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President Barack Obama prevailed over GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Democrats maintained control of the Senate, and Republicans held onto the House of Representatives last night—elections that likely will maintain status quo for federal politics on Capitol Hill.
But at the state level, it was a tough night for many evangelicals for social issues—including same-sex marriage, abortion funding, and legalization of marijuana—on the ballots in states such as Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Washington, Florida, and Colorado.
Here's a roundup of how prominent Christians are responding in the online, post-election conversation.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research: "We [Christians] must face the reality that we may be on the losing side of the culture war. For decades, the 'religious right' has focused its energies on winning the day through political means. But this year, voters in more than one state appear to have clearly passed referenda supporting gay marriage. This marks the first time for any state to legalize same-sex marriage by the expressed will of the people rather than through court rulings or legislation. While this certainly does not mean we should stop legal or political efforts completely, it does mean that we should begin thinking about what it looks like to be the church in a 'post-culture war' era. We need to be prepared to defend the protection of religious liberty as we move into the future."
Richard Stearns, president of World Vision: "While symbols can be important, (Christians) have focused perhaps too much on them instead of the underlying reality they reflect. Instead, we need to go back to the basics of living as disciples of Christ, living missionally for Christ and demonstrating the Gospel in tangible ways within our schools, workplaces and communities. … Christians can stop worrying about the symbols of the decline of Christian America and get back to the mission Jesus gave us to show the world a different way to live—a way that demonstrates the great character of God: his love, his justice, his compassion, his forgiveness and his reconciliation."
Russell Moore, dean of School of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: "We are going to disagree with the President on some (important) things; there will be other areas where we can work with the President. But whether in agreement or disagreement, we can honor. Honor doesn't mean blanket endorsement. … That doesn't mean slavish obedience. In a democratic republic, the President and the Congress govern by the consent of the governed. We appeal to our elected officials, and lobby them for the common good, expressing disagreement when we must."
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: "The 2012 election makes clear that Americans are divided over fundamental questions. … The election did not cause this division, it merely revealed it. This deep division at the level of worldview presents President Obama with a daunting political challenge, but a worldview crisis is an even greater challenge for the church. Evangelical Christians must see the 2012 election as a catastrophe for crucial moral concerns. … Clearly, we face a new moral landscape in America, and huge challenge to those of us who care passionately about these issues. We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions about marriage, sex, the sanctity of life, and a range of moral issues. This will not be easy. It is, however, an urgent call to action."
Matthew Lee Anderson, blogger and author ofEarthen Vessels: Why our Bodies Matter to our Faith: "A Republican party that shifts on an issue like marriage to pick up votes will win no more trust from the electorate than it had before. Trust is formed when politicians are able to make their case effectively and cheerfully, and from a strong sense of conviction. The failure of the political leadership to do that on social conservative issues is more a problem than the issues themselves."
Scot McKnight, author and professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary: "We are tempted to divide the USA into the good and the bad and to forget that the gospel has folks on both sides of political lines. Even more: we are tempted to think that the winners of the election are those who are blessed by God when the blessing of God is on God's people. God's gospel-powered mission creates a new people, the church, where we are to see God's mission at work. Therein lies our hope."
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church:"Our hope is not in the man we put in the White House but in the Man we put on the Cross."
John Green, religion and politics expert at the University of Akron, senior fellow at Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: "Maybe Hispanic Catholics were not as moved by (Romney's) religious liberty-type arguments as by immigration and economics."
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "We pray that you [President Barack Obama] will exercise your office to pursue the common good, especially in care of the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the poor, and the immigrant. We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty, religious freedom. We pray, too, that you will help restore a sense of civility to the public order, so our public conversations may be imbued with respect and charity toward everyone."