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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 (4,433 Responses)
  1. God's Oldest Dreamer

    What then say you regarding the personal rights to choose one's own habits as long as it is not infringing upon moral civilities?

    November 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  2. therealpeace2all

    Where the heck is our friend *Ronald Regonzo* today ?

    I'm going to miss the ongoing posts of "Romney/Ryan 2012" :D

    Peace...

    November 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • sam

      HIding in a bunker somewhere, stocked up for the apocalypse.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I supect he is here posting under another alias.

      I could never tell if there weren't more than one Ronnies. Sometimes posts under that name seemed to mock the GOP.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  3. crazyworldoutthere

    Robert Jastrow (self-proclaimed agnostic): "For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."

    November 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  4. shhh!!!!!!!!

    Shhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! don`t tell no one but jesus was a guru sellin hooky pooky in a clay jar

    November 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  5. therealpeace2all

    Anyone know how the hell a crazy loon like Michelle Bachman actually won ?

    I have yet to hear anything good about her from her own people in her State.

    Anyone have any insight to this ?

    Peace...

    November 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • midwest rail

      The only I know for sure regarding Ms. Bachmann is that every time she uses a microphone, an entire colony of bats flies off course – in Europe.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @midwest

      LOL ! :D A really nasty "Butterfly effect" LOL !

      Peace...

      November 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • sam

      Christine O'Donnell cast a big witchcraft spell for her.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @thereallpeace2all,

      the political ticker ran a short story earlier today:

      http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/07/bachmann-wins-re-election-in-tight-race/

      It just goes to show you how strong a factor incvmbency really is. Even bat-shît crazy Bachmann can get reelected.

      It was close. She only won by ~4,200 votes.

      Michele Bachmann ........ 179,189 ... 51%
      Jim Graves .................... 174,891 ... 49%

      November 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  6. Answer

    You Americans should now focus on the environmental problems at hand. Educate yourselves on global warming.

    At this current rate of ignorance your nation's debt problem will escalate if you continue on your ignorant ways. What was the cost (amount) – damage done by Sandy? Are you going to keep on blaming your own elected president as nature adds to your national debt?

    Get moving forward like your president wants you to.. cooperate and fix your nation because your nation does affect this whole world.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Sandy and all natuarl disater ultimately reduce te overall debt because of the money generated by rebuildng, the taes generated by the workers, the icrease of land value by rebuilding. It is only by not rebuilding does it add...look up facts before posting.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Answer To Answer

      are you applying for some environmental job?

      November 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  7. mike

    America: one Nation under Law (not God), indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
    In Law we Trust.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  8. john D

    False teachings of the church are the reason why people are atheist or do not have any regard for bible standards. true christians are not supposed to intervene in politics.

    all this is just bible prophecy, God is not happy with the lies and false teachings of religion and thats why he is going to allow it to be completely destroyed rev 17,18 ..

    November 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • bob

      Atheist's dont turn away from god , they grow up like when a child stops believing in Santa and the Tooth fairy, and so you see it for how ridiculous it really is.

      I doubted Santa at 4 and Religion at 6, i find it amazing people still think rituals do something when they are adults.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • JFCanton

      What one may have thought at age 6 hardly sounds like a viable basis for an adult belief or non-belief system. If that's where you start, everything forward has an excellent chance of being nothing more than the same self-confirmation that Mencken's Tennessee snake worshipers indulged in.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  9. smart man

    One word says so much...

    C H R I S T A R D S

    November 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • crazyworldoutthere

      So angry brother..

      November 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  10. RudyG

    I fully expected the Left to be beating its chest today, and the media to be helping them beat it! Bottom line is almost half the country voted Republican. This was no landslide!

    November 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Take notes in that the heavily populated places voted for Obama while the loosely populated places voted Romney. Just a thought to ponder on,,,,,

      November 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @RudyG

      " I fully expected the Left to be beating its chest today, and the media to be helping them beat it! "

      And... if Romney had won, the Right would have been "beating its chest today", and the media would have helped too.

      What's your point ?

      " Bottom line is almost half the country voted Republican. This was no landslide! "

      Popular vote... basically true, it wasn't a 'landslide.'

      Electoral vote... not only a landslide but a severe 'thrashing.'

      Again, what's your point ? What does this have to do with the craziness of the religious right and the article ?

      Peace...

      November 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Mittology

      Considering how poor the economy is and how cocksure the Republicans were, it was pretty significant. Fox News and their "skewed polls" even questioned their own analysts who called it for Obama. Sore losers. Sore losers. Losers.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      And the Republicans wouldn't have been beating their chests if they had won?

      There just happened to be nearly 3 million more of us on the Obama side than on the Romney side. I haven't heard anyone describe that as a landslide, have you?

      Anyway, see you in 2016.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  11. smart man

    Religion is the hobby of the ignorant.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • bob

      And the answer for those who do not ask

      November 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • calebpinter

      That's an ignorant comment in itself. Either one believes in an intelligent designer that exists outside of time or one believes that there are trillions of parallel universes that were created from something else that exists outside of time and thus would be unobservable. Either way it's a faith claim. The only other option is to say that science is everything and its a waste of time to hypothesize about phenomena that have not yet been discovered by science. It being a waste of time to hypothesize and it being ignorant are two very different things though.

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

    I am a vegetarian, environmentalist, prochoice Republican and I am not the Christian far right, nor do I attend a church. In fact many of us do not believe in many far right issues but do believe in religious freedom, freedom of speech and other freedoms that we take so for granted, and what was fought for us future generations to have. I am against gay marriage as all cultures all over the world from the beginning of time developed marriage for a man and a woman to have children and was a ceromony to celebrate that union. I am for civil unions as many of my gay friends are and think it is sad that we attack those who have religious beliefs and then try to force them to accept something which is against their core values. Religious freedom is what brought many people to this country and that meant if you did not believe then so be it too. We have people from all over the world drawn here and to have the freedoms and chance unavailable in their old country. Our country is in a civil war....and sadly the Republican party branded itself to those who are far right....Romney is a moderate as many of us are but sadly it was the only party that came close to the freedoms and principles he, like many of us believe in.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      london,

      What then say you regarding the personal rights to choose one's own habits as long as it is not infringing upon moral civilities?

      November 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • sam

      "I am against gay marriage as all cultures all over the world from the beginning of time developed marriage for a man and a woman to have children and was a ceromony to celebrate that union."

      LOL oh my god, really? All cultures? From the beginning? Wow. You are so incredibly wrong...I'm embarassed for you. Keep trying to convince yourself with your made-up history, though, if it makes you happy.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • sam

      "attack those who have religious beliefs and then try to force them to accept something which is against their core values."

      I'm laughing so hard, you are comedy GOLD. You should do stand up. It's called civil rights, you fool, the 'core values' you're speaking of used to condemn interracial marriage, too. You need an enema at both ends.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • JFCanton

      No culture that we know of formalized gay relationships on the same basis as straight ones... is that better? Being able to point to Nero "marrying" his male slave (and things like that happened a few times) is not evidence. The occurrence and the social value (in that case nonexistent) are different considerations.

      The best evidence we have is what the Hindus did, which was divvy everyone up into groups based on the nature of their relationship (I don't remember offhand if this was only addressing gay men and/or eunuchs as opposed to women). I don't think that kind of sorting is objectively offensive, but in this country we had this little problem called segregation.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  13. Itscompton

    I strongly believe in the separation of religious beliefs from matters of state because there are too many examples throughout history and the world today of the harm that can be done when extremists come to power. But many here who claim to believe in being guided through life by logic or reason seem to forget the equally frightening examples of what can result from basing actions solely on the application of pure reason, unchecked by humanistic, ethical concerns.
    While I personally think that none of the various religious texts contain a direct message from a God or Gods as they claim to do what almost all of them do contain are moral codes meant to help in the establishment of harmonious communities of individuals. And the best of believers focus their religious beliefs on these areas of the texts in question. So those who are posting and saying they belong to Christian organizations and volunteer to help others REALLY are better people than all the smugly "reasonable" posters whose venomous diatribes against having any religious belief make them sound like a logically mirrored reflection of a religious extremist.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  14. crazyworldoutthere

    Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. "Albert Einstein"

    November 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @crazyworld

      What's your point ? You are evoking a quote from Einstein to say/prove what specifically ?

      Peace...

      November 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • sam

      I guess this is supposed to prove the existence of god or something.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  15. Religion is for retards

    The American Taliban got their asses handed to them last night. Couldn't happen to a better bunch of retards. LOL

    November 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  16. Reasonably

    Dear GOP – Vlad Tepes called – he wants his social doctrine back

    November 7, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Reasonably

      LOFL !!! :D

      Peace...

      November 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Vlad The Impaler

      Watch your step, mortal. Don't you know I will set you up on a pole and watch you suffer while I dine?

      November 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  17. crazyworldoutthere

    Let the hate, prejudice, and condemnation of Christians continue on the CNN blogs. You guys are far too angry for your own good.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Reasonably

      We simply can't compare to your righteous indignation. But thanks tho!

      November 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • crazyworldoutthere

      @ Reasonably: I'm not angry at all. In fact, I have a love of all folks-believers, non believers, etc.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • midwest rail

      @ crazyworld – if you really wish to see hatred, prejudice and condemnation, all you need do is peruse any article from the belief blog regarding gay people.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Disliker-Of-Idiots

      It is not just Christians, people with critical thinking skills can't stand all religions. Why would a free thinking want oppressive, ignorant, intolerant, hateful garbage based on ancient mythology.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • crazyworldoutthere

      @ midwest rail: I don't like that either. Gay people are loved as well.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      We are not condemning all Christians, just the far right wing nut jobs. I have a good Christian friend who voted for Obama and spends a great deal of his free time helping those less fortunate than he is. He follows his beliefs and doesn't try to force them on others.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Sane Person

      I'm not angry at all. I'm quite happy. We've prevented the crazies from dictating fables to the rest of us. Seems like a good day to me.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  18. smart man

    The time has come to embrace science and bury myth. Science is the only tool humans have to make life better and extend it. Praying to imaginary beings accomplishes nothing. It's the lazy person's way to fake action. Open a science book not the BuyBull. Let's hope that Jesus and God go the way of all the other failed religions we evolving primates have invented to cope with the unknowns of existence. For truth check out GodIsImaginary. Com

    November 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • truth be told

      It was God who gave science to man.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Reasonably

      @truth be told – the old god gave us X paradox...well played...old, stale and still wrong, but well played.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Religion is for retards

      Man created science to better understand the world ... and to get rid of useless religion and mythology.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • JFCanton

      That's probably not a helpful response, but the following two things are definitely true:
      1. Religion led us to science: first by making abstract thinking valuable, later by increasing the usefulness of literacy;
      2. Religion provides most people with a framework that they need for properly using what raw science can give us. Without it we'd have a lot of Lord of the Flies (ugh, hate to cite that).

      November 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Andy

      Actually, God has not gone anywhere that man didn't take him.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • smart man

      Actually Santa Claus gave science to man, not the imaginary sky daddy known as god. Or was it Zeus? You need to read Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • truth be turd

      It was God who gave the Clap to Mary.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  19. Russ

    All this talk about voting blocks – but population density certainly appeared to be the primary factor in determining how a region would vote. Just look at the voting by county nationally.

    Here's why the Republicans are in trouble:
    as the city goes, so goes the nation.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Reasonably

      No – Republicans are in trouble because they simply cannot face the fact they are driving themselves into a hole with their dark ages social agenda. Being a republican used to mean fiscal conservancy with social moderation – during the mid-90s the Christian Reich started steering the ship and look where they are now...

      November 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Russ

      " All this talk about voting blocks – but population density certainly appeared to be the primary factor in determining how a region would vote. "

      Yes... certainly was a strong factor, in terms of geo-demographics.

      " Here's why the Republicans are in trouble:
      as the city goes, so goes the nation. "

      And... that is far too simplistic to leave it at that.

      I would point you to @Reasonably's post above mine for some very salient points. The Republicans are in trouble with they continue to let the religious right run their party.

      Peace...

      November 7, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  20. lloyd roberts

    They're the reason this New England libertarian republican, who's family had been republican before anyone in the south ever considered being a republican, bolted from the party and remains politically homeless. The religious right, or value voters, or social conservatives are not real conservatives. They want government to act on behalf of the individual and legislate morality. it isn't the governments job to legislate morality or many other things. True conservatives, of which there are only a handful left in the repub party, know this

    November 7, 2012 at 6:05 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.