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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. jOE bAR

    . oN HIS FRST STATMENT WAS i DON'T WANT TO BE PRESENT OF TH u s a , BUT LEADER OF THE WORLD, IF YOU DON'T BELEIVE ME CHE ANDTAKE A LOOK OF THE WHITE HOUS, NO FLAGS, NO READ WHITE AND BLUE NO FLAGS, EVEN HAS REMOVE THE FLAG ON AIRFORCE ONE, HE HAS NO RESPECT FOR OUR COUNTRY HAVE ANYBODY SEEN HI WITH A FLAG HELL NO

    November 12, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • WOW

      You're drunk this early in the day, get some professional help.

      November 12, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Observer

      jOE,

      All are LIES from the right. Do some fact-checking with Snopes, etc. so you won't make such a complete FOOL of yourself again.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      You're an idj10t.

      A simple google of 'Obama White house' or Obama Airforce one' and images shows you flags in abundance.

      But you'd rather repeat some wingnut blogger or other. In all caps. 'shouting' no less.

      There's likely no hope for you.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Whatever you are smoking is too strong for your weak mind. Cut back.

      November 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  2. TheEyeofGodisWatchingYou

    We can get 100,000 people paying high dollar for stadium seats every week across the nation to watch men in tight pants slap each other on the butt every time they tackle another man to the ground trying to hurt them while they carry a senseless ball from one side to the other. We can't get 5000 people every week to work together and pay $5 toward doing something productive with their time to feed hungry people or help out their community or do something as a group that will matter. This is the problem with religion. As for all the non-religious people bishing about how bad religious people are, your exactly as disgusting and weak.

    November 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Cal

      How exactly are we non-religious people "as bad" as the religious? We put our charity money into things that actually focus on helping people, not converting them to our particular brand of faith with some effort in giving people something they actually want, as bait.

      November 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      I'll bet big money that the vast majority of those sitting in the stadium, getting blltzed out of their minds claim to be christian.

      November 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  3. WachetAuf

    The major reason the "Christian Right" awakens such hostility is due to the fact that they are such hypocrites. Wake up. Jesus was not a "Christian". He was a Jew. He was ostracized, humiliated and murdered by the herd. The genes of his murderers iive on in the leaders of today's herds who call themselves "Christian" and "Republican". They have never read, let alone tried to understand and integrate, Jesus' message into their lives. They worship Santa Claus, an Easter Bunny and material wealth. They murder those who accuse them of being the "Great Satan". Maybe, just maybe, they should have a conversation with their accusers. They can start by reading Jesus' message.

    November 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Bob

      Those are some extremely bold claims. Do you have any evidence to support them.

      November 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Cal

      Jesus was supposedly executed because he taught a liberal brand of faith that the ultra conservatives could not abide. Does anyone doubt that the Religious Right would do the same to him if he returned today?

      November 12, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • lol??

      Cal-libby, were you born with that twisted mind or did you have to work at it? "Luk 7:27-28 This is [he], of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

      November 12, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  4. Apple Bush

    November 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    November 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Observer

      Ask ALL the Republicans who prayed before the elections. Nothing changed that made them happy.

      November 11, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • EQ8Rhomes

      I see REAL people praying for good health, and a basically comfortable life, and even eating right, not smoking or drinking at all, but they get sick and suffer in many ways in life. I don't see that "prayer helps" them.
      When they suffer, they pray harder, and religious "authors" tell them to prayer even harder and more often and make more religious sacrifices. But they are not any better off than their non-praying counterparts.
      But, to each his own....

      November 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • tony

      Not for you, or we wouldn't be here replying .

      November 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is a degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 12, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs

      November 12, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  6. Apple Bush

    November 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  7. ken

    in case all the agnostics and atheist forget: Prez. Obama professes Christianity as his religion

    November 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Obama is a higher functioning Christian. He lives a normal, useful life in spite of his affliction.

      November 11, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      In case YOU forgot, doofus, the plural of "atheist" is "atheists." Do you really think anyone forgot that Obama is a Christian? I doubt it. It's simply secondary to other issues. I don't give a rat's azz what his religious beliefs are, as long as he is clear on the difference between democracy and theocracy. I have no ill will toward believers, as long as they don't attempt to force others to give up rights to live according to their supersti tions.

      Obama didn't get elected because or in spite of his beliefs, nitwit.

      November 11, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • EQ8Rhomes

      Which Faith should a national leader profess? Should a U.S. President need to profess a Faith, and why? To me, it is merely aligning with a certain Faith, so as not to alienate the believers, who are still a major force to reckon with.
      Australia's PM, Ms. Julia Gillard is an atheist and lives with a man she is not married to.
      I congratulate Australians for being open minded. She may or may not be a good PM, but that has nothing to do with Faith or lack of it.
      Question: Did their faith make historical figures abstain from their known sins or refuse ill-conceived legislation?

      November 11, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Cal

      If Obama is anything he's a liberal Christian, and I have no problems with that kind. They don't bother me, so I don't bother them.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • cecil

      you say that like we atheists are supposed to hate christians. we don't. most of us don't want religion to disappear completely. we just want it to be absent from politics and from the laws we follow.

      atheists advocate secularism. obama is a secularist. we don't have a problem with his religion at all, so long as he keeps it out of his policies, and he has.

      November 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  8. Joe

    "“The historic nature of these results are hard to overstate,” Jones said."

    Evidently he was so shocked by the election result he couldn't get his noun and verb to agree.

    November 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • ko

      in case all the agnostics and atheist forget: Prez. Obama professes Christianity as his religion

      November 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I doubt anyone's forgotten. It's just not that important.

      November 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  9. Nietodarwin

    I don't know anyone who just vomits all over the table when others are sitting there eating. Why can't these xstians realize that this is the effect they are having on our society. I don't believe in "god" or heaven or hell, but as far as I'm concerned the xstian right go strait to the latter.

    November 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      I meant to write the "xstian wrong"

      November 11, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  10. Person55

    We're certainly not in the ones that many Christians say we're in. People have been believing that we're in those particular ones since Jesus left the earth. Almost 2,000 years later, and here we are, still alive, with people STILL making the same claim.

    November 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      Unfortunately, most people can't step back enough to see that Christiniaty was/is an apocalyptic death cult. Though, The book of Revelation is really a quite generous hint at it.

      In EVERY generation, there have been people who believed that the world would end 'quite soon' 'in our lifetimes'. With a swell of membership around the hundred and thousand year 'marks'. Once you study enough history, you see it.

      November 12, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  11. Person55

    Lol I love how this is producing so much arguing, as well as talk about the "coming end times". Yes because political and religious problems are BOTH TOTALLY NEW to our planet. Right. Lolz

    November 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • End Religion

      we are in end times. end times started when the planet was born and goes until we or the planet goes extinct. but that "end times" doesn't involve imaginary beings.

      November 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  12. Torrence

    Hey lets go to a magic building, complete with magic statues and crosses, This helps the praying,lighting candles and robe wearing magic get to a God in the sky. Before the magic can be sent to this God you must put some money in the floating basket.

    Sound ridiculous ? because it is !

    November 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  13. bob

    I love when some bible thumpers post quotes from bible, they think they are spreading the word of god, but in reality they are pointing out how really insane it is to believe in magic. thanks crackpots !

    November 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      I would agree bob, but don't forget that these thumpers are guilty of psychological bad deeds against children and the weak minded. They need to be stopped, not just laughed at and tolerated.

      November 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Bob

      Its even funnier when atheists quote it, and claim to understand its meaning.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • Observer

      Bob,

      It's even funnier when believers pick and choose what they like from the Bible and totally ignore all the conflicting and nonsensical parts.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  14. TheBdl1978

    Hopefully the ignorance in this country is slowly fading away as people become less religious. Christianity has controlled this country since.........well, since we slaughtered the native americans and stole their land. But that's what god wanted the christians to do so that he could have a country to call his own so now it's one nation under god. Nevermind that it wasn't always a christian nation or that Jesus was not american. We still believe what makes us feel good inside. I like feeling warm and fuzzy so i will reject logic and rationale altogether. I'm happy as a little girl in my religious bubble where reality doesn't seep in.

    November 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • EQ8Rhomes

      Religious ideologies HAVE become outdated and have been superseded by others in the past., e.g.: Greek, Roman, Middle Eastern pre-Islamic belief systems, Pharaonic religion the Mayan system...
      Now, what makes people think theirs will last for ever, even beyond the life of the sun?
      I see religions as economic systems to garner the means of survival for the most zealous, at the expense of the meek.

      November 11, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  15. Joheva Gira

    Jesus told me to vote for the Muslim.

    November 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • midwest rail

      So you didn't vote. Gotcha.

      November 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Cal

      Too bad there wasn't a Muslim to vote for.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  16. David Crosby

    I have it from the highest authority...Jesus was gay...

    November 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  17. art

    I live in Utah. I am not a Mormon. This state is reeling. They were dreaming about a Mormon president. It was going to be the literal fulfillment of one of Joseph Smith's pedictions. Google the "White Horse Prophecy" I don't think the people that voted for Romney really understood what they were voting for. Mormons sure did. Thank you, Jesus. You still love America.

    November 11, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • End Religion

      reality is not something any religious person handles well

      November 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  18. loyal liberal

    It seems women needed to be reminded why all women should vote progressive; because of liberals, we are now "allowed" to wear pants, vote, go to school, own property, are not considered property, serve in our military, drive, decide when to have a baby, and how many.....this is freedom from religion.

    November 11, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • lol??

      Wellbroad, you sure seem to know a lot about the broad path to destruction. Athena taught you that? Feels good?

      November 12, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  19. old golfer

    Personally, I don't feel that people are turning away from God as much as just getting away from religion. Who wants to go sit in a Church for an hour or more and be told you are not a good person and going to burn in hell? God gave man reason. Man gave man religion, all religion. We all have a good side and a bad side. Our goal should be to find the good more than the bad, without religion, preferably.

    November 11, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • lol??

      Old goaler, err goalie, you sound like a socie with all that "we" talk. Have you always had such a need to belong?

      November 11, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Dog

      Which god ? Zeus, Ra ? there are so many in the history of mankind

      November 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Cal

      If you believe in a god you're still bogged down in religion. Why is this so hard for folks to understand?

      November 12, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • CosmicC

      As much as it pains me, I must agree. I've seen all of the religion polls citing a growth in the "none of the above" column and it lumps atheists like myself with deists who do not like established religions. I think it's this latter category that's growing.

      November 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  20. OldMo

    There's no doubt the 'falling away' is well on its way. In short, for non-Christians this is a prophecy concerning end times and how many church members will no longer follow sound doctrine. In other words, you'll have buildings with crosses out front filled with people who aren't interested in God's word. Therefore you have a lot of people who identify themselves as Christian who really aren't Christians. I'd assume anything goes with these people when it comes to voting.

    November 11, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • lol??

      Religion is Babylon and falls TWICE......"Jer 50:24 I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the LORD."

      November 11, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • tony

      All the updates to the bible to keep up with current events and technology,etc., are displayed is messages to us by the stars. See Genesis 1:14. US Evangelists are still trying to manage their lives based on Bible old version 1. No wonder they are having problems. They need to apply the patches discovered provided by the Astrophysicists – big bang, etc.

      November 11, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • MaryM

      Funny, it's usually the people like you who like to point that others aren't "real" Christians that I find the most unsociable. If you people are the best example of what Christ was actually like it's no wonder that people are shunning all of you.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:16 am |
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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.