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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. nik green

    Christian right? Que? That is an oxymoron. A contradiction in terms. Cognitive dissonance. Bullcrap!

    November 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

      does any one know litral translation of hindu, fabricated word, christian? Sure they have no clue. bunch of hindu's, ignorant s.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • HR

      Do Hindus believe in Trolls??
      Good Trolls know how to pun ctuate co rect–ly!

      November 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  2. Christopher Walken

    You see....the Democrats.....won this election...but, it took the help....of the army on the ground. Going. Door. To Door. Getting the word. Out. There...for....swing voters. Voted. In this election. So hey.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

      No, it was because of hinduism, denial of truth absolute by hindu's, ignorant s, claiming to be follower of truth absolute GOD in hinduism, ignorance.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Huebert

      Would you prefer ranch or honey mustard dressing with your word salad?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • LittleHero

      One of these two people know how to use punctuation. Can you guess which one?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Christopher Walken

      You see....eliminate, if that is. your. real name, the hindu vote was not. big. so whether or not. they are ignorant or...filthy, not really the main issue. In. this case.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

      No one can win by hinduism, defiance of truth absolute, but claimants of truth were in hinduism, denial of truth, cause of loss.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  3. Maria

    Christianity has become an ugly political game for the repukes, only using the religion when most convenient for them.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • stephen

      i dont care if you dont beleive in god or my religion, but one thing about my religion is it teaches respect, to whatever your beliefs are teaches ignorance thats the difference between me and you i care for others to were you only care about yourself without the reprecussions of the future

      November 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Stephen, Maria is not bad mouthing Christianity, She is disgusted by those who are doing horrible things in the name of Christianity.
      I agree with her. The republican party has deliberately played Christians just to get their votes.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  4. Brett

    Prophecy being fulfilled

    November 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Huebert

      Please show me the verse in the bible that says "Obama shall be a two term president of the United States of America."

      November 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Reasonably

      @Huebert – Show me where the bible predicts anything that's true?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  5. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Same arguments we heard when states started passing laws that decriminalized interracial marriage, when the federal government rejected "separate but equal", and when people realized the President did not always tell the truth.

    But if you really want to have fun with a "fundie", the next time they start talking about The Rapture, ask them how do they know it hasn't happened yet. When they try to reply that it couldn't because they were still here, ask it again. It really makes them doubt.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, those good old days when people could convince themselves they were good christians by voting against interracial marriage. But gosh, things are totally different now!

      November 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  6. DoINeedAName

    This is what happens when Southern Baptist/Evangelicals use the argument of "Obama is a Marxist, Kenyan, terrorist, baby-killing, racist, Muslim, etc..." (did I miss anything?) over and over and over and over again, especially when you KNOW they are all lies.

    That's the thing. They don't have anything to back up their claim, so they resort to name calling. I'm sure God and Christ must be so proud of their flock, wouldn't you think? I am a conservative Mormon living in Utah, and frankly, the christian far right are more disgusting in their behavior than the democrats. I am almost embarrassed to call myself a Christian if it means that I associate with these guys. I may not like the results from the election last night, but I grow a pair and deal with it.

    Anyway, a penny for my thoughts. Do I get change back(no, this is not an Obama joke. This is a take that to myself)?

    November 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      Not only name calling, but empty proxy threats

      November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  7. Ah...I See.

    @Gerald who said (paraphrased) "Condoms are essentially abortions." He then quoted a verse in the bible where its said that children are good and humans should spread.
    -----------–

    Gerald, not only are you talking about a 2000 year old viewpoint where people died off much faster and earlier than they do today, but to quote another verse in the bible, it says that a mans seed should never be wasted and would serve better in the belly of a wh*re. So if the bible is right and should be applied to governance as you suggest, I WANT MY SUBSIDIZED HOS NAO PLZ!

    November 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  8. God's Oldest Dreamer

    I believe in the 'theology' of Christiandom, not the philosophies of Christiandom's Pharisees who reap the benefits and do live in the niched richness of Life while only giving meager breads to the very poorest of lots cast upon the lands. Where then is the Pharisees' fairness of equities and equalities found?

    November 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  9. Charlotte

    Finally, it seems that morality, decency and human compassion are winning out over religion.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • kenny

      My friend you have been deceived

      November 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • sam

      Sorry Kenny, she's got this one right.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Kenny, You and many of the religious right have been played by folks like Karl Rove.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Terri Geis

      Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. It is not a political football but a way to live and only God can transform the human heart. I am unhappy at the result of the election. I believe that we voted against life this election and that breaks my heart. I will pray for this country, for the President, and for myself that I will obey God and not men.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • cw

      How exactly did we vote against "life"...? That's just absurd.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. "

      So, what is the point of churches?

      You say you obey god and not men, but I would be willing to wager that you use a book written, translated and edited by man to determine god's likes and dislikes

      November 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  10. kenny

    No the Christian morals are not died but it sure is hard win a election when you have such a liberal unchecked media like CNN. I just wish there was a equal playing field

    November 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • sam

      Dafuq?? Have you heard of Fox 'news'?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Huebert

      You have Faux News and the entire AM radio spectrum. Quit whining.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • albie

      Christians have spread lies and hatred for hundreds of years, its about time someone exposes it - its not liberal bias, its the truth

      November 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Which Christian morals would those be exactly? Love your neighbor as yourself?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Finn

      Oh, wah. Go sob in your blankie.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      kenny, "equal playing field"?

      Life kind sir is not a field to play upon. Life is to be lived out in compassionate divisioning in terms of equal equities and equalities of financial sameness. Why are the lands' people so rated as to place sovereign powers within niches of wealthiness? Most of today's wealthy did not earn it. They either won it in the lotteries or they inherited it. "Equal playing fields" kenny are aberrations to keep the poor on par for the courses.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      You are right... Christian morals are not dead, they are just now being accepted and applied by the Democratic process, since the majority of the religious right had abandoned these principles long ago in favor of more power.
      They figuratively sold their souls to Satan in an effort to control the masses. They lost this round, but I'm sure they will come back strong, unfortunately.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  11. Yodelling Bob's Sermon on the Mountie

    I must admit, I really am enjoying the day-after bitter resentments of the Right. NOBODY deserves that kind of come-uppance as they do.

    Good times! Good times . . .

    November 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Huebert

      The Republican's faces are WAY redder than the electoral map.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Timodeus

      Comments like these make sure the increasingly bitter cycle of partisan hatred continues.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • HR

      Timodeus Said

      "Comments like these make sure the increasingly bitter cycle of partisan hatred continues."

      This from the people who snuck up in the middle of the night and painted my house and car with swastikas and the n-word after the last election. I will stop hating the GOP when they boot the Klan, Nazis and Christian Ayatollahs out of their party. The GOP has exploited these truly evil organizations for more than a half century to try and win elections and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  12. Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

    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 religion does not exist in divine language, but way of truth absolute GOD.
    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 3:08 pm |
    • Clarity, Knowledge, and Calm

      I was praying this poster was kidding. But the website is real. Man, oh man. Priceless. The word 'Hindu' derives from Sanskrit 'Sindhu' in reference to the Indus River. The meaning of the word is unclear but there is a theory that it derives from a word meaning "to keep off". The Sanskrit language existed long before archaic Latin. Any borrowing would have come through the Arab connection in more recent history. Also, of course there are words in old and modern middle eastern languages that mean 'religion'. What is really fascinating is the theory that the Hebrew and Muslim deity figure derive from a war god in an ancient Semitic pantheon whose association with the other gods was lost in the confusion that time and oral tradition bring. Sounds pretty cool, but I won't shout about it. I doubt this clarification will have any impact on the poster, who appears quite unbalanced and convinced that caps lock proves a point.

      As for the Christian influence, very curious how this will play out for them. I wonder if any had a secret hope that Obama would win so that the Rapture would be induced and they could all fly away to heaven in self-righteous bliss.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  13. Yahweh

    You think you breath the air in your lungs on your own – you don't know who the One is who allows you to take your next breath, yet you continue to mock Him. You have no control over when the sun comes up and goes down and you have no control over death – for God Almighty is the Creator of all things past, present & future – repent now for the Kingdom of God is near and bow your knee to your Creator God – His name is Jesus Christ. You are feeling arrogant now, but believe me the day is coming when you will be on your knees begging for mercy, whether here or in the afterlife. Amen.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

      Please complete stance, as it was spokem YAHWAY ELLAH, I AM tTHE TRUTH ABSOLUTE. THE LORD AND GOD OF THE WORLD.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • HR

      Yes I know where my next breath comes from. The atmosphere!! No just kidding it comes from a belief in talking snakes and flying donkeys. . The same beliefs that tell me that flying a plane into a building will get me 72 virgins and an unlimited supply of moustache wax. The definition of delusion "a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self"

      Like talking hats, speaking in tongues, shooting teenage girls in the head because they want an education.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      "You are feeling arrogant now, but believe me the day is coming when you will be on your knees begging for mercy, whether here or in the afterlife. Amen."

      F you and your petty, vindictive pr!ck god. Amen

      November 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Michael

      I know exactly when the sun will come up on the morrow for I am a student of Orbital Mechanics. I know exactly why the temperatures of the planet are rising for I am a student of Thermodynamics and Fluid Dynamics. I understand fully that, as one of (distant) European decent, I have between 2 and 4% Neanderthal DNA within my chromosomes for I am a student of Evolution. One can only hope that the Christian Right (what an oxymoron) is witnessing a decline in its dynastic influence over American politics. Some just don't understand the rationale for Separation between Church and State.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • sam stone

      Yahweh: Also, get back on your knees, b!tch...fvcking slave

      November 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  14. David Jarvis

    Memo to the religious nut jobs of the nation.

    Feel free to move to the woods and elect president Rick Santorum and VP sarah palin to oversee your little clan of idiocy. The adults are talking now, and we will not miss you.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Religious Nut Job

      What happened to tolerance? I'm sure you believe differently than me, and no doubt voted differently than me, but I'd be glad to have you as a next door neighbor. So much for coexisting...

      November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  15. gladiatorgrl

    I love how the Christians say about the extremists – it's not all of us BUT they don't want to hear that from the Muslims.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  16. Arthur in the Garden!

    I think the American people realize that extreemizm does not work. Wether its Islamic or Christian.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  17. gladiatorgrl

    TAX THE CHURCHES!!! This article shows they're political and NOT religious

    November 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • albie

      totally agree, it is high time to tax all religious organizations - lets have them pay for the waste they create

      November 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Mr Created-waste

      @albie would that not totally undermine religious freedom, by saying you get taxed just because of your beliefs? Sounds like you have a hate agenda? So much for freedom...

      November 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  18. Sandra

    This election was not so much about the Christian Right, but about keeping a Mormon out of the office of the President. The Christian vote was split between two ideologies, Obama's pro-abortion and gay rights agendas and the pro-life, traditional definition of marriage, unfortunately represented by a Mormon candidate. Therein lies the contradiction. A candidate who calls himself a Christian but supports abortion and gay marriage, and a candidate who supports pro-life and traditional marriage and calls himself a Mormon, but who is not a Christian. Mormons are NOT Christians, no matter how they bleat that they are. So, in order to keep an avowed Mormon non-Christian out of the White House, there were some Christians, who would normally vote Republican, jumped ship and voted Democrat because the thought of a Mormon taking office was more repugnant to them than trying to legislate conscience and the difference between right and wrong in other people's personal lives.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • cw

      No, those Christians didn't "jump" ship. They voted for a Christian Democrat. Yes, we exist. And yes we did.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Les

      Amen. Totally right on.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Les

      This is exactly how I felt Sandra.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • sam

      There's no such thing as a pro abortion agenda, dimwit.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • JacinJax

      You're making an argument for eliminating personal religious beliefs from politics. It seems people get too confused.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • albie

      if there was a candidate who was anti-religion I would vote for them in a heartbeat

      November 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Sheesh, pro choice is NOT the same as pro abortion.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Sandra

      CW: Didn't mean "jump ship" to sound negative, but thank you, and others, for doing so. Obviously, there are Christian voters out there who know how to think, and know the difference between Christian belief and Mormon belief, which is anti-Christian. Yes, Christian Dems do exist, it is not a contradiction in terms, and they were joined by Christian Republicans, who voted Democratic, to ensure that a Mormon isn't in the White House come January.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Sandra

      SAM: Really? You need to resort to name calling? Well pardon me, how about "pro-abortion platform"? Does that agree with your sensibilities?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Sandra

      JACINJAX: Only if the candidate misleads people by calling mormonism as Christian. Obviously, Mormonism wouldn't stand on its own without hiding under an umbrella labelled Christianity. If you are a Mormon, fine with me, but DO NOT call yourself Christian, because it isn't the truth. A Mormon is a Mormon and a Christian is a Christian. Candidates from other religions do not try to disguise their beliefs as Christian, why should Mormons?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  19. The Reactionary Right is absolutely TlTANIC!!!

    The Christian Right couldn't get a candidate past the primaries. The Christian Right lost the senate for the Republicans. The Christian Right could not stop two states from passing gay marriage.

    The Christian Right, the Tea Party, Limbaugh, Beck, Rove, FOX, they all are has-beens. The reactionary right, with all its emphasis on division and villifying and fear-mongering, has hit it's iceberg and is going down. The band is still playing, but the icy finale is coming on fast.

    November 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • JacinJax

      Couldn't you be a little more gracious. The Republican party is about to enter a serious battle for control of the party and if it gets bloody the country loses. Rubio has turned down McConnell for a top job in the Senate and there will be Senators up for re-election in 2 years. We hope to see members of both parties coming together but watching a party feed on itself is never a good thing.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • The Reactionary Right is absolutely TlTANIC!!!

      You do realize that I was only talking about the extremist right, don't you?

      Waiting to see that "parties coming together" thing that Republicans have kinda sorta not been doing for a couple decades now.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  20. Siara Delyn

    I am a spiritually oriented person myself but I am sick to death of seeing religion dragged into politics, Biblical passages used like football cheers to encourage the destruction of the opposition, etc. It's a bizarre spectacle that the rest of the world watches in amazement.

    I love seeing religion reflected in people's lives. I HATE seeing it used as a divisive political prop. If you want to be religious SHOW it to me in your life and stop pontificating about it.

    November 7, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Siara Delyn

      And by the way, destroying the environment, choosing greed as your fundamental principle, and badmouthing everyone who is not exactly likw YOU is not reflecting God in your life.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Not quite

      Religion wasn't dragged into politics – it ran in itself, full of powerlust and ambition and "thou shall nots".

      Christians never take responsibility for themselves.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Siara Delyn

      @Not Quite: I've seen good Christians in action. This hogwash from the Radical Right is not what it looks like, but it exists.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Taking responsibility

      @Not quite: Here I am, a Christian, taking responsibility for my beliefs being informed by my faith. I'm only extreme in the fact that I have core beliefs and values, and I'm allowed to have them. I responsibly live out my faith. But, hey, you're doing a great job with that whole tolerance thing.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:59 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.