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.”
Yes, their views were rejected, and over time the percentage of people who will vote for a candidate who supports the attitudes of the Republican Party will continue to dwindle. America will enter the 21st century, no matter how hard they try to fight it. Science and reason will replace their anti-knowledge attitude.
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.
The religious right is countered not only by secularists but by a growing number in the religious community who share the political views of the left:
Meanwhile, religious liberals are gradually becoming more visible. Liberal clergy members spoke out in support of same-sex marriage, and one group ran ads praising Mr. Obama’s health care plan for insuring the poor and the sick. In a development that highlighted the diversity within the Catholic Church, the “Nuns on the Bus” drove through the Midwest warning that the budget proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, would cut the social safety net.
My question for the religious right is why the feel that they must impose their views upon others. They can discourage their own daughters to refrain from having an abortion, but they have no right to deny a woman the right to control her own body. Legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage does not mean they have to partake in either. Do they really not realize that many of us liberals do not either? The difference is that we do not feel that it is morally right to impose our life styles upon others, and see no reason why it would even be desirable to do so if we could.
Why don’t they just declare victory in the knowledge that in secular America they personally have the right to refrain from having abortions, smoking marijuana, or marrying someone of the same sex? Liberals are the ones who support this view and desire to protect freedom of religion. This was also the idea behind the Founding Fathers forming a secular state characterized by separation of church and state. In the past, some religious organizations saw separation of church and state as the way to ensure that they were free to follow their own religious beliefs. Stop believing the falsehoods spread by Republicans who support a revisionist history of the founding of this nation. If the religious right would just give up their need to impose their views upon others, they would see that a country moving to the left gives them the freedom to follow their religious beliefs. They should just declare victory in their personal lives and keep their views out of politics–as was proposed by the Founding Fathers.