Election Results Suggest Religious Right Remains Force To Contend With, Says Americans United

For Immediate Release

Election Results Suggest Religious Right Remains Force To Contend With, Says Americans United

WASHINGTON - Election results in Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Maine serve
as a reminder that the Religious Right remains an influential force in
political life, according to Americans United for Separation of Church
and State.

“I wish I could say the Religious Right is dead, but this election
shows that reports of its demise are inaccurate,” said the Rev. Barry
W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “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.”

In Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell won the governor’s office and
GOP candidate Ken Cuccinelli won the attorney general’s post. Both men
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.

In an interesting local race, incumbent Democratic Delegate Shannon
Valentine apparently has lost to Republican Scott Garrett in a
legislative district that includes Liberty University. Liberty
Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. is attempting to forge students at the
fundamentalist school into a voting bloc that can control all local
elections. In unofficial results, Valentine seems to have lost by just
over 200 votes. In the precinct that includes Liberty, voters went for
Scott by a 1,964-324 margin. Liberty’s student newspaper ran many
articles attacking Valentine, and Falwell arranged for copies of the
newspaper to be sent to every household in Lynchburg in the days before
the election.

In 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.

In New York, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, a Religious
Right favorite, lost narrowly to Democrat Bill Owens in the 23rd
Congressional District. But the Religious Right and other social
conservative organizations won 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
movement.

In Maine, Religious Right organization joined forces with the Roman
Catholic hierarchy to persuade voters to repeal a Maine law that
extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. With returns incomplete,
the repeal appeared to be winning by 53 to 47 percent. (The Religious
Right was less successful in Washington State, where a domestic
partnership law appeared to be narrowly winning approval from the
voters.)

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Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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