(Photo: AP Images / Morry Gash)
The diverse Christian body has, as expected, responded to news of Barack Obama’s victory in the presidential election with mixed reaction – some congratulating, others wanting to put aside differences to work together, and still others insisting on challenging him when he takes office.
National Council of Churches USA, a left-leaning network of 100,000 local congregations, congratulated president-elect Obama and pledged to support him in the tough times ahead as he navigates the country out of the dangerous waters it is currently in.
“Mr. President-Elect, the 45-million Christians represented by the member communions of the National Council of Churches stand ready to work with you to respond to the realities that a loving God places before us each day,” stated Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of NCCUSA, in a statement issued early Wednesday.
In particular, he pointed to social concerns such as poverty, education, and health care.
“All of us are dependent on God's loving mercy, and we will regularly pray for you and others elected to high leadership,” the NCCUSA head wrote. “May your wisdom and discernment serve you well, and may your health never wane.”
But the religious right had a much different tone in response to Obama’s election victory.
Focus on the Family, the most prominent religious right organization, rejoiced that Obama will not have a 60-seat Democratic Senate that would have allowed him to push forth legislation without serious contention.
While the Democratic Party has a solid majority in both the House and Senate, they do not have the 60-seat majority needed that would give Majority Leader Harry Reid the power to invoke “cloture,” a procedure by which the Senate can vote to place a time limit on consideration of a bill or other matter, and end a Republican filibuster.
The Senate results combined with the approval of three state amendments banning gay marriage “give values voters reason to stay tuned to development on Capitol Hill,” FOTF Action wrote in its Election home page.
“God can use any president for his own purposes,” encouraged Focus Action’s Tom Minnery during an election special broadcast.
Meanwhile, Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, another prominent conservative group, encouraged values voters to keep praying for America and not lose heart.
Former FRC staff Dr. Charmaine Yoest, who is now president and CEO of Americans United for Life, congratulated Sen. Obama on his win, but pointed out his contradictory actions on abortion rights.
While Obama has called for “common ground” on abortion rights during his campaign, Yoest said, he promised Planned Parenthood that his first act as president will be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would eliminate every state and federal law regulating abortion.
"We will continue working in the days ahead to educate Americans about the threat to common sense that FOCA poses,” the AUL president vowed. “And we will make common cause with defenders of life in both the Democrat and Republican parties, fully committed to the ultimate goal of seeing both parties dedicated to the defense of life.”
Exit polls show that 74 percent of white evangelicals or born-again Christians voted for Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain and 24 percent voted for Sen. Barack Obama, according to CNN. Twenty-six percent of American voters described themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians.
Obama won 338 electoral votes, far more than the 270 needed, to win the 2008 presidential election. Sen. John McCain won 163 electoral votes.