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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. Shake

    Are you all...out of your minds? The stupid election is over! You can watch T.V. now!

    November 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Sane Person

      I can watch TV and provide secular retorts simultaneously. All of us can; we take special classes.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

      No, hindus, criminals have not changes their mind to be truth full, struggle to eliminate hinduism, darkness of hind, illegality must continue till the end of hinduism, , illegality and hindu's, criminals from the face of earth.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Shake

      Oh yeah? Well that won't work. The computer is in a different room, so...

      November 7, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  2. sybaris

    The population is becoming more informed and educated.

    Religion requires ignorance to perpetuate

    It's only a matter of time before reason rules

    November 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • JFCanton

      One of Aristotle's students probably said something like this.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

      hindu boy abuser Aristotle. Catholic priest of hindu, dark ages.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  3. Mikey

    End, Dark energy is imaginary, so are black holes. No one has every seen either, and never will. It doesn't make you delusional. It makes you educated. Bitter and hateful atheists need to ask yourselves why you exist. There is no reason, but you do exist. The expansion of the universe occurred at such a specific pace, one quintillienth faster or slower and no life would exist. Some argue that is proof of God, or that there are infinite universes. Either answer is profound. I'm a Democrat, but I'm not so smart to think humans are the pinnacle of the universe. Keep an open mind.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who says they're "the pinnacle?" Who knows what will occur in the future? Certainly I don't, and neither do you. The fact that we don't know how the universe began is not a reason to conclude that goddidit.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Mikey

      " Keep an open mind. "

      I agree.

      Peace...

      November 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

      and you are hindu, lair in hinduism, darkness of hind, dark ages.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Bravo

      Unlike God, black holes, dark matter and dark energy are measurable phenomena. We can directly observe the affects of a black hole on other celestial bodies and make precise calculations on such. This cannot be done with the concept of God, hence God is imaginary and a creation of the mind and subject to change as information continues to become more easily available and reason and logic triumph over mystical super beings.

      As for our purpose in life, it is no different that any other creature on this planet. We are here to survive as best we can and procreate. My daughter is the reason for my being despite all the other contribution or lack their off that I give or take from society, ultimately it was my job to keep the human race going.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • fritz

      I exist because I can. I need no other reason than that. ;op

      November 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • End Religion

      @mikey: "End, Dark energy is imaginary, so are black holes. No one has every seen either, and never will. It doesn't make you delusional. It makes you educated. "

      I will assume this is a reaction to my "if you talk to imaginary beings you're delusional" post. If so, please note that I do not talk to dark matter or black holes as if they will grant my wishes. And as someone else pointed out, those things are measurable and therefore not imaginary.

      ***
      "Bitter and hateful atheists need to ask yourselves why you exist."

      I guess this leaves me out since I am neither bitter nor hateful.

      ***
      "There is no reason, but you do exist. The expansion of the universe occurred at such a specific pace, one quintillienth faster or slower and no life would exist. Some argue that is proof of God, or that there are infinite universes. Either answer is profound."

      I need to get to Colorado for some of that legal weed if we're going to marvel at the universe together...

      ***
      "I'm a Democrat, but I'm not so smart to think humans are the pinnacle of the universe. Keep an open mind."

      Who said humans are the pinnacle? That's laughable...

      November 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  4. therealpeace2all

    I'm surprised HeavenSent hasn't been around to tell us how cursed our Country is now ?

    Peace...

    November 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      You smug atheists vote for the son of satan and spew the filthy lies of the enemy. My camel-toe had to vote absentee due to illness. Keep tempting the almighty God, your Father in Heaven, and see how our country is cursed for all eternity.

      Amen.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • fritz

      @ heavensent The bible does seem to say in Revelations that some day the anti-christ will be defeated and christ will rule on Earth and in Heaven.....but not today. ;oD

      November 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      @fritz

      Carnal being, thinking and doing, never to learn Jesus' spiritual truth. All words are divinely inspired by God to scribe the Bible. My 12-year-old daughter made a small fortune pulling the levels outside the polling booths. Wave to me when I reside with Jesus and you're sitting complaining with your atheist buddies on the wrong side of the divide.

      Amen.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  5. Sane Person

    Wow that prayerbot guy was right! Prayer DOES change things! I knew god preferred Obama =)

    November 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  6. Has anyone seen Ronald Regonzo?

    I hope he didn't jump off a cliff. Sort of.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Oh I am quite sure he is here, but he has to retire that name of course. He is probably the idiot trying to convince everyone that the election was close.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Has anyone seen Ronald Regonzo?

      No doubt. I'm still hoping for his withdrawal from public life.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  7. tfbuckfutter

    This election cycle was a great step toward halting Dominionism.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  8. 1freethinkr

    Luckily the flocks at churches around the country are thinning, and growing older. Young people now have access to information and these things called facts. The more you know the less likely you are to be religious. We dont need invisible beings to explain things anymore, or Iron Age books either. I welcome the coming age of reason.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  9. Does evangelical vote reflect God?

    November 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Meatwad

      I like his smile ya'll. I can see my reflection in there.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Huh?

      Wow. That picture is very image of a looney.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      I tried to give him a chance but 4-5 minutes of that odd droning accent was all I could take.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  10. John Stefanyszyn

    The "religious" voted for President Obama because the first way of life that they embrace is freedom of their rights, their religions....Obama believes in equal rights for all religions, for all gods.

    ...all worship the "god of all fortresses" before and above Christ.

    ...all desire to serve and magnify oneself...this is XES...this is the mark and image that all serve.

    BUT it is Christ that will rule.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Stop please...you;re making my cheeks hurt from laughing so hard

      November 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  11. CJ

    Wow, what a short memory! The election was yesterday and already many have forgotten that over 57 Million people in this country voted for Mitt Romney. Less than 3 million people separated the vote. How can anyone actually believe that the right, in its current form, isn't speaking to and supported by a large number of people? One act of terrorism on our soil here and people will again flock to the right, because you all need crisis religion.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • End Religion

      Some traditionally Republican states in the south will be moving Democratic as immigrants take the place of old white men. Texas is next to go blue. Repubs are running out of states.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  12. Who invited me?

    JFCanton
    Several tribes native to America had perfored joining ceremnes of gay couple for centuries before the christan god was created..

    November 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Some details like the name of the tribe would be helpful? And a union ceremony is not sufficient: it has to have the same status and such. There is an African tribe (don't know the name, but findable in a Google-scanned book by searching for the general topic) that blesses relationships between women. But not for what we would call a marriage equivalent... it's like a weird big-sister relationship.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  13. John the Historian

    Now we know the God of Joseph Smith is a false God. Joseph Smith was a con man, rapist, and polygamist with one wife as young as 14 years old. Joseph Smith never received gold tablets form some archangel moroni. His translation of Egyptian papyrus has proven to have been wrong. The book of mormon would have had to weighed 200 pounds to contain the book of mormon. Mark Twain called the book of mormon chloroform in print. Mormons or Latter Days just disband. Your prophet only worries about his collection plate. Rededicate your temples to some other Christian denomination. Just face it Brigham Young was also a rapist and murderer.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Sandra

      Glad to know that someone else is exposing mormonism for the false religion that it is.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  14. Ed

    It's time for the religious right to get off the stump, go back to the pulpit, and stick to their religion. The nation has far bigger fish to fry than the abortion debate that is never over and all the worries about whether or not someone is evangelical enough. Look at all the TV preachers that have been caught with their pants down, so to speak, while spouting selective literal interpretations of the Bible.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  15. truth

    Good, maybe we can pass normal laws now without having to worry about religion rearing its ugly head. Is this the dawn of a new era without religion? Boy how i hope that is the case.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  16. n

    Republicans in the house remember your election coming up in 2 years, work with the president Obama and Democrats otherwise enjoy the last 2 years in Congress because u will not be elected. Women and minorities are voting in high volume.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  17. CheeseSteak

    I have a lady at work who is a far, far, right-wing Christian Born-again, Evangelical, Church-lady, wackjob. She's on suicide watch

    November 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • End Religion

      lol... i imagine near constant sobbing.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • sam

      Just now? Sounds like she should have been for a long time already.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Prayer doesn't change things?

      November 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • sam

      Can't imagine how she's managed to survive the last 4 years with a darkie in the white house who loves TEH GEYS

      November 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @CheeseSteak

      Fear not, for it is but God's Will. It is her path, she has free choice ya' see.

      I shall pray for her.

      Amen.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Has anyone seen Ronald Regonzo?

      I fear he may be dangerous to himself and others as a result of the re-election of Obama.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      Poor Ronald Rebozo will have to rework that macro for "ROMNEY / RYAN 2012"

      November 7, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I weep for him...

      November 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  18. Disappointed

    Why are so many of you so incredibly angry and hateful?? This world sucks, yes. We have wars. We have poverty. We have crime. We have hatred. We have so much ignorance! Take a step back for a second and think about what's important to you and realize that those same things might be important to others as well. We don't have to agree. We don't have to have the same values or beliefs, but damn it, don't be so selfish to think that what's important to you is the ONLY thing that's important! Give people a chance. There's no judgement here on your background, your preferences, your beliefs, your income, your friends, or your politics. What's wrong in this world (PERIOD) is the sickening selfishness that each one believes that his/her own world is the only thing that matters. Try being kind for once. It goes a long way.... We will never get anywhere in this country with all of this hatred. It's so sad. And those of you spewing it make me so disappointed to call you fellow American's. We are so much better than this garbage...

    November 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • CheeseSteak

      Shaddup

      November 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • sam

      Should we sing kumbaya now?

      November 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Democracy makes people greedy. Capitalism more so. They jump start a country nicely, but you wind up right where we are.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

      Can not do without truth in life, can any one, and be a hindu, denier of truth absolute, essence of life.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Government controlled 'phobiaticisms' tends to lay waste to any individual's freedoms to choose one's own habits. Big brother is always mothering its' folds never giving them a chance to choose their own habitual tendencies be it drugs or paying for s3x or deciding what to gamble on and how much. Just think Big Bro peeps as to just how much money can be made via taxation and what have you upon these three habitual tendencies of one's left to their own vices freedoms to choose.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • PBeJ

      'Disappointed', thank you for your words!! SO true! Why must folks – especially Christians – be so mean and ugly. Again, just look at all the name calling of Obama. Muslim, lazy, etc. That HURTS! I'm a Christian and knowing folks are treating obama this way becasue he's black, well, you're not showing the love of Christ. God must be disappointd that His people are displaying such an ugly face of Christianity. I pray the real face of Jesus comes out – and perhaps then others will be brought to Christ.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  19. Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

    Truth absolute, constant holds power over the world, follow none truth absolute God, and live by truth absolute, way of Allah, truth absolute, to have peace among humanity, and dump hinduism, corruption of truth absolute religion, handy work of hindu Jew's, denires of truth absolute GOD secular s, Visit limitisthetruth.com to learn hinduism criminality of hindy Jew's, criminal secular s to hind fool humanity.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  20. Sonic10158

    I'm a Christian, but I'm not right-winged. Take that, stereotypes!!

    November 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • End Religion

      if you believe in and/or talk to imaginary beings, it doesn't matter what kind of wings you have. You're delusional.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • HM8432

      ...said the guy who thinks a catastrophic explosion like the Big Bang had no source, and that all life and things in nature just mysteriously created itself, then somehow managed to function perfectly. THAT's delusional thinking. Everything around us points to an intelligent Creator, and is proof of it; we are merely living with the after-effects of that creation, and that includes the process of Evolution. If the atheists were correct, then I should be able to throw a hand grenade in my garage, and wait for that 67' Mustang I always wanted to magically appear! But that will never happen, because it's impossible; someone must create it first.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Or you might be deluded about your grasp of logic...

      Epistemology is messy. Anyone who claims to be certain of the correctness of their knowledge system, or the incorrectness of anyone else's that isn't provably invalid (NOT that can't be validated), doesn't have any ground to stand on. It's loads more credible, logically, to be agnostic than atheist.

      November 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • End Religion

      *snicker*

      @HM8432: Congrats, you've summed up the world's ignorance of the universe and its workings. I understand it's tough for you to grasp. Your ignorance simply doesn't equate to "god did it". Even if what we both understand to be "true" is actually false, it simply does not mean "god did it". I do not know what sparked the bang, but I'm not satisfied with my ignorance on that topic and so hope to find the answer. You have found bliss in your ignorance and do not wish to know anymore on the topic. If you were interested in knowing more, you'd kill yourself immediately to instantly know all.

      @JFC: we may actually be in agreement here, but language is a tricky monkey. There are 2 different questions that often get mashed together. "Atheism" (the opposite of a belief in Theism [at least one god]) is an answer of "no" to the question "do you believe in any gods?" There is no "i'm not sure if i believe" – one either does or does not. If one wishes to argue some middle ground then one does not believe, otherwise one would be worried about the repercussions.

      "Agnosticism" is claiming "I don't know" to the question "Do you know whether or not god exists?"

      One can be an agnostic atheist. To complicate matters for me personally, while I do reserve a tiny percentage chance for the possibility of a creator, I do not believe in a god and I definitely have enough supporting evidence to "know" there is no abrahamic god. So you may catch me on this blog saying "there is no god" because I believe the facts plainly show that the god most people worship simply never existed, even though there may be some creator which would be nothing like what man envisions.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:07 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.