Discipleship Failure: How the Church Lost the 2012 Election

Free elections, a fruit of Judeo-Christian republics and democracies, allow a nation to look in the mirror and see who they are. Just as Jesus said “the mouth speaks of that which fills the heart,” (Luke 6:45), so the votes of a free people reveal the heart of a nation.

For thousands of years, this was not so. When kings ruled and religion was less voluntary, oftentimes the only way to know the corporate state of a nation was when God used invading armies in judgment.

But modern elections give us a preview. The invading armies (or nuclear bombs) may be coming, but whom we choose to lead us gives an advance warning.  If we choose good leaders, then often good is in front of us (“righteousness exalts a nation”). When we choose bad ones, then we are forewarned that problems are ahead (“but sin is a disgrace to any people” – Proverbs 14:34).

So what does the mirror on the wall tell us about the 2012 election? You may be surprised.

I’ve read quite a bit of analysis of election 2012 as to why President Barack Obama was re-elected to office by a 50-48 percent vote of the people. Because he narrowly won many of the swing states, he also enjoyed an electoral college landslide of probably 330 votes.

His victory, and that of the Democratic Party picking up a few seats in the Senate, can be looked at from a number of perspectives:

Political View

  • Barack Obama’s victory may be contributed to months of negative campaigning in the swing states and a superior Get-Out-The -Vote (GOTV) effort by the Democratic Party. This is the conclusion of Michael Barone, the widely respected political analyst. The Democratic Party out-hustled and out-strategized the Republicans who even had their new ORCA GOTV technology crash on election day.
  • Others like Erick Erickson of Red State believe that Mitt Romney was the doomed establishment candidate who failed to excite the conservative sector of the nation. Incredibly, Governor Romney received nearly 1 million fewer votes in 2012 than Sen. John McCain received in 2008. (In 2008, McCain won 58,343,671 votes. In 2012, Romney won only 57,486,044 votes.)

Gender View

  • It’s also true that President Obama strongly won the female vote (gender gap) by getting 55% of women to agree with his positions. This is especially troubling, because as Robert Bellah explained in his best-selling book Habits of the Heart, it was the godliness and morality of American women that was the strength of America for 200 years. Men were less religious and more immoral for most of our history. It was the God-fearing and praying women that held America together. If that group is now lost, then we are in great trouble as a nation.

Demographic View

  • Demographics also played a huge role with President Obama building his coalition with a 13% black vote and 11% Hispanic. These percentages are growing.  In Philadelphia, the president won 59 voting “divisions” without Mitt Romney getting even one vote. Sounds like Cuba or Venezuela. Charles Krauthammer wrote a great piece on how the GOP can re-engage with the Hispanic voters of America in the coming years. It’s hard to say what African Americans will do in the future, but it’s probably true that they will not be this motivated in future elections unless another charismatic black candidate shows up on the political scene.

Winners and Losers View

  • A number of spiritual leaders weighed in on the election results and I appreciated many of their perspectives. One of the best was an article by Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries who very thoroughly analyzed the winners and losers of November 6, 2012.

All of these “lenses” for looking at the 2012 election are helpful, but I believe they don’t speak to the greatest single influence. There is a clearer reason why Barack Obama–the most anti-biblical candidate in American history–was re-elected, and it is this: the Church of Jesus Christ in America has failed to make disciples.

Discipleship View

Joel Rosenberg lays out the problem this way (I will quote him at length due to the breadth of his statistical analysis:

“Fewer people overall voted in 2012 (about 117 million) compared to 2008 (about 125 million). President Obama received some 6.6 million fewer votes in 2012 than he did in 2008 (60,217,329 in 2012 votes compared to 66,882,230 votes in 2008). One would think that such a dynamic would have helped Romney win — clearly it did not.”

“Why? Here is some of what we know from the 2012 election day exit polls: 42% of the Protestant Christian vote went for Obama in 2012.”

“When you zoom in a bit, you find that 21% of self-identified, white, born-again, evangelical Christians voted for President Obama in 2012. This means of the 117 million people who voted on Tuesday, about 24.7 million were evangelicals who voted for Obama. This was down from 24% of evangelicals who voted for Obama in 2008. (Of the 125 million people who voted in 2008, about 30 million were evangelicals who voted for Obama.)”

“You’d think this decrease in evangelical votes for Obama would have helped win the race for Romney, but it didn’t.  78% of evangelical Christians voted for Romney in 2012. Yes, this was up from the 74% that McCain received in 2008, but it wasn’t nearly enough.”

“To put it more precisely, about 5 million fewer evangelicals voted for Obama in 2012 than in 2008. Meanwhile, some 4.7 million more evangelicals voted for Romney than voted for McCain. Yet Romney still couldn’t win.”

“It is stunning to think that 25 million self-described evangelical Christians would vote for a President who supports abortion on demand and was on the cover of Newsweek as America’s ‘first gay president.’ Did these self-professed believers surrender their Biblical convictions in the voting booth, or did they never really have deep Biblical convictions on the critical issues to begin with?”

“Whatever their reasons, these so-called evangelicals doomed Romney and a number of down-ballot candidates for the House and Senate. This is what happens when the Church is weak and fails to disciple believers to turn Biblical faith into action.”

So, there is the sad reality, folks.

Twenty-five million evangelical Christians–those who should know better–voted for a secular man over a biblically-based one.

These numbers are far bigger than gender, demographics, or GOTV totals.

The lack of discipleship in the Church led to the horrific election result. What a stunning and incredible tragedy.

And why do I call it a lack of discipleship? For the past few weeks I’ve been “making disciples” at two of our training centers in North American and the Caribbean. The young people I’ve been teaching are committed to being disciplined followers of Christ, understanding the biblical worldview, and living out their faith in every dimension of life.

They understood what was at stake in the election. They knew that a biblical Christian (evangelical) couldn’t vote for the most abortion-happy president in history, the most gay-promoting president in history, and one who was committed to the power and tyranny (lack of liberty) of human government.

Disciples of Christ know that we are fighting a spiritual enemy that blinds the eyes of those who are not seeking to know and live God’s truth in the world.

In the two settings I’ve been in since the election, there is sound understanding of how believers must vote for righteousness to be a blessing to a nation.

But on November 6, millions of those who called themselves evangelicals, and over forty percent of those who are nominal Christians, voted for non-biblical, worldly values that abort human babies, destroy marriage and family, bring impoverishment to nations, and hurt individuals.

America is not Europe where only 10 percent of the population go to church. When the church recedes to being that small in a nation, they are usually irrelevant. The sheer numbers of others determine the electoral results.

But in America, in this particular election, over 42% of voters said that they attended church weekly    (a two percent increase from 2008).

And 25 million of them voted for a secular future.

They were not acting like disciples. They were more like “Judases.”

Two thousand years ago, Jesus told us that the key to world evangelization was to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20). We have failed that task in America.

If this nation is to be revived and transformed for the glory of God, then the evangelical churches of the nation need to face our incredible failure and begin to disciple its people.

Disciples will live godly lives. They will give themselves to the passion of prayer. They will meet the needs of those around them in love. And they will vote for those who share biblical principles.

We–the Church–are responsible for an America on the precipice of calamity.

We need to make disciples of our people.

Let’s change our ways–beginning today.



  1. DB on November 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I am shocked by your lack of hermeneutical understanding of scriptures while professing to be a Christian and using them out of context to justify your position.

    As a minister of the Gospel; I must call you to a place of understanding. While Jesus did call for us to make disciples, He first and foremost called for us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

    Love doesn't seek to separate people into us and them. Love doesn't put down our brother to raise up ourselves. The fruits of the spirit cause us to operate different than the world.

    The Bible never called for us to legislate choice. Abortion I am against, but the individuals convictions, beliefs and free will choice is not mine (or yours) to make. They must answer to God for their decisions. In fact, I am against murder of any kind.

    Same sex marriage, I am against and the Bible teaches against it. Yet the Bible also teaches – "we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities . . ."

    The Bible also calls for us to love one another, not profess such obvious views of racism. Your statement "but it's probably true that they will not be this motivated in future elections unless another charismatic black candidate shows up on the political scene." demonstrates you lack of love for your fellow man.

    To proclaim the President doesn't want the United States to be successful . . . come on. While we may not agree with the way he is going about it; let's not be anti-christian and spew hate.

    The Bible teaches us to not judge one another that we be not judged. Scripture speaks to the plank in our own eye. . .

    Yes, there needs to be spending cuts; but how do you make them in a way that still respects the least of them? Everyone needing assistance in this world is not gaming the system, lazy or not wanting to do better. the playing field of opportunity is not equal for everyone, so some need assistance.

    Maybe it's time to step back from your public policy and reevaluate your personal theology. I'm one of those evangelical christians you mentioned that changed their vote. Bottom line it was because the party is modeling the character of the Scribes and the Pharisees and not that of the God we serve.

    Love of neighbor was the central theme of God's parables and messages.

    I pray while this view does not match your, it will be posted. If not, think on these things as you form your views and teach others.

    Grace and peace be unto you.

  2. Darrell Furgason on November 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks Ron. A good analysis. It left out one thing, however. The church has not been intentionally training up qualified political candidates. The church needs to be developing political leaders who have the potential to get elected. Romney (and McCain before him) are certainly not the best candidates the church has to offer, surely! Romney was a semi left wing Mormon, and McCain can't be considered a true Christian, as far as I klnow. This situation will repeat itself, as long as the church ignores the political process – the need to groom qualified candidates from a young age. The NFL is a good example. How young do kids start playing football, if they want to play in the NFL?

  3. Lea on November 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Brilliantly stated.

    I am not watching this video: I imagine you have see it?

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