The results of November’s elections show that the Religious Right remains a potent force in American politics, says Americans United.
In a post-election analysis, Americans United noted that candidates favored by the Religious Right were successful in Virginia and New Jersey and that a vote in Maine on same-sex marriage also pleased religious conservatives.
These results, AU said, prove that the political prognosticators who pronounced the Religious Right a spent force after the 2008 elections spoke too soon.
“I wish I could say the Religious Right is dead, but this election shows that reports of its demise are inaccurate,” said Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, in a Nov. 5 press statement. “The pundits who announced the Religious Right’s demise in 2008 were simply wrong.
“Many factors played a role in the outcome of yesterday’s elections,” Lynn added, “so it’s important not to exaggerate the Religious Right’s influence. But at the same time, Americans need to know that this movement’s leaders are still influential in American politics. They haven’t given up on their crusade to impose their fundamentalist beliefs on everyone through government action.”
AU pointed to the following results:
• Virginia: Republicans Robert McDonnell, Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli won races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general respectively. McDonnell and Cuccinelli are close allies of the Religious Right. McDonnell is a graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University, and the TV preacher and his family made large contributions to McDonnell’s campaign. Cuccinelli is also a Religious Right favorite, drawing financial and logistical support from an array of Religious Right organizations. Bolling graduated from Liberty University.
• New Jersey: Republican Chris Christie won the governor’s office, defeating incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine. Although not known as a close ally of the Religious Right, Christie opposed same-sex marriage and drew support from the movement. FRC Action PAC, the overtly political arm of the Family Research Council, endorsed the GOP contender and provided financial support. Christie also promoted voucher subsidies for religious schools during the campaign.
• Maine: Religious Right organizations joined forces with the Roman Catholic hierarchy to persuade voters to repeal a Maine law that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. The repeal won by 53 to 47 percent. (The Religious Right was less successful in Washington State, where a domestic partnership law narrowly won approval from the voters.)
• New York: A closely-watched race for a U.S. House seat led to mixed results. Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, a Religious Right favorite, lost narrowly to Democrat Bill Owens. But the Religious Right and other social conservative organizations claimed a pyrrhic victory in forcing moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava out of the race. Scozzafava supported gay rights and reproductive choice, two stands that are anathema to the fundamentalist movement.