Religious Right Loses Power

A few victories, but more losses for conservatives
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"The Religious Right went into the elections with a Cadillac needing repair and came out of them with a Ford on three wheels," said one senior strategist for the Republican congressional leadership. Perhaps the biggest loss was Sen. John Ashcroft's defeat in Missouri by the late Gov. Mel Carnahan. Carnahan's widow, Jean, promised to accept an appointment as senator if her husband won. He did, and she was appointed by the governor.

Ashcroft had crafted the charitable-choice legislation that ordered federal and federally funded state social programs not to discriminate against religious organizations as service providers. This provision will come up for renewal this year, as will welfare reform. Senate losses, which include defeats of incumbents Spencer Abraham of Michigan and Rod Grams of Minnesota, also means that Religious Right administrative and judicial appointments could be blocked.

In exchange for a senator, the Religious Right in Missouri got a well-regarded freshman congressman, Todd Aiken, who is well-known for fighting legalized gambling. Aiken is an alumnus of Covenant [Presbyterian] Theological Seminary in St. Louis. The Religious Right also picked up Senate seats in Virginia (George Allen) and Nevada (John Ensign) and 17 other open seats in the House.

Although voucher votes in California and Michigan lost by large margins, referendums on marriage fared better. Voters in California, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, and Vermont reaffirmed the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. And Judge Roy Moore, famous for posting the 10 Commandments in his courtroom, was elected chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court.

Related Elsewhere


Don't miss Christianity Today's editorial on the election, "The Evil ...

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