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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    August 30, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things. Proven. I prayed for jeebus, and he and I got it together. So ‘HeavenSent’ a night it was. ‘TruthBeTold’, it was just carnal. That ‘Deacon’ guy told me all about it. He had a ‘CatholicEngineer’ and someone from ‘MiddleRiver’ arrange it all. Changed me for sure. I’m carnal for jeebus

      August 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
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    • chris hitchens

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      August 30, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  3. donner

    Does the average American realize that Mitt Romney believes that when he dies he will be whisked away to planet Kolob? seriously?? For the love of God, people, do your own research into the Mormon church. It is a cult, pure and simple. Do some research, then warn your friends.

    August 29, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Jonah

      6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. (New Testament, Revelation, Chapter 13)

      August 30, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • donner

      I'm assuming the blasphemy you speak about is the Book of Mormon. The ultimate blasphemy. Mr. Romney, Jesus is here and would like to discuss Joseph Smith with you. And he doesn't appear to be very happy.

      August 30, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Jonah

      16 ¶These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
      17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
      18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
      19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Old Testament, Proverbs, Chapter 6)

      August 30, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  4. Jonah

    26 Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
    27 But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.
    28 Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.
    29 O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light? (Book of Mormon, Helaman, Chapter 13)

    August 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  5. Tim


    August 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  6. charlesslakan

    Joseph Smith said that Salvation told by Christians through Christ was enough, because it also required a mormons' blood.
    But then the mormons christ was born through adultery considering according to Joseph Smith said God became flesh like you and I and went into Mary, who was bethrothed to Joseph.
    Christians believe Christ's birth was via the Holy Spirit, Immaculate. That's why we can say Virgin Mary.
    Mormonism was based on prohecies of Joseph Smith who said blacks were cursed FOREVER, plus all the false prophecies he made that did not come to pass.
    Joe also said any Mormon, who did not embrace plural marriage was damned and could not go to the mormon planet and became a god.
    Yes, God was once a man and he is still learning, plus he has a harem,plural wives.
    Jesus is the brother of Satan and according to mormon prophets, jesus was born in Jerusalem.
    Joe and several other mormon prophets reviled all Christians in the world as the messengers and workers of evil for Satan.
    The fact that mormons try to pawn their false religion as Christian is the only real reason, religion should be discussed in our election. If he said he was an atheist it sure would be discussed. Obama was discussed even after having confessed Christ as Saviour on TV more than once, and according to the Bible, that should be the end of it.
    A challenge after someone confesses Christ as Saviour could be blasphemy and that's a sin that won't be forgiven.
    What' s more important, whether a black man is president or becoming a blasphemer?
    Or trying to make excuses for siding against God by giving any aid to Mitt or any mormon, until they renounce their false religion.

    August 29, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Jonah

      O ye wicked and perverse generation, ye lawyers and hypocrites, for ye are laying the foundations of the devil; for ye are laying traps and snares to catch the holy ones of God.
      18 Ye are laying plans to pervert the ways of the righteous, and to bring down the wrath of God upon your heads, even to the utter destruction of this people. (Book of Mormon, Alma, Chapter 10)

      August 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      I don't wish to go into the Immaculate conception, which is a specific doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, but there is something of a puzzle as regards the alleged virgin birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Virgin births, though highly exceptional, can, and probably do, occur from time to time. The ovum in the female has in it all the genetic material necessary to make a baby; activation of the process is the only complication. It is possible for the ovum to be "tricked" nto believing it has been fertilized and proceed with the baby-making process. For the mother of Zoroaster, it is claimed that the process apparently began after she received an electric shock from lightning. Now, the problem is this (with both Jesus and Zoroaster, and some others): the female ovum contains only the female chromosomes; in other words, a baby born of a virgin birth must be female. Was Jesus really a female passing herself off as a male or is the virgin birth debunked?

      August 29, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  7. proud American


    August 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
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  13. Jonah

    22 And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity. (Book of Mormon, Moroni, Chapter 10)

    24 And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief. (Book of Mormon, Moroni, Chapter 10)

    August 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  14. MM

    Again, a religious writer avoids the topic of Mormons being inclusive of Islam and instructed not to 'take sides' in the Israeli/non-Israeli conflict. But Mitt's advocating for a Jewish state? Backing a bombing of Iran on behalf of a Jewish state? Hold Mitt accountable for something for Pete's sake. But its all, 'basic faith' with the protestant sects now, and the (domestic) human struggle, and avoiding the Cat bulldozer camera shots when visiting CBS' Jewish Ulster. Too bad because the topic needs ink considering FOX NEWS has stamped Mitt, good-as-Evangelical. It makes Salt Lake look like errand boys for Tel Aviv and Canterbury.

    August 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  15. donner

    Hey CNN, the Mormon war room in Cult Lake City is swamping your website to prevent discussion. Do you care??

    August 28, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
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    August 28, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  17. Dr Dick PhD

    I am half muslim half atheist. I smoke I drink I don't give a $H|T to Mohammad's teachings. I live free American life, s ex, drugs, and rock 'n roll baby wooooo !!!!

    August 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  18. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    go back to school moron and stop using fake ID.

    August 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Dr Dick PhD

      are you talking to me!

      August 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Yes. You are shaming all muslims.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Dr Dick PhD

      Oh Yeah!! tell me how you porky pig.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Drinking smoking free s ex is big no no in Islam. Prophet Muhammad ordered Muslims to grow beards. Do you have beard?

      August 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Dr Dick PhD

      you sound like someone from middle east. Growing beards 1600 years ago was a normal thing among all men from all nations, not just for Muslims, or nothing to do with religions. Do my cubicle hair count for anything?

      August 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  19. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    for the record I am a Pakistani Sunni muslim and support Jihad against Hindus, Jews, Christians, Gays, Lesbians, and Shia animals.

    August 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  20. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    Some people say what is in name? but the word Stan is based on Latin word Satan, Se or Sa, Tan, or Ten, meaning devil. Any name ends with Stan, as in Paki-Stan, is a way of saying the people who lived in that areas were Satan or Devil followers or worshipers.

    August 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      hinduism absurdity of a hindu, illiterate from hindered gutter land india.

      August 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      moron learn how to write. How many functioning keys you have on your keyboard? Stop using fake ID you stinky skunk.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Go to hind, hell hindu ID thief, learn to be human, not a hindu, ignorant animal looking lie a human.

      August 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
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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.