October 3rd, 2012
03:32 PM ET
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By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – Will religion factor into the first 2012 presidential debate in Denver on Wednesday night? Maybe, though it's likely to happen in subtle ways.
Both President Barack Obama, a Protestant Christian whose political base is largely secular and whose last presidential campaign was almost brought low by his association with a minister, and Mitt Romney, whose Mormon religion is misunderstood or viewed skeptically by many Americans, have generally avoided talking religion on the campaign trail.
But both men spoke about their faith in recent speeches at the party conventions. And a number of issues at Wednesday's domestic-policy-focused debate could intersect with religion, like questions about abortion, gay marriage and religious liberty.
We put the question of whether religion would matter to Twitter and got some interesting responses:
This is a perennial question for candidates, with Obama and Romney touching on it on different occasions, though neither appears to have answered the question directly. Obama has said the U.S. is no longer "just" a Christian country, given its religious diversity, while Romney has accused Obama of saying the U.S. should be a "less Christian nation."
This looks like an allusion to the summer shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left seven dead and perhaps to reports of violence against other houses of worship, particularly mosques. Will moderator Jim Lehrer or either candidate bring up the Wisconsin shooting or other violence?
That tweet suggests it would be silly to invoke religion in a presidential debate. Many among the growing chunk of Americans who claim no religious affiliation feel the same way. Most of those folks line up with the Democratic Party.
Another hearty perennial in American politics. Obama has said yes, he does. Romney has said that Obama has taken church/state separation too far.
Obama has talked a fair deal about his faith influencing his policy priorities, including at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. Romney, who generally avoids talking about his personal faith, has been less willing to go there.
What do you think? Will religion play into the debate? Should it? Share your thoughts.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.