November 12, 2012
Is the Religious Right Over?
Last week more evangelicals voted for Obama in key swing states than in 2008.
In 2004 Evangelicals were credited with sweeping George W. Bush into his second term. But eight years later some are asking if the Religious Right's influence on American politics is over. For the last 30 years the Religious Right has been in lock step with the Republican party on issues like abortion and gay marriage. But last Tuesday multiple states affirmed same sex marriage for the first time by popular vote, and President Obama was reelected even though a record number of white evangelicals voted for Romney.
Daniel Darling believes many younger evangelicals, along with the rest of the country, is looking beyond just abortion and gay marriage. The failure of the GOP to address the wider concerns of religious people may explain their loss. He writes:
[W]hen it comes to the full range of issues evangelical churches are discussing, the GOP is really missing the boat. During the primary season, most of us were cringing at the statements being made by some of the candidates. I suspect they were being consulted by old-guard evangelical activists, who presented their candidates with the same portfolio of issues – taking our country back, abortion, tyranny, etc. So you had a Rick Perry running ads on ‘they are stripping God out of the country, etc).’ Most evangelicals now would cringe at that stuff.
"Instead, we are talking about, yes abortion, but also human trafficking, poverty, orphan care, adoption, etc. The primary hit on none of these, precisely because I think GOP’ers think all they have to do is appease … white conservative evangelicals. But in narrowing their appeal to them, they do lock up the white evangelical vote in a sense, but lose out on Hispanic evangelicals, some younger evangelicals"
There is evidence to support Darling's claim. While the exit polls showed evangelicals voting heavily for Romney, in Ohio and Colorado, two critical swing states, Obama actually improved his performance among evangelicals over 2008. Check out this video from CNN about religious voters:
What is your take? Has the Religious Right lost its influence on American politics? And do you believe that is a good thing? Share your opinions.