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Obama wins second term and appeals for national unity

by
09 November 2012

By a staff reporter

AP

Happy day: supporters of President Obama at a rally in Chicago on Tuesday, celebrating the prospect of victory

Happy day: supporters of President Obama at a rally in Chicago on Tuesday, celebrating the prospect of victory

PRESIDENT Barack Obama has vowed that "the best is yet to come" in his victory speech after the presidential election in the United States.

Using a style reminiscent of his first election victory, he said that the country was not as divided as its politics suggested.

Although it was predicted to be a closely fought ballot, the suddenness of the news of Mr Obama's win - a few hours after the polls had closed - shocked many Republicans.

In a concession speech, his Republican challenger Mitt Romney urged his supporters to pray "earnestly" for President Obama.

The President's re-election was welcomed by one of the leading figures in the Episcopal Church in the US. The Rt Revd Gene Robinson, a former Bishop of New Hampshire, who is gay and partnered, tweeted after it became obvious that Mr Obama had won: "So happy for women, LGBT people, the uninsured, the 99 per cent, the 47 per cent, Medicare/Medicaid recipients, Pell grantees, for all of us in America."

The Dean of Washington National Cathedral, the Very Revd Gary Hall, said in a statement that all at the Cathedral thanked all those across the United States who exercised their vote:

"On behalf of all those who have won or lost, as well as the voters who feel they've won or lost, we extend prayers that God's purpose might shine forth with new clarity in our lives.

"Called to serve as the spiritual home for the nation, Washington National Cathedral stands open to people of every perspective and every belief.

"We pray for President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney and their families. We look forward to continuing our work with the office of the president, which this Cathedral has long been privileged to respect and whose guidance to the nation this Cathedral has been honored to witness many times."

The leaders of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, of which Mr Romney is a member, congratulated Mr Obama in a statement that was released minutes after the result became clear:

"This is now a time for Americans to come together. It is a long tradition among Latter-day Saints to pray for our national leaders in our personal prayers and in our congregations." They also "commended" Mr Romney's efforts in contesting the election.

The economy was the decisive issue for voters, but many of the most divisive debates during the campaign centred on religion - whether Mr Romney's Mormon beliefs could be described as Christian, and persistent false rumours that Mr Obama was a Muslim rather than a Christian.

Roman Catholic bishops have been accused of abusing their position and of breaking tax rules by urging parishioners to vote against President Obama. A formal complaint has been made to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by a watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, in Washington DC.

It has asked for an investigation into the US Conference of Catholic Bishops for engaging in prohibited political activity, in violation of its protected tax status. To qualify for tax exemption in the US, an organisation must not participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.

The RC Bishop of Peoria, in Illinois, the Rt Revd Daniel Jenky, required every priest in his diocese to read a statement accusing the Obama administration of an "assault upon our religious freedom . . . simply without precedent in the American political and legal system". Bishop Jenky had previously compared President Obama to Stalin and Hitler, saying that they "would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and healthcare".

Other RC bishops warned of the evils of the Obama administra- tion, followed by an exhortation to Roman Catholics to vote. The RC Bishop of Springfield, also in Illinois, the Most Revd Thomas Paprocki, warned in his diocesan newspaper that voting for a particular candidate "places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy".

In the run-up to the election, the ecumenical group Faithful America, urged its supporters to resist the approach used by the RC bishops and Mr Romney's campaign team. In a letter to supporters, the group declared: "The religious right is desperately trying to frighten Christians into voting for their preferred candidate. It's up to us to remind our family, friends, and neighbours that Jesus doesn't belong to one political party, and that there are faithful Christians on both sides of this election."

The research group Pew Forum suggested that it was a mistaken tactic to attempt to isolate the Roman Catholic vote, and that the fastest-growing group of voters in the US was those who were not religiously affiliated.

Early polling data suggests that a majority of those with no religious affiliation voted for President Obama.

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Dr Olav Fykse Tveit,  congratulated President Obama by letter. "As president of the United States, you can exercise remarkable influence in promoting and establishing justice and peace throughout the earth," he said.

"And so we pray that the God of life will lead you, as you lead your nation, into the ways of justice and peace. In particular, we pray that you may provide inspired leadership within the international community in the quest for peace with equal justice and mutual respect in Israel and Palestine."

 

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