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January 13th, 2012
10:59 AM ET

GOP poised to make history with non-Protestant presidential nominee

By Josh Levs, CNN

(CNN) - The race for the Republican presidential nomination is on track to break new ground: For the first time in modern political history - some say ever - the GOP nominee could be someone who is not a Protestant Christian.

Front-runner Mitt Romney is Mormon, as is Jon Huntsman. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are Catholics.

The only two Protestants in the race are Rick Perry and Ron Paul. Paul had strong finishes in the nominating contests so far but most political experts and Republican establishment figures say he is not favored to win the nomination ultimately. Perry has finished near the end of the pack so far but is hoping for a strong finish in the next-in-line South Carolina primary.

Neither major party has ever had a Mormon nominee. John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, was the only Catholic president.

Democrats have also nominated John Kerry, a Catholic, and Michael Dukakis, who is Greek Orthodox, but the overwhelming majority of Democratic presidential nominees have been Protestant.

Experts who follow the intersection of religion and politics say this year’s crop of Republican candidates reflects the changing electorate, the lasting significance of a Supreme Court decision, and shifting forces within American Christianity.

“Catholicism has been almost fully absorbed into the American mainstream,” says William Galston, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution.

While Kennedy faced questions from some voters over whether he would take orders from the pope, that kind of skepticism is virtually unheard of today, Galston says.

“The more interesting question is Mormonism. Because in many Protestants’ eyes, Mormons today stand roughly where Catholics did 60 years ago. They are suspect.”

But Romney, with his “unblemished personal life,” is in a unique position to help guide Mormonism into the mainstream of American politics, Galston says.

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley says Americans have achieved enough comfort with Mormonism to make room for a possible Romney presidency.

“Are we ready for a Mormon president? I think the answer is yes,” Brinkley says.

The Mormon population is growing quickly, and more and more people have Mormon friends, he says. “It’s no longer a fringe group growing up. It’s a powerful and important religion.”

Mormons have been recruiting Southern Baptists and Methodists to join their fold, making inroads in communities across the country and raising money, Brinkley says. “The Mormon Church is booming when some of the other denominations are struggling for cash and converts.”

Mark Silk, professor of religion in public life at Trinity College, says most American voters are “prepared to think about people who are not Protestant to be president.”

The GOP field of candidates this year is “mostly happenstance” – the contenders did not rise to the front of the pack because of their religions, Silk says. But the fact that their faiths don’t seem to be hampering their chances shows “real growth in the acceptance of religious pluralism since World War II.”

There’s also a broad political force helping bond voters across different denominations.

“In the past generation, denominational differences or religious differences have become less important than the split between modernism and traditionalism within each religion,” says Galston.

“So at this point, traditional Mormons, evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics have more in common with one another politically than they do with the more liberal elements within their respective churches.”

That break has been furthered as the issues that guide many voters’ decisions have changed over the past few decades.

“One of the big things that’s happened since the 1970s is that a lot of cultural issues have moved from the private realm to the public stage,” Galston says. “That’s happened whether it’s been abortion or gay marriage or the treatment of private schools by the IRS.”

It’s happened “much more explicitly on the conservative side than it has on the more liberal side,” Galston says.

The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which said women have a constitutional right to an abortion, was a turning point.

Before that ruling, Catholics were a solid, reliable Democratic voting block, “one of the most powerful constituencies in the Democratic party,” says Brinkley.

The Vatican opposes abortion rights. And as the Democratic Party became largely supportive of the Supreme Court’s decision, the Republican Party won over Catholics who disagreed with it.

“It turned a lot of Catholic groups from Democratic to Republican,” Brinkley says. “It flipped them.”

People within each denomination who support abortion rights and take liberal stances on numerous issues, meanwhile, have formed similar bonds on the Democratic side, with religious denominations themselves playing little role, the analysts said.

About half the U.S. population is Protestant. The American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College, published in 2009, found Protestants are 51% of the U.S. population, while Catholics are 25%. Mormons are at 1.4%, just behind Jews at 1.8%. Muslims comprise 0.3% of the population.

While a Mormon or Catholic nominee would be a first for the GOP, there’s some disagreement over whether he would be the first “non-Protestant” ever, or just the first in generations.

A December article for rollcall.com said “Gingrich’s nomination would make him the first non-Protestant to be nominated for president by the GOP.” A 2000 Slate article headlined “The Protestant Presidency” said Kennedy was the only non-Protestant “ever elected president.”

But Silk noted that it isn’t clear exactly how to characterize Abraham Lincoln’s religious affiliation.

The first Republican president “didn’t belong to any church, wouldn’t have described himself as a Protestant,” Silk said. At the same time, Lincoln expressed a deep belief in a God who is active in history.

Adherents.com keeps a list of the presidents’ religions. Four presidents were Unitarians, a movement that grew our of Protestant Christianity. Two presidents were Quakers, a group that is connected to Protestantism.

While the analysts CNN spoke to agree that the GOP field this year reflects the country’s religious pluralism, it remains centered only on Christian denominations, setting aside the question of whether Mormonism fits a traditional definition of Christian.

Just how much of a chance a candidate of another religion would have at the presidency is another question.

Some believe that Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000 who ran for the party’s nomination in 2004, was not hampered by being Jewish. “I don’t think that the classic triad Catholic-Protestant-Jew makes a difference at all,” said Galston. “Joe Lieberman’s candidacy foundered, but not because he was Jewish.”

But there has never been a Jewish presidential nominee. And just how a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or member of any other religion would fare is another question.

For some voters, the denominations of the candidates continue to be a relevant factor, the analysts said. Last May, a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that about one-third of white evangelical Protestants would be less likely to vote for a Mormon.

In Iowa, CNN entrance polls show that born-again or evangelical Christians supported Santorum, a Catholic, well over Romney.

In New Hampshire, CNN exit polls from the Republican primary show that Catholics and Protestants both chose Romney over the competition. More Catholics – like voters in general - supported the two Mormon candidates, Romney and Huntsman, than the two Catholic candidates, Gingrich and Santorum.

Paul, for his part, came in second in New Hampshire, and placed second among Protestants and tied with Huntsman for second among Catholics.

Analysts agree that a candidate who does not believe in God would be quickly rejected by voters nationwide – even if he or she was raised Christian.

“Whether anyone would accept a professed out of the closet atheist, no,” said Galston. “You’d probably have a better chance as a former member of the Taliban.”

Weigh in on this story at Facebook or Twitter.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Politics

soundoff (951 Responses)
  1. cgs

    I hear the Newt is repenting AGAIN.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  2. BL

    You can call Mormonism a "major religion" or anything you want, it's still a bizarre, pseudo Christian cult.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      That is not constructive BL, and I have known admirable people of that faith.
      Rather, just suggest readers look at http://www.irr.org.
      If they read Mormon.org they will see that it is misleading in terms of presenting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as if it were the Christian concept, when in fact they reject the Christian tradition as having fallen centuries ago.
      All religions have weird origins and rituals, but the deceptions are not morally justified.

      January 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  3. BL

    Wow, I'm so impressed with how progressive you all are regarding your lack of concern over a candidates religion! Now, let's posit one of them is Muslim, I wonder how tolerant you'd be? My guess is religion would suddenly matter quite a bit.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  4. Holly

    Great article. If evangelicals will not stand in the way, we have the potential to have a great non-Protestant Christian president,

    Mitt Romney.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Holly, you are a bit confused. Mormonism rejects traditional Christianity, calling it the apostatic "Christiandom." Its Father, Son and Holy Spirit are separate spirit gods, and Jesus is a created being, the son of an incarnate Father and Mary. This is all just fine, and the Mormon Church thrives and its members are happy, but they are not to be confused with Protestants nor Christians.

      January 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  5. nrog

    We will not be mature as a nation until a major presidential candidate can answer the question "What is your religion?" by saying "None of your business. Next question?"

    January 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  6. nrog

    My cult is better than your cult... na na na na naaahhhh naaaaaaa

    January 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  7. O.T.

    This is just religious bigotry dressed up to look presentable. CNN is pro-Obama. Between now and the election, it is going to do everything in its power to remind voters that he is Mormon.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • nrog

      Are you saying he shouldn't be proud of his religion? What's wrong with CNN, evangelicals, or anyone else reminding people about Mitt's religion?

      January 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • TownC

      Nothing wrong with mentioning Mitt's religion as long as CNN's coverage is "fair and balanced".

      January 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Automatic Translator

      "I don't agree with it, therefore it is bigotry."

      January 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  8. aRocketScientist

    I thought Ron Paul was a Protestant? Looks like it's Certainly Not News that CNN is wrong again.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  9. MacMaven

    This is exactly why he will lose during the general election against Obama. Its unfortunate that antiquated religious beliefs are still such a dominant force in many of these elections.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  10. Rick

    Mormons are protestants, they are not evangelicals, but they are still protestants. there are three main divisions in Christianity, Catholicism, Protestants and Greek Orthodox

    January 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Mike

      Rick, you may know this but the religious right doesn't or doesn't care, but the rest of us know! Keep talking and educating!

      January 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • senoy

      I would consider Mormons the fourth Abrahamic religion rather than a subset of Protestantism. There is no doubt of course that Joseph Smith was inspired by his Protestant cohorts and the revivalism of the 2nd Great Awakening and in its early stages was very similar to many of the restorationist movements alive in Protestantism at the time, but by 1838, the theology completely jumped away from anything remotely Protestant and went off on its own path. Today, the theological differences are much too broad to classify them as Protestants and I question whether or not they even fall within the Christian umbrella.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Sorry Rick, but you misunderstand the distinctions. The Protestant Reformation was led by Luther and Calvin against the Catholic Church. Mormonism takes issue with all of "Christiandom" claiming Christ to be a created being, a spirit brother to Satan. It denies the trinity, though it claims three separate gods, which it calls Father, Son, and Holy Spririt, confusing people and lowering resistance to prospective converts from Christian religions.
      You are not alone in this confusion, no insults intended, even Mormon.org promotes this deception, speaking only of the "birth" of Christ, not the incarnation of God. Please refer to http://www.irr.org for clarification, quoting the Mormon authorities.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Dan

      Mormons are not Protestants. Protestants are classified as a sub-group of Christianity who believe they have reformed or altered an existing set of beliefs to be more theologically correct. Mormons claim to be a complete restoration of the church of Jesus Christ as He established when on the Earth. So while they claim to be Christians in that they believe in Christ as their savior, they are not protestant (reformers) but a separate group (restorers).

      January 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      http://www.irr.org
      Mormons share with orthodox Christians some important moral precepts from the Bible. However, the above points are examples of the many fundamental and irreconcilable differences between historic, biblical Christianity and Mormonism. While these differences do not keep us from being friendly with Mormons, we cannot consider them brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible specifically warns of false prophets who will teach "another gospel" centered around "another Jesus," and witnessed to by "another spirit" (2 Corinthians 11:4,13-15; Galatians 1:6-9). Based on the evidence presented above, we believe Mormonism represents just such a counterfeit gospel.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Interesting point Dan, "restorers." So that might be where the "Restore the Future" PAC got its inspiration. And who now can say religion is irrelevant with those millions being poured into political ads, surely in part by those interested in promoting their religion, as we all admittedly are, wishing to share our values.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • HellBent

      @Magnus,

      If we can dismiss Mormonism because it conflicts with the bible, can we also dismiss the bible because it conflicts with itself? Or do you just hold a double standard for religions other than your own?

      January 13, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Dan

      @Magnus I hadn't thought of that coincidence before. Regardless, I would be surprised if Mr. Romney's faith had anything to do with the naming of that PAC. It's a stretch of a correlation as it is.

      @hellbent You do bring up a good point all too often overlooked within religious circles. You really cannot 'prove' or 'disprove' much strictly from reading the Bible. Whether you believe the Bible to be infallible or not, there will always be an issue of interpretation. Timothy teaches that the words of the prophets need to be interpreted correctly and Christ taught that all truth comes from an appeal to the Holy Ghost. Prayer and personal revelation are really the only true ways to fully understand the Bible. If we could understand absolute truth with only the Bible alone, there wouldn't be so many denominations and their various interpretations.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  11. PlagueDoc

    What about Joe? He wasn't a Protestant, was he?

    January 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  12. Tammy, NC

    Well, when you took religion out of America with the separation of church and state, no one particularly cares about religion any more. Heck, half the population is atheist. Most of our children don't even know about religion one way or the other so they opt to become atheist because "God" doesn't seem real to them. Besides if all the American people care about is the person's religious affiliation, then we are in big trouble. It should be about what the nominee is going to do about fixing this messed up nation and laying down a set plan in writing. Not just doing lip service, or actually just voicing the concern but never saying how they are going to fix things. If you listen real close, because if you get a talker for a politician then they add so much you don't realize they never actually said what they were going to do in the first place, duh. Ron Paul has a plan. It's in writing and you can look at it on his web site. Figure it out people.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • JEM

      We care about a candidates religious beliefs because we fear what the candidate might do to us in the name of religion.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Mike

      The answer is in the reply below this one! FEAR that is the real issue here! I see a lot of it thrown around by the politicians and candidates! Actually FEAR is used in a lot of ways to get people to do what someone wants them to do. This is because the person is either too lazy to look up facts or too uneducated to see past it!

      January 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  13. JEM

    Its RON PAUL or U.S. Bankruptcy and More Dead Solders.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  14. Reality

    Protestant, Mormon, Catholic, it makes no differences. Why?--------–>

    (only for the "newbies")

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Newton Leroy Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    (The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.)

    January 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • JEM

      If abortion is banned, it will mean banning Birth Control Pills, Norplants, IUD's, Contraceptive shots and Contraceptive patches. All of these methods can allow the conception of an embryo and all these methods change the lining of the uterus so that the embryo can't implant. Therefore, they would all be ruled to be methods of abortion and banned.
      Google BIRTH CONTROL PILL ABORTION and see what I mean. The people from prolife dot com can explain themselves better than I can

      January 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      It really is offensive to speak of people who refuse to interfere in the private lives of families, as being "pro-abortion." That language puts a nasty slant on every survey. We should come together, as reflected in your comments, in encouraging reduction in abortions, and we would have near universal agreement on that, except in countries engaged in strict population control and gender selection.
      Why do those who wish to limit the role of government in areas where it is most effective, seek to interfere in areas out of its domain and beyond its control?

      January 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Reality

      Birth control pills and condoms are not considered methods of abortion. Some added information:

      "Facts on Contraceptive Use

      http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html
      January 2008

      "WHO NEEDS CONTRACEPTIVES?

      • 62 million U.S. women (and men?) are in their childbearing years (15–44).[1]

      • 43 million women (and men) of reproductive age, or 7 in 10, are se-xually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they or their partners fail to use a con-traceptive method.[2]

      • The typical U.S. woman (man?) wants only 2 children. To achieve this goal, she (he?) must use cont-raceptives for roughly 3 decades.[3]

      WHO USES CON-TRACEPTIVES?

      • Virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had int-ercourse have used at least one con-traceptive method.[2](and men?)

      • Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using one.[2] (and men)

      • 31% of the 62 million women (and men?) do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had inte-rcourse; or are not se-xually active.[2]

      • Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using con-traceptives.[2] (and men?)

      • Among the 42 million fertile, s-exually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing con-traception.[2] (and men?)

      WHICH METHODS DO WOMEN (men?) USE?

      • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice con-traception use reversible methods, such as oral con-traceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]

      FIRST-YEAR CON-TRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATES

      Percentage of women (men?) experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)

      Method......Typical

      Pill (combined) 8.7
      Tubal sterilization 0.7
      Male condom 17.4
      Vasectomy 0.2

      Periodic abstinence 25.3
      Calendar 9.0
      Ovulation Method 3.0
      Sympto-thermal 2.0
      Post-ovulation 1.0

      No method 85.0"

      (Abstinence) 0

      (Masturbation) 0

      More facts about contraceptives from

      guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html

      "CON-TRACEPTIVE METHOD CHOICE

      Cont-raceptive method use among U.S. women who practice con-traception, 2002

      Method No. of users (in 000s) % of users
      Pill 11,661 30.6
      Male condom 6,841 18.0 "

      i.e.
      The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use (from the same reference previously shown).

      i.e. 0.087 (failure rate)
      x 62 million (# child bearing women)
      x 0.62 ( % of these women using contraception )
      x 0.306 ( % of these using the pill) =

      1,020,000 unplanned pregnancies
      during the first year of pill use.

      For male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level)

      1,200,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

      The Gut-tmacher Inst-itute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate
      (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

      o Conclusion: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the pill or condoms properly and/or use other methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

      January 14, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  15. TJeff1776

    IROY: May I inform you of the EXACT wording of a Mormon baptism, to wit.: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost".........SO what you outlined is FALSE. GET educated- you are obviously interested enough to be critical, so attend a Mormon baptism OR would you prefer being "backward" as is your present condition.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      You have heard of equivocation, TJ, and that is what you and Mormon.org have done concerning the nature of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For the Mormons, these are three separate gods, and this is in the sense that Jesus Christ, as a created spirit brother of Satan, not a part of the Triune God of Christianity, is a god, in the same sense the the Mormon Church claims that we all can become such gods, and have spirit children grow to worship us,
      Such equivocation is deceptive and facilitates conversion of those disaffected from their own.
      Please, be honest. And I wish that Mr. Romney would be honest about Mormonism not wanting to be identified with the Christian religion, called an apostate "Christiandom." TJ, Jews and Muslims are proud and happy to deny diety to Christ. Why are Mormons inclined to mislead people on this?
      http://www.irr.org

      January 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  16. Lansing Lamb

    the whole world will love us if we have a non-religious president.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • to the Slaughter

      Yeah, keep telling yourself that. People don't like elitist mentalities and most atheists do nothing but insist on their own superiority. I can imagine that Presidential debate. "So, Lansing, what do you think about xyz." "I think Americans are stupid because they worship an imaginary sky wizard." Watch the votes roll in.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Vance

      @to the slaughter..

      I'm not sure how many atheist you know. Or if you have interviewed enough of them to say "most this " or "most that", perhaps you have, I don't know. So I will not speculate. What I can tell you is this. As an atheist and having a wonderful circle of atheist friends, I can assure you we could care less what anybody believes in. Every religion, every belief (or lack there of) has a fringe. I would never use the term "most Christians", because I know it's not fair.

      I do know a great deal of man kinds misdeeds have been done in the name of God or some dogma, however the same can be said of man kinds good deeds. With that said to me it is a factor which nullifies religion as a factor in picking any person running for any office. I car more about their record of voting and their stance on the issues. If their stance in contrary to mine I don't care what it is based on in their eyes. It is simply contrary.

      I know plenty of jerks who claim to be religious, probably just as many jerks whom claim no religion. Go figure.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Yes Vance, hard to characterize atheist, so many of my nephews/neices, and those folks I've met from communist East Europe are angry with the Power in which they do not believe, hostile to organized religion.
      But I would think that a rational, cool-headed person like you might enjoy exploring the history of mankind's responses to the enigma of existence. It is enough, all the trillions of galaxies, all made out of quarks. But just think of the time before time, to the incomprehensible, or just love and moral inclinations. Well, this gets us into the realm of penultimate concerns, and organized bodies of religious thought have some value here, even for atheists and agnostics.

      January 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • sam

      slaughter – the cutest part about your post is how you start off whining about 'elitist mentalities' then jump to so many conclusions about the OP. I love irony.

      January 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  17. Lansing Lamb

    I will be the first atheist nominee!

    January 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  18. CEL1

    I don;t what their religious affiliation is, nor do I care what the color of their skin is. I am looking for a person who will keep us out of war, make corporations bring back the good paying jobs we all used to have before they went to India and China and who knows where else and who will restore civility to the nation.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • JEM

      Then you support Ron Paul

      January 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Actually

      Actually Ron Paul will get 1/3 done, as opposed to 0/3. Step in the right direction, though. Maybe if Huntsman tones down his Iran outlook he could get it done.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  19. Scott

    Who cares what religioun the guy is?

    Really? Really? WHat about the national debt, The Fed printing money devaluing my savings account, our CIA probably assassinating Iranian civilians, Sanctioning nations who love to speak out aganist us, forcing our elderly to be enslaved to welfare....

    Religion? Really? Who the bleep cares.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  20. Jim

    William Howard Taft, a Republican, said "“I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.” How can he be described as a Protestant if he wasn't even a Christian? Taft was a Unitarian. His church does not dogmatically believe in Christ's divinity. Several other Republican presidents had no fixed denominational affiliation, including Lincoln himself. Classifying Unitarians, but not Mormons, as Protestants sounds pretty arbitrary.

    Also, in mentioning non-Protestant Democratic presidential nominees, you omitted the party's first Catholic candidate, Al Smith.

    January 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Right Jim, Unitarians broke from traditional Christianity sometime in the 3rd century or so, and the Nicene Creed followed. So Unitarians have no dog in this fight, as they say. Actually, having been one, I find it great that a social club can have tax exempt status; we were open to atheists and witches at All Souls in Manhattan.

      January 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.