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RELIGION AND THE AMERICAN
2006 MID-TERM ELECTIONS

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Sponsored link.


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What was at stake?

Mid-term elections are held every four years, half-way between presidential elections.

On election day, 2006-NOV-07:

bullet33 of the 100 senators of the 110th congress were chosen.
bulletAll 435 members of the House of Representatives were chosen.
bullet36 states elected governors.
bulletDemocrats were keen to win six additional seats to obtain control of the Senate, and 15 additional seats to win control of the House.
bulletMany propositions, state constitutional amendments, etc were decided.

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Drop in support of the Republican party by white evangelical Christians:

White, evangelical or born-again Christians had a major impact on the 2004 elections. According to exit polls, they total one quarter of the electorate, and 78% of them voted Republican. However, some polling specialists believe that conservative Protestant support for the Republican party may have peaked in 2004, and now may be in decline. What is called the "God Gap" may be shrinking.

The Pew Research Center conducted a poll from 2006-SEP-20 to OCT-04 and released its data on 2006-OCT-05. Results show that 57% white evangelicals are planning to vote for Republican members of congress in the mid-term elections on NOV-07. This is a 21 percentage point drop. The last five days of the 14 day poll may have been influenced by the allegations against ex-Representative Mark Foley (FL-R), 52, and further allegations of a Republican cover-up. If the poll were repeated in mid-October, the drop in support might be even greater.

Alan Cooperman of the Washington Post reported:

"Nationally, the Republicans' once formidable hold on churchgoing voters has begun to slip. Among those who say they attend church more than once a week, the GOP still holds a commanding lead. The main shift is among weekly churchgoers, about a quarter of all voters. Two years ago, they favored the GOP by a double-digit margin. But in the new Pew survey, 44 percent leaned toward Republicans and 43 percent toward Democrats, a statistical dead heat."

"The slippage is particularly striking among evangelicals. According to Pew data, the portion of white evangelical Protestants who identify themselves as Republicans rose steadily from 2000 to 2004 but leveled off this year at about half. The percentage who support keeping troops in Iraq has dropped to 55 percent, from 68 percent in early September."

" 'The allegiance of evangelicals has been more in flux over the past 12 months, suggesting that the considerations going into their votes are changing,' said Scott Keeter, Pew's director of survey research." 1

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Factors of concern to religious conservatives:

Many evangelicals are experiencing a high level of frustration. Some topics are:

bulletA general lack of response by the Republican administration to faith-based concerns. This is documented in David Kuo's book "Tempting Faith: An inside story of political seduction" published on 2006-OCT-16 in time to influence the elections. 2
bulletAn increase among a minority of evangelical leaders of concern about global warming and other environmental concerns have raised concerns by some religious conservatives about the Republican administration's lack of planning and action.
bulletConcern by some evangelicals over increasing poverty, the government's use of torture, erosion of civil liberties, etc.
bulletThe Iraq quagmire which has triggered a religiously-motivated civil war.
bulletDisillusionment with the Republican party over the banning of abortions. It is now a third of a century after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, and abortions are still freely available, at least to adult women with sufficient money.
bulletDisillusionment with the Republican party over the continuing achievement of equal rights by gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities.
bulletAllegations of sexual improprieties and a cover-up by Republicans in Congress in the Foley case. 3

Needless to say, many of these concerns may not sway many individual religious conservatives to switch from the Republican to the Democratic party. However, they may well motivate large numbers of conservatives to stay home on election day.

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A call for evangelicals to desert the Republican party:

There is the occasional call for evangelicals to leave the Republican Party and form a third political force in the country. In an open letter to "Dr. Dobson & friends" coach Dave Daubenmire of NewsWithViews.com suggests:

"Dr. Dobson, it is time to build an ark. It is time to leave the Republican Party. Jesus will not ride into town on an elephant."

"I know that seems like a radical move, sir, but it has become increasingly apparent that the core values of the Republican Party are not Christian values. It is time for all Christian leaders to ask themselves if its possible for God to bless a polluted party. Make no mistake, the Republican Party is polluted."

"In an attempt to build a big tent, the Republican Party has become a conglomerate of special interests. Christians are now standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a party that supports homosexual candidates, pro-abortion candidates, and those who support homosexual marriage. ..."

"Others have tried to start new parties, but no one has the influence and platform that you have. Many are standing on the sidelines waiting to help. They will never return to the Republican Party. Certainly you feel the frustration, the exasperation bubbling up in America." 4

He recommends that the former Chief Justice of Alabama, Roy Moore, be drafted as the presidential candidate of the new party. Moore was removed from office in 2003 because of his failure "...to comply with an existing and binding court order directed to him" to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama State Judicial Building.

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Sponsored link:

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Democratic candidate made history:

Kieth Ellison, was Democratic candidate for Congress in the Fifth Congressional District in Minnesota. He won over six other candidates in a primary race in 2006-SEP. He made history, as the first Muslim elected to congress as well as the first black representative from that state. He plans to take the oath of office on a Qur'an.

According to the New York Times:

"Mr. Ellison’s progressive positions, including support for universal health coverage, raising the minimum wage and withdrawing the troops from Iraq, cemented his appeal among a broad swath of Democrats in this liberal district. ..."

"Mr. Ellison brushes off the idea that he was motivated to run for Congress to become the first Muslim or first black from Minnesota. Rather it was to change policy, he said, to fight in the manner of the beloved Senator Paul Wellstone against a Republican administration that marginalized the poor and minorities." 5

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Fundamentalist Christian leader fears for consequences of election:

LifeSiteNews.com wrote. in part:

The social consequences of a liberal victory in the coming elections will be grave, particularly for children, Dr. James Dobson warned in a radio broadcast urging pro-family voters to go to the polls.

Dr. Dobson accused the national media of attempting to influence pro-family voters to stay home. Despite media efforts to convince "values voters" that the issue of homosexual marriage is no longing of central importance, Dr. Dobson said, activists’ push for same-sex "rights" is increasingly focused on the next generation.

"Children are being targeted," Dr. Dobson stated. "If one of these states do not confirm traditional marriage, adoption laws will change. Those put in foster care will be placed in different kinds of homes, the training foster care parents receive will be consistent with the homosexual perspective."

Dobson said the key significance of the coming elections is evident in media attacks on pro-family supporters.

"I have never seen such hatred in my life. I am being bludgeoned," Dobson said, making reference to an NBC broadcaster who allegedly referred to him as ‘the worst man in the world.’ "Why? Why now? Well, it’s not really personal to me. But they identify me as one of the people who turned out the values voters last time--and they are determined to never, ever let it happen again."

"If people of faith--the so-called values voters--don’t come out and let their voices be heard, there are going to be some major implications for this country", he said. "There are these statements from the media that values voters don’t care this year and that they’re going to stay home." 8

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Attacks on a Muslim candidate for local office:

According to SignOnSanDiego.com:

"A letter by former state Republican Party chairman Shawn Steel has been circulating on the Internet for a week, accusing city council candidate and Syrian immigrant Belal 'Bill' Dalati of helping sponsor an anti-Israel rally and associating with 'zany left wing groups'."

Dalati, a Muslim and Republican, became a U.S. citizen in 1987 and ran for Anaheim, CA, city council on a platform of more job creation, better health care, and reducing traffic congestion.

On 2006-OCT-09, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:

"Mr. Steel has a long history of making Islamaphobic comments. But for him to bring his dirty politics into our city is not appreciated." 6

On 2006-OCT-12, Dalati's supporters offered him support and condemn Steel's comments. Hussam Ayloush said:

"We call on all Californians to reject attempts to spread fear of Islam and Muslims by falsely labeling Arab-American and Muslim-American candidates as extremists. It is disturbing to see a public official exploit the growing anti-Muslim feeling in our society." 10

On NOV-01, a week before the elections, Dalati re-registered as a Democrat. He lost the election.

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Deceptive amendments:

Seven states have proposed marriage amendments to their constitution that were be presented to voters on 2006-NOV-07. They are being billed as simple amendments that will prevent two men or two women from marrying in the state or having their marriages made elsewhere recognized by the state. However five are actually stealth amendments. They are intended will affect the lives of both opposite and same-sex couples in major ways. These stealth amendments go much further than simply restricting marriage to one man and one women. They also forbid the state from taking any benefits or protections that opposite-sex married couples automatically receive and extending them to loving committed same-sex couples. Some amendments prohibit the state from extending benefits to unmarried opposite-sex couples who live together without marrying. This means, for example, that one partner in a loving, committed, permanent living-together relationship cannot be guaranteed the right to visit his or her partner in hospital. They would also be cut off from hundreds of other rights enjoyed by married couples. They may have been married for decades and had children. But to the state, they will be considered only as roommates.

On NOV-07, the state marriage amendment in Arizona was narrowly rejected by a vote of 51% to 49%. This is the first time that such an amendment has been turned down by the voters. In addition, the amendments that were passed were approved by smaller majorities.

The Family Research Council (FRC) has complained that Amendment 2 in Missouri was a type of stealth amendment. It prohibits reproductive cloning; it permits therapeutic cloning. The FRC does not differentiate between the two very different types of cloning. The Amendment passed. More details

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Attempt to criminalize abortion in South Dakota:

The South Dakota legislature had passed an anti-abortion access bill earlier in 2006 that would criminalize all abortions in the state which were not required to save the life of the woman. The governor signed it into law.  Pregnancies resulting from rape or incest could not be terminated. Abortions needed to prevent serious health problems, including permanent disability to the woman, could not be performed.

Implementation of the law was scheduled for 2006-JUL. However, it was stalled pending a vote in the NOV-07 elections.

On the early morning of 2006-NOV-08, Reuters reported:

"South Dakota voters overturned on Tuesday a state abortion ban that supporters had championed as the best chance to challenge a 33-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing the procedure."

" 'This means that there has been a rebellion against social, right-wing wedge politics that have been dominating this country,' said Sarah Stoesz, chief of Planned Parenthood's operations in the Dakotas and Minnesota, key backers of the campaign to kill the measure. ... 'It is a very important victory for people who are open-minded and progressive in this country'."

"Supporters of the abortion ban declined to comment."

"With 81 percent of vote counted early Wednesday, those voting to overturn the law had an advantage of 55 percent to 45 percent, and CNN projected a victory for opponents of the measure." 11

The final vote was essentially unchanged at 56% no and 44% yes. 12

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Alan Cooperman, "GOP's Hold on Evangelicals Weakening. Party's Showing in Midterm Elections May Be Hurt as Polls Indicate Support Dropping in Base," Washington Post, 2006-OCT-06, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  2. David Kuo, "Tempting Faith: An inside story of political seduction," Free Press, (2006). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  3. Jonathan Singer, "The Republicans' Evangelical Problem" My DD -- Direct Democracy, 2006-OCT-06, at: http://www.mydd.com/
  4. Dave Daubenmire, "Dear Dr. Dobson & Friends," NewsWithViews, 2006-OCT-05, at: http://www.newswithviews.com/
  5. Neil MacFarquhar, "Democrat Poised to Become First Muslim in Congress," New York Times, 2006-OCT-08, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  6. Gillian Fiaccus, "Anaheim city council race heats up over Mideast politics," Associated Press, 2006-OCT-09, at: http://www.signonsandiego.com/
  7. "Washington Update: Missouri Cloning Bill: Trick or Treatment?," Family Research Council, 2006-OCT-18.
  8. Gudrun Schultz, "James Dobson: 'I have never seen such hatred in my life. I am being bludgeoned.' Children Will Be Targeted if States Change Marriage Definition, He Warns," LifeSiteNews.com, 2006-OCT-21.
  9. John-Henry Westen. "US Bishops Set to Tell Catholics Opposed to Teaching on Abortion or Homosexuality not to Receive Communion,"  LifeSiteNews.com, 2006-OCT-21.
  10. Gillian Flaccus, "Civic leaders condemn attack on Calif. Muslim candidate," The Mercury News, 2006-OCT-12, at: http://www.mercurynews.com/
  11. "Voters reject South Dakota abortion ban," CNN.com, 2006-NOV-08, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  12. "America Votes 2006," CNN.com, 2006-NOV-08, at: http://www.cnn.com/

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Copyright © 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-OCT-09
Latest update: 2006-NOV-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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