8 ways faith will matter at the Republican National Convention
Paul Ryan, left, is Catholic, while Mitt Romney is Mormon.
August 25th, 2012
06:58 PM ET

8 ways faith will matter at the Republican National Convention

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors

(CNN)–For the next four days, the eyes of the political world will be on Tampa, Florida, the site of the Republican National Convention (which will now get started Tuesday, after Tropical Storm Isaac cancelled Monday's events).

Though politics will be the name of the game, it's a safe bet that religion will also play a major role. The convention opens with a prayer from a Hispanic evangelical leader and closes with a benediction from a Catholic cleric who's sometimes called "America's pope."

In between, balloons will drop on the first Mormon to be nominated by a major political party to be president of the United States. Here are eight ways faith will matter this week. What did we leave out? Let us know in comments and we'll expand our list as warranted.

1. The ghost of Todd Akin
Most people couldn't pick him out of lineup and he won't be attending the convention this week. But the Missouri Senate candidate who claimed that women could prevent conception in cases of "legitimate rape" opened a rift in the Republican Party, with GOP chieftains pressuring him to drop out while some powerful conservative Christian activists rally to his defense. Those activists are using the Akin episode to allege that the Republican Party wants quash their socially conservative agenda even as it happily accepts their votes. If the infighting continues into this week, there could be a battle for GOP's soul at a moment when the GOP wants to project unity.

2. The M word
Even now that he's talking more about his religious faith, Mitt Romney almost never refers specifically to Mormonism or to his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And yet Romney has held a series leadership positions in his church. Will the Republican Party continue to studiously avoid one of its presidential candidate's defining characteristics? Or will some convention speaker make a case for why Romney's Mormonism is an asset? Will Romney himself mention his religion as he accepts his party's nomination?

3. Ladies night (or week)?
For months, the GOP has been on the defensive, as Democrats say Republicans are waging a "war on women," a theme the Dems began sounding when the American bishops blasted the White House for its contraception mandate for insurance companies earlier this year. This week, Republicans face a delicate balancing act in trying to assuage the concerns of moderate women voters while also satisfying its religiously conservative base. (See ghost of Todd Akin, above). A big part of that mission falls to Ann Romney, the Republican nominee's wife, and to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, both of whom have choice speaking slots.

4. The possibility of a culture war speech
"There is a religious war going on in this country," former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan told the 1992 Republican convention in a primetime address. "It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself. For this war is for the soul of America." There are still debates over whether the speech, which provoked a media frenzy, helped or hurt President George H.W. Bush, who would go on to lose to Bill Clinton. But the Republican Party is keen on avoiding such moments as it tries to win over independents this fall. There's some nervousness about what Rick Santorum will say in his convention address.

5. Religious liberty
Many conservatives are livid over the Obama administration's requirement that health insurers offer free contraceptive coverage, even for employees of Catholic institutions. Plus, talking up religious liberty is likely less of a turnoff for moderate voters than is talk about bans on abortion and gay marriage, traditionally the top concerns of religious conservatives. Catholics and evangelicals, two key voting blocs, have been buzzing about religious liberty for months, with mega-pastor Rick Warren recently canceling plans for a presidential forum with Obama and Romney and announcing plans for one on religious liberty instead.

6. Israel
When it comes to foreign policy, look for convention speakers to try outdo one another in pledging support for the Jewish State - and in railing against Obama for what they'll allege are his administration's shabby treatment of a key American ally. Israel is especially important to the GOP's evangelical base, some of whom see a biblical bond with the Jewish people and some who believe Israel must be in Jewish control before the Second Coming can happen. Mitt Romney included Israel as one of his marquee stops on his recent foreign trip, including a photo-op at Jerusalem's Western Wall.

7. Hurricane theology
Will some televangelist claim that Tropical Storm Isaac, which is headed toward the Gulf Coast, is God's way of punishing the GOP for insufficient piety? It wouldn't be the first time a prominent preacher blamed severe weather on American insubordinance.

8. "America's pope"
The convention's closing prayer will be delivered by Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who leads the American Catholic bishops and is sometimes referred to as America's pope. It's a good indication of just how important the Catholic vote is thought to be this year, with Catholics accounting for 1 in 4 Americans and considered to be the quintessential swing bloc. Whoever wins these voters will likely win the White House.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mormonism • Politics

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soundoff (1,567 Responses)
  1. Mahhn

    RNC has been hijacked by a greedy rich guy that respects no law or man.
    And they black listed the ONLY honest candidate from attending. Ron Paul.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  2. KBatch

    GOP piety isn't the issue, it's lack of attention to the issue of justice, especially in relation to those living in poverty (more than 2000 verses, according to many, including Rick Warren). Their policies in relation to hunger and the sick make the US an accursed nation (Mt. 25:31-45) and their efforts and platform that serve wealth violate many Biblical tenets, including Jesus' teachings in the Gospels.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  3. liz

    Faith will not matter at the GOP convention. It's but another tool with no substance behind it. The neo-con Republicans invented Christianity without the Jesus to justify their unholy agenda

    August 27, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • marjee123

      Who do they think they are appealing to, with the Hispanic preacher. The Hispanic people are smarter than they republicans.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  4. glorydays

    Frankly, I don't care if you're an Irish Catholic, Muslim or a Jewish Buddhist. Keep it to yourself and out of my government.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • liz


      August 27, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  5. fairandbalancedfredo

    Romney – the Latter Day Con Man. The Bible predicts that a wolf like this will appear in sheep's clothing and will in fact be the anti-Christ. The cultist Romney carries a lot of baggage that he doesn’t want Americans to know about – magic underwear, baptism of corpses, canine abuse, polygamy, White Horse Prophecy, secret rituals. The cultist’s final ambition is to get his finger on the nuclear button.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  6. winchester74

    If you want to live in a country where the holy book overrules civil law, every man carries a gun, the schools are all religion based, there's no government healthcare, and women have no civil rights  - move to Afghanistan.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • liz

      or Somalia

      August 27, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • hello

      The difference here would be in Christendom, it is about
      Love thy neighbor
      Give unto Ceasar
      Oh wait... may be our forefathers did follow the holy book and hence created the civil law that exists today.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  7. bmore

    Faith, religion, Christianity are just words used by them to gain votes. If they lived by the Red Letters in the Bible, they'd never dream of doing what they do. Their cynical actions are those of greedy, lying, filth.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  8. Ben

    Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. Religion is an embarrassment and an insult to the intellectual mind, and from what we've seen lately, intellectual minds don't exist in the GOP.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  9. Clouds 9


    August 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  10. ATL Guy

    So when will they bring out a Mormon priest???

    August 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • jake

      Romney is the mormon bishop. Get a clue people America has been invaded by the Mormon church. Come next year we will any be making offerings to the mob in Salt Lake City.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  11. El Flaco

    Why is Almighty God sending His Storm along the Republican coast. His Storm reached out to touch Tampa and is proceeding along the coast to warn Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

    He could have sent His Storm up the east coast, but He didn't.


    August 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  12. winchester74

    The Republican candidates resemble the Founding Fathers about as much as the American flag resembles an overflowing adult diaper.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  13. Jenna Simmons

    Its disqusting to me. Religion should play NO PART in politics. If a politician wants to have his/her own beliefs, so be it. This is supposed to be America and we have so many religions/beliefs in this country and we are going to limit it to what these Republicans believe?? Gross...

    August 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  14. Me

    It's appalling that religion is even mentioned at a political convention. Is the point here to elect a president or a pope?

    August 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  15. Mr RickinNH

    Funny... what shouldn't make any difference at all.... is... apparently the focus of many at the GOP! Need we say more!

    August 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  16. Tom

    We are all American’s first! So faith shouldn’t matter when it comes to OUR government. America was created to ensure religion was kept out of OUR government & laws. So it’s not politically correct to open this convention up with a prayer of any faith. If you don’t understand why that is, go back & read your history books. We have to show acceptance and tolerance to all faith. And to do that we have to keep OUR government free from all faith.

    God’s true words never need to be spoken. Only actions can be heard to truly believe. You know the words of the book. Does this party show the actions of those words? I see mostly greed and self-centeredness in most of these people on stage. I don’t see action from them to make people believe they are righteous to the majority. They use their faith to grasp for more power & money. They do good to themselves by preaching their faith in this forum.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  17. Abel

    Old Fashion Formula:
    If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land 2Cron 7:14

    August 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  18. John

    Its very sad to see all of these event unravel themselves. I mean wow, the bible teaches us Christians to be separate from the world. What does that include? Well for one, it definitely involves politics. I mean Jesus would have never supported governments and politics. He knew that the only solution was Gods Kingdom. True Christians know that, and flee from participating in politics. That would be imitating Jesus example. I now know that Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, and every religion out there that profess to believe in Christ and what he represented and at the same time support politics and get involved with politics are not the true religion. There is really only one out there that does follow Jesus example. Take the time to find out. I mean to pray that God Bless America, what does that show to other countries? Does that mean God only blesses America, not Europe, Asia and Africa? Its really getting to a point that I'm glad these things are happening. Just goes to show you how close we are to the end of times. This spiritual adultery has to come to an end. I encourage everyone to read their Bibles and dont be afraid to ask questions.. Please find out the answers.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  19. jamdfh

    The GOP are more sure that there is not a God than athiests or that God is easily fooled, exhibited by the fact that they use Religion for Money and Power. The GOP have taken heresy to the next level and taking the flock with them!

    August 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  20. rblock7

    The GOP has lost it's way, the U.S. was NOT founded as a Christian nation it was founded to be free of any religious influenece by it citizens. The founders were in no way religious, in fact some may have been atheist at best and diest at worst.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
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About this blog

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.