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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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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. JesusIsTheWay

    Thank you God for sending your Son to die on the cross for our sins, so we may be forgiven and have everlasting life. Thank you Jesus for taking the suffering for us we will never know the pain and suffering you went through, for it is greater than we will ever suffer. Praying for this country Lord and the lost souls that deny your name. Amen.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Ned Flanders

      Jesus is playing golf today with Santa, the Easter Bunny and Rick Perry.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Sane Person

      "I'll only forgive you (for sins you didn't commit) if you murder my son" – god's logic

      November 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      JesusIsTheWay, maybe you can explain this to me. Ok, God is Jesus, Jesus is God. God wanted to have a physical manifestation of himself on Earth and though he created the heavens and the Earth, Adam and Eve, he couldn't manage a “Jesus” so he knocked up a virgin by proxy who then gave birth to Himself and then he waited for himself to grow up so that he could preach the "truth" to those who would listen.

      Then he set up his own death so that he could suffer on a cross to "die" (even though he can't die) for the sins of all the many billions of people who would be born who had not yet committed any sins but for whom he has a plan and that plan includes sinning for some unknown reason so he needed to die for them. Then he becomes a ghost, takes a little trip to Hades to hang with the red guy and then he "rises" and walks about frightening people and then disappears after telling everyone he would return and never shows his face again.

      Why?

      I would offer this counter possibility. Mary got knocked up by the blacksmith. Jesus was a cult leader. Jesus broke the law and was punished and died.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Michelle

      LOL

      November 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Huebert

      Thank you Lord for giving birth to yourself to sacrifice to yourself to save humanity from the fate that you condemned us to.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      John 10:10 I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.

      An abundance of Life is not everlasting Life as you dare to suggest JTW. LIFE leads to Life and then life in a never ending cycle of abundant measurings.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Topher

      JesusIsTheWay

      Amen!

      November 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Athy

      And then there's life.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • chipndale

      Dude,

      don't drink the Kool Aid.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Jon

      Save it for church

      November 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      I love people who talk to jesus and santa....quite funny lol

      November 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  2. chipndale

    What objective was met by quoting scripture here? Most reasoning people have adapted well beyond traditional religious scare tactics. Scripture or otherwise.

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

    The religious right is neither!

    November 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Andy

      Neither what, Rina – spit it out now.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Huebert

      I would say that the religious right is very religious. And that is their problem.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  4. Bob

    'god' is an idiotic idea promoted by immoral people to control and pacify the weak minded. Religion has no place in American politics.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Jon

      Amen

      November 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  5. Sane Person

    The bible is a glorified fairy tale about an incompetent, psychopathic, insecure god. It promotes violence, slavery, murder and plenty of other immoral concepts. It's about an insecure, jealous god who demands he be worshipped and burns for eternity any people who don't. It's about a man who claims to be a god, symbolic cannibalistic rituals, someone else taking responsibility for your sins, and a god who is obsessed with blood shed.

    In other words its a ridiculous, barbaric religion and you'd have to be brainwashed to believe it.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  6. sean

    It seems to me that Americans are having trouble identifying the difference between fundamentalist Christians and Christians. There should not be this much hate written about Christ's message, it is a good message.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Ben

      I essentially agree, but like it or not Christianity will be judged by its worst elements. I'd advise reasonable Christians to shout down their extremist counterparts.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      sean, it is a good message. It is an obvious message. It is a message that does require Jesus to deliver. It is an old message that pre-dates Christ. It is a message any of us could deliver. It is common sense.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Huebert

      Depends on which version of the message you are referring to.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Big difference

      Yes, there is a difference of Christians that actually read the bible versus the lazies that love to get their egos stroked by listening to the ways of man and are told that this is the teachings of Jesus.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Huebert,
      I believe the new commandment put forth by Jesus is the real message to follow.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  7. sudipminhas

    #atheisthunter You are so right....pun intended. Going by your language I assume you don't understand pun not to be confused with bun or gun. Well if "the Israel" is under attack why not enlist in their army and enter Palestinian bedrooms to construct more settlements and kill their babies with the deadliest weapons. I know Israel is so sacrosanct for you guys like your Bibles that you will not even care to read history of Israel's creation and occupation but what can be expected if you cannot even use your mother tongue properly. "The Israel"

    November 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  8. Shake

    I am tired of dancing now. Somebody bring me a cold beverage in my Obama Souvenir Slurpy Cup. Do it!

    November 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  9. 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 1:06 pm |
    • Big difference

      mama k. Gloat much? The only ones that won the election for the democrats were the youth vote. Wet behind the ears.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • mama k

      Lol. No – it was the youth, and the latinos, and the gays, and the women, and people who don't think like people like Mourdock and Akin – lots of different kinds of people, well, except backwards fundamentalist Christians of course.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Jon

      Momma K, let him/her believe Obama only won because of the youth vote. Let them keep their heads in the sand as 2016 will be a cake walk and we can finally rid ourselves of conservative parasites in this country.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  10. JesusIsTheWay

    John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • DJ

      Mary (Magdalene), says, "when Joseph's gaze met mine I felt a burning deep within...." Book of Mary

      November 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Any cult worth its salt would teach the same thing......in other words

      cult logic.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • DJ

      "...and Jesus thought not of the female form, and from heaven came to remove ignorance" Book of Truth

      November 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • chipndale

      Per your name, Jesus is the way to what? He gave you a brain to think for yourself. Understanding is the best theology of all.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  11. Patricksday

    The High Jacked Republican Party represent a party of Greed, Materialism, Selfishness and exclusion, things that Jesus Christ NEVER taught. They know they can bring out the Anti-Abortion to draw in those who would betray the majority of Americans who think a woman should have the Right to Choose, and that God does a better job of being God then the GOP.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  12. GAW

    To be realistic the pendulum can swing both ways. I bet Evangelicals panicked during the Clinton administration. Lord knows what will happen 4 years from now. Personally I hope that a younger generation of Evangelicals will see the failings of the religious right and ease their way out of politics or at least change their tune and re-focus on issues like poverty and job creation.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Big difference

      If anyone is scared, it's you democrats to find out, Jesus' truth rules.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  13. Mack Rhoades

    This is not a rejection of God or the Church. It is a moment for Christian Evangelicals (like republicans) to learn and grow from this experience.

    What Christian Evangelicals must now decide is whether they will go back to the basics – that of Christ’s teaching and the New Testament without editorial comment or bias, or will they continue down a destructive path that will only lead to lower Church attendance and lost souls for which they will be held accountable by Christ when He does return.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Sandy

      No, it's a rejection.

      Get over your crazy religious supersti-tions and get with the modern world.America is leaving you behind.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Big difference

      You won the youth vote. Wet behind the ears.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • tony

      religious belief is the exact opposite of learning from experience and growing.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Big Difference – tell that to the members of AARP.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  14. Ancient Texan

    Morals, ethics, and principles have taken a beating for the last four years and now we have the promise of more on the way. But people of faith are not going away and indeed as the economic decline continues and accelerates, there just might be an increase in the numbers.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Huebert

      Do you know the difference between morals and ethics?

      November 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Sandy

      Ancient: modern folk are leaving your crazy old supersti-tions behind. It's OK; you will matter less and less and you will dwindle away.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • JeramieH

      It doesn't take religion to have morals, ethics, and principles. Having respect for yourself, your fellow man, and living the golden rule is just good common sense – no religion required.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • asdrel

      " as the economic decline continues and accelerates"
      You evidently haven't noticed, but the economy is stronger now than it was in January 2009.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Ben

      Actually you are all dying, and young Americans are sick of your hateful, petty nonsense. You and your ilk are dying a slow death that is hilarious for the rest of us to watch.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Jackson

      The last 4 years?? HAHAHAHAHA......

      They've taken a beating for a lot longer.

      May I remind you that both Gingrich *and* Sanford were both very vocal about Clinton's morality. Meanwhile, we later find out that Gingrich was having his own affairs. We then later see Sanford go AWOL from his job, and take the state jet, using state money, to fly to south america to see *his* mistress.

      The people pontificating about family values are hypocrites. And it has been going on much much much longer than just the last 4 years.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Big difference

      Ancient, if anything was noticed last night that spoke volumes, was the Christian vote.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Moral and ethics?
      Morals and ethics played a large part in why I voted for Obama.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  15. krussell

    I know it's hard to generalize about this country because we have the deep south and northern CA, and the cultures in those areas is very different. We have several large subcultures as well, BUT – the anti social stigma that used to go along with not beleiving in the bible is finally going away. my children's generation has no need for a flawed religious text, and thier children may not have any need for religion.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Big difference

      Teaching the children evil babble to loose their souls, is what you are gloating about.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  16. JesusIsTheWay

    Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in the name done many wonderful works? and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye work iniquity. Therefore, whosoever hearth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.
    Matthew 7:26 And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house on the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • mama k

      Oh dear – Gullible's Travels, Part 2.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "Blessed the one who seizes your children
      and smashes them against the rock.f"

      amen

      November 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • asdrel

      Are you just going to quote scripture or do you have something to say yourself?

      November 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Brian, Detroit, MI

      When you quote bible passages, you are not quoting your Jesus, you are quoting the Roman emporer Constantine, he and his historians WROTE the new testament to fool their slaves into thinking that if they suffered in this life, as they did greatly under Roman rule, they would be rewarded after they die. There is absolutely no proof that a Jewish "Jesus" ever existed. Just as there is no proof that Hebrews were ever slaves in Egypt. Jesus is fake, heaven is fake and hell is fake so if you pray for me to go there, you are only proving how stupid you are. What there is proof of is that the Jesus charector is modeled after the Egyptian god Horus. So if you are praying, pronounce his name accordingly, H-O-R-U-S.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  17. Bootyfunk

    religious right, do go away mad, just go away....

    November 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  18. Time Will Tell

    People are obviously gloating and excessively happy over what they see as the demise of Christianity in this country. Don't be so sure.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • MCR

      It's anyone's guess where we'll be in 100 years, but straight demographic indicate Christianity will continue to drop for at least the next 20.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Sandy

      Sure, we can't yet be certain of the demise of Christianity. We are just hoping for it. The sooner that supersti-tion is put in the past, the better for our country.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Not MY god

      Why would a people who's only desire is to live their lives the way they see fit, without the forced influence of YOUR religion, mean the 'demise of Christianity'? Are you saying your goal IS to force your religion on all people of the US?

      Christianity is alive and well in America. you can go to whatever church you want and worship as you see fit. Why do you seek to deny me the same Right?
      Keep your beliefs and religion to yourself and I will keep mine to myself.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  19. David Crosby

    Jesus was gay..Is dead.. And will not be coming back...Move on into a new post Christian world..Saner and safer..

    November 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      long hair, wash board abs, hung out with 12 dudes... yeah, jesus was g.ay.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Jenny

      What is your purpose in life? Do you just ilve and then die and that's it? If there's no heaven or God, what's the point of us being here? He meant they would not taste death before HIs return because they would live eternally in heaven. He hasn't returned yet- do you think the clock has run out? No one knows the place or the hour. The bible is about a God that loves us more deeply than we can ever imagine- people in our culture have a hard time accepting love and forgiveness unfortunately because of all the lies we have been told and have come to believe. I have lived my life both ways- the times without God were the worst- the most pain i have experienced due to thinking I could run my life and do whatever I wanted without consequences. Most people are living painful and loveless lives but won't admit it because they don't want the world to see them as weak. But in reality we all NEED and WANT a loving God and Creator who gave His life for us. To be loved more than any other human could love us. I can't wait for His return and to see Him face to face one day!

      November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Jenny

      Wow. What a lovely pile of rambling crap that gets nowhere beyond emotional appeals of you wanting to feel like you're "special". Just because you're incapable of self-assigning any sort of value to yours or anyone elses life does not automatically make your god real. Get educated, and actually think about your claims and the complete lack of evidence to support it.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  20. iGuy215

    For those of you who think that God isn't real, and that the Bible is a bunch of "made-up" stories, I encourage you to take a look at this link. Every prophecy that the Bible mentions has or is in the process of coming true.

    http://contenderministries.org/prophecy/endtimes.php

    November 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Sane Person

      The bible is complete nonsense. Use your brain.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Huebert

      Everyone of these "prophecies" is va.gue to the point of being useless.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • JeramieH

      I predict there will be a volcanic eruption, a major hurricane, and a major disease epidemic at some point in the next 3000 years.

      You know, the same stuff that's been happening to the planet for the past few millennia.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Portland tony

      Yep and I've got a Mayan calendar that doesn't stop on 12/21/2012.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Ben

      Absolutely pathetic, no wonder you guys are losing this culture war

      November 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the bible hasn't predicted ANYthing. bible never been wrong? jesus himself told his disciples they would "not taste death" before he returned. but he didn't return. and his disciples died. so there's one for you where the bible was wrong. i could go on and on and on....

      November 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • and as always

      footybunk is wrong

      November 7, 2012 at 1:27 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.