President Barack Obama regained the White House for another four years in an election that proved a convincing setback on moral issues for evangelical Christians and other social conservatives.
The country’s first African American president turned back the challenge of Republican Mitt Romney Nov. 6 by winning the popular vote and more than 300 electoral votes. The day after the election, Obama led 303-206 in the Electoral College, with Florida still too close to call. The president’s popular vote margin stood at 60,097,107 (50 percent) to 57,412,778 (48 percent) for Romney.
The election did nothing to change the balance of power in Washington, which has been gripped by a legislative stalemate the last two years. Democrats not only maintained control of the White House, but they slightly strengthened their majority in the Senate. Republicans lost some seats in the House of Representatives but kept their majority.
Obama won re-election despite governing to the left on moral issues — most notably in his unrestricted backing for abortion and its funding, as well as his endorsement of same-sex marriage earlier this year — and even campaigning explicitly in favor of abortion rights. The Democrats’ hold on the Senate — which will swear in its first openly homosexual member in newly elected Democrat Tammy Baldwin — appears to assure Congress will take no steps for at least two more years to rein in the president’s liberal policies.
In votes on state initiatives, Maine, Maryland and possibly Washington state became the first states to support same-sex marriage in popular votes. Voters in Colorado and Washington approved recreational use of marijuana.
Fred Luter, the Southern Baptist Convention’s first African American president, said the Bible encourages Christians to pray for those in authority regardless of their political affiliation.
“As citizens of the United States, it’s now time for us to put away our yard signs and buttons and [pray for] our president,” Luter told Baptist Press. “Our nation is in trouble, and we need Believers to pray God’s will be done in America. We need to understand it’s only going to happen because the people of God start praying for revival in America.”
Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said God made a promise to His people, not to the government, then quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“‘If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.’ So, even though we’ve just elected a president, it’s not dependent on the president, but on the people of God doing our part,” Luter said.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, “[I]t is remarkable how little has changed in spite of hundreds of millions of dollars being spent and countless months of debates.”
The divided state of Congress “is a recipe for gridlock and division, which the nation cannot afford,” Land said.
“I call upon all elected leaders to seek to lead us in ways that will restore both moral and economic health in our nation,” he said. “I call upon all Christians and other people of faith to heed the biblical admonition to pray for all those in authority and to communicate their concerns to their elected representatives.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said evangelicals “must see the 2012 election as a catastrophe for crucial moral concerns.”
The election results and accompanying data, Mohler wrote in a Nov. 7 blog post, “indicate that President Obama’s ‘evolution’ on the issue of same-sex marriage cost him nothing. That probably surprised both sides in that controversy.”
“Clearly, we face a new moral landscape in America, and huge challenge to those of us who care passionately about these issues,” he said. “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.”
During the last year, Southern Baptist and other evangelical leaders joined Roman Catholics in contesting the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate, which requires all health insurance plans to cover contraceptives — even ones that can cause abortions — and has a religious exemption that covers churches but not most religious organizations.
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote Obama to congratulate him and to say the bishops would be praying for him.
“[W]e pray that you 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,” Dolan wrote. “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.”