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. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


    Many of the details of the bible have yet to be authenticated, but NONE have been demonstrated incorrect.

    (Let's ignore observation that in the context on the recent discussion of Genesis 1, and assume you were specifically refering to New Testament writings here.) 😉

    But (and I'm not asserting any expertise on these docvments) your observation could probably also be made for the Quran and the Bhagavad Gita.

    August 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      In the immortal words of Brittany Spears – "Oops I did it again"

      Reposted on p6.

      August 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  2. Rational Libertarian

    OK, controversial thread. Are there any atheists here who are supporting Romney? I'd count myself as a begrudging supporter, on the condition that they drop the whole 'no abortions for anybody' stance. I think Romney is the right choice economically, especially with Ryan on board, but socially I'm less than optimistic.

    August 26, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  3. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


    so from the OP: no true Christian would ever vote for a Mormon.
    And your reply: Better to vote for a Christian even though you disagree deeply with his policies.

    I take it you are voting to relect our current President?

    August 26, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Ooops – I messed up. It's so easy to forget 'reply' for threads at the bottom of the page.

      Reposted on p6

      August 26, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  4. Chadwatch, a public service

    Chad's theory (repeatedly, ad nauseum) – You atheists attack Christianity more than other religions because you are secretly afraid that it is true.

    Other "theories" The Chad is certain of:
    1. Girls don't talk to me at parties because they are too intimidated by how hot I am.
    2. Scientists disagree with my pet interpretations because they secretly know I am right and it would ruin their careers.
    3. The reason that Security told me to stop hanging around the school playground is that I am so awesome that I make the teachers seem boring.

    August 26, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  5. Brock

    I can not recall my birth why would I recall after my death?

    August 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Mark Twain

      “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

      August 26, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I'm incredibly afraid of death. Eternal nothingness is a frightening prospect. Science needs to hurry up and discover immortality before I die.

      August 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  6. JohnK

    Religious nuts make up many of the most ardent Republican supporters. I hope that a few of them do actuallypresent their extremist views so the American people can see them for the unbalanced whack jobs they are.

    August 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • stephen l. walkinshaw

      I agree, why does nobody mention that the mission work, was to keep him out of Vietnam, and the poor little thing had to do his work in FRance what a back water that was.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  7. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    So tomrrow's RNC events are cancelled – except for the "holding back the waters of the storm surge" prayer circle, dedicated to King Cnut.

    The almighty has spared the RNC in Tampa and instead will wreak his vengeance somewhere on the Gulf Coast between Louisiana because "God" knows, after Katrina and the oil spill they still need a bit o' smitin', punishin' and learnin'.

    August 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Ooops – Louisiana and Florida.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  8. Ivan Biial

    To the Republican haters:

    Always live by the immortal words of "Dean Vernon Wormer" of Faber College , "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life".

    August 26, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Ivan Biial

      And I oughta know because I am fat, drunk and really, really stupid.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • stephen l. walkinshaw

      I thought that was you.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  9. HenryMiller

    "Catholics and evangelicals, two key voting blocs, have been buzzing about religious liberty for months..."

    How can these twits "buzz" about "religious liberty" while simultaneously trying to use their religion to deny the individual liberty of abortions? They want their freedom not to have to support abortion in any way, but would deny women the freedom to control their own lives and bodies.

    August 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Abinadi

      It all comes down to what is right and what is wrong. Belief in God is right. Abortion is wrong.

      August 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      You're lucky being retarded isn't wrong.

      August 26, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  10. Grumpster

    Did you ever notice how the "faithful" always seem to have just the goofiest looks on them...or totally vacant expressions? They look like warped people....llike....EDDIE MUNSTER. Really, these two need to go start a cult of richness other than in the white house.

    August 26, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Grumpster

      I just a total moron myself.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  11. saggyroy

    Religious freedom = freedom to ram it down everyone else's throat.

    August 26, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Don't need that. I'm pretty monogamous, and straight as well.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • ....

      @tom tom

      August 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • ....


      August 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • ....


      August 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • ....


      August 26, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • ....


      August 26, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  12. I am John

    @Chad...Hold on to your faith for your redemption is near. Our Lord Jesus is alive and comes quickly!

    Matthew 11:11-15 – “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

    My name is John. My mother's name is Elizabeth. My other name is Diomitron. Elijah is back!

    Here is wisdom for you:
    First Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ
    Elizabeth->John (power and spirit of Elijah)->JESUS/YESHUA/THE MESSIAH
    Salvation from Jew to Gentile
    “That which has been is what will be.”

    Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ
    Elizabeth->John (power and spirit of Elijah)->JESUS/YESHUA/THE MESSIAH
    Salvation from Gentile to Jew (Restoration)
    “That which is has already been."


    QUESTION: Will you accept THIS Elijah?

    August 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Enough people have blown in out of the desert (or wherever) saying shit like "LET THE WISE HEAR WHAT I SAY" that most people know better than to listen to (or read) what comes next. But you were talking to Chad.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Grumpster-diver

      No....'cause you're a nut job.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Romas

      Apparently you do not understand the concept of religious freedom in this country. For one it means anyone can believe whatever they want, for two it also means that no one has to agree with a religious opinion. In other words believe what you want but don't impose it on others.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  13. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    Word Pak is based on Latin word Puki, Pe or Pa, Te, or Ta, meaning from stomach and throat base word for Sick in English, Upchuck, blowing chunks or spewing, meaning, worshiping at the porcelain thrown or a sweaty, infection of puke absolute, such as flu, or Food poisoning, in disregard diarrhea or Montezuma’s revenge, One who takes a s.h.i.t to be in violation of his body without his consent, considering himself to be dying, the truth you drank too much tequila, same as in barfing, denier it doesn’t work, word projectile vomiting is based on Latin word vomi, icky, smelly, horrible, icky, to be in a pool of sick and Hell, to be dumber than the fluids leaking from your ravished body to both of them, watery eyes, a noun in missing work, puke in your nose, way of making you even sicker, as in word “ralph”, a self-violating or a ja.panese p.o.r.n.o, otherwise known as a freak, a sadist. Puking is not an accident but a way to clear the crud from your mutilated digestive system, defiance to the Lysol and filthy towels you will use..

    Word Stan is based on Latin word Satan, Se or Sa, Tan, or Ten, meaning land of devils.

    Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a chain smoker, atheist muslim lawyer, who jokingly called Sindhu land "Pakistan" literelly means "land of Puking Devils" never imagined his personal joke would become a reality one day. Pakistan a land of Puking Terrorists.

    August 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  14. bam

    1. Fear Mongering
    2. Christian Taliban
    3. Fear Mongering
    4. Christian Taliban
    5. Fear Mongering
    6. Christian Taliban
    7. Fear Mongering
    8. Christian Taliban

    August 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  15. Mohamiss Shafik-Kaddir

    Islam is America's future , and Sharia the way of truth and peace .

    August 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Mohamiss Shafik-Kaddir

      My mother conceived me with her pet goat.

      August 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  16. Ima Mused

    Of course they want the Catholic vote – otherwise the choice of Token Ryan makes no sense. C'mon Catholics, for once don't be as stupid as the Evangelicals.

    August 26, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Ima Mused

      If you try hard enough, you can all be as stupid as ME.

      No, not really. Nobody is that stupid.

      Except me.

      August 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Haploid Commissar

      Not gonna happen. They are too delusional and brainwashed.

      August 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  17. bakslider

    Faith doesn't seem to matter much this election to the Christian Right. They have nominated a man who believes that Satan is the brother of Jesus, Jesus had three wives and Joseph Smith is a direct descendant and that God lives on the planet Kolob with his thousands of wives. Hmmm. Seems I must have missed that part of the Bible. Mormon temples have room for all-seeing eyes, pentagrams and such but you will never see the cross of Jesus in a Mormon temple simply because they aren't Christians. It is sad that those who proclaim that they love Christ would stoop to voting for this distinctly non-Christian man.

    August 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • bakslider

      Oh, and in case you haven't figured it out, I am a complete idiot.

      August 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  18. Peik

    Tom Paine (atheist), Ben Franklin (agnostic), Washington and Jefferson (deists), John Adams (Christian abolitionist) had no problem with the government of the United States being secular. We don't really need any changes to this tradition. Jefferson wrote in 1800 " ... and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own... they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

    August 26, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    August 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.


      August 26, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Grumpster-diver

      Prayer changes nothing. Luck and hard work do, and money....lots and lots of it in Mittwit's case. Prayer is a fool's hope.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • truth be told

      allah is an idolatrous misrepresentation of God. Prayer to allah is useless and misdirected.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:20 pm |

      truth be told

      "allah is an idolatrous misrepresentation of God."

      So's your old man.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • truth be told

      Better a smoldering ruin of ash and rubble than an idolatrous mosque dedicated to the false god allah.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Atheism is Healthy for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

      Actually, not true as it turns out!

      It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. Teaching kids to be agnostic helps reinforce their understanding of the new real things they can see and learn about in life. It helps them properly separate the known from the unknown without confusing them. They just need to be taught things that are unknown, like god, and things that are made up, like all religion.

      Atheists have strong minds, and don't run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, disserving society).

      We have only begun to scratch the surface in using the mind to its maximum. Damaging it with made-up junk that politicians and salesmen dreamed up long ago is senseless, and limits the mind's potential. These politicians and charlatans didn't even do a good job of organizing and being consistent with the stuff they dreamt up to try to control people. Daddy used to say they were caught with their pants down when the bible was first translated so that common folk could read it. Very true.

      Instead of praying to make-believe people, get a good cup of tea and go on and sit down and collect your damn thoughts. My goodness.

      mama kindless

      August 26, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  20. HeavenSent

    Today I picked up a copy of Quran and went to relieve my upset stomach. Although there was nothing noteworthy inside, it was an interesting read. I extend my hand to grab a paper but there were none, an attempt by Satan to embarrass me. Guess what no one but Quran itself came to rescue. I said thank you Quran for saving my asss. That evening, lit a candle and said prayer to give Quran a place in heaven for self-sacrifice for a noble cause.


    August 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Of course, if I had any balls I would be in Afghanistan with the US Airborne standing tall against the muslims who want to kill America, but I'm really just a simpering coward.

      So, instead, I post hate-theist snot here on CNN where I can remain anonymous and safe.

      August 26, 2012 at 6:35 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.