Southern Baptist leader Richard Land termed President Bush’s apparent re-election “a significant step in the culture wars” late Tuesday.

Appearing on the Southern Baptist Convention television network FamilyNet, Land, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called Bush’s narrow win–along with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress–“a testimony to the president’s ability to connect with the American people.”

TV networks declared Bush the winner just before midnight, Central Standard Time, based on key projections from Ohio and Florida. The Kerry campaign refused to concede Ohio, saying 250,000 votes had not been counted.

Whatever the final outcome, Land said the election was anything but a repudiation of President Bush, which he said was the focus of the Kerry campaign. Land contrasted Bush’s “humble faith” with Kerry’s “cafeteria Catholicism,” claiming the Massachusetts senator wanted to tout parts Christianity like good works while ignoring church teaching against abortion.

Land predicted the setback would force the Democratic Party away from the left wing toward conservative or moderate leadership.

Earlier in the evening, when the race appeared to be up for grabs, Land said his 30-year-old daughter asked him what to think should Bush lose to Kerry. “God is still on his throne and the church is still the church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” Land said, adding that all his children and their spouses “voted the right way” on Tuesday.

FamilyNet President Randy Singer “confessed” to voting for Jimmy Carter for president 24 years ago, because he thought Carter was a good Southern Baptist.

Singer said a pastor later “straightened me out,” advising him to “vote for the issues and not where a man attends church,” he said, discussing “scriptural” reasons to vote for Bush.

A caller during one of several live viewer-comment segments agreed with a proposition that federal judges legislate from the bench rather than interpret the law. Asked why, he said, “There’s just too many liberals running around.”

One interruption to FamilyNet’s pro-Republican tone came when a taped segment from the Democratic National Convention showed a lifelong Southern Baptist explaining why he is a Democrat. The segment was interrupted with the explanation that it was the wrong video and replaced by an interview with a delegate at the Republican National Convention proclaiming, “I’m here by the hand of the Lord.”

Land later bemoaned a ballot vote in California, where a majority appeared ready to approve funding for research using embryonic stem cells. Land called the procedure the “biotech equivalent of child sacrifice.”

“I would hate to live in California,” he said, “because this is the sort of thing God does not take lightly.”

He also made light of a referendum to legalize marijuana in Alaska. “It will increase the population of Alaska,” he said. “All the potheads who worship Cheech and Chong will move to Alaska, and if they smoke enough of it they won’t notice that it snows eight months a year.”

Bob Allen is managing editor of

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