spiritual beliefs on the rest of the populace. period.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:26 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.