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 (4,434 Responses)
  1. Kyle Dasan

    My Grandmother often said a phrase that I'll repeat here. "The times, they are a-changin'."
    Of course, now we have legalized pot, marriage equality, a gay senator, and a black president. Take that Grandma!

    My point is, too many people are thinking with their Bible's and not with their brain. The Bible should be taken as the work of fiction that it is, but with some good moral stories thrown in there. (I particularly like the first four books of the New Testament.) The Bible should not, REPEAT NOT, be taken literally.

    Religion has an evil habit of blinding people to logic and reason, because oftentimes, logic and reason run counter to their faith. If people would use logic and reason as a starting point, and then use educated faith to fill in the holes, world would be a far better place.

    Without change, there is no progress.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • pithy me

      Bob Dylan's your grandma?.I agree with your comment,Kyle.Tell me-what's educated faith?

      November 7, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  2. Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

    Have peace, Islam on earth, DUMP hINDUISM, DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE.

    Expect nothing better but mayhem among humanity by following of hinduism, denial of truth absolute, Allah, and following of hindu pagan Mithra ism, savior ism, neither commanded, nor allowed in Islam as a religion, but Theen Allah, consti tution of truth absolute. Foundation of American consti tution.
    hindu Mithra ism, savior ism invented little over 100 years after Sydana Mohammad pbh by tribes of Kujar of north Africa and imposition as Fatmid Khalaphit by force by denial of Hidth and Quran, justified by hindu Judaism, pagan secularism to impose hinduism, racism by hindu, fabricated relationship with Family of Syadana Mohammad pbh to justify existence of hindu criminal Kings, a violation of fundamental commandment, human equality under the LA. truth absolute Allah. Cause of conflict among Muslim's and cause of down fall of Muslim's and Islam in Spain.

    Sunisim, invented by Turk's by corruption of Quran and hidth to justify existence of hindu King's as Khalipha, after death of Ruler Mohammad, but later renamed, Mehmmat, wisdom of spirit of truth by siblings from his Armenian wife, follower of hindu pagan Mithra ism, savior ism in 13th century.

    Christianity, invented by hinduism,. corruption of truth absolute by hindu Pharisees, pagan self centered, follower of hindu filthy pig ism by corrupted Torah, known as Greek Torah, translated and commented by Ben Asheer in 250 AD in Yiddish, secularist, self centered language, also known as Old Testament, part of book of Mithra ism labeled as Bible. A way to justify hindu criminal Kings and self proclaimed Prophets, fortune tellers as god's to rule over humanity.

    JUDAISM, Self center ism, pig ism, or Atheism, invented by hindu's pagan's of Egypt by corruption of truth absolute in Torah to Justify hindu pagan Pharaoh's and their hindu pagan Santans, goons as god's to rule over humanity with impunity.

    word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity.
    Visit limitisthetruth.com to learn about hinduism, criminality of hindu's, criminals to impose hinduism, racism on humanity by hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by force.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Sandra

      Your tiresome tirade is getting old fast. Go do something else.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  3. Kate

    I very much doubt they will stop trying to put their beliefs onto the rest of us. They see that their power is eroding, as more and more people leave traditional religion, and it's frightening to them.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  4. Mormons are NOT Christians

    After the results, bible believers, your god has spoken. Now pay attention.

    November 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Jason

      Mormons believe in Jesus, so yes they are Christians.. Read a book.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • truth be told

      Not only are Mormons not Christians, Mormons are anti – Christs.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • sweetenedtea

      Muslims believe in Jesus too, Jason. That's not actually the definition of "Christian". Not that I care - the evangelicals and Mormons can hash the semantics out amongst themselves.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • swing state voter

      I have two copies of the book of Mormon and have read it (the writing style is very painful to read).
      Mormons are definitely not Christian.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Sandra

      JASON: No, Mormons are not Christians, they worship a different Jesus, even one of their past presidents has said this, in black and white, no less! And how can you call Mormons Christian when their own doctrines and beliefs contradict what Jesus taught and what is written in the Bible? It isn't possible. Either it is or it isn't or you are or you aren't.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  5. Strider

    Women – to the GOP & the religious right: You're not the boss of me!!

    November 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  6. Sartizzle

    "is Christian Right losing influence" I hope so and if so good riddance.. it's 2012 enough with the fairy tales

    November 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  7. pjkatz

    God, I hope so...

    November 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  8. Dave

    I think we're reading too much into this – and I don't know that there's a strong correlation. Next election could swing the other way entirely. Not saying that opinions don't exist, but i think this conclusion is a stretch – people vote for a number of topics, even some Christians vote for Obama...

    November 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Ben

      But the point is that angry, protestant white people are a dying demographic, and hence courting them will become less and less important to both parties

      November 7, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  9. Jackdack

    The Christian "WRONG" has no influence on this country any longer. Look what happened in the last four years with technology and the newer generation; imagine what will happen in the next four. Republicans, let alone Christian fundamentalists will be the dinosaurs of an America past. Good riddance religious freaks!

    November 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  10. Aaron

    I have to say, presidencies resulting from hurricanes are something that God meant to happen.

    November 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Mormons are NOT Christians


      November 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  11. nothing new here

    These people are a disgrace.
    They want as much government as the liberals they complain about.

    November 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  12. Postal

    Coming from the "religious" side of things, the world will do what it does. If I don't think abortion is ethical or moral, I will not support it and I will teach my children WHY I think it is not ethical or moral. If I don't believe in gay marriage, I will not participate in it and will teach my children WHY I don't believe in it, being certain to clarify that the values that I hold dear, and the religious commitments that I have made are NOT transferable to others. Just because I don't drink alcohol because of a religious commitment I have made, that does not mean others should not do it. In other words, people should promote their beliefs, but the political system and national laws are not the place to enforce those views. Jesus taught people what they should do to follow him and let those that didn't want to follow him go their own way.

    November 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Jesus was a child molester!!!

      Yeah, you don't exist..........

      November 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  13. amac

    Message to Republicans: time to leave the 19th century and join the 21st.

    November 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  14. God's Oldest Dreamer

    Religion should ever be a personal choice and not be made a public spectacle as many so do including the Christian Pharisees who incite their folds to make public policymakers shudder with mono-phobiatic fear. I love my imaginative yearnings about God and His Godly others, yet I will not make you believe in them. Yes, keep those Pharisees of religious dominations apart and away from public policymakers! Keep also away from governing bodies all those who acclimate disseminations of moralisms that fall upon a persons rights to choose be it any drug use or choice of gambling or paying for s3x! We are all moral people no matter our choices we make!

    Demoralizing the ebbs and flows of societal propogandist leverages seems to be all that politics can muster up nowadays. Just exactly how free is one when regarding personal freedoms to choose one's 'recreational' drugs of choice or for that matter how to gamble or where one can pay for s3x? Is Big brother always going to mother its' citizens creating in the folds many phobias due the illegalities of what I deem to be personal choices? Moral choices are personal choices and governments should not make personal choices in all manner of moralities.

    Love Lettuce.
    Love Let Us.

    November 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  15. Tom Paine

    This rejection at the polls will be repeated until rational, logical and reasonable candidates are proposed. Until then, most voters will reject extremism. How many more losses will it take until we will learn?

    November 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • athiest

      Until religious freaks leave the republican big tent, I will never vote for anyone from that party. I an further encouraged by the number of young people in this country who are not under the delusion of religion.

      November 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  16. Wilderness

    I have been a Pentecostal Christian for 6 years. For the last 4 years, I have never seen so much anger and hate from the Christian community on Forums. Many messages that the Lord told them this and that about such and such. Where the failed prophecies went by the wayside. I will no longer frequent these forums, whether or not Obama is the Anti-Christ. This is not healthy for my emotional well being of all this venomous hatred for Obama. If Obama is the Anti-Christ the so be it. It is in Gods hands. No need to sit around for 4 years and spew hatred under the guise of Christianity. I have seen that many cloak under the name "Christian" when in reality they use it as a White Sheet. I no longer consider my self Pentecostal as well. Just a Yeshua follower.

    November 7, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Interested48

      Obama is the anti-Christ only in their hate-filled minds. Congratulations on seeing the light!

      November 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer


      I have just 3 verses of scipture for you to dwell upon,

      1. John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world"

      2. Luke 17:21, the kingdom of God is inside you.

      3. 1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

      November 7, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  17. sarge from Utah

    They should take their rifles, retire to the countryside and make hooch!

    November 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  18. Dan

    "He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished." Proverbs 17:5
    If Christian Rights are actually Christian, they should consider the results of the elections as a divine will being manifested on earth.
    Obama is much more of a Christian than any of the Republic politicians can ever be.

    November 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  19. Jesus was a child molester!!!

    He was!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  20. zometimer

    Relgious right LOL! Those wackos belong in a zoo.

    November 7, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
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About this blog

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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.