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.
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.
Islam will free America from Zzionist the oppresors .
Islam , will , ecompass Allah's world with the World Callifate.
Then everyone will know peace .
You forgot your sarcasm tag.
What T F are you blabbering about?
The GOP would have you believe they are the party of Christ. Romney would cut taxes on the rich and pay for those tax cutys by cutting social programs for the poor. I wonder what Jesus would say about that? GOP thy name is hypocricy.
So you and all the other Dems think the middle-class will be able to pull up the bootstraps of this nation, now mired in $16 trillion and debt...and going up? Think again.
This is the first time I can remember that religion played such a role in the presidential race. It is sickening to see.
It sickens and disgusts me!
Oh yes, lets pray that "big businesses" will control your life. Lets also pray that gays are "cured" of their "illness". Lets also pray that Latinos go back to their "countries". Lets also pray that blacks dont move into "neighborhoods". Lets also pray that billionaires control the agenda. Lets pray that only white males vote this november. Thats pretty much all you get from these relics!
rather have a Mormon running the show instead of a Muslim...
Drinking the cult Kool Aid, huh?? Is your Mormon diaper too snug and absorbent??
Why is Almighty God sending His Storm along the Republican coast? His Storm reached out to touch Tampa and is now 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.
Because he's a Baptist and hates all that drinking in New Orleans. However, he's also a very bad shot, because he's also going to hit all those dry counties in Mississippi. That's the problem you get into when you believe – like Pat Robertson – that hurricanes are examples of "God's wrath". He's just as likely to destroy the preacher's house and church as the sinner's house down the street!
The Communist New Network degrades Christians. Nothing new. Just another subordinate of PRAVDA.
Go back to jerkin' off to Sean Hannity, you mindless trailer trash
Don't leave out the Ayn Rand atheist wing of the teapublican Party. Maybe Paul Ryan and Rand Paul can lead them in reciting John Galt's statement of faith.
The GOP in their PLATFORM demand that WOMEN HAVE THEIR R* PI STS' BABIES (as a result of no exception for ra pe in their abortion prohibition). Oh, such weak-kneed liberals they are! The HOLY BIBLE actually also commands that the r* pe d woman MARRY HER ATTACKER! as described in DEUT 22:28 "If a man happens to meet a vrr gin who is not pledged to be married and R* PES HER and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must MARRY THE YOUNG WOMAN, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives."
Minor revision: The bible and the supersti_tions it presents are not even a theory.
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE ! ! !
Founding fathers were adamant about separation of church and state... quite funny how far the republican party has perverted the true party platform
So for the past 30+ years we've been told at loud volumes by Republicans that in order to be morally qualified to be POTUS, the candidate had to be a devout, god fearing Christian. Now those same folks are going to vote for a Mormon, instead of an actual Christian. If I weren't laughing so hard, I'd be crying...
There's only one M in moron.
People can believe whatever they want, but if we tear down the separation between Church and State then America will no longer be free in any sense.
The GOP Convention is unable to hold thier convention because GOD Himself has intervened. With Tropical Storm Issac hovering over the land of sin (Tampa), Our Christian GOD has proclaimed that His True Follower President Barack Obama (United Church of Christ) shall prevail in 2012. Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank GOD Almighty free at Last!!
Well apparently the evangelical Christians are now willing to accept Catholics as true Christians. Is this a way to avoid what they think about Mormons? Can we perhaps have Mitt open his speech with a Mormon Prayer?
The Teapublicans are willing to accept any delusion that hates Obama EXCEPT Islam. Interesting since Islam is the only delusion whose leaders Obama has killed on a regular basis.
good one. until the healthcare contraception brouhaha you couldn't find a good word about catholics from the teavangelicals. or as my sister married to a Baptist minister likes to say, that damn n####r religion. in NC they go to the same church you know as white people. shocking but true
My collection plate can buy more votes than your collection plate.
Note the Adelsons are attending the Republican Convention
Exactly which part of "separation of church and state" do the Republicans not understand?
There is no separation between Mosque and state , only Church and state .
Islam is America's future .
Submit to Islam and know peace .
The Sharia will light your path to a better future .
Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid......
And if I don't agree will you cut off my head in the name of peace?
we used to have a better class of right-wing trolls.
ROFL, I know the GOP has been planting posters on forums, but this is extra lame. How else do you promote the fear of sharia law (which most muslims in the US have very mixed ideas on its interpretation or simply don't care for it, which is why it will never take hold here). Not to mention, you can't even put together a proper arabic name correctly. Nice try extremist right-winger. Easy to see through this.
Separation of church and state applies to Sharia, just as it would apply to halacha, or any other religious based law. They have no place in secular government, period, end of story. Those of you who proclaim to be true Christians need to go learn your history. The last thing the Founders wanted was ANY involvement of the church, in any form, in the administration of law and government.
"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect." James Monroe – Letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774
Americans don't do much submitting. Pray to a guy who lives in the sky all you want. we aren't much for fairy tales. well at least half of us
"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."
WHAT A BIG STEAMING PILE THAT IS!!!!!!
Religious liberty???? Religious liberty???? This from the people trying to turn the US into a theocracy???? It's either their religion or you are burning in hell?
BIG STEAMING PILE!!!!!!
Exaclty why I stopped voting Republican – once they tied the knot with the religious nutz – I'm out. This is the most anti-American thing a political party can do.
Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid
If Romney wins we will all be secretly baptised into the Mormon church.
you betcha. If Anne Frank can be a Mormon wth? They aren't picky either. Even if the church orders your murder they will still baptize you so you will have a "choice" to be a mormon when you're dead. 9-11-1857 over 100 Americans murdered and baptized partially for revenge for the death of Ann Romneys gramps. ain't history fun?