Christian Conservatives Failed to Sway Voters


Christian conservatives, for more than two decades a pivotal force in American politics, are grappling with Election Day results that repudiated their influence and suggested that the cultural tide — especially on gay issues — has shifted against them.

They are reeling not only from the loss of the presidency, but from what many of them see as a rejection of their agenda. They lost fights against same-sex marriage in all four states where it was on the ballot, and saw anti-abortion-rights Senate candidates defeated and two states vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

It is not as though they did not put up a fight; they went all out as never before: The Rev. Billy Graham dropped any pretense of nonpartisanship and all but endorsed Mitt Romney for president. Roman Catholic bishops denounced President Obama’s policies as a threat to life, religious liberty and the traditional nuclear family. Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition distributed more voter guides in churches and contacted more homes by mail and phone than ever before.

“Millions of American evangelicals are absolutely shocked by not just the presidential election, but by the entire avalanche of results that came in,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., said in an interview. “It’s not that our message — we think abortion is wrong, we think same-sex marriage is wrong — didn’t get out. It did get out.

“It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed,” he said. “An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.”

Conservative Christian leaders said that they would intensify their efforts to make their case, but were just beginning to discuss how to proceed. “We’re not going away, we just need to recalibrate,” said Bob Vander Plaats, president and chief executive of The Family Leader, an evangelical organization in Iowa.

The election results are just one indication of larger trends in American religion that Christian conservatives are still digesting, political analysts say. Americans who have no religious affiliation — pollsters call them the “nones” — are now about one-fifth of the population over all, according to a study released last month by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The younger generation is even less religious: about one-third of Americans ages 18 to 22 say they are either atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular. Americans who are secular are far more likely to vote for liberal candidates and for same-sex marriage. Seventy percent of those who said they had no religion voted for Mr. Obama, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research.

Written By: Laurie Goodstein
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  1.  The last vestiges of the 13th century swept away soon?

    These people lost an election they should have won by sticking to 13th century ” values ” in a 21st century would. It is hoped they do not see the error of their ways and slyly make adjustments to the strategy, but just quietly fade out of the picture.

  2. It’s nice to hear that they acknowledge the real change in the moral landscape. That americans are beginning to value different things. They just now have to realize that these changes aren’t necessarily bad things. They are, in reality, good things.

  3. Let’s keep on doing what we do. Despite claims of being militant and shrill, putting the rational message out there is obviously working.

  4. A truly scary Republican candidate would be one that was overtly non-religious.  They have lost the last two elections  directly because of their religious overkill.  Sarah Palin was the downfall of the McCain run for president. This year it was not one person but rather the attitude conveyed by much of the constituency and the candidates:  anti woman, anti gay, anti science, pro life, pro gun etc….

    When will the moderate republicans realize that they are not viable while pandering to the nut balls?  I mean I have had discussions with family members of mine who are republican and they  even manage to minimize or defend the “legitimate rape” idea.  Distance yourself from it and I’ll know you are capable of thinking for yourself.  Defend or minimize it and your mind has to be being controlled.

    Anyway, when the republicans back off of the ultra religious stance (I do not know when that will be) they will start to field viable candidates.  Then the choice might be less obvious.  

  5.  “It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed,” he said. “An
    increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has
    rejected them.”

    At last.  Illumination dawns! You’re just a loud, irritating and boorish minority. Get used to it.

  6. @rdfrs-69125da2802c924e92f3b03dd67cd8f0:disqus I agree.  And now we will have to endure the magnification of the “persecution complex” that they love to espouse.  If we thought that they played the “poor me” card too frequently when they were the majority, imagine what somersaults they will be turning now that they are truly a minority!

  7. It’s better than a lot of non-Americans think.
    There are a large amount of younger voters who want to be Libertarians (fiscally conservative) but they vote (and even register) Republican as the default. Personally, I’m a Liberal American, but the more non-religious, socially progressive Conservatives there are, the better.
    So- yes- there is hope and momentum building. It’s called the younger and much much much more secular voters in the USA.

    Here, in Maine, there was a huge (and successful) drive for Gay Marriage. Many young (and middle aged) Republican/Libertarian people helped vote it in.

  8. They aren’t admitting to a problem with their beliefs or regressive platform – they’re claiming that the problem lies with a larger portion of the American public becoming immoral heathens.    They really seem to believe they lost the election because Satan succeeded in getting godless heathens to the polls in greater numbers.  Republicans aren’t going to change – they’re just going to double-down on dumb.

    Case in point:

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