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. Mike

    One is a Christian not by the label he wears on his but by his actions that match with his beliefs. A true Christian will NEVER support abortions and gay marriage. Obama conveniently labels himself Christian only to get votes ... he stands for nothing .. he has no principles and no leadership ... he just follows POLLS – which if show that there are electoral gains to be had from labeling himself Christian and re-inserting God in DNC platform – he will do it ... an opportunistic UN-principled man ... this is what America is coming to ... SHAME!

    November 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Charles

      Your opinion of what a true Christian is, you mean? What you guys fail to realize is that you want to rob other Christians of their freedom to believe in a more moderate faith, and that just isn't very American at all. Shame on all of you!

      November 8, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      gay marriage is about equal rights. if you do not want equal rights for all citizens, you are a bigot. if you use the bible to support your bigotry, you are a pious bigot

      November 9, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  2. Kyle

    Hopefully this article is incorrect. As a liberal, I'm so happy that these complete and utter idiots have destroyed the republican party. Such small minded people, full of extreme prejudice and complete disrespectful to any one who has a different view or belief than theirs are laughable in this day and age. The only thing more laughable is the fact that the republican party let these people overrun their entire platform. Ha, ha, ha! Four more years!

    November 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  3. us_1776

    The Sky Fairy does not exist.

    Get over it.


    November 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    November 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Huebert

      Lets test that claim 😀

      November 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Religion is great

      Prayer works. Romney won the election. Proven. Pops

      November 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Religion is great

      I'm not mentally unstable. Proven.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • us_1776

      The Sky Fairy does not exist.

      Get over it.


      November 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • TPD

      Prayer has been proven not work.
      Please use facts when reporting such non sense.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • truth be told

      There is no test required for Truth. That is not a claim it is a fact.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Aradan

      Prove it – since I’m a skeptic!
      I’ll even help you try to prove it to me by providing you an easy test.
      Pray for lightning to strike… say, 75 yards away, but directly in front of me tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.
      I might believe your claim of prayer working after that.
      Until then, you might as well be sporting a bone through your nose while beating a voodoo drum …

      November 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Huebert


      If it is a fact you should have no problem demonstrating prayers power to change things. Why all this resistance? I'm only asking you to do what you said you could do.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • truth be told

      Those God loves He has chosen and predestined to be His. There is no test that can make you acceptable to God, sorry about you all.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Informed Atheist

      If prayer has the ability to heal, as we often hear about when it comes to illnesses that are often treatable through medicine, and/or self limiting, then why do we never hear about a different sort of healing. For example, why have no amputated limbs ever been grown back through prayer? Anxiously awaiting your answer.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Huebert


      Now it all makes sense. You are a Calvinist. Though you might want to be careful with that holier than thou att.itude, and overly judgmental personality of yours. You very well may not be a member of the elect.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Val

      Considering who actually won the election, maybe Blue State Jesus is the one that actually exists?

      November 8, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Aradan

      truth be told – Do you really, really believe there is a deity that only loves a portion of his domain – in a deity who really has predestined the vast majority of creatures to suffer? What kind of a deity predestines creatures to suffer?? Sounds like a sociopath to me.

      I challenge you to step back for some perspective...replace the name of your deity with any other ones that have been discarded throughout history (i.e. Zeus, Odin, etc.) and repeat your statement using an older name. See how it sounds...
      “Those Zeus loves He has chosen and predestined to be Zeus’s. There is no test that can make you acceptable to Zeus, sorry about you all.”

      If you still believe it, I’m sorry for you too.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  5. Raj Alexander

    Look, fact is GOP lost the election and I voted for Gov.Romney as I did not feel that the President is capable.Have said that , the election is over , I pray that this President does well for the sake of our country and its people but all this talk about Christian right being dead is really overblown.The fact is God is still in absolute control and it is what it is for a reason .If God can use a rock to glorify his name he can surely use Barack Obama and will not need the Christian right! .So lets move on.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • ME II

      Agreed, for the most part. I hope those who voted for Obama have chosen correctly.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • humanbean

      Yeah, like he used Hitler to kill all those Jews. You people are certifiable.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • truth be told

      There was no Christian choice available.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  6. jvance

    Not a fundamental "moral" realignment but a realignment of secular vs religious emphasis. Simple demographics that cannot be reversed.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  7. Emma in Baltimore

    Many evangelicals chose politics over ministry. Even though Obama is a Christian, they would rather support any Republican than any Democrat. They got too involved in politics, and they lost sight of their stewardship.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Name*hipac


      November 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Mike

      You are a Christian not by you label but by your actions. A true Christian will NEVER support abortions and gay marriage. Obama is a Christian only to get votes ... he stands for nothing .. he has no principles and no leadership ... he just follows POLLS - which if show that there is electoral gains from calling yourself Christian and re-inserting God in DNC platform - he will do it ... an opportunistic UN-prinicpled man ... this is what America is coming to ... SHAME!

      November 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  8. david esmay

    For the sake of the country, let's hope it's over. Religion is the single greatest obstacle to man's evolution.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Tom

      Well said Religion has done far more damage to mankind then any good that might cone out of it. To accept god is to abandon reason.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  9. Ann Wilson

    When god told Adam and Eve that they would eventually get sick and die and not live forever, did he say that animals would also get cancer, kidney disease and leukemia? Why should the poor inocent animals have to suffer too? This is
    why I don't believe in the personal god of the Bible.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Mike


      what are you saying? are you saying - you can understand why God will give sickness and death to humans ... but you cannot get around to accepting the same for animals? LOL

      November 8, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • humanbean

      Mike, I love how you failed to understand her point.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  10. fuglyflorio

    Mythology. Sorry folks ... it's all just stories.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Tom

      And poor stories at that. In the case of the old testament all borrowed from older books. There is a reason that the bible is written to a 7th grade level to accommodate those who believe it.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • humanbean

      Yeah, but you have to admit the one about the man who was mocked by the children who subsequently were mauled by the bears because of it, is quite entertaining.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  11. SachinK

    Republicans blame Christie for Obama's win proves yet again these people are not looking for the best guy but only want their guy to win. And then they turn around and call themsevles patriots in the same second. Nothing but thugs in my view.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • humanbean

      Exactly, and in turn they could care less about the failure a long the way as a result. Afterall, we have no control. It's all God's plan, or whatever other contradictory mumbo jumbo they can come up with. Or is it free will? Now I'm confused.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  12. md

    Funny, christians are generally the most judgemental folks you will meet. They read the Bible and say they live by the Bible but it always seems they pick and choose what they want out of the Bible to suit their life style or to fight their battles. Churches need not get involved in ANY civil issues until they start paying taxes.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Ron

      They should pay taxes but still stay the HELL out of politics

      November 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  13. brian

    before catholics try to control the rest of the country with their ignorant fairy tale beliefs and hatred, maybe they should focus on all the corruption and child molestation that occurs within their own organization. or as i cal it, the catholic mafia

    November 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Ron

      The extreme right movement in this country are evil and hateful. They can't change who they are and they won't – the only change they will provide is a new mask on the same evil hearts.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  14. avgguy

    German speakers will recognize "Scheissmann"... and it is very apt

    There have been gay people since there have been people. What's the big news...

    November 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  15. brian

    which day did god create the other planets? there's a thinker

    November 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  16. Prospero


    Seriously though folks don't superbeing overlords rule?
    They give us SO MUCH how can we not worship them?
    Oh that's right they don't do anything, my mistake.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Tom

      Don't forget that this is a god of love...some people will buy into anything.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • humanbean

      Yeah, the great creator of this vast universe with such low self esteem that he had to create humans to worship him.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  17. Myto Senseworth

    God is dead.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  18. Wilbur Scheissmann

    Maryland voters tell me, on which day did the Good Lord create buggery and allowed the joining of two men?

    November 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • TrollAlert

      "Wilbur Scheissmann" degenerates to the loser list has been added.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • SachinK

      Same day he created thugs who use his name for power and profits over fellow human beings.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • oliver gert

      I do believe his test run model was the catholic church

      November 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • sick of christian phonies

      Right before he told the Israelites in 1 Samuel 15:3 "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'" Nice guy, that barbaric killer you worship.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Tom

      Sameday he pulled the wool over your eyes.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • humanbean

      It was the same day he created love...or are we talking about the ruthless Old Testament god?

      November 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  19. ReligionIsBS

    Is it just me, or does nobody care what any religion tells us we should do anymore? Including those who claim that religion.

    And thats called progress.

    November 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      It is just you

      November 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      ...or America!

      November 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Dixie Normus

      Religion's time is passing. The rethuglicans are aging, and not getting replaced by younger voters. Time to really live in the land of the free.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  20. Wilbur Scheissmann

    Maryland demands that we turn the other cheek. I do not think that is what the Good Book had in mind!

    November 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • TrollAlert

      Add "Wilbur Scheissmann" degenerates to the loser list.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      Which "cheek" do you mean, Wilbur?

      November 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Mr. Ed

      Ohh Willburrr!

      November 8, 2012 at 5:32 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.