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. !

    Few 100% true Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things:

    † Atheism is a religion that makes you angry, stupid, brainwashed, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things (90% of silly comments here on CNN blogs are posted by closet atheists)
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists are misguided and causes problem in our religious & public society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler (denied his faith later), Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders who killed religious people because of their religious cult!
    † No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, drug additcted and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most atheists are uneducated... No atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate & Communist countries = Atheism!
    **Only 2-3% of the U.S. are atheists/agnostics VS. over 90% who believe in God (80% Christians) in the U.S.**

    † † Our Prayers goes to atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator † †

    PS! the USA is a † nation and will always be. You know it's true and stop being ignorant and arrogant!
    (Take a look at our federal/state holidays, 99% of our presidents, blue laws in parts of the nation, name of some cities/counties/streets, the majority of people, some laws, calendar, culture, etc.)

    ■There is only one God and it is to Him that you pray. All others pray to false gods and idols. Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist are all lost unless they know Jesus as their Lord & Savior.■.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      LOL, that's the funniest thing I've read all day. Thanks for the laugh.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • TheTruth

      False Christian–Ponder over the 1000's of "Christian Religion"–Jesus say MANY will be false Christian ? Mathhew 7:21 , 22

      August 27, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Jeannie

      So not true. I was raised in a Christain two parent home with 9 brothers and sisters. Some of my brothers for whatever reason have chosen to be atheist and agnostic. They are college educated with good high paying jobs and no criminal activities in their background. They choose not to be believe in a heaven or hell. None the less, they are good, descent and productive members of society. Your comments are asinine.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • James

      Atheists prove that Springer's show for dumbing down America worked.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • snicklefrits

      metaphysics is such a personal thing. its much more satisfying to try to come to your own conclusions then be fed a ready made version. its a journey that religious types will never get to take and for that i truly pity you.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      The comments by !/HeavenSent/truth be told/(Carrie's mama)

      are not just asinine, they are just unfounded generalizations that are only misleading.

      Hitler was a Christian
      Pol Pot, a Buddhist
      Stalin, a Christian at various stages of his life

      It's stupid to try to describe religion or atheism in terms of these ruthless rulers.

      What it more of concern is entire religious organizations that have murdered and disenfranchised people at various times throughout history, because that seems to recur within and between these dangerous organizations. Examples of this would be – well pretty much all major religions.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      ok so I forgot to add James and another handle for !/HeavenSent/truth be told. Sue me.

      But anyway, by saying "Atheists prove that Springer's show for dumbing down America worked.",
      she once again makes it obvious why she was let go from the Pat Robertson Enlightened Fortune Cookie Co.

      what an idiotic remark. i'm sure many of the people on the Springer show were Christians that other Christians would say "they are not a real Christian" – that age old saying that we hear all too often that exposes that religion's conflicted nature.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  2. Joe

    "Very Scary"

    Scary for praying to something good to God? You atheists are truly satanic and should be burned in hell from now!

    August 27, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  3. lavern

    Sick of the whole thing already!

    August 27, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • hal 9000

      What are you sick of, lavern?

      August 27, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  4. Charlie

    MORMONS WON'T TELL YOU that there is salvation only in their church and all others are wrong.
    MORMONS WON'T TELL YOU that those who have been through their temples are wearing sacret underwear to protect themselves from "evil". This "evil" includes non-Mormon religions like yours.
    MORMONS WON'T TELL YOU that women receive salvation only through their Mormon husbands, and must remain pregnant for all eternity.
    MORMONS WON'T TELL YOU that their leaders taught that Jesus had at least three wives and children while he was on this earth.
    MORMONS WON'T TELL YOU that the state of Utah, which is predominately Mormon, has a higher than the national average of wife-beating, child abuse, and teenage suicide.
    MORMONS WON'T TELL YOU that their prophet Joseph Smith was heavily involved in the occult when he founded Mormonism.
    MORMONS WON'T TELL YOU that they believe the Archangel Michael came down to earth with several of his celestial wives, and became Adam in the garden of Eden

    August 27, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  5. Mamita

    First amendment and seperation of church and state could go to hell !!

    August 27, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • truth be trolled

      You mean like with another amendment to send it there? What an idiot. This might be the most idiotic thing you've said to date – Mamita/truth be told/HeavenSent/(Carrie's mama)

      August 27, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Fearless Freep


      First amendment and seperation of church and state could go to hell !!

      If you believe that, you are NOT American.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  6. TheTruth

    Do God takes side ? John 17:16..

    August 27, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  7. Mozue

    We should not be focusing on religion – should be focusing on what Mitt will be saying about what he will do to turn the economy around. Most likely, he will just talk about what Obama has not done – that seems to be the gist of his speeches. Either way, I feel discouraged.... It does not matter who gets into office. There will still be the backstabbing, craziness that the political world seems to thrive in.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  8. greg

    Everyone alive is a person of faith. The excercise of living is by its nature one of faith. We express it in different ways. Religions by and large insist there is only 1 proper way to do so and it's found in the Bible, Koran, or other such texts. Such believers tend to think the Bible, Koran is the Word of God (though written by men) and that God (I supposse) stopped speaking to humankind thousands of years ago. The Religious have a certain kind of faith. There are many expressions. I have no issue with a Christian living out their vision of what faith means–as long as my right to live out my vision is not suppressed/infringed upon. That's why America's public common value is based on liberty–and why atempting to achieve religious values through the state is simply wrong. Theocratic values however well meaning are the opposite of liberty. Do you want a Christian (religious) State or a Free one? I vote for liberty. With liberty, a person is free to live out their expression of faith in their private life however they want. And so I cannot support a party that sees itself as the political extension of religious organizations trying to use government to force themselves into my soul, into my faith, into my life.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      That’s a bunch of hogwash. Faith is belief in things for which there is no evidence.

      I have NO faith. I have reasonable expectations based on experience, but no faith. Go peddle your snake oil elsewhere.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  9. Peter

    So much for separation of Church and State...

    August 27, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  10. Facepalm

    OMG, Romney is a Mormon??!!
    And to think I dreaded the thought of idiot Palin as president. Someone of the miniscule wit and sensibility to believe in Mormonism is not fit to be president. The U.S. will absolutely be reduced to a third world country under their administration, because he'll either deny problems that need fixing, or whatever he thinks can't be fixed he'll simply say it's God's will as transmitted from fourth moon of Alderaan.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  11. zaphed

    According to mormonism, Jesus was dark colored and lucifer was a blonde: check:

    August 27, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Jean

      According to Mormons, dark people are the mark of Cain. That's still in their doctrine, even thoughntheynsay that Black or dark people can hold the priesthood in their homes. So sad, because Black people don't see where the Mormon church is not allowing them to be. They havent ha a single person in those decision making positions.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  12. open400

    I am a progressive and I am told we do not believe in the Judeo-Christain value system. IN the New Testament Jesus says," Whatever you do for the least of my brethern, you do for me directly." Who is the least of my brtethern? I say it is the elderly, the sick, the disabled, the pooor, the chronically unemployed, the hungy and those with addictions. When God created the Earth in the Bible in six days and gave Man asnd Women dominion over the Earth, God gave us a responsibility to take care of the Earth(i.e. the Environment).

    August 27, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  13. Paul

    Is this a political convention? Or a religious ceremony?
    It's kind of scary.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • SNL

      Its a dessert topping, no
      its a floor wax.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  14. Corp America

    Not a problem.....money has always been their primary God

    August 27, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  15. jan

    And then, right after that prayer THE REPUBLICANS ARE GOING TO THE STRIP JOINTS...right!??

    August 27, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  16. clarke

    I see it as Mitt trying to down play being a Mormon. Mitt has given a lot of money to his faith to try and change the image to being Christian. Being a Christian is not the end all to be all. There are many different faiths, it is called religious freedom and does not belong in politics.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  17. snicklefrits

    very scary article.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  18. Mark Taylor

    I'm a person of faith and I find co-opting religion for purposes of political power – regardless of who is doing it – is disgusting. Christ himself refused to be co-opted for political purposes. The devil isn't some guy with horns, a pointy tail and a pitch fork. It's a spirit that does it's finest work in subtle ways like this.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  19. El Flaco

    I think Romney's motivation for seeking the Presidency is to fulfill the Mormon 'White Horse Prophecy’ of Joseph Smith. Romney sees himself (I speculate) as the figure in Smith's prophecy who rides the White Horse to Washington and saves America.

    That explains why Romney has no stable political beliefs. He believes he is destined to be President because God wants it – not because he wants to implement Conservative economic and social policies. He will be doing the will of God (Mormon version), and whatever he does God will bless. So politics means nothing to Romney. Issues mean nothing to Romney. Romney believes he is guided by Destiny or God or Something to greatness.

    This explains why a man who is acknowledged as brilliant stammers like a high school student who didn't read last night's homework assignment, no matter how simple the question. Romney's mind is occupied with his place in Mormon history and theology.

    And – he believes – America will then turn to Mormonism as Joseph Smith's prophecy predicted. I think Romney sees himself as the Mormon Messiah. That is why political positions mean nothing to Romney.

    I think that Romney’s inner world is very strange. I am troubled at the thought of Romney as President.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • clarke

      You could be on to something. I have wonder why he has wanted to be President.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Enlightened 4

      Golly, Gee Whiz...People with no intelligence can type. Who would have thought?

      For all you atheists, you need to know that God is not the author of violent storms and destruction. It's your father, the devil.
      Guess you think all the people in New Orleans are deserving of your inherited hate. You shall reap what you sow. That's a guaranteed promise from the King of the Universe.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • PJ

      Yes, scary. And in this regard, dare I say Antichrist.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  20. GreenClogs

    Did they not get the memo about SEPARATION of church and state?

    August 27, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Cooramoor

      It's a convention, not a state genius.

      August 27, 2012 at 10:45 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.