Why does the right wing seem to "own" religion and religious issues? People who said that their #1 issue was "moral values" voted overwhelmingly for Bush. So did evangelicals, people who went to church weekly, and protestants. This is no surprise to anyone who's been living on earth for the past few years. But why? In Judaism, when we talk about "moral issues", we usually talk about tzedakah (charity), human rights, treatment of animals, the golden rule (Lev. 19:18), lashon hara (the evil tongue, or speaking negative things about people), and ethics. I'm no expert on Christianity, but I'm pretty sure Jesus's teachings were about love, tolerance, community, the treatment of the poor, and the pitfalls of wealth. (I did find one website, though, where the author called God a 'father' and then modeled God after his own parenting skills. He didn't go quite so far as to say he was God, but I'm sure the message comes across loud and clear.)
The point is, Republicans have owned the evangelicals long before gay marriage, Terri Schiavo, or even abortion. This history stretches back to before the official start of the GOP in 1854. The slavery issue was being pushed by churches, specifically pietistic ones like the Methodists, Baptists, or Quakers (as opposed to the liturgical churches, like the Catholics or Lutherans or Jews). These were the early Republicans. And these are the current Republicans. The "official" GOP history doesn't include Republican support for Temperance and Prohibition, but because the pietistic churches supported it, do did the party platform. Now the pietistic churches are railing against abortion, gays, euthanasia, Black people voting (jk?). Attend a Baptist church and you've pretty much gotten the GOP party platform.
But here's why we don't hear from the other religious people who oppose these views: it's the fundamental difference between a pietistic church and a liturgical one. See, liturgical churches rely on the written word. They usually have sets of rules and laws and stay the same over hundreds (or thousands) of years, changing very slowly. There's not a lot of passion in these churches. Discussion over issues tends to be slow and deliberate and thoughtful. You might say that the US Congress was liturgical (until Terri Schiavo) if you wanted to draw an analogy. The law is the law is the law, but we interpret it differently over time.
Pietistic churches, on the other hand, rely on the spoken word. They are the outspoken ones, the ones with passion. They rely on getting people riled up - if they're not listening, they're not supporting the church. (Heck, if they're not actually in the church, they're not supporting it financially.) In these churches, the law is the law is what the preacher tells you from the pulpit. And if the preacher wants his congregation to stick around, he'd better have some good issues to rile them up with. This isn't about rules - it's about passion! It's easy to see why members of these churches stick out - you know they're religious. It's harder to tell with a Catholic or Jew.
This is why, when John Kerry said he was religious, the Republicans scoffed (he wasn't their kind of religious) and the Democrats yawned.
Sources: Democracy, Republicanism and Efficiency: The Values of American Politics, 1885-1930; From Temperance to Prohibition; The Politics of Prohibition: The 1920s