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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. carlos

    "I lie for God"...then the mormons lie to benefit themselves, just google it, very interesting.

    Ryand medicare vouchers are MURDER.

    August 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • souptwins

      Something from decades– even centuries- ago is pertinent how? Shall we go back to see what all religions have in their histories? Where should we start? The crusades, perhaps? Can you show where the LDS church has advocated this any time in the last generation or so? Didn't think so.

      August 27, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • INDEPENDENT

      Mormon Theology:
      Belief in any gods – man will be a god and given his own planet to rule with a spirit wife to populate the planet.
      Jesus Christ – was not conceived through the Holy Spirit, but by one of these gods that rules earth (a former human)
      Satan & Jesus Christ are bothers
      Lamanites – Dark skinned people who are dark because they are cursed by god for being decedents of CAIN. They are inferior.
      Nauvoo Militia – the militia that was formed by the mormons to take on the U.S. and anyone who did not agree with their theology.
      "Avenging Angels" – Brigham Youngs murderers – they did his bidding like the Mason Family
      Mountain Meadows Massacre – the massacre of 30 men 40 women and 70 children in Utah by the "Avenging Angels" see "Blood of the Prophets" by Will Bagley (mormon author)
      Blood Atonement – the practice of the mormons that atones for the death of its members and/or the act of which the mormons retaliate when they do not believe one is following what they think is right – google the 1984 murder the Lafferty brothers commited in Utah of their sister in-law and her 9 month old daughter by slitting their throats. "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer.
      "The While Horse Prophecy" – the mormon prophecy that a mormon will take over the U.S. at a time that is critical to the U.S.'s survival and make it as it should be.....Mormons have been trying to get into the White House since 1848;
      Maybe that is why Romney does not want the people of the U.S. to know and understand his religion.
      No other religion has had such odd beliefs in modern day America. If you not mormon you belong to a FALSE religion.

      AND THE DIFFERENCE HERE IS THAT ROMNEY IS VERY TIED TO HIS FAITH. HIS ANCESTORS FORMED IT. PARLEY PRATT – a prophet who was murdered by the husband of one of his intended wives is the middle name of one his sons.....this man is TOO connected to this religion to separate its history from the U.S. PRESIDENCY. His is only trying to fullfil the White Horse prophecy his father, John Smith, and 7 other tried to do.
      http://mormonmatters.org/2008/02/05/9-mormons-who-ran-for-president/

      August 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  2. Midwesterner from Iowa

    Separation of Church and State folks!!
    The GOP is taking away our religious freedoms.
    A smarmy rich Mormon, and a cafeteria-style Catholic!!
    Oh boy!!!

    August 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • INDEPENDENT

      Mormon Theology:
      Belief in any gods – man will be a god and given his own planet to rule with a spirit wife to populate the planet.
      Jesus Christ – was not conceived through the Holy Spirit, but by one of these gods that rules earth (a former human)
      Satan & Jesus Christ are bothers
      Lamanites – Dark skinned people who are dark because they are cursed by god for being decedents of CAIN. They are inferior.
      Nauvoo Militia – the militia that was formed by the mormons to take on the U.S. and anyone who did not agree with their theology.
      "Avenging Angels" – Brigham Youngs murderers – they did his bidding like the Mason Family
      Mountain Meadows Massacre – the massacre of 30 men 40 women and 70 children in Utah by the "Avenging Angels" see "Blood of the Prophets" by Will Bagley (mormon author)
      Blood Atonement – the practice of the mormons that atones for the death of its members and/or the act of which the mormons retaliate when they do not believe one is following what they think is right – google the 1984 murder the Lafferty brothers commited in Utah of their sister in-law and her 9 month old daughter by slitting their throats. "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer.
      "The While Horse Prophecy" – the mormon prophecy that a mormon will take over the U.S. at a time that is critical to the U.S.'s survival and make it as it should be.....Mormons have been trying to get into the White House since 1848;
      Maybe that is why Romney does not want the people of the U.S. to know and understand his religion.
      No other religion has had such odd beliefs in modern day America. If you not mormon you belong to a FALSE religion.

      AND THE DIFFERENCE HERE IS THAT ROMNEY IS VERY TIED TO HIS FAITH. HIS ANCESTORS FORMED IT. PARLEY PRATT – a prophet who was murdered by the husband of one of his intended wives is the middle name of one his sons.....this man is TOO connected to this religion to separate its history from the U.S. PRESIDENCY. His is only trying to fullfil the White Horse prophecy his father, John Smith, and 7 other tried to do.
      http://mormonmatters.org/2008/02/05/9-mormons-who-ran-for-president/

      August 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  3. souptwins

    To me these are the only 2 Mormon principles that have any pertinence to electing a POTUS. If a Pres. respects people's right to worship as they see fit and honor the separation of Church and State, that's all that should matter. Romney seems far more committed to doing that than the others.
    From LDS Articles of Faith:
    "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience,
    and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
    We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."
    If all people from all religions followed these two principles, we wouldn't be talking about religion and politics in the same sentence. What a great idea!

    August 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  4. whitepine

    We are becoming the Europe of 300 years ago. We are presecuting people for their religion. In my region, Muslims and other non-Christians fear for their safety and fear that their places of worship are not destroyed.

    August 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  5. rh

    Funny how the word "FAITH" is monopolized by Christians.

    I have faith and am an atheist. It's just that I don't have faith in a sky god solving all my worries, and if I *really* good, sending me to heaven before my time.

    August 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  6. Mopery

    The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
    He makes me down to die
    Through pastures green He leadeth me the silent waters by.
    With bright knives He releaseth my soul.
    He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places.
    He converteth me to lamb cutlets,
    For lo, He hath great power, and great hunger.
    When cometh the day we lowly ones,
    Through quiet reflection, and great dedication
    Master the art of Karate,
    Lo, we shall rise up,
    And then we'll make the bugger's eyes water.

    August 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  7. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    My Governor Christie Christie who is the GOT's Keynote speaker, always touts himself as a strong fiscal leader who has reign in spending, reduced the state's $11 billion deficit and successfully returned our state to the path of economic growth and prosperity. Governor Christie is often critical of President Obama's stimulus package, accusing the President of wasteful spending and of being out of touch with reality for advocating hiring more teachers, firefighters and police officers. Recently Christ Christie had a feud with Connecticut's governor Dannel Malloy who criticized him for refusing to fund billions in pensions while Christie criticized Malloy for raising taxes. Like Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Governor Christie has stripped workers of their collective bargaining rights, he has forced early retirement, forced state workers to accept furlough days without pay and having to contribute as much of 7% of their salary to their pension and he has also deprived workers of promotions they've earned. Then he has cancelled a host of domestic programs to balance the budget and compensate for revenue losses as a result of giving huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires in the state. But what was outrageous about this governor's stance on the economy is that when he came into the State House, he said everyone has to make sacrifices yet, he gave the wealthy large tax breaks while leaving the middle class and the poor with the task of carrying the load. Furthermore, he even had the audacity to take the state helicopter to go see his son's baseball game, costing the state some $4000. Now, he wants to attack Governor Malloy of Connecticut on fiscal leadership. But while the unemployment rate of Connecticut has just risen to 8.5%, the unemployment rate is NJ is now at 9.8%. Perhaps if our Governor was to cut calories instead of salaries, maybe the middle class would be better off in NJ.

    August 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  8. Matt

    Jesus Christ, the head of the Christian Congregation, could care less who wins this election, because both of them are under the control of the ruler of this world as are all those who support either candidate.

    Only God's Kingdom Government now ruling in the heavens can solve mankind's problems so all of this is a mute point. You either support God's Kingdom and stay neutral in politics or you support Satan's puppets as the end of this system of things draws nearer its total destruction starting with all false religion and ending the day of God Almighty

    August 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • whitepine

      Do you really think God cares about this world? I don't. Evil rules the world as people are suffering from such things as war, hate, drought. God has never removed evil from the world. God is letting the earth and it's people self-destruct.

      August 27, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  9. SteakAndRoses

    Keep squeezing that base, GOP. One of two things will happen.....it will either turn into a diamond or squirt through your fingers like watermelon seeds.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • rh

      Let's see, which is more probable...

      August 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  10. on StreetWise

    Folks, you can't get around it: The first prophet of the LSD church, Joseph Smith, and put it down in the pillars and tenant of faith, said "You can tell a lie as long as you don't offend a church member"... Well, let’s see what the other non-members think of the Mormon religion and its trust in the Romney/Ryan ticket now. What a bunch of crooked liars and blind flowerers.

    The Republicans were freaked about JFK's Catholic issue... Then the GOP’ers are very concerned about Islamic Brothers and Sharia law rule... BUT, they seem little problem with the Book of Mormon... Hummmmmm… are they leading us to the “land of (bilk) milk and honey” now, and prosperity? Can anybody spell HYPOCRITE?

    August 27, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • INDEPENDENT

      Mormon Theology:
      Belief in any gods – man will be a god and given his own planet to rule with a spirit wife to populate the planet.
      Jesus Christ – was not conceived through the Holy Spirit, but by one of these gods that rules earth (a former human)
      Satan & Jesus Christ are bothers
      Lamanites – Dark skinned people who are dark because they are cursed by god for being decedents of CAIN. They are inferior.
      Nauvoo Militia – the militia that was formed by the mormons to take on the U.S. and anyone who did not agree with their theology.
      "Avenging Angels" – Brigham Youngs murderers – they did his bidding like the Mason Family
      Mountain Meadows Massacre – the massacre of 30 men 40 women and 70 children in Utah by the "Avenging Angels" see "Blood of the Prophets" by Will Bagley (mormon author)
      Blood Atonement – the practice of the mormons that atones for the death of its members and/or the act of which the mormons retaliate when they do not believe one is following what they think is right – google the 1984 murder the Lafferty brothers commited in Utah of their sister in-law and her 9 month old daughter by slitting their throats. "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer.
      "The While Horse Prophecy" – the mormon prophecy that a mormon will take over the U.S. at a time that is critical to the U.S.'s survival and make it as it should be.....Mormons have been trying to get into the White House since 1848;
      Maybe that is why Romney does not want the people of the U.S. to know and understand his religion.
      No other religion has had such odd beliefs in modern day America. If you not mormon you belong to a FALSE religion.

      August 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  11. tony

    This really shows up religion as a tool of control, theft and suppression by the supremely wealthy over the rest of us.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  12. solowd

    It's funny how Christians bash religions like Mormonism and Scientology. It's not like the crap you believe is any less ridiculous. You're all blind.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      As far as this blog goes, I don't see that many Christians taking issue with Romney's faith. I see a lot of liberals and non-believers trying to create an issue because they cannot reconcile faith with politics.

      August 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  13. INDEPENDENT

    Mormon Theology:
    Belief in any gods – man will be a god and given his own planet to rule with a spirit wife to populate the planet.
    Jesus Christ – was not conceived through the Holy Spirit, but by one of these gods that rules earth (a former human)
    Satan & Jesus Christ are bothers
    Lamanites – Dark skinned people who are dark because they are cursed by god for being decedents of CAIN. They are inferior.
    Nauvoo Militia – the militia that was formed by the mormons to take on the U.S. and anyone who did not agree with their theology.
    "Avenging Angels" – Brigham Youngs murderers – they did his bidding like the Mason Family
    Mountain Meadows Massacre – the massacre of 30 men 40 women and 70 children in Utah by the "Avenging Angels" see "Blood of the Prophets" by Will Bagley (mormon author)
    Blood Atonement – the practice of the mormons that atones for the death of its members and/or the act of which the mormons retaliate when they do not believe one is following what they think is right – google the 1984 murder the Lafferty brothers commited in Utah of their sister in-law and her 9 month old daughter by slitting their throats. "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer.
    "The While Horse Prophecy" – the mormon prophecy that a mormon will take over the U.S. at a time that is critical to the U.S.'s survival and make it as it should be.....Mormons have been trying to get into the White House since 1848;
    Maybe that is why Romney does not want the people of the U.S. to know and understand his religion.
    No other religion has had such odd beliefs in modern day America. If you not mormon you belong to a FALSE religion.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • BBoy705

      It is scary for sure! All of the western religions believe that the world will end and many members of these religions believe the end is near and they are trying to drive world events in that direction. They are all completely mad in my opinion and it is up to the rest of us to stop the insanity!

      August 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • souptwins

      So many lies and misrepresentations in what you've posted. 1st LDS theology says nothing about getting your own planet. The Lafferty's had been excommunicated and were murdering kooks off the deep end. The "white horse prophecy" was determined to be a fraud and the LDS church has said so many times. It has no merit and was never put forth by the church. Many other things to say about the others but this isn't the place. Just know– you need to get your story straight and quit making people think you know what you're talking about because you don't!

      August 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  14. penquin

    This is why I dislike the GOP and I sincerely hope the Dems do not follow suit. One particular religous belief, in this case Christianity in any form, has no place in our government. And before you all claim that the Founding Father's all were Chrisitians let me remind you that many were deists. If you think it is ok for government to only be Christian then you are not true to the beliefs of the Founding Fathers. Our country was founded on the right that people can believe or not believe in a deity, they can believe in Christ or not, they can follow Allah or Buddaha or nothing. No religion has the right to supercede any other in the USA, that is the point. The GOP forcing Christianity on our country is just wrong.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      No reasonable person thinks the government should be entirely Christian. But, for many people, some religious conviction indicates a predictable and stable set of values on which the voter can rely when choosing his candidate. A candidate who professes no faith is essentially committed to the ultimate strength of the state. As American's, most of use know that our rights as free people are divine and not legislated. An avowed atheist will never be elected president.

      August 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  15. Mopery

    Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are
    You well heeled big wheel, ha ha, charade you are
    And when your hand is on your heart
    You're nearly a good laugh
    Almost a joker
    With your head down in the pig bin
    Saying "keep on digging"
    Pig stain on your fat chin
    What do you hope to find?
    When you're down in the pig mine
    You're nearly a laugh
    You're nearly a laugh
    But you're really a cry.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • SteakAndRoses

      Some nice Floyd lyrics always brightens my day. Thanks for that!

      August 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Pass the bong

      August 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Huebert

      It's a "water pipe" bill.

      August 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • threetoed

      Let me know when it's time to make the bugger's eyes water... I don't want to miss that. JWASN

      August 27, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  16. Ted in California

    The party of "christian family values" breaks all of them! Evangelical christians believe that is ok to screw the neighbor's wife as long as you don't covet her and the males think adultery is OK as long as it isn't their wife getting screwed. What a bunch of hypocrites!

    August 27, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Is that what happened to you?

      August 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  17. Ob@ma2012

    To believe in the book of mormom, it is like to believe in mermaids, fairies, unicorns, and other illusionary beings.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Big DD

      Is there a difference between it and the bible? Talking donkeys, burning bushes, walking on water....c'mon

      August 27, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  18. Pete Clarke

    There are religious leaders who make their living from SHEEP. Those folks will march straight into the sea for these charlatans. You don't need a church to believe in God, treat people benevolently, and care for one another. America is free, a diversified society, and with the right leadership could solve our problems. These radical right wing Holy Rollers are certainly not the answer. Remember when you vote; a separation between Church and State should be upper most in your mind. They won't go away but this loud minority does not have the right to think or legislate for thinking people...Just Saying

    August 27, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  19. BBoy705

    "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."

    I don't know about the rest of you but this scares the crap out of me! So once the Jews have completely subdued the Palestinians and are in "control" of Israel we're in for Armageddon? Great Scott! What kind of lunatics are these people!!!

    August 27, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  20. GonzoG

    It doesn't matter to me that the Faithful vote.

    It's when they vote themselves to be God's Enforcement Division that I take exception.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:44 am |
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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.