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

Next entry »
soundoff (1,567 Responses)
  1. Tell It Like It Is

    The Republicans can do what they want as far as including prayer at the convention. Isn't too much the rest of you can do about it except complain and whine ~ which you are doing so wonderfully here.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Michael

      And all you can do is complain and whine about the "complaining and whining" of the people here. Pot, meet kettle.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  2. ZoeyJ

    No matter how they try........all of it is in Gods hands.......it will be Gods way.......the election results will be Gods way. Trying to manipulate people using religion is a dangerous, dangerous method of operation.
    "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" In Gods words a division of Church and State.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  3. Millie

    Are we trying to elect a pope or a president?

    August 27, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  4. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    Mitt Romney introduced his VP running mate Paul Ryan before the backdrop of an old Navy ship. Now the GOT National Convention set to kick off this week has been delayed due to rising waters on the high seas!!! See the correlation here? Ship on the high seas? Isn't that how jobs are shipped overseas? Perhaps God is giving the voters divine guidance and trying to tell them something. Want to bet Chris Christie breaks water on stage?

    Obama/Biden 2012!

    August 27, 2012 at 11:31 am |

      TOO FUNNY!

      August 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  5. MaryAngeline

    Wonder if Mitt believes in Joseph Smith's White Horse prophesy. He keeps talking about "saving" America. Does he think he is the embodiment of this prophecy leading to a theocracy? Scary stuff...and to think some thought electing Catholic John Kennedy as President was scary. Mittt is one heck of alot more frightening in my book. Kennedy was a "cafeteria" Catholic while Bishop Mitt is the real thing as far as Mormonism is concerned.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:31 am |

      That is exactly the difference! Too bad many people do not even bother to read what the mormons are all about.
      They have been trying to get into the white house since 1848.
      They are the only religion that had a militia to take on the U.S. government – Nauvoo Militia
      Brigham Young had his "Avenging Angels" – they did his bidding like the Mason Family did for Charles Manson – google Mountain Meadows Massacre – 30 men 40 women and 70 CHILRDEN slaughtered so badly – then get this – they blamed it on the Indians....what a great group of people!
      They have a belief in "Blood Atonement" – 1984 – the Lafferty brothers slit the throats of their young sister in law and her 9 month old baby. They have no remorse, they believe they are in the right of this blood atonement.
      Blood Atonement was used to avenge the death of its members – Parley Pratt – Romney's ancestor. Pratt was murdered trying to return one of his wives from Arkansas that was already married, her legal husband killed Pratt. Mormons were angry and murdered the wagon train from Arkansas and Missouri. The routinely stole many settlers' belongs and livestock.
      "Blood of the Prophets" by Will Bagley – mormon authoir
      "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer
      Mormonism in the Utah Terrority by – J. Beadle

      August 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  6. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    OMG !!!
    Prayer in public in America ???

    To total depravity !!!

    August 27, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  7. jrg

    The impact of religion on the Republicans is largely in the form of denying the data (of evolution, and man made global warming). Of course many believers do not have this issue, but it appears to me to be the most wide spread among evangelicals and other bible literalists.

    The question for Romney (or Obama since he too claims to believe) is that suppose you are simply a voter. Would you allow your religions faith to influence who you vote for? I suspect the answer is yes. But given that how as President can you prevent that same influence from occurring, or do you even try to do that?

    It is a sad commentary on America that we are a long way away from a time that an Atheists would have any chance of being elected President.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Separation of Church and State

      Good Point!!! and.....

      During an interview published on Monday by Politico, Mitt Romney praised one of his favorite business leaders, Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman. According to Politico, Romney said that his cabinet “would be dominated by people from the private sector, citing Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard as a model for female leaders he would like to surround himself with.”

      This isn’t the first time that Romney has pointed to Whitman — who is also the former CEO of Ebay and a former California gubernatorial candidate — as a leader to emulate. But at the moment, Whitman is presiding over a company in free-fall. HP just suffered its largest quarterly loss ever and is shedding tens of thousands of jobs.

      Maybe we can pray for more work....

      August 27, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  8. nolimits3333

    Science flies you to the moon.

    Reigion flies you into buildings.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  9. Mike

    People have the right to vote based on religious convictions, but there's no place for religion in legislation.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Simran

      Well, actually religion should also not be a way of campaigning. Bcoz in a country with a majority religion, it will automatically put people with religious convictions on top and then it will enter legislation.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • jrg

      I agree, but the question is how does one do this? How can someone with a strong religious belief prevent that from influencing their decisions?

      August 27, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  10. sean74cnn

    Matthew 19:24
    And again I say to you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God

    Mitt Romney is worth a quarter of a billion dollars. He is also following a religion based on the teachings of a false prophet (Joseph Smith)

    (btw, I'm an Athiest, but I think the religious zealots ought to consider the logic in supporting someone that their own religion would not support)

    August 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Petercha

      Obama is also wealthier than the average American. Same "logic" would apply to him.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • midwstrngrl

      they have tied two different ideologies together. the Libertarian (Ayn Rand) and the religious right. Christianity if followed correctly does not allow for mis treatment of the poor. It actually expects more from those in power. It demanded that land owners leave grain standing on the edge of the fields for the poor to harvest, made the cost of sacrifice offerings cheaper for the poor, absolved debt every seven years. that is just the hebrew scriptures. we all know the greek scriptures turns decidedly towards the poor and belittles the rich for their lack of compassion. I know this and I dont even claim to believe in it.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  11. Mike

    Two Christians. How inclusive. I hope the Dems can do better. Maybe the head of the Sikh temple that suffered the recent shooting?

    August 27, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  12. midwstrngrl

    You can have your and Ill have mine or not. But do not choose to make me believe there is something. I am wary of a political party using religion to gain stronghold. Jerry Farwell was instrumental in the evangelical movement. Saying he thought that the church and state idea created by the founders was wrong. He wanted the evangelical right to take over US government. Many of this ilk agree and I must do what I can at a personal level to stop them. They are becoming everything the founders fought against.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  13. Ryan

    Republicans have no problems pandering towards the jews and their wall in Israel, but wouldn't even think for a second to smash the wall between church and state into a million pieces.

    Republicans (and Democrats) are traitors towards limited government that our founders intended. I, for one, am not going to be suckered into the 2-party system any longer. Either vote libertarian, or watch your country burn in flames

    August 27, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Shirley

      The Founders knew that in order for our nation to survive a viable form of government was required. The problem has been however since that time there continues to be a disagreement as to the form such government takes. Simply put, the Federalists believed government should protect the public from the worst inclinations of the powerful, while the anti-Federalists felt government existed solely to protect the powerful from infringement. The Democrat and Republican political parties are what has risen from these two groups. The conflict nonetheless remains.

      The choice between what position we take as a nation is one that evolves on a regular basis with the elections to Congress and the presidency. We will be making that choice again this year. Do we protect ourselves, or the powerful?

      August 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  14. James PDX

    I see the GOP are happily receiving big bucks from Adelson. Clearly they don't mind the hypocrisy in conservative Christians accepting money from billionaires who own casinos in Las Vegas and many other countries where all kinds of gambling and debauchery occur. Their level of hypocrisy is reaching record levels.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  15. Karrie123

    Religious liberty and pledging support for Israel, but no rabbi offering a prayer like the other religions. Isn't that special..

    August 27, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  16. Michael

    So when can we expect the GOP to let a Hindu, Buddhist, or (if they really wanted to show some class) a Sikh religious leader speak at one of these events? Oh, that's right, we can't, because the GOP is all about telling people that Christians are the only people in this country who matter, and that the First Amendment isn't really concerning religious freedom, but the freedom to pick what ever flavor of Christianity you choose. The founding fathers just made a mistake in the wording, honest.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • James PDX

      I don't know why Christians are so high on their god. Their own holy books tell them that he likes the Jews better anyway. Who wants a father who plays favorites with his children for no reason other than their ancestry?

      August 27, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • midwstrngrl

      they will use the appearance of other religions to boost their case, but their main objective is to further the cause of the religious right and let it rule your government.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  17. The King

    I marvel at how the policies of the GOP contradict those of Jesus Christ, while at the same time they claim to be Christians. They resemble a cult obsessed who worship power and mammon rather than anything taught from the bible. If you are a Christian or a work for a living, make no mistake, the republicans are your enemy.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • lolol

      please tell me you just didn't figure out that most repubs officials are a bunch of fake christians !???!??

      August 27, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • PJ

      Saying Democrats are better Christians is a lie. Democrats say they are the compassionate party, because they vote on social issues over fiscal ones. However, who gives more to charity? Republicans. Democrats are very generous and compassionate when they are spending someone ELSE'S money. Republicans tend to be more generous with their own money. Look it up, there are books on this subject.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  18. eessiegee

    I am a little concerned that Mitt's only prior foreign affairs experience is having attempted to convince French citizens, one by one, that they should toss away the religion they had grown up with and convert to Mormonism.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • James PDX

      Didn't he also visit England and insult the its people recently? I think that should count.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  19. ThinkAgain

    The only "religious war" going on in this country is from those who don't get the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom and are trying to turn our country into a Christian theocracy. Why? Because the faith of these yahoos is so weak that they can't handle anyone having a different faith than their own.


    August 27, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • James PDX

      Agreed. Trying to pass laws in America based on your religion is about as un-American as you can be.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Megan

      Thank you. I restore a little bit of hope for our nation when I see that there are people who see the bigger picture. We'll said.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  20. William Rotella

    The Republican party seems to have a new culture of welcoming a Mormon president! Well just to let you know, the Mormon church is not a mystery church – it started out with Joseph Smith, a young person ambitious to start a church/cloister, and the writings of a theologian named Emanuel Swedenborg who wrote the Universal Theology of the New Jerusalem (New Church) in the 1700s who published the theology in London and Amsterdam. The Massachusetts New Church Union was evangelizing heavily in New York State and Swedenborg's theology books were readily available. To know the Mormon Church, you have to read Swedenborg and find what Joseph Smith took from those doctrines and also what Joseph Smith decided to do by himself. The Swedenborgian Church teaches (1) marriage in heaven and (2) the three heavens and (3) the spiritual world is arranged in earths and (4) St. Paul wrote doctrinal statements not scripture. The Mormon Church was affected by Joseph Smith however, who wanted polygamy, masonry and a teaching of multiple persons in the godhead. Mormonism may be a mixed religion of true and false doctrine, but certainly not mysterious. A person must read Emanuel Swedenborg's writings to understand Mormonism and mixed religions. There are a lot of mixed religions out there.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:21 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Next entry »
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.