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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. The Dude

    Jesus can blow me

    November 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Move to Washington and you can smoke a J while He blows you.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  2. ExtinctGOP

    For a great laugh look up sarah palins fans comments on Facebook
    Again you will see people hiding behind the cloak of religion. Nothing spiritual there

    November 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  3. Heaven On My Mind

    Superstorm Sandy was a warning not to put the black menace in the White House for 4 more years. The people did not listen nor did they pay attention.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Huebert

      The scariest part is that you can vote.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      This S.S. may well have been a warning to not elect Romney,,, Who can say for sure what this S.S. meant?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Andy

      Oh that is silly. Actually the Aztec calendar shows all of this,and with the crowned face in the center with tongue hanging out – a clear foretelling of the zombie apocalypse, slightly eclipsed by the Diamond Jubilee.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • hippie power 69

      what kind of god lets a child die and starve and be beaten and molested? what kind of god lets the holocaust happen? if he is all powerful why doesn't he stop all of the hate and killing? if there is a god that allows all of this to happen he is one f'd up character i'll tell you that. i can't believe in a god who would allow all of the craziness that takes place each and every day on this earth. he must be the devil.

      November 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  4. Mark

    Excuse me for not playing the "PC game", but the elephant in this particular room was that, yes, America may have been ready for a BLACK president, but NO WAY was it ready for a MORMON president. Sure, they're some of the nicest people you could want to meet, but so were the Hari-Krisha and Moony "kult kids" back in the seventies – big smiles and lotsa love. Big wup. A cult is a cult is a cult, folks, and the Mormons are never going to be 'mainstream' religion, no matter how big their church gets – they'll always be a half-step away from scientologists. The republicans were stupid to let him run in the first place, and they paid for it.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • swing state voter

      Nope.
      Nobody I know voted against Romney because of his religion.
      It was all about issues.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • John the Guy

      @Mark
      Intresting that Romney recieved the majority of his support from the cult filled bible belt don't you thimk? The people that rejected Ohbama were from those same states, care to clarify what the hell your point is?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  5. kenneth2

    Its amazing that the United States have so many religious morons in it, who worship a bronze-age, middle-eastern, genocidal diety (Yahweh) and his illiterate "son" Jesus.

    The US seems like its filled with gullible, brain-washed religious idiots.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

      Spoke by a hindu, ignorant, having no knowledge of truth absolute like a hindu filth beast.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  6. jeff

    If God came back to earth, he would look at the religious right and say " THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT!!"

    November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Came back? He never left! Luke 17:21 The Kingdoms of God are inside us.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  7. DJ

    Look, this was not a landslide, this was a close hard fought election. Almost half of the country voted for Romney. It could have went either way, and Obama was helped by the liberal media time after time and the electorial college style of voting. State for State Romney won, but that is not how it is decided. There are many conservative Christians, Catholic Christians, and others that simply didn't vote because they disliked Romney, not because they wanted Obama.
    Make one thing clear the country and economy will continue to fail under Obama and his cronies. Quit blaming Bush and republicans, and after 4 more years of continued debt and a dismal economy, just remember you got what you asked for....

    November 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • OOO

      You do realize that the president has very little control over the economy, and les and less as time goes on because it is more and more a global economy.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • SJ

      Just like it was clear that Obama was going to take everyone's guns and the world was going to end. Stop using scare tactics about Obama and start helping this country get back together. Just talking like that isn't Christian, and it's giving Christians all over a bad name. A true Christian that practiced the values wouldn't be so devisive.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • swing state voter

      What OOO says is correct.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      OOO,,

      What's that? I thought we ARE in the throngs of a global economy? Been so a for some time. Wake up OOO and throw some cold water in yer face!

      November 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • TheVotesSpeakForThemselves

      In case you haven't noticed, Obama not only won the Electoral College... he's almost 3,000,000 votes ahead in the Popular Vote.

      November 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  8. tim

    Interesting comments, CNN says this is a "faith" site.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  9. WVLady63

    There are no "Christian Rights." Immorality has snuffed it out along with decency. If you are a Christian in today's Society, you are the DEMON. If you are a Demon in today's Society, you ARE great! There is no character anymore, no integrity, no accountability, just, if it feels good DO IT and if ANYBODY doesn't like it, tell them to go to the Devil. Our prisons are overcrowded because of the lack of these things and it is just getting worse. I can gather from the above comments that I am right. Obviously not many of the above people who have commented have ever turned the page on their dusty Bibles or have ever entered into a church. Thank you for making my point.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Douglas

      "Our prisons are overcrowded because of the lack of these things"

      Well, it might help if people like you actually would get an education. If 80% of Americans are Christians then your religion isn't working. Plus you have to factor in population growth when making such a stupid comment. Christians like you want to blame everyone else for a poor society without taking a good hard look at your repressive religion. You belong to a cult and it's time it dies. Why don't you get off your azz and get involved in your community, that will start to solve the problem, instead of hiding your stupid head in a 2000 year old book.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Patrick

      Congratulations on having the most ignorant and intolerant post of the day! not only are you judgmental and do you make egrgious assumptions about the practices of other posters, you seem to have no knowldge at all of that book you wave around in your holier-than-thou rantings. It is specifically because of people like you that the founding fathers built a nation where people of all (or no) faiths have the same rights. Jesus would be embarrassed by you...you are EXACTLY like the Pharisees an Saduccees he preached against.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • MJ

      Excellent Douglas.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • sam stone

      So, WVLady, does god tell you to capitalize random words?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • sam stone

      "There is no character anymore, no integrity, no accountability, just, if it feels good DO IT and if ANYBODY doesn't like it, tell them to go to the Devil. Our prisons are overcrowded because of the lack of these things"

      Yeah, that must be it.

      West Virginia....1.8 million people, 15 last names

      November 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  10. Vic

    Jesus Christ came to this world to save it and not judge it! As simple as that! If humans were able to save themselves, Jesus Christ would have not needed to die for our sins! Before the "Dispensation of Grace" of God, by which we are saved through "Faith in Jesus Christ" as Lord and our personal Savior, Jesus Christ fulfilled the "Law of God" on our behalf during His ministry on earth, died on the "Holy Cross" for the "Remission of Our Sins" once and for all, descended to hell and defeated death, then rose from the dead on the third day bringing us "Eternal Life" and "Reconciliation" with God the Father! That is the "Unmerited Favor," "The FREE GIFT" of "SALVATION!"

    Now, throughout the ages, the above truth has been mixed up with the "Law of Sin and Condemnation" that Jesus Christ relieved us from for it was a curse and unachievable! With that mix up, religious people judged and condemned the world for immorality that the Lord Jesus Christ paid for with His "Precious Blood!"

    Religious people have forgotten two important things! First, the "Moral Code" is NOT a requirement for Salvation! ONLY Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Personal Savior is required for Salvation! Second, it is a "Natural Order" given by God that we need proper and acceptable conduct amongst each other to live a good life on this earth! That proper and acceptable conduct amongst each other is NOT "Sin Law," it is ONLY part of the "Law of Nature!"

    Therefore, the Christian Church shall invite people to "Believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Personal Savior" and WITHOUT JUDGEMENT! That's our "Faith!" "Love and Salvation," and the "Dispensation of Grace!" That is the "New Covenant/Testament!"
    That way, people will come in the masses!

    The Christian Church shall refrain from preaching to people the "Law of Sin and Condemnation!" That's the "Old Covenant/Testament!"

    The bottom line is, if you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and your personal Savior, you are a Christian, and you are saved, regardless of your sins! Whatever fruits come out of that Faith are the work and choosing of the Holy Spirit and not of ourselves! We can not plug fruits on trees!

    See Ephesians 2:8,9

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

      I like to picture Jesus as a figure skater. He wears like a white outfit, and He does interpretive ice dances of my life's journey

      November 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Vic et al,,,

      The 'meek' will 'inherit' this world when the end of the last Age befalls us. John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world"

      November 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • kenneth2

      You can take your imaginary dieties and shove them where the sun don't shine.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • sam stone

      i find it amusing that people desire eternity with a being from whom they have to be "saved"

      November 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • DJ

      Vic, you are sadly mistaken.. Scriptures and the church both tell us, that you not only have to love and have faith in Jesus Christ, but you also must live the life of a Christian. We are saved by God's grace, but we are given free will to choose good and evil...otherwise anyone from Hitler to Stalin could of said the same words and say I can lie, cheat, steal, and kill right up to the end and be saved...sorry, it doesn't work that way. It is God's will for all of us to be saved, but only those that believe in Him, obey His will, and folllow Jesus teachings will reach salvation. I sugest you reread scriptures and listen to those Christ left in authoriy, because you certainly don't know what you are talking about!

      November 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Vic

      @DJ

      As a matter of fact DJ, I speak out of conviction! Only God Almighty (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) knows a true Faith! No one can verify someone's Faith but God!

      In the meantime, people easily fall into self-righteousness which God hates the most after blasphemy! Self-righteousness produces three things for sure! First, self justification for Salvation! That's distrust in the Lord Jesus Christ! Second, it makes the self-righteous judge others! That's playing God, as simple as that! Third, hypocrisy is a given for there is no one righteous, no not one! (Romans 3:10)

      As far as authority, I suggest you read Romans 2:1!

      As for those who you mentioned, if they were true believers (only God knows!,) yes they are saved! That does not mean they were not accountable for their crimes before the people here on earth! That's the "Law of Nature" by God!

      Jesus Christ died for the ungodly! (Romans 5:6)

      So, my advice to you my brother, spread the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ (Roman 1:16) and His First Commandment (John 13:34) so people can get saved! Stop judging people and work based on the true Christian Faith that is summed up in John 3:16,17 and Ephesians 2:8,9!

      God Bless you!

      November 8, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  11. tim

    Decisive victory??? How long have you followed politics?

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

      What you smoking ?
      Yes decisive.. Are people left guessing who won or uncertain ?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  12. David from Nor Cal

    Prophecy?? What utter rubbish. I "prophesy" that at this moment, somewhere in the world, a midget is drinking orange juice. I further predict he is drinking it from a blue sippy cup. I further predict he is wearing a red shirt and bunny slippers. Am I right? Maybe, maybe not. If I am right, am I a prophet? No. And I am making specific "predictions" with little gray area.

    "Prophecy" is a huge indicator of just how gullible and easily influenced some people are.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  13. Jeff Cox

    Is there influence over? God, I hope so.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  14. Mr. Athiest

    Please end the madness. Christ and his band of dopes are irrelevant.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  15. Joe

    If the Fundy Christians want to live in a Theocracy, they should move to Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  16. ga.democrat

    The people I know professing to be the Christian Right are really not Christians at all. They are fear and hate mongners hiding behind the cloak of religion and conservatism. They get their news and their "facts" from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, thus having no idea of what is going on in the real world. Can't see much changing for this misinformed and hateful bunch who are riding the TeaParty Express straight to hell.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • wordsmith321

      Excellent comment; I agree completely. They're the ones to whom Jesus will say, "I never knew you. Depart from me."

      November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • hippie power 69

      good bye teagop. old white males and crazy christians are on their way out. it can't happen too soon. these people are the people of the 1950's and they don't know that their time is over. the republican't party is a party of old timers and can't go away soon enough. they are full of fear and hate and they think that makes them christians, i don't think jesus would agree with them. he was a liberal. he was a socialist. he was a communist. he was not for the management, he was not for the rich. he was for the poor and the meek. read your bible.

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

      Accurate description of the Christian Right.
      May also add 'self-righteous' zealots. This is not true Christianity at all.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  17. daveinla

    Its over. Communism does not allow for religion.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • The Reactionary Right is absolutely TlTANIC!!!

      Communism . . . that's hilarious!

      You want to know why the right took a drubbing yesterday? Because they have been saying angry stupid things like what you just said, and the tide has now turned against them.

      So keep up the crazy talk. It helps . . . the other side.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • wordsmith321

      Yeah, I wish! I was at a Karl Marx fan club meeting the other night and some Catholics were making the sign of the cross. I notified the Party chief, but he just shrugged his shoulders and said, "what can you do?" Sheesh!

      November 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Ruby

      This is dumb. Seriously, you need to do aomw reading, find out what the words you sling around mean and what is going on in the real world.

      November 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  18. Joe

    The American Taliban has lost this time around.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Ruby

      Yep, score one for freedom of conscience.

      November 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  19. me

    Record number people no longer believe, 8 years ago the young adults who could vote now couldn't then, and there are a lot more of them then those who believe. Continue telling people how to live and you'll have ZERO believers

    November 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  20. Reasonably

    Anything the Christian Reich does should be called into question.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Mark

      And you will have the opportunity when you are standing before God one day. Good luck with that.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • sam stone

      Marky Mark: Stand like a man, don't beg like a snivelling slave

      November 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Mark

      Christ dosen't make me beg. He gives us all a choice.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Mark: Ahhhh, threats of damnation. The last childlike argument from someone with no valid position or evidencial support.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Mark

      Not a threat from me. A promise from God. You have the choice and I am not the judge.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • @Dumb Mark

      If you are not the judge, why are you so judgemental, in other words shut up already, butt out?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Mark

      I did not judge. Read my e-mails. I said we will stand before God. All will and he will judge.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Eric G

      How could anyone have a choice if your god already knows the outcome? That would mean that he created souls just to torture them because he knew in advance they would choose wrong. The way you describe him, your god sounds like a bit of a dick.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • ExtinctGOP

      Mark your god is an extension of the human ego. Judgement ,wrath, hate and human failings like this are not of God. I suggest you you look to the same God known by Christ and others. You will never see God if you think God is what you are professing. Secondly God is not found in one religion alone. How many fellow humans have you condemned because they don't believe what your church or old testament interpretation told you ?

      November 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Mark

      Eric, you have a choice and can act or not act. I hope you would consider.

      ExtinctGOP- Please read my comments. I show no hate nor do I ever condem. That is up to God. All I do is try to share and make people aware. Period. Hopefully you will too choose the Lord and I will pray for both of you.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Mark

      As far as my belief . I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Only that belief alone will allow entrance into the Kingdom of God. As I said above. we all have a choice. What you choose is up to you.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • ExtinctGOP

      mark it is your truth alone. Don't force it on others or other religions. Those that know God know God is not found through belief, in a book or one religion. You ever travel outside of your country ? You should. You may see the evidence of God in many places -not your dogmatic beliefs.

      November 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Mark: As I asked above, how can it be a choice if your god knows what choice you will make? If he knows your choice, oesn't that mean he made you just so he can torture you for eternity?

      Don't dodge the question. You made your claim, now be a man and stand up for it.

      November 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      Marky Mark: And if you make the wrong choice, his virgin boinking mac daddy will punish you forever....

      November 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Ruby

      @ExtinctGOP:
      I'm impressed, a voice of reason and wisdom among the flock of fools. You do well.

      November 7, 2012 at 4:51 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.