Early online punditry: Religious conservatives are in control of the country

George Bush has been given another four years in the White House, say both conservative and liberal activists, but the biggest winners today are probably religious conservatives. It's no mistake that his acceptance speech today included a promise to "uphold our deepest values of family and faith."

"The evidence points to the evangelicals as Bush's primary engine of victory," writes National Review's Larry Kudlow.

Religion poll guru John Green and Steve Waldman of Beliefnet do the math on the exit polls and agree: "In the pivotal states, he benefited from the strong support of evangelical Christians and, just as important, an impressive showing among regular churchgoing Catholics and mainline Protestants."

The Christian Coalition says "Christian evangelicals" are the group that put Bush over the top. The Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and former Bush opponent Gary Bauer prefer to focus on "values voters."

Concerned Women for America does a bit of dancing.

"Evangelicals voted in force in this year's election, securing the presidency for George W. Bush, granting parents in Florida the right to be notified before their minor daughter's abortion, and passing marriage protections laws in every state they were offered — even liberal Oregon," writes senior policy director Wendy Wright. "President Bush knows his strongest base, who they are and what drives them. Perhaps this is because, as many evangelicals and conservative Catholics can relate, he is one of us." (He's a conservative Catholic? No, as Green has earlier explained, "traditionalists" in both Protestant and Catholic camps have more in common with each other than they do with their ecclesiological cohorts, so the "us" refers to traditionalists, not Catholics.)

He's not one of "us," says James Ridgeway in The Village Voice. With the deck, "Bush gets mandate for theocracy," Ridgeway gets apocalyptic. "The dream of a secular, liberal democracy is lost: Christians are stronger than ever, and whether it's true or not, the spin will be that they played a key role in building the Bush base. The visceral, cutting edge of the Bush mandate is the attack on same-sex marriage, led by the Christian Right." Also troubling, he says: "Republicans without a doubt have made some, if only marginal, gains among black voters."

Well, with maybe it's time for Democrats to change their message, says Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. "Democrats peddle issues, and Republicans sell values," he writes. "One-third of Americans are evangelical Christians, and many of them perceive Democrats as often contemptuous of their faith. And, frankly, they're often right. Some evangelicals take revenge by smiting Democratic candidates."

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No way, says Stephen Pizzo at Alternet. "Yes, the Values Party won because they pandered to America's fundamentalists. But I disagree that Democrats need to jump aboard the values express. … Democrats should not become value-whores like the GOP. That would only accelerate the Talibanization of America."

Such "dismissing, and even belittling, evangelicals' deeply held beliefs may not be a smart tactic for winning national elections," says Wright. But now that evangelicals are the most powerful voting bloc in the country, we need to be on our guard, she says. "Shrewd politicians will look for ways to peel off our votes and to woo compromise on issues about which we have no right to bargain—such as the right for the most vulnerable to live."

Some activists's claim that "pro-life voter turnout" led to Bush's win should certainly be tempered by the overwhelming passage of California's Proposition 71, which promises a $3 billion expenditure for embryonic stem-cell research.

And it's not like we just elected the Abraham Lincoln of the unborn, says American Life League president Judie Brown. "The Bush administration's first term has been less than sterling in terms of total commitment to the pro-life effort," she says. "The malaise that will accompany Mr. Bush's re-election, I fear, will eat away at the edges of the pro-life battle without generating a clear victory for the personhood of every innocent human being. The definition of what it means to be pro-life will take another hit. Due to decay from within, this could spell the end of what we have known as the pro-life movement."

"Clearly, there is work to be done within our house," says Concerned Women for America's Wright. "First, we must ensure that evangelicals remain faithful in our civic duty to vote for people who, as nearly as possible, reflect biblical views. Second, we must teach our people how righteousness is worked out in public policy. Evangelicals and conservative Catholics distinguish ourselves from other special interest groups in that we do not seek our own advancement or political power; we want to see virtue respected so the people may rejoice. Our newly exercised muscle must be used wisely, only in God's service."

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More articles

More election reaction:

  • God and terror at heart of strategy | Bush has long nurtured the Christian Right (Roy Eccleston, The Australian)
  • Economic policy, abortion are intertwined | As this wretchedly drawn-out political campaign comes to an end Tuesday, the issue of abortion still will be with us (Leo Sandon, The Tallahassee Democrat, Fla.)
  • Dark cloud of presidential infallibility | Up in the clouds the woman bared her soul wrapped in the certainty that our future depended on the man God had picked to do His work on Earth (Myriam Márquez, The Orlando Sentinel)
  • Bush unbound | Winning on fear itself, the GOP is ready to take the country even farther right (Sidney Blumenthal, Salon.com)
  • Hoping to land on God's side | In America, church and state may be separate by law, but faith and politics are joined at the hip (Dennis Sasso, The Indianapolis Star)

Presidential election news:

  • Churchgoers, white men strongly support Bush | President Bush won a majority of white men, churchgoers and white, born-again Christians, while John Kerry drew his strongest backing from blacks and led among Hispanics, according to voter exit polls yesterday (The Washington Times)
  • Religion plays key role when casting votes | White South Carolinians who attend church regularly are faithful not only to their god, but to the Republican Party (The State, Columbia, S.C.)
  • Can we overcome the divide? | Trinity College Professor Mark Silk said it will be interesting to see how Bush's evangelical Christian base of supporters reacts to the election result (The Hartford Courant, Conn.)

California stem-cell measure:

  • Calif. voters back $3 billion stem cell measure | A controversial California ballot measure that would fund a decade of stem cell research with $3 billion in state money was headed for a resounding victory on Wednesday, initial returns showed (Reuters)
  • Bush confounds traditional Republican strategy | He ran to the right in this year's election, mobilized his predominantly white, evangelical base, and earned enough votes that his campaign claimed victory early on Wednesday (Reuters)

Marriage amendments:

  • Same-sex marriage measures succeed | Bans in several states supported by wide margins (The Washington Post)
  • 11 states back bans on gay unions; Georgia, Ohio bar partner benefits | Most measures draw robust support. One activist sees mandate for Congress to take heed (Los Angeles Times)
  • Gay marriage bans passed | Measures okayed in all 11 states where eyed (The Boston Globe)
  • Voters in 11 states reject gay marriage | Gay rights activists received a rebuke from the Deep South to North Dakota as voters in 11 states approved constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage in a clean sweep for proponents of traditional one-man, one-woman unions (Associated Press)
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  • Gay marriage bans gain wide support in 10 states | Surveys of voters leaving polling places showed wide margins of support for the measures among voters of all backgrounds (The New York Times)
  • Oregonians backing ban on gay marriage in close vote | Oregon voters Tuesday were passing a measure to ban same-sex marriage, although by a narrower margin than in other states, where similar measures were passing by solid majorities (The Oregonian)

Catholicism and the election:

  • A telling loss for the church | The Catholic Church in Boston is one of the big political losers this morning. Senator Marian Walsh is going back to Beacon Hill, the voters in one of the most conservative Catholic districts in Massachusetts having ignored the counsel of their bishop and cast their ballots for a whole person instead of a single issue (Eileen McNamara, The Boston Globe)
  • The conflict between faith and partisanship | It's tough for a Catholic even to choose a candidate, and impossible to choose a party (Brad Warthen, The State, Columbia, S.C.)
  • The sound of inevitability | "The Catholic church dodged a bullet with Kerry's defeat" (Jonathan V. Last, The Weekly Standard)

Life ethics:

  • Survival of the smallest | Each year, thousands of babies are born at the limits of viability, and medical science enables many to live. But now the courts are being asked to sit in judgment: should doctors always intervene to save a life? And when is it right to let a child die? (The Independent, London)
  • Hospitals row over late-abortion file | The Supreme Court will challenge access to the medical file of a woman who had an abortion at 32 weeks (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Australian politics:

  • Family First senator flags abortion debate | Federal parliament's first senator from the fledgling Family First Party today flagged a review of publicly funded abortion as he claimed an historic election victory (AAP, Australia)
  • Family First to seek fetus viewings, abortion warnings | Women seeking abortions would be forced to view ultrasound pictures of their fetus and listen to warnings about grief, depression and sterilization if the Family First party gets its way (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)


  • Cleric calls for prayers against slapping spirit in National Assembly | A cleric with St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church, Kubwa, Abuja, has called on Nigerians to pray to God to drive away the "spirit of slappping from the National Assembly" (P.M. News, Nigeria)
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  • America woos religious bodies for global peace | Ahead its general elections on Tuesday, the United States of America may have started a subtle campaign to woo religious bodies for global peace as the country representative in Nigeria, Mr. John Campell, has stressed the need for all faiths to unite for the promotion of peace in the world (This Day, Nigeria)

Religious violence:

  • No place for religious intolerance, Bryant tells the nation | Transitional chairman reduces curfew from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. (The Analyst, Liberia)
  • Dutch fear loss of tolerance | When the populist politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated two years ago, it was said the Netherlands had lost its innocence. By comparison, film maker Theo van Gogh's murder has evoked sensations of déjà vu, rather than disbelief (BBC)
  • Priest held over LRA links | The Army in Gulu is holding a Catholic Priest on allegation s that his a rebel collaborator (The Monitor, Kampala, Uganda)


  • Sudan army 'forcing out refugees' | UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called on the Sudanese government to stop its troops forcing refugees out of camps in the western Darfur region (BBC)
  • Sudan camp siege as UN workers flee | Sudanese soldiers surrounded three refugee camps in Darfur yesterday, forcing out aid workers in a development that could worsen the plight of thousands of African tribesmen who have fled the region's smouldering civil war (The Telegraph, London)

Abuse and Catholicism:

  • Prosecutors working to nab priests on run | Three of the eight priests indicted on sex charges have eluded prosecution by fleeing to Ireland and Italy. The third has not been located but authorities believe he is in Mexico (The Arizona Republic)
  • Abuse board pick is abortion activist | A new member of the U.S. bishops' National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People says she's proud of her efforts to promote and expand abortion through political action (National Catholic Register)
  • Also: Rabid pro-abort on National Review Board (Catholic World News)

U.K. spanking law:

  • Parents can still smack—if they're gentle | A total ban on parents smacking their children was rejected overwhelmingly by MPs last night(The Telegraph, London)
  • Britain rejects ban on smacking children | After a passionate debate in the House of Commons, British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday against banning parents from spanking their children (Associated Press)
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  • Rebel MPs fail to win total ban on smacking | But parents will face prosecution if they smack their child hard enough to leave a mark (The Times, London)
  • These people telling me how to chastise my child need a slap | This is one of those times when a really rough childhood can be an unarguable asset (Melanie McDonagh, The Telegraph, London)
  • Deep down, they still think that Nanny knows best | Smacking debate exposes some glaring contradictions in social policy (Philip Johnston, The Telegraph, London)
  • Related: Editing smacks of censorship: author | Changes to a 25-year-old children's classic about a hippopotamus that eats cake are set to reopen the debate over whether parents should smack their children (The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

Church of England and women bishops:

  • Church may have woman bishops in 2009 | Report sets out options for advancement of women and warns current situation is unsustainable (The Guardian, London)
  • Church may split to clear way for female bishops | Suggestion of 'escape option' enclave for opponents prompts a fresh argument (The Telegraph, London)
  • Anglicans' third way? | The Church of England yesterday announced how it might deal with the ordination of women as bishops (Editorial, The Telegraph, London)
  • Women set to be bishops within next seven years | As Church prepares to vote on women bishops, measures to quell opposition are on the agenda (The Times, London)
  • Unity of the church is at risk | I think we are approaching this debate in a negative way when we should be asking positive theological questions about the meaning of the incarnation and the significance of Jesus Christ being a man (David Houlding, The Guardian, London)
  • A broader church | There is room for debate, and women bishops (Editorial, The Times, London)
  • Men are not closer to God than women | It is clear that church communities are calling on women to have a leadership role and that they have the gifts to exercise it. (Jane Shaw, The Guardian, London)
  • Protagonists cite Bible as evidence | Opponents say that Jesus's decision to choose only men as his apostles rules out women becoming leaders in the modern-day Church, or at least casts doubt on their ability to act on his behalf (The Telegraph, London)

Church life:

  • African bishops may quit Anglican Church | African Anglican bishops are contemplating quitting the Church of England over the ordainment of gay clergy in the United States (The East African Standard, Kenya)
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  • Episcopal bishop investigating clergy on charges of paganism | Bishop Charles Bennison said he is "extremely concerned" at allegations that the Revs. Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk and William Melnyk are promoting pagan worship, but warned against a "witch hunt of any sort" (Religion News Service)
  • Canterbury returns to cathedral brew | The long partnership between the church and beer took another step forward yesterday, with the return of a "cathedral brew" to Canterbury (The Guardian, London)
  • Bringing back the fire | Our Lady Queen of Angels Church returns to its role as a bold voice for the poor (Los Angeles Times)
  • Fired church official charged | The former finance director for the Moorhead-based Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA faces two felony charges for making nearly $24,000 in unauthorized purchases (The Forum, Fargo, N.D.)
  • So far from God, so close to temptation | In a move that appears to be the first of its kind, the Anglican Church in Tanzania, Dodoma Diocese, has come out in the open to announce that 12 of its priests are HIV-positive (Michael Okema, The East African Standard, Kenya)

Interspecies evangelism gone bad:

  • Lion attacks Taiwanese man who jumps into zoo cage | A lion attacked a man who jumped into the animal's enclosure and shouted "Jesus will save you!" at the big cat Wednesday at the zoo in Taiwan's capital (Associated Press)
  • 'Come bite me!' Right … | A man leaped into a lion's den at the Taipei Zoo on Wednesday to try to convert the king of beasts to Christianity, but was bitten in the leg for his efforts (Reuters)

Los Angeles county seal:

  • Judge allows removal of cross from county seal | A Superior Court judge rejected attempts Tuesday to stop the removal of a tiny gold cross from the county seal (Los Angeles Times)
  • Judge denies barring funds for new Los Angeles County seal | Judge David P. Yaffe rejected claims by plaintiffs of a lawsuit who claimed that replacing the seal showed an "unconstitutional hostility" toward religion (Associated Press)


  • Iliff receives scathing review | Methodists call ouster of president 'unjust,' threaten to pull funds (Rocky Mountain News, Co.)
  • Class aims to stifle the impulse to steal | First offenders in Va. avoid jail and conviction with anti-shoplifting course (The Washington Post)
  • Classes in Judaic studies, drawing a non-Jewish class | The Jewish studies major is growing in popularity around the country among gentiles (The New York Times)
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  • Lewis biography takes an honest approach | Kevin O'Kelly reviews Michael White's C.S. Lewis: A Life (The Boston Globe)
  • Devil to pay over film of Bulgakov's novel | Russia's Orthodox church has reacted with dismay to a film of the seminal novel The Master and Margarita, saying it offers a version of the Gospel that is "nothing but negative" and fearing it will offend or confuse many believers (The Guardian, London)


  • Sale of PBS outlet nearly done | An O.C. college district board is expected to approve the deal tonight. A foundation had struggled to make the down payment (Los Angeles Times)
  • Companies add gender identity to anti- bias policies | The recent growth of such provisions reflects both the persistence of gay rights groups seeking the protection and the conclusion of some companies that adopting the broader anti-discrimination policies is a good business decision and even a recruiting tool (The Washington Post)

Other articles of interest:

  • Ralph Reed's other cheek | The man who mobilized the religious right puts his conservative connections to work for business (Peter Stone, Mother Jones)
  • O'Hare covets final destinations | An airport runway expansion plan would relocate cemeteries. But a coalition of groups has sued to halt the move (Los Angeles Times)
  • Ghanaians flock to see 'miracle' | Thousands of people in Ghana's capital, have been thronging to a Catholic Church where they claim the image of Jesus Christ (BBC)
  • Muslims try to save halal slaughterhouse | If the plant does close next year, it will also be a loss for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • Brother Andrew finds little hope in the Middle East | Though he also works with ambassadors and diplomats, Brother Andrew insists that it's people of faith who will make inroads with terrorists (The Dallas Morning News)
  • No longer a Christian | I was told in Sunday school the word "Christian" means to be Christ-like, but the message I hear daily on the airwaves from the "Christian " media are words of war, violence, and aggression (Karen Horst Cobb, Common Dreams)
  • Belgian Cardinal Gustaaf Joos dies at 81 | The cardinal gained notoriety earlier this year when he said in an interview he thought almost all homosexuals were "sexual perverts" (Associated Press)
  • 'Lifeline': Iris DeMent's sweet salvation | Some people turn to comfort food for solace. Iris DeMent turns to comfort songs. At least she has on "Lifeline," her first album in eight years and one that finds her revisiting the church music of her youth in rural Arkansas and California as a form of therapy and perhaps even salvation (The Washington Post)
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