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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. Ann

    I think people have gotten out of control on both sides of the spectrum,. I feel that the far Christian right and the far anti-religion left has. Let people believe what they want and let it be.

    November 7, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Beliefs have consequences. If someone believes in something that does not make sense they should be called out on it. Beliefs do not exist in a vacuum.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • TheSchmaltz

      That's exactly what the anti-religious right wants, except for a few of our most extreme outsiders. I don't care what you believe. Worship a purple rock in your backyard. It neither picks my pocket or breaks my leg. Stop forcing it on others and claiming persecution when you don't get preferrential treatment and we'll be fine. Stop passing laws based entirely on your fairy tales without rational justification and we can get along.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Well-stated, Schmaltz.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  2. MashaSobaka

    Don't get too complacent, folks. These people won't quit. We have to keep them on a VERY short leash.

    November 7, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  3. memestryker

    The Christian right can never give up. It's in their doctrine to push policy that forces their religious teaching on everyone. The choice of Ryan made it clear that Romney had sold out to the far right. Ryan's "personhood" doctrine led one state to actually declare women pregnant 2 weeks prior to conception. Promising to further abridge women's freedom to make reproductive choices lost a lot of votes from both men and women who cherish separation of church and state. As it stands, there is a church/state entanglement that may eventually lead to theocracy and the death of our nation as we know it. But not as a result of this election.

    November 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  4. Lar5

    Consider this:
    How can the GOP see Ryan as the future of the party? If Romney had been elected he would have been the boss setting policy. He would have decimated medicaid. Ryan would have been the guy actually throwing grandma out of the nursing home. Ryan's zealot driven religious views and economic plan scared the hell out of many voters. Go there GOP, if you dare!

    November 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, religions corruption of truth absolute by hindu's lairs, for peace, Islam among humanity.

      What do you expect from hindu gentle ignorant slaves of hindu Jew's, criminal secular's, hinduism, illegality, way of hindu's, deviants living by hinduism, corruption of truth religions.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      A lot will happen in four years.

      I think Jeb Bush or Sen. Marco Rubio are much more likely to be prominent in 2016 than Rep. Paul Ryan.

      Even Ryan's congressional district voted for Barack Obama.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  5. ezduzit757

    Is Christian Right's Influence Over? God, I hope so!

    November 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • seperation church and state

      I hope the Christian Rights influence in our govt is over but it is not. For some reason this right wing fringe believes our country wants them to force their beliefs down our throats. Yes only 28% of voters were born again. That means the rest of us want to be left alone to find our own beliefs. So Stay out of our Govt.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  6. Voice

    Serveral places in the bible, torra, and the quran quite clearly state that god has no interest in gold or silver. And the prayer that Jessus teaches also states his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. There are reasons why republicans lost. They went to bed with the lovers of gold and silver. They line their own pockets with it and preach of intolarance.They are the ones that have forsaken the correct teachings. Super packs Mitt and the wall street sooth sayers were all wrong. The meek shall inherit the earth not the communistic ideals applied to business (AKA Ayn Rand) followers. Or have you religious followers forgot Jessus in the temple? If Jessus was god then why did he say fogive them father for they know not what they do. ? Jessus did not ride on the burrow through a gate to proclaim he was the massiah. He did it to make fun at stupid prophecies. Your problems are that the old religious leaders made a man into what they wanted not what he was.

    November 7, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Jeebus is a fignment of your imagination.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  7. Mercury32

    :History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes. "
    Thomas Jefferson – yes, one of our founding fathers who was religous, but not Christinan.

    November 7, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  8. Sandra

    ATHEIST HUNTER: Nowhere did I discuss "the other choice". I agree with most of what you said, but the discussion here is about whether Mormonism should be considered Christian. It is not. Unfortunately, it was a choice between the lesser of two evils. Ultimately, conscience cannot be legislated and every man and woman will have to answer for what they have done in their past, whether it was slaughtering the unborn or living in sin, whatever the definition. If Romney hadn't been an avowed Mormon, he may have very well won this election, but fortunately for Americans, this weird religion disguised under the cloak of Christianity, and enough of them saw through it. My vote wasn't wasted because as a Canadian, I wasn't eligible. Who did you vote for?

    November 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, religions corruption of truth absolute by hindu's lairs, for peace, Islam among humanity.

      Religions are hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by hindu Jew's, criminal secular s, neither were commanded nor one should follow, but way of truth absolute GOD. leave hinduism, criminality of hindu Pharisees, criminal Atheist for them to answer on day of judgement.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      The christian god sacrificed himself...to himself...in order to create a loophole for a rule he created. And then Christians celebrate this by "eating his body" and "drinking his blood" as symbolic cannibalism

      Christianity is just as weird.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, religions corruption of truth absolute by hindu's lairs, for peace, Islam among humanity.

      hinduism, absurdity of hindu's, pagans, hindu Mithra ism, savior ism, Christianity.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  9. cashmeremafia

    I hope influential Christians finally get that not all of us follow thier ideology, nor do we want to

    November 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  10. matt

    Thank "god." You religious morons are finally getting a dose of reality.

    November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  11. bill

    since mitt got beat down in the election will the GOP re-classify mormonism as a cult again??

    November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Huebert

      They already have.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      And Fox News turned on Mitt even before his concession speech.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • sam

      I'm sure Billy Graham is glad he can change his website back.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  12. Me

    OOO-Keep on drinking that koolaid and looking for pie in the sky help! Did you not know that hospitals UNDER OBAMACARE will be FINED if they readmit a person in NEED too many times? Huh? So much for them left on the doorstep! Poor bleeding heart liberal that you are!

    November 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • John

      Hospital guy here... you do know the election is over right? You can stop filling the internet with half truths. Hospitals will not be fined, they will not be paid for a readmit after 30 days for certain illnesses. This has the affect of making sure the hospital doesn't discharge a patient too quickly before they are well as happens now ALL THE TIME. This a good thing, not a bad one.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • sam

      @Me – pwned. Get back under your bridge, uninformed troll.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  13. bill

    First of all, do not ever put "Christian" and "right wing" in the same sentence as they are mutually exclusive terms. Christianity has nothing in common with the right wing. The GOP are as righteous and religious as the taliban or al qaeda.

    November 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Me

      Sad.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Dave

      Good point Bill. i myself am classified as the Religious Left. Many of us are devout Christians who evangelize, but we also know that social justice is also important if you want to be able to minister to the down and out. You really can't do one without the other. The religious right (sorry) would have you believe it's okay to kick someone to the curb while telling them, "God Loves You".

      November 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • seperation church and state

      Exactly right, Its funny how these far right extremist who hate Muslims because of extreme views of Islam. Its funny they dont' realize their is NO difference between christians and the Taliban they hate.. lol Stay the hell out of our govt.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  14. Eliminate hinduism, religions corruption of truth absolute by hindu's lairs, for peace, Islam among humanity.

    People of the book, claiming to be follower of Moses, Easu, anointed one and Mohammad, spirit of truth,pbt, were commanded to live by way of truth absolute GOD, foundation of America, not hinduism, corruption of truth absolute, religions. So much so, word religion does not exist in Hebrew, Aramaic or Arabic language.
    OPEN YOUR EYE'S TO TRUTH ABSOLUTE AND DROP WORD RELIGION AND hINDU PAGAN CUSTOMS FROM YOUR WAY TO BE SUCCESS FULL IN LIFE AND HEAR AFTER. visit limitisthetruth.com to learn handy work of hindu's, criminals to hind, fool humanity.
    Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative , Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in hegativity, hinduism, way of negativity.

    November 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Absurd Gerken ism

      Pickle juice is just another name for cuc.u.mber pickle-ism, dill weed ism, sour tart of back yard garden, old cuc.u.mbers with another pickled lid mason jar, feed humanity based on how many jars-ism of pri.ckly beef steak ism 180 tomatoes, okra, tomatoes too absolute american dill pickles in support of American bar food ism.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • K G

      Check your facts. Hindu derives from the name Indus River, originally Sindhu. It was a description of people based on their geographic location, not based a Latin word. There would be more to a complete reply, but I'm not sure it helps when you believe someone who had a dream and has led to oppression of millions.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, religions corruption of truth absolute by hindu's lairs, for peace, Islam among humanity.

      Only by hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, ignorant, but fundamentals of language do not support your hinduism, absurdity.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  15. TFitz13

    I don't care if you're a christian or an athiest. All that should matter in an election is who can do a better job of managing the USA. I don't care what the president's religious beliefs are as long as he doesn't try to impose them on me (which mr Obama has not done). The left needs to quit moving further left and the right needs to quit moving further right. We all just need to meet in the middle and do what is best for our country with all religious beliefs set aside.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • midwstrngrl

      actually the left hasnt moved further left...if anything they moved right. And the right has moved extreme right. Obama has carried on most of Bush's policies? So do we also call Bush a socialist? or Obamacare? Romney and other republicans created it. Are they too socialists?

      November 7, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Huebert

      I think it is erroneous to think that the left is moving away form the middle. The right has just moved so far away from the center that moderate positions seem liberal and truly liberal positions seem extreme to them.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • mama k

      Well, maybe it's not as bad as you think. Here, there is really not much else to do but express out opinions and bicker. But in the real world, I think atheists and people of varying faiths probably work together on various things for the good of mankind – often not really knowing fully about each others' beliefs, yet still accomplishing good things together. I know I see that.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  16. amy

    "the U.S. Catholic bishops waged a rigorous campaign against the Obama ". I will be waiting for those Catholic bishops to start paying taxes.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • TFitz13

      They do pay taxes. Their organazation does not.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Athy

      Religious leaders pay income tax, just like everyone else.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  17. God's Oldest Dreamer

    Can it be said and also inferred that all of Life here upon these celestial shorelines of life-forms resonate from a single celled life-form all the ways to massive cellularized life formations? Is it 'not' written within the Gospels that mankind is but buildings that are husbanded by the Godly? Do we not labour together with God in our tasks? Who among us can deny our psychic Being as being un/just and un/righteous God-Heads?

    Nothing is a Foreverness and Matter, in its' infinitesimally established finiteness, is a materialized foreverness unobtainable by us, human-like megaliths called mankind. We are all giants too huge and too vast for us to ever re-enter in wholeness back into the Kingdoms of God which are inside or within our bodies. So many damningly dumb buildings of evolution's ascension into the spatial voids of outward motions sanctioned by the Godly! Too little are our intellectual abaters

    John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world"

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

    Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

    Ergo. does that mean dumbness is genetical or is it societal hierarchies being the dumbness from which socialisms are currently adorned and auspisciously bequeathed?

    We are but celestial manifestations of God's creativities. Evolution is the Gods'(plural) works and there is reason why we were the last limb to be raised from biology's trees of Fractal Cosmology.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • mama k

      Gullible's Travels, Part 2. This really should be taught as Mythology 101.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      The Universe ceases to exist at the moment of your death. Likewise, the Universe springs into existence at the moment of comprehension. “Reality” is personal. It is not universal. What I believe, is true. What I perceive, is real. The reason physics becomes unrecognizable as we get close to death is because we realize at that point that WE are the God we seek. We create our reality only to destroy it and start again for all of eternity.

      Nothing can be proven beyond the existence of the self. No perception felt by the mind can be regarded as truly verifiable, and so its existence is not certain. Hence, nothing outside the mind of the observer can be rationally confirmed.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Apple Bush,

      Even a blind squirrel finds a few nuts to feed upon. May the squirrely natures of blindly following along the footsteps of the dumb and lame preachers and teachers come to an ending for the many who seek the lights of otherly words meant to aggragate and instill seeds of wonders. Carry on AB, carry on!

      November 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  18. Yahweh

    Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corth 1:27)

    November 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Why does god want to shame everyone? What a dick.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Cult logic

      November 7, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • OTOH

      Yahweh,

      Yet, you think that you are wise to believe that.

      It's turtles all the way down...

      November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  19. Tea Party Patriot

    Q: How many illegal mexicans does it take to shingle a roof?
    A: It depends how thin they're sliced.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • reg

      Hope you enjoy 4 more years Tea Party Bigot

      November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Huebert

      That is an old dead baby joke.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Bet

      Lovely. Stay classy, tea bagger.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Q: What do you get when you vivisect an evangelical?
      A: An erection.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  20. HenryMiller

    People have gotten tired of the religious nuts sticking their long, pointy, noses into their private affairs–and that's a big factor in why Romney lost the presidency and the GOP failed to take the Senate.

    Next, I hope, people will get just as tired as the Big Government, statist, nuts sticking their long, pointy, noses into things like the private matters of health care.

    Government ought to be a matter of what we can all agree on, not a matter what half the country wants to impose on the other half.

    November 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Ben

      There will always be impositions. That's the nature of society. If you don't like it you better go live on an island somewhere.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • OOO

      We have decided, as a society, that we are not going to allow a poor sick person to die on the steps of a hospital because they can not pay their bill. Similarily, we have decided, as a society, that we all remain safer if we all have police protection and fire stations. We all pay in, but only some of us use these services. Healthcare will work best if it is handled in the same manner.

      There are a subset of things, like these, that we have agreed to as a society. Doing this subset of things does not make us socialist, just a better society.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Michael

      Ben, nobody's claiming that they want to toss all laws out of the window. However, those "impositions" should be grounded in reason. Laws against murder exist because people don't want to be murdered themselves. We have chosen, as a nation, to have a society with secular laws, where said laws must be grounded in reason, not, "You can't do this because I'm superior to you," or "because my holy book says so." If that were how we generally ran things, hamburgers would be against the law for fear of offending Hindus. In short, the impositions should MAKE SENSE.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Tim

      Think about healthcare like this, with all the new superbugs and antibiotic resistance bacteria, if a person can't get the healthcare they need and somehow come into contact with you or your family then what? Or heaven forbid we have a full blown epidemic. Healthcare should be for everyone, for all our sakes and if that should ever happened I think you can kiss national security goodby as well. Try thinking about other possibilities.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:31 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.