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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. 83Hawk

    The 'Christian' Right is neither.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  2. kathyrae

    if there is a God, hopefully so..

    November 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  3. M Stockdale

    All I can say is, "I hope so." As evidenced time and again throughout history, the Christian movement has done far more harm than good in its efforts to control to governmental activies of a nation.

    The sooner the Christian right influence goes away, the better. Let us all hope though, another religious movement doesn't decide that means it's their turn. Keep religion out of politics – period.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  4. Aristocles

    They will be back in 2016.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  5. mike

    I predict that the Democrats will never run another white candidate for president and that the Republicans will never again win the Presidency.

    November 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  6. BoboDaMonkeyBoy

    A Republican candidate could not be elected without the support of the Evangelical power base. These people have hijacked the party and have repeatedly attempted to inject their religion into the government to create a Theocracy and force their religion on others. Until the Republicans lose this baggage there won't be a responsible govt. I would like to vote Republican but my fear of closed minded bible thumpers who want to set back our education system, social reforms, free thought and our culture as a whole, outweighs my fear of skyrocketing national debt, slow economic growth and higher taxes (incidentally higher taxes are coming no matter who is in power. Someone's gotta pay for this mess. )

    November 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Hey, who said you could post something rational here?

      November 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • M Stockdale

      Amen, brother...Amen. You and I think almost exactly alike on this issue.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Dawn

      I continue to hope there are always more voters like you out there...thinkers who don't follow a party, but follow their message (or lack of it).

      November 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  7. higgs boson

    PACs...PACs...PACs...........pacpacpacpacpac.....at some point the 99% become irritated that the 1% are trying to buy an election...we would like to thank the koch brothers (and their ilk) for pumping hundreds of millions into the economy...i'm sure media employees appreciate their largese...ha,ha,ha

    November 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      The best entertainment a billion dollars could buy!!!!
      Watching millions of right wing nuts having to choose between a moderate Mormon or a moderate black man!

      November 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  8. Dawn

    Republicans need to move to the middle in their message. They will gain those independents and moderates who believe in their message on government spending. They can't worry about the evangelical crazies on the far right because who are they going to vote for, if not Republicans? Just look at Billy Graham's about face on Mormonism, late in Romney's campaign.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • higgs boson

      the R's actually think they lost the election because they weren't conservative enough...their strategy is to find more morons

      November 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  9. Joshua

    Does anyone really care what Ralph Reed says anymore?

    November 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  10. Dawn

    Sinclair Lewis quote "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag & carrying a cross."

    November 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      We say that really start in 2000.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • mike

      He was wrong. It's here already and it's wrapped in liberal dogma and carrying a chip on it's shoulder. Liberals are the FIRST to scream about equality for everyone but also the first to scream when you don't agree with whatever viewpoint they take. The state of the country resembles Germany in the early 1930's. And THAT'S with the Liberals leading the way.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Brian

      Yes, minus the racial discrimination. You're an idiot. Have you ever actually studied German history?

      November 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Mike

      Mike can you define fascism? Please look it up and get back to us on that!

      uuummmmhhh Do you think you could do that?

      Thanks,

      Mike

      November 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  11. zaglossus

    Religious fanaticism belongs to the childhood of the species. The Republican Party would be more viable if these Christian extremists would just grow up.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Dee

      "I just don,t get how these Southern Evangelical "Nut Jobs" keep voting against their own interest???? No Abortion and Guns are the only thing they vote for? How can a Southerner call themselves "Evangelicals", They embarrassed this country so bad,"With the Brutality and murder of the Civil Rights Era!!!!!!! Stay Red, thats where you belong!

      November 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  12. zaglossus

    Religious fanatacism belongs to the childhood of the species. The Republican Party would be more viable if these Christian extremists would just grow up.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  13. Sally

    The Republican party will soon abandon religion. Its the major culprit behind many of their judgemental decisions. Pushing their religious beliefs onto the politcal arena has left many of their potential voters excluded. They have failed to keep religion separated from politics. Jesus never got involved in the politics of his time. He told his followers to pay their taxes and help others less fortunate among other things. It seems to me and many others, that the Republicans are less "Christian" than the Democrates. If they (Republican Party) continues on the course of attempting to inforce their beliefs onto others, it may lead to their political demise. Religion seems to have a negative impact for many throughout history, its looking like it may have a cloudy future too.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      Actually, everything Jesus said and did was in retaliation to Roman rule. He mocked them openly. For instance, remember when he rode into Jerusalem on the white donkey? He was making fun of the Roman senators who rode into towns on a white horse. He couldnt' openly oppose Rome because they would have executed him, so he did it in a sideways sort of way. When his preachings started to get a little to close to what the Romans didn't like to hear and Jesus upset the apple cart when he chased Rome's money changers and tax collectors from the temple, that was reason enough for Rome to arrest him and execute him. Remember, Rome wouldn't tolerate any resistance. Look what happened to the events that led up to Masada.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      "When his preachings started to get a little to close to what the Romans didn't like to hear and Jesus upset the apple cart when he chased Rome's money changers and tax collectors from the temple, that was reason enough for Rome to arrest him and execute him"

      Shame they didnt kill the delusional idiot sooner

      November 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • War of attrition

      Yes Sally that is true,however how Can a politician be either and be true to god...you may only serve one master
      God or mammon
      Politics disguised as modern saviors that's laughably funny as the Antichrist will profess the name of the lord ,in service to mammon to lead the sheep astray.democrats are socialist fascist pigs,republicans are warmongering thugs..both hungry for your permission to steal your power. If we are children of god,we have some power right? after all monkeys dont give birth to rhinos......catch the drift that Christ was trying to set..heck I bet most peoples computers are safeguarded from corruption,better than we allow ourselves to be.
      Do either of these sides seem Devine to you,or are you a willing participant in the deception?

      November 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • The GOP need to pack up and leave

      Actually, Jesus wasn't a delusional idiot. He did something that we take for granted now and no one thinks would have happened back then - he basically "took over a business."

      Jesus was a stonecutter, a manual laborer. He probably never traveled more than 10 miles from his home town during his entire life. We can guess that he was pretty close to his cousin, John the Baptist. They grew up together. John was only a few months older than Jesus. In fact, Jesus may have been closer to him than he was to his own brothers. So he sees how John is making a much easier living than he is. John has people following him and listening to him. He got 'offerings' to pay his bills when he went into the towns whereas Jesus had to work for every penny he got. When John was killed, Jesus took over his business which was, in our terms today, a ministry. The people knew him. He'd probably been seen at several of John's rallies, was probably introduced to some of the rich folks who followed John by John as his cousin and best friend. They would easily have followed Jesus since it was the custom in that day for family to take over when another family member died. He mocked Rome, basically from a flanking position to try to keep them from coming after him, but eventually, he went a bit overboard and got the Romans angry with him.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • BoboDaMonkeyBoy

      The GOP need to pack up and leave : "Jesus upset the apple cart when he chased Rome's money changers and tax collectors from the temple, that was reason enough for Rome to arrest him and execute him" um have you read the bible at all? The money changers in the temple were Hebrews. Jesus' issues were NOT with Rome but with the Pharisees who were the religious right of his time. He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey because it was prophesied that the messiah would do so. Also if you remember from your bible studies that Pontius Pilot AND King Herod did not find him a threat at all. It was the priestly class that found him dangerous to their agendas.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Vic

      Actually, Jesus was arrested as a result of the betrayal of Judas Iscariot who was paid by the Chief Priests of the Jews to do so. And when Jesus was brought to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, he found nothing wrong with Jesus! Pontius Pilate wanted to release Jesus but the Jews refused and insisted on Barabbas instead! Then Pontius Pilate said to the Jewish people "I am innocent of the blood of this just person," referring to Jesus! Then the Jews said "His blood is on us!" The Jews, and not the Romans, accused Jesus of blasphemy and had Him crucified! That's also why Pontius Pilate had a plaque inscribed with the Jews' accusation of Jesus "King of the Jews" posted! And when the Chief Priests of the Jews asked Pontius Pilate to take it down, he refused!

      November 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  14. mk

    Crime and teenage pregnancy are at an ALL-TIME LOW, and there are more and more people becoming non-religious. Coincidence? I think not.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  15. no big deal

    I hope they keep fighting in extreme ways. It ensures left wing victories and decreased relevence of religion. Win – win.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      The people that do not see the reality around them in the first place and place their faith in fantasy are going to be the last ones to see the changing reality around them. This has worked for them for the past 20 years and I'll bet that MANY will stay in denial that it is over for quite some time to come.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  16. marykate

    I've got the good news for everyone- Jesus isn't going anywhere!! He is risen and he is the good news for all. Forever. He is the best influence for all. Even CNN.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      OK

      November 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Religion is for retards

      Time for your meds ...

      November 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      He was born in an obscure village.
      He worked in a carpenter shop until he was about thirty.
      He then became an itinerant preacher.
      He never held an office.
      He never had a family or owned a house.
      He didn't go to college.
      He had no credentials but Himself.

      After preaching three years, the public turned against Him.
      His friends ran away.
      He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
      He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
      While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His clothing, the only property He had on earth.
      He was laid in a borrowed grave.

      Twenty centuries have come and gone,
      and today He is the central figure of the human race.
      All the armies that ever marched,
      all the navies that ever sailed,
      all the parliaments that ever sat, and
      all the kings that ever reigned
      have not affected the life of man on the earth as much as that ONE SOLITARY LIFE of JESUS CHRIST, who is the Lord of all creation and our coming King. All creation knows Him and obeys His laws, except the hearts of rebellious mankind, whose father is no other then satan himself. This s tragedy of human race.... choosing to follow the wrong shepherd....

      November 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      I've got the good news for everyone....people are pulling away from the iron age comic book

      November 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      zzzZZZzzz
      zzzZZZzzz
      zzzZZZzzz

      Oh are you done with your self-rigtheous attempted mental retardation of those who do not blindly accept your religious idiocy?

      November 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      "All creation knows Him and obeys His laws, except the hearts of rebellious mankind, whose father is no other then satan himself. This s tragedy of human race.... choosing to follow the wrong shepherd...."

      And YOU have the right one, eh prisspot?

      November 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Damocles

      @prism

      I was humming the theme from Gilligan's Island while reading your post. Damn near fits.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Christianity is a lot like going out for a day trip and getting stranded on an island with a bunch of idiots for eternity.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • yea?

      duly noted.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      marykate

      I've got the good news for everyone- Santa isn't going anywhere!! He is risen and he is the good news for all. Forever. He is the best influence for all. Even CNN.
      .
      Uh huh

      November 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      I'm glad the Day is coming when Christ's enemies will face Him whom they mocked!
      As it is written "Prepeare to met our God"(Amos 4:12)
      Remember that you are made of dust!

      November 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Damocles

      @prism

      Mmmm Dust in the Wind. Love that song!

      November 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      PRISM 1234

      I'm glad the Day is coming when Christ's enemies will face Him whom they mocked!
      As it is written "Prepeare to met our God"(Amos 4:12)
      Remember that you are made of dust!
      -
      2000 years and counting. Your dead christ is as real as Santa

      November 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  17. USMCJock

    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.

    Ummm...but (1) they didn't turn out enough...and most importantly, (2) Romney lost. What does Reed need to talk about?

    November 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      They have a massive influence!
      And they used it sufficiently enough to ensure another victory for Obama. If they want to keep that up I'm sure the Democrats will be thrilled!

      November 8, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • babs

      I think of myself as a "values voter" and I voted for Obama. So,.... the problem here isn't that not enough "Values voters" turned out to vote. The problem is that values voters don't share YOUR values. Get a clue.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • M Houston

      Ralf Reed needs to quit talking! He and Grover Norquist have "talked" the whole country into the mess that
      we're in. If he keeps talking I hope he talks himself and his co-conspiritors, Norquist and Carl Rove, right into prison.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  18. Leah L. Burton

    I agree with you, but it goes farther. I am a researcher and activist working to protect the separation of church & state and am founder of a project called The Kryptonite Project where we compiled a list of ReBiblicans (not republicans) who ran for national and gubernatorial offices in every state and put this info in an interactive map to make access as simple as possible for voters. It can be found at http://godsownparty.com/blog/2012/11/2012-gop-rebiblican-candidates-interactive-map/

    We are now preparing to release a new post with the Wins and Losses for these ReBiblicans as soon as the final results are in. An overwhelming number of these unknown theocrats did win on Tuesday. The ones that went down are those whose brazen missteps outed their extremism like kryptonite.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Dawn

      Thanks for the link. And the Sinclair Lewis quote "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag & carrying a cross".

      November 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  19. Dawn

    I consider myself a progressive Christian, specifically a Lutheran. And I really believe that politicians should live the principles of their faith, but they should not try to interject their specific religious beliefs into our politics. Separation of church and state is necessary if we want to be inclusive to all in our great Melting Pot.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Leah L. Burton

      I couldn't agree with you more, Dawn and I was raised Lutheran as well. My mother on the other hand was sucked into the dark world of Christian Dominionism and never came out. It is a scripture-twisted version that favors the leaders and enriches them while oppressing its followers. Very sad...

      November 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  20. War of attrition

    Yeshua said to follow him,where in the world do cognitive dissident people not get this,where does it say in the bible Jesus said to follow the church? Or religion? All these things are of this world,fallible in the hands of man....readers of the book does it not state this theme over and over again? We in the west are so detached from the truth of the gospels,mislead like sheep ready to be sheered for the slaughter..followers of Jesus will be beheaded,and praise those that die for his sake,not the churches sake.......we live in a world of half truths,scriptures stolen from the gospel by crusaders and power hungry men,he'll bent on u's not knowing our true father.. Weather you believe or not( I open my eyes every day) so it's not hard to
    All will stand before the lord on the day of reckoning which man will no doubtedly usher in and those who don't believe or against god will try to wage war on the almighty to no avail,only to be left in ruins.....the great Satan ( adversary ) will be all who oppose god in battle,that serpent of old is still here today,we live in the middle of a brood of vipers and this website is part of the venom aimed at distorting the faithfuls belief as well as a an agonist for those who wish to continue to disbelieve......CNN is anti god
    To my brothers and sisters who truly live in Christ
    Peace be with you and never forget your path despite the darkness that is trying to consume you,bring enough oil for your lamps to live in this darkness and bring extra in case of a delay,he will not abandon you....we will not be forgotten
    Amen
    To those who don't,I know the myth of Santa and the easterbunny really choked up your insides to find that they were not real,but childhood is over and it was a cruel human joke designed to make it that much harder for you to believe in that which visits you and you can't see,no matter you have life so is it too much to ask for a little belief? Or respect for those who do? Your father loves you too as we are all his children,not just believers...praise be for the living,it's not too late:
    God does not belong to us,and this world belongs to him...

    Peace to everyone on the face of planet earth

    November 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      childhood is over and it is a cruel human joke to get people to live as if this life is not important.

      It is time to grow up an take responsibility for your life. This one. The only one you or your children will ever have. Make it a good one. Be good to others and have fun before you die!

      November 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Kaegro

      Words with out proof or substance are not worth the ink/pixels they are made from.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:20 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.