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. tuvia






    September 7, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  2. ban ghe phong ngu

    I'll right away seize your rss feed as I can't to find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you've any? Kindly let me recognize in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

    September 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  3. donner

    You must do this before the election. Go to YouTube and search "Banned Mormon Cartoon" It is the true story of what Mormons believe. Watch it, then tell your friends.

    September 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  4. donner

    Imagine Romney's first world crisis, sitting in the Oval Office in his snug and absorbent magical Mormon diaper. Does the most powerful man on earth really wear a diaper that he thinks is keeping him safe?? Really?? Does Putin reach around a give him a magical Mormon wedgie?? The GOP has been screaming that this is a Christian country. Yet they nominate a Mormon. Mormons are not Christians. They are a cult. And America will never elect a cult member.

    September 2, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Get a Clue


      How about that magic lower-case letter ..t.. that so many Christians wear? Grown men and women think that it protects them.

      September 2, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  5. gep1955

    Any president who picks a vice president who says to a live audience..." Yeah, thats what I'm saying, we have to spend more money to keep from going bankrupt", has no business setting foot in the Oval Office.
    If Obama is reelected I would suggest everyone research the Greek cookbook recently available on how to prepare dog and cat.

    September 2, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  6. donner

    Before you vote for Romney, you must Google the White Horse Prophecy. Glen Beck, another Mormon, talks about it everyday on his radio show. Do your own research. then warn your friends.

    September 2, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  7. jholland27

    “Everything about Christianity is contained in the pathetic image of 'the flock.”
    ― Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir

    September 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  8. gerald

    I just love the broad brushing and prejudice on these boards. Doesn't it make you all feel so superior. Nice.

    September 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • ScottCA

      No one enjoys telling other people that they are insane. But the alternative of allowing the insanity of faith based religion to continue unchallenged is too dangerous.

      September 1, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  9. Fladabosco

    These politicians are big flaming hypocrites, using religion as a way to gain power and wealth. Here are two simple reasons why. 1) Jesus said it is easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. Look it up. He did not say 'unless he's a Mormon or radio personality' and he did not say 'unless you really want to.' Every rich person who claims to be a Christian is an obvious hypocrite. Or liar.

    Here's the other. I bet if you took all those people who want to beat the US over the head with scripture don't know much about it. Did you know that the bible forbids the drawing of fish, stars and tunnels? You didn't know that? It's in an obscure part of the bible known as the TEN COMMANDMENTS.

    I quote from King James: Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth

    September 1, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  10. Guest

    I don't understand why this "protect religious freedom" thing always comes up. Christians in particular are the most non-oppressed group on the planet. In most cases the rest of society needs protection from Christians trying to exert their influence on public policy.

    Oh, and one more thing: Catholics... Christians... what's the difference? There basically is none. Get it straight.

    September 1, 2012 at 4:21 am |
  11. Jesus is the most powerful figure known to mankind (Fact)

    "Only a fool says in his heart there is not GOD"- King David
    For atheist/non-believers a very simple verse
    John8:47-"Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don't listen because you don't belong to God."
    John 10:26-"but you do not believe because you are not my sheep."
    John 3:16-"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
    It is impossible for the unchosen to believe this, only the elected saints hear this truth and believe it. If you do not believe this it is because you are not of GOD nor do you belong to GOD. If you do not belong to GOD then you belong to satan. According to the word of Christ Jesus not MYSELF, satan and all who belong to him will inherit hades for all of eternity (on going time with no end) May GOD Almighty be with you and may all who are of the light come to the light. Peace be with you

    August 31, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • donner

      when Jesus turned over the tables of the moneychangers at the temple, Mitt Romney's table went over first. I would love to hear Mitt Romney explain Joseph Smith to Jesus. Somebody would get hit by lightning.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • james

      donner you have no idea what youre talking about. so just shutup lol

      September 1, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • timmuh

      You need to demonstrate the bible is true and correct before any quotes from it will hold any weight.

      September 1, 2012 at 5:24 am |
    • Fladabosco

      Quoting the bible as proof that Jesus is the savior is like asking a 2 year old if they took a cookie out of the jar. Or asking Hitler if Mein Kampf makes any sense.

      If you have to read it in a book or hear it from a preacher to be true it probably isn't. Take one tenth of the time you spend praying and use that time to do some actual good for the world and it will be a much better place.

      As one of my heroes said, 'more human suffering has been avoided by the washing of hands than the kneeling in supplication.'

      Care for the real world. Care for real people. Don't use ancient scripture as a guide for your life. At least don't go crazy about it and use it as an excuse to ruin other people's lives.

      September 1, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Dakota2000

      Well, the republican's really got you hook line and sinker. The republicans pretend to be "religious" so that they can hook gullible fools like yourself into their party, and get them to vote against their self interest.

      If you want to live in a "christian' country, move to England.

      September 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Bruce Rubin

      I thought it was the Hulk

      September 3, 2012 at 1:42 am |
  12. Dana

    Religion is unhealthy for young altar boys.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  13. Dana

    Please leave religion out of politics and everything else for that matter. I've had enough of your imaginary friend.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  14. js

    You cant find evidence that something dosent exist except in the non existence of evidence itself.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  15. Master

    Im sick of People using Faith as a back drop for politics..They segregate churches before slavery and till segregated today and an idiot talk about who wouldnt stand for the pledge of alegence. Why would anyone with an openmined agenda come to a convention and toss peanuts at a black female? And pass a comment ,thats how we feed the animals. The Repus dont represent America and u know this.

    August 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Bruce Rubin

      You are half way there.

      September 3, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  16. Jonah

    I pledge allegiance to the flag.....one nation, under God. In God we trust!

    August 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • donner

      Unless Romney wins. Then it will be "In Kolob We Trust"

      August 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • WhatNow

      The words "under god" were added to the pledge in 1954. They were not in the original version.

      August 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  17. Steve

    Why can't people get a simple fact through their heads? This country is NOT a country based on Christian belief. Would all these Evangelical nut jobs please get out of politics and stop telling me how I should live my life. Take the time to worry about the priests that are sodomizing boys, the wars Christianity starts, the hypocrisy of the church and so many other issues.

    August 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      USA consti tution is based on truth absolute, God, any one in hindrance to truth absolute for any reason divide of truth absolute, including religion is a hindu, criminal, not worth calling an American, especially to run for any office.

      August 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Jonah

      The unamericans are the people who won't stand and pledge allegiance to the American flag and the American Nation – one nation under God". No such people have any business being here. They are a threat to my security and every one elses.

      Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907.

      "In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American ... There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag ... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language ... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

      Theodore Roosevelt 1907

      August 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • timmuh

      @Jonah, yes, you're right, if English was good enough for Jesus it good enough for you and I.

      September 1, 2012 at 5:29 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.