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Mitt, Mormons, and the Religious Test That Wasn’t

Charls C. Haynes writes in The Washington Post:

Buried in the mountain of demographic data preoccupying political pundits this week is one historic statistic that may have far-reaching consequences for religious freedom in America:

Seventy-nine percent of white Protestant evangelicals voted for Mitt Romney, a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – popularly known as the Mormon Church.

After a bitter Republican primary season during which many evangelical leaders supported the “anybody but Romney” effort, prominent conservative Christian ministers lined up behind Romney for the general election. A defining moment came on Oct. 11 when America’s Preacher, the Rev. Billy Graham, publicly signaled support for Romney’s candidacy.

Read more here.

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Should President Obama reach out to the Catholic bishops?

Thomas J. Reese writes in The Washington Post:

One group of Americans that took a beating in the recent election was the U.S. Catholic bishops. Many of them were not shy in expressing their opposition to the administration and their preference for a Romney presidency. They also fought and lost a series of state referendums on gay marriage.

Some in the Obama administration may feel that the election shows that the bishops can be ignored as leaders without followers. But it would be a mistake to count out an institution that has been around for 2,000 years. In fact, this is a situation where being a gracious victor is not only the right thing to do, it makes good political sense.

Read more here.

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Election 2012 Marks the End of Evangelical Dominance in Politics

The Atlantic reports:

Ever since Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, evangelicals have been a powerful political force. Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority organization were credited in part with Reagan's election, having registered millions of evangelicals to vote. Their influence would only grow over the next 25 years: Evangelicals were instrumental in Reagan's reelection, the Republican Revolution of 1994, and both of George W. Bush's victories. But on November 6, 2012, their reign came to an end.

"I think this [election] was an evangelical disaster," Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told NPR. He's right, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

The late Falwell's Liberty University gave former governor Mitt Romney its keynote spot at its 2012 commencement and backed off previous language calling Mormonism a "cult." Billy Graham uncharacteristically threw his support behind the Republican candidate, and his evangelistic association bought full-page newspaper ads all but endorsing Romney. Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition spent tens of millions in battleground states to get out the religious vote.

Read more here.

 

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Liberal Catholics use Election Results to Battle Bishops

CNN reports:

Emboldened by the re-election of President Barack Obama, a cadre of liberal Catholic activists and groups is waging a campaign alleging that America's Catholic bishops are out of touch with Catholic laypeople.

The Catholic bishops, who are in Baltimore this week for a quarterly meeting, spoke out against the Obama administration during the election cycle over what they said were White House violations of religious freedom.

Some bishops also spoke out against legalized gay marriage and abortion rights, positions embraced by many Republicans.

A Sunday opinion piece in the National Catholic Reporter by Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest at Georgetown University, hammered the bishops for their public proclamations during the campaign, saying the church leaders' “political strategy … is not working.”

Read more here:

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Focus on the Family Head Takes Conciliatory Tone After Election

The Los Angeles Times reports:

As the head of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly might be considered one of the nation's leading culture warriors — a title that certainly applied to his predecessor, James Dobson, who founded the organization and built it into a powerhouse of the conservative evangelical movement.

And, to be sure, Daly threw the considerable resources of his organization — which fiercely opposes abortion and same-sex marriage — behind the campaign to defeat President Obama, paying for millions of mailers that listed the presidential candidates' positions on issues that were important to “values voters.”

In the aftermath of the election, however, Daly is willing to say things that few conservative evangelical leaders are likely to say. He believes, for instance, that the Christian right lost the fight against same-sex marriage in four states in part because it is on the losing side of a cultural paradigm. He says the evangelical community should have been considering immigration reform years ago, “but we were led more by political-think than church-think.”

Read more here.

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New Congress to Welcome First Buddhist Senator, Hindu Representative

Christian Post reports:

When the new members of Congress are sworn in on Jan. 3, the institution that once mirrored the nation's Protestant Christian dominance will look slightly more like the religiously diverse nation it represents. The new Senate will seat a Buddhist member for the first time and the House of Representatives will have its first Hindu member.

Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who currently serves in the House of Representatives, won her Senate race last week and will be sworn in as the Senate's first Buddhist. Hirono's House seat will be filled by Tulsi Gabbard, who will become the first Hindu in Congress. Hirono will also be the first Asian-American female and the first person born in Japan to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

Read more here.

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7 Ways Religious Diversity Played in the Election

Stephen Prothero writes for the CNN Belief Blog:

It’s demography, stupid!” is the new mantra for analyzing the 2012 election, in which African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos cast their votes in overwhelming numbers for President Obama.

But religious diversity was another key theme. How so? Let me count the ways.


1. The first Hindu in the House
Thanks to Hawaii’s 2d congressional district, a Hindu has been elected for the first time to the House of Representatives. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat who was born in American Samoa, served in the Hawaii National Guard and was deployed to Baghdad and Kuwait, crushed Republican Kawaki Crowley with over three-quarters of the votes. Gabbard is a Vaishnava Hindu, which means she worships Vishnu. The key scripture in her Hindu tradition is the Bhagavad Gita, a meditation on duty in the face of war.

...

Read more here.

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Conservative Christian on Election Outcome: It Was a Bruising Day

Christian Post has a great round up of election coverage from a Christian perspective. 

Conservative Christians are not hiding their disappointment in the outcome of the 2012 election. Not only did the candidates that they supported not win but they also saw losses in the marriage and pro-life battles.

"'On every level – presidential, congressional, social – it was a bruising day for our movement that no amount of spin can improve," wrote Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, in an email to supporters. "Americans had a choice, and they made it. Is the outcome what we want? Obviously not.'
 

GOP candidate Mitt Romney lost the presidential election to President Barack Obama after losing most key battleground states, including Ohio. Obama surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win a second term and also won the popular vote."

Read more here.

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Who Voted?

One of the big questions before Tuesday’s election was whether Barack Obama could replicate the diverse coalition of voters responsible for his 2008 victory. The news? He did. As Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, put it: “In 2012, communities of color, young people and women are not merely interest groups, they’re the ‘new normal’ demographic of the American electorate.”

Here’s a snapshot of the numbers taken from initial CNN exit polls.

Women – 53% of voters - Obama 55%, Romney 44%

The new Senate in January will have 20 women — the highest number in history, 20. Sixteen are democrats and four republicans. All six Senate democratic women facing voters won re-election, along with four new ones. Not all House races are final, but it appears the new House will have 61 democratic women and 21 republican.

People age 18-29 – 19% of voters – Obama 60%, Romney 37%

Despite claims that young people lacked the enthusiasm of four years ago, 19 percent of voters were in that age group – up 1 percent from 2008. But 6 percent fewer voted for the president than four years ago when he attracted 66 percent. Their concern, like many others, is the economy – 12 percent of this age group is unemployed.

White – 72% of voters – Obama 39%, Romney 59%

African-American – 13% of voters – Obama 93%, Romney 6%

Latino – 10% of voters – Obama 71%, Romney 27%

Asian – 3% of voters – Obama 73%, Romney 26%

The white percentage of the electorate is steadily declining. In 2008 it was 74 percent, in 2004 it was 77 percent. The Washington Post’s Peter Wallsten predicts this will lead to “an extended period of internal strife over how a party that skews toward older white men can compete in an increasingly diverse nation.” The African-American share is the same as 2008 at 13 percent, white Latino voters ticked up from 9 percent and Asian from 2 percent.

People who attend religious services weekly – 42% of voters - Obama 39%, Romney 59%

Protestants – 53% of voters – Obama 42%, Romney 57%

Catholics – 25% of voters – Obama 50%, Romney 48%

Jewish – 2% of voters – Obama 69%, Romney 30%

Other – 7% of voters – Obama 74%, Romney 26%

None – 12% of voters – Obama 70%, Romney 26%

The religious divide is growing. Michelle Boorstein and Scott Clement of the Post drilled down and concluded:

“Overall, the faith groups that traditionally support Republicans — people who identify as white Christians, including evangelicals, or as Catholics who attend church frequently — went for Romney in even stronger numbers than they did for McCain in 2008. The gains, however, weren’t enough to turn the tide in Romney’s favor, in part because those groups are a smaller portion of the electorate than they used to be.” 

The Pew Forum has a detailed preliminary analysis of the exit polling.

Overall, Ronald Brownstein’s conclusion in The Atlantic sums it up:

“In many places, particularly across the Sun Belt, Obama mobilized the Democrats' new "coalition of the ascendant," winning enough support among young people, minorities and college-educated whites, especially women, to overcome very weak numbers among blue-collar whites and college-educated men. But in the upper Midwest, where there are not enough of those voters to win, Obama attracted just enough working-class whites to hold the critical battlegrounds of Wisconsin, Iowa, and above all Ohio against Mitt Romney's forceful challenge.”

Duane Shank is Senior Policy Adviser for Sojourners.

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Red-Tape Bill Threatens Financial Reform

OMB Watch reports that the lame-duck Senate may move forward on a bill that could hamstring the SEC as it works to fight fraud and implement financial regulatory reform, tying up the agency in needless red tape and lawsuits:

A pending anti-regulatory bill that targets independent regulatory agencies would significantly curtail the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) ability to protect investors from financial fraud and other economic hazards. The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2012 (S. 3468) would require independent agencies to conduct formal cost-benefit analyses for all significant rules and would allow the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to review those analyses. This would cause lengthy delays in implementing the financial oversight contained in the Dodd-Frank law. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC), chaired by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), may mark up this bill during Congress’ upcoming lame-duck session, even though no hearings have been held on the bill.

The bill could also hamper the essential work of the FDIC, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and other government watchdog agencies.

Elizabeth Palmberg is an associate editor of Sojourners and tweets @ZabPalmberg.

 

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10 Reasons Why Romney Lost

CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby offers 10 reasons he’s hearing from Republicans:

1. Losing among young people, African-Americans and Hispanics.

2. Hardline immigration rhetoric during the primaries.

3. Superstorm Sandy hitting the East Coast and consuming news coverage the last week of the campaign.

4. New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s praise for Obama in the wake of the storm.

5.The selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as Romney's running mate, when a Republican from a more winnable battleground state might have made a difference.

6. Some social conservatives claim that Romney's soft positions on abortion and same-sex marriage left grassroots Republicans uninspired.

7. The Romney team and his super PAC allies  allowng their candidate to be defined early by Obama. 

8. The decision to air a misleading ad in Toledo media market about Chrysler moving Jeep production to China during the closing days of the race.

9. The Romney campaign's "poor media buying."

10. The Democrats ground game – finding, persuading and turning out voters – was devastatingly better than anything the GOP had.

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Questioning the Religious Right

The results of yesterday’s election appear to show a “dramatic rejection” of the Religious Right, writes Dan Gilgoff on CNN’s Belief Blog.

For many conservative Christian leaders, it was a nightmare scenario: Barack Obama decisively re-elected. Same-sex marriage adopted by voters in some states. Rigorously anti-abortion candidates defeated in conservative red states. On multiple levels, Tuesday’s election results seemed to mark a dramatic rejection of the Christian right’s agenda.”

Gilgoff also notes that Obama increased his support among white evangelicals in Ohio, and narrowly won Catholics nationwide. 

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Why Is Voting Made So Difficult?

As millions of Americans wait in long lines to vote today, David Firestone wonders why it has to be so difficult.

“This is the day when voters raised on a reverence for democracy realize the utter disregard their leaders hold for that concept. The moment state and local officials around the country get elected, they stop caring about making it easy for their constituents to vote. Some do so deliberately, for partisan reasons, while others just don’t pay attention or decide they have bigger priorities.

“The result can be seen in the confusion, the breakdowns, and the agonizingly slow lines at thousands of precincts in almost every state.

“As they stand in windswept, hour-long lines to cast a ballot, voters might ask themselves, why are there so few polling places and workers? Why isn’t the government making it easier for me to vote, rather than forcing me through an endurance contest?”

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Obama, Romney Discuss Role of Faith in Their Lives

Both President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney have been somewhat hesistant to discuss their faith in detail during the campaign season. In a recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, fewer than 50 percent of Americans identified Obama as a Christian. About 60 percent knew Romney is Mormon. 

The two discussed their faith in eight questions presented by Washington National Cathedral's magazine Cathedral Age. From the release

"'First and foremost, my Christian faith gives me a perspective and security that I don’t think I would have otherwise: That I am loved. That, at the end of the day, God is in control,' said President Obama. “Faith can express itself in people in many ways, and I think it is important that we not make faith alone a barometer of a person’s worth, value, or character.'

Governor Romney said, 'I am often asked about my faith and my beliefs about Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.'"

For the full story, go HERE.

 

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Indian Churches Try to Broker Peace in Assam

Interethnic violence has flashed through India during the conclusion of the Muslim holy season of Ramadan during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Catholic leaders in northern India, where Muslim migrants have been particularly targeted, has called for common ground dialogue and hosted meetings with leaders of the conflicted communities based on the Catholic churches long-standing relationships with both communities.

Anto Akkara for ENI NEWS reports:

"Churches are initiating steps to broker peace and restore harmony in the northeast Indian state of Assam, which has been rocked by bloody clashes between local ethnic Bodo people and Muslim migrants.

'We have hosted leaders of both communities twice already. We are now preparing a larger meeting of both communities after Ramadan,"'Roman Catholic bishop Thomas Pulloppillil of Bongaigaon diocese that comprises the troubled region, told ENInews on 15 August 2012.

The clashses have left 78 dead and over 400,000 refugees."

Read the rest of the article here.

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