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.
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.
Funny – why is it that when a group of Islamists get together to support their chosen leader, and rally around the Koran, and shout "God is Great!", the western media paints them as dangerous fanatics – but when a group of Americans do the same, it's just good politics? Faith is supposed to be personal, not public, and a fanatic with a holy book is the same no matter which holy book it is. American is not supposed to be a religious state – that is the sort of thing that should be left to nations like Iran, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan, where they use religion to justify burning women, killing party-goers, and ostracizing anyone who opposes the religious party line.
Your flaw is the use of relative morality. All religions are not equal in tone nor substance. Neither are the praciitioners of any given religion all alike. They are merely alike in that some people lump them together because they would prefer no religion.
Bill, all morality IS relative. It is relative to the religion of the region, the culture, the history, scientific knowledge, and common agreement.
No religion is "better" than another.
if you are wondering why athiests and agnostics comment as vitriolically as they do on this site, check out au . org which is a site devoted to the first amendment and the separation of church and state.
many christians (but by no means all) in this country are behaving like the taliban and trying to change the laws and education to force the christian religion down everyone's throats. this has got to stop.
Exactly how is religion being forced on you?
why don't you move to an atheist country then?? This country was founded "a nation under God" and wants to remain so.
Vik, actually this nation was founded on Freedom of religion...that under god bit? Got added to "combat" communism.
Creationsim/ID in science classes, stem cell research, Marriage laws, tax exempt churches, ... just to start.
"'The theory of evolution is a theory, and essentially the theory of evolution is not science – Darwin made it up,' Waide said."
VIK100: No such thing. The Pledge of Allegiance was originally written in 1892 and the word "God" was added in 1954 during the "red scare". The first amendment came about because some of the colonies had been ruled in conjunction with various churches. In Massachusetts, the ruling Puritans got a little overzealous and hanged some Quakers who had wandered out of the freedom-loving colony of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations. The founding fathers wanted the new nation to emulate RI rather than MA, and included the "establishment" clause in the first amendment.
Yay! They wasted no time in combining the two things that should always be separate: religion and politics. What did the first article of the Bill of Rights state again?
there is a reason why church and state are slowly getting back together.
I suggest you do intensive research on this subject and have an open mind.
lolol: Care to tell us the reason? ... I didn't think so...
One of my main concerns with the religious right is their suicidal wish for Armagedden. That's why in my opinion they are a far worse threat than the Taliban. The Taliban may have suicidal followers but the christian right has a vision of total world anihilation, starting in the middle-east, and letting them anywhere near the means to do it is just suicidal on OUR part.
Google, "Lying for the Lord" its a mormon thing
It's an FLDS thing. Get your facts straight.
Nope, shelly, google it and you will see
To be fair, Mary, most fundamentalists lie for their version of a god.
Prime, you are correct, but most dont teach it as part of their doctrine
Yea, it's annoying. But let's be real, it's in US politics period. We had to watch Obama go to church in a limo before inauguration and every president (in my lifetime anyway) ends speeches with "God bless America." It's both parties and beyond.
I hope they let me in with my white pointed hood dress, I just had it dry cleaned and starched!!!
You do know the KKK are democrats?
Shelly, that "WAS", the party rolls have switched and now the KKK is all repub
Christians are called to separate state and church. Read Matthew 4:8,9, 22:21, John 18:36, Luke 4:5-8. Religious leaders who want to hijack the government seek only their own aggrandizement. The Lord wants your soul, not your government.
It doesn't matter what xtians are "called" to do. Seperation of church and state is provided for by the establishment clause in the first ammendment to the Consti tution.
So Honey seems to be saying that the Bible and the Constiitution are in agreement.
Romney should announce that in accord with his religion he fully intends to become a God but does not know which planet he will have. Each planet has its own God.
Don't worry atheists come the next war you all can die for yourselves. Don't ask me to defend your BS.
Rest assured, the next war will be started by a Republican. You guys can't go a 4-year term without rubbing out your little war jones.
Most atheist are much to cowardly to fight for anything other than their own hedonism.
No one did.
My uncle was an atheist. He fought for his country. He died for his country. He believed it was his duty to defend the freedoms that the Constituition guarantees so that people like you could tell him that you wouldn't do the same.
I just retired from the army after 25 years of service and I'm an atheist. Want to call me a coward? It's very easy to hide behind your keyboard and say things like that. Put down the video games and go and do it for real if you are so brave.
Everyone, watch "The Newsroom" on HBO
If you want to believe in nonsense I feel bad for you, but you have the right to do so as long as you keep it to yourself and don't try to impose or hurt others with your decisions based on that fairy tale of yours. (this goes to EVERY religious person out there)
Your choosing to speak in disrespectful terms about religion just shows your hatred, Hoover.
We have tried what you say in our public arena & have proven that we do know how to rule ourselves. In public schools we have underachievers and in the public place we have the PC generation. It is anyone's choice to believe in DARWIN OR GOD. However Darwin has failed us.
Darwin or God? What idiot would even make choices like that. The real choice is evidence or fairy tales...
@Petercha, what is there to respect ? why should I respect a religion which tells me that I am worthy of nothing and I will burn in hell and those who are part of the religion are better than me?
Yeah. I sooooo want a President who makes life and death decisions based on his conversations with invisible people.
right, how is it that religious beliefs in US are looked upon as a good thing. Oh he believes in GOD therefore he will be a good president. ARE YOU SERIOUS? You want to vote for someone who believes in stories which have zero evidence? You want to vote for a gullible person who will end up with access to nuclear weapons??
Thank our good lord that you are a minority when it comes to not believing in God Hoover23. All i can say I feel sorry that your life is so empty. May gogd bless you anyhow.
Uh-oh, Obama admits that he prays too.
@scott, growing minority. Thankfully internet will help this minority to become majority one day and those who continue to believe in fairy tales will become minorities one day. Scientific thinking will prevail.
Can Mitt Romney make it to November without being asked about planet Kolob?? That he believes he will be whisked away to a far away planet when he dies?? If he is asked about it, he is done. Some reporter needs to get in his face and keep asking. Again and again. Obama needs to drop the Mormon bomb. a cult member must never be president.
Google, "Lying for the Lord" its a mormon thing
I feel sorry for you.
Obama is a fake... does anyone know who he is...whatever he has done is Anti-American.
4 Simple Questions
1. Back in 1961 people of color were called 'Neegroes.' So how can the Obama 'birth certificate' state he is 'African-American' when the term wasn't even used at that time?
2. The birth certificate that the White House released lists
Obama's birth as August 4, 1961. It indicates that Barack Hussein Obama was his father. No big deal, right? At the time of Obama's birth, it also shows that his father is aged 25 years old, and that Obama's father was born in " Kenya , East Africa ". This wouldn't seem like anything of concern, except the fact that Kenya did not even exist until 1963, two whole years after Obama's birth, and 27 years after his father's birth.
How could Obama's father have been born in a country that did not yet exist? Up and until Kenya was formed in 1963, it was known as the " British East Africa Protectorate".
3. On the birth certificate released by the White House, the listed place of birth is "Kapi'olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital". This cannot be, because the hospital(s) in question in 1961 were called "KauiKeolani Children's Hospital" and "Kapi'olani Maternity Home", respectively. The name did not change to Kapi'olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital until 1978, when these two hospitals merged.
How can this particular name of the hospital be on a birth certificate dated 1961 if this name had not yet been applied to it until 1978?
4. Why hasn't this been discussed in the major media?
Perhaps a clue comes from Obama’s book. He
states how proud he is of his father fighting in WW II. I’m not a math genius, so I may need some help from you. Barack Obama’s “birth certificate” says his father was 25 years old in 1961 when he was born. That should have put his father’s date of birth approximately 1936. WW II was basically between 1939 and 1945.. Just how many 3 year olds fight in wars? Even in the later stages of WW II his father wouldn’t have been more than 9. Does that mean that Mr. Obama is a liar, or simply chooses to alter the facts to satisfy his imagination or political purposes (still qualifies as a “liar”)?
...as opposed to Obama being asked about Jesus descending from the clouds and rapturing all the good people up to "heaven" or "the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven" (Rev 21)
Will they try to out-silly each other?
Didn't you say at some point that you were educated by Jesuits? They would be desappointed, I think.
1. I don't see the term "african american" anywhere on either of the forms. The father was listed as African and the Mother Caucasian.
2. The term "Kenya" was used long before the present country was founded in '64.
"Kenya's first genuine African nationalist organization, the Kenya African Union (KAU), was established in 1944." (http://www.africa.upenn.edu/NEH/khistory.htm)
3. The name was changed to "Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children" in 1978, not to "Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital". which what your own citation says.
4. It hasn't been discussed because it is conspiracy BS, that's why. The State of Hawaii has stated he was born there and the certificates supports that. Give this delusion up.
Keep your religion out of my life, thank you.
And keep your atheism out of mine, thank you.
That will be impossible for Romney since evangelizing is mandatory for the LDS.
Keep your atheist belief out of my life, thank you.
Yea, keep your lack of a belief in fairy tale dieties to your self. Oh right, that is pretty much what every atheist does.
Don't worry us religious folks will keep our lives out of yours when the next message is issued to come to the aid of your Country's Principles. Not a word of you hate would I defend against anyone. If this is all I have it sure would's be sacrificed to defend your evil philosophy.
@someone – What is the difference between an atheist and a religious person? Atheists pay taxes on their magnificent buildings. By avoiding your share of taxes, you are putting more on everybody else. You are forcing everyone to pay for your religion.
Foolish people, I'm an Episcopalian, but out of RESPECT for others, I keep it to myself.
Christianity will take over American politics, public and federal sects. Anyone who is not Christian should convert or leave the nation.
Remember Germany and Hitler, yep, sounds a lot like fascism, death of democracy if Romney wins
Seriously? Are you being sarcastic or can a human really be that stupid?
Will that be before or after the global economic collapse that will be triggered by global oil prices?
There are waaaaa-aaaay more closet non-believers than there are Christians, so you know what I say?
Christianity is a creature of the corporate powers that ALREADY run America, and their demise is the demise of Christianity, the Oil Lobby, Wall Street, etc, etc, they have sown the seeds of their own demise and soon the entire corrupt scam is coming down.
By 2015, people will be far more concerned with avoiding disease and getting food than they will be with religious nonsense.
What a pompous statement – the eye of the world on RNC convention. No, the rest of the world doesn't care. In fact, many in America don't care either. I imagine Dems won't be watching this, and some Republicans won't be either.
Jon Stewart will, and it will be hella funny.
Wake up Christians, the GOP do not have Christian values and are just using you for your vote
oh please, they will just repent and claim to be 'born again' and the fools will keep welcoming them back time and again. How many times has it been for gingrich now?
I also heard that a Rabbi will be holding a prayer service at......oh wait this is the RNC. Nevermind.
this election will prove two points.
(a) that christians are believers according to convenience, and
(b) that republican christians are republicans first and christians second
Romney is a mormon which is a religion that, as well as co-optingsome parts and characters from the bible word for word, also contradicts and makes a mockery of so many key christian religious beliefs that it should be a bigger issue to christians than gay marriage and abortion. But ... the same way as christians always pick and choose which parts of the bible to loudly proclaim and which parts of the bible to pretend don't exist ... they will ignore all these issues and vote for Romney anyway.
What do you think God/Jesus will think of you if you give your vote to a man who truly believes that he will one day be a God? Or a man who truly believes that Joseph Smith, a 19th century reknowned con-man, is an equal of Jesus?
Go on christans, pretend you never read this post. Find some obscure bible quote that will justify you supporting a cult. What a joke!
You happen to be an expert in religion and specifically Mormonism?
I love how you use hateful pastor talking points and then call yourself a Christian. Nothing you said is true, but half truths and coated with sensationalism. It doesn't matter a person religion in this country, it only matters how they lived their life in accordance to their beliefs. Last word: grow up.