5 ways faith will matter at the Democratic National Convention
Sister Simone Campbell, who led a progressive "nuns on the bus tour" earlier this year, is speaking at the Democrats' convention.
September 4th, 2012
01:15 PM ET

5 ways faith will matter at the Democratic National Convention

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors

Charlotte, North Carolina (CNN) - You can't have a political convention in the Bible Belt, in Billy Graham's home state, and not expect religion to play a role.

Here are our predictions for how faith (and faithlessness) will intersect with this week's Democratic National Convention.

What are we missing? Let us know in comments and on Twitter and we'll amend our list.

1. One big frame for the convention – the purported “war on women” – grows out of a fight between the White House and the Catholic Church. From first lady Michelle Obama to Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law student whom Rush Limbaugh branded a “slut” for advocating free contraception coverage, lots of convention speakers are women who will likely talk up Democratic support for women’s health and abortion rights. They want to strengthen President Barack Obama’s advantage among female voters. America’s Catholic bishops may have handed the Democrats a gift by blasting the White House mandate on contraception coverage, which provoked the “war on women” drumbeat.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

2. Atheists want Democrats to show them a little love. Ever since George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004, the Democrats have worked to remake the party’s secular image, elevating progressive religious voices and talking about issues as “values.” At the same time, America’s atheists – who skew mostly Democratic – have grown more outspoken about wanting the government to represent their values. An atheist group removed billboards in Charlotte that attacked the presidential candidates’ religion, but look for proudly secular Dems to push back against the party’s piety this week.

3. Will Democrats talk about religious liberty? The right has hit back on the Democrats “war on women” attacks by charging that the Dems are waging a war on religion. It’s a talking point for Mitt Romney, who recently released an ad on the subject. The major grievance: Obama’s so-called contraception mandate, requiring health insurance companies to provide free contraception coverage to nearly all employees, even if they work for a Catholic hospital or college. The Democrats’ platform language on same-sex marriage suggests they want to be sensitive to religious liberty concerns, pledging support for the “freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.”

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4. Democrats are working overtime for Catholic votes. Exhibit A: The convention will close with a prayer from Archbishop Timothy Dolan, America’s highest profile Catholic cleric, who also closed out the Republican National Convention a few days ago. Exhibit B: Sister Simone Campbell, a high visibility progressive nun – who led a “nuns on the bus" tour this summer blasting vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s budget - speaks Wednesday, telling us she’ll deliver a “sermon.” The Democrats are giving the conservative and progressive wings of the church a platform in Charlotte, hoping to send a message to Catholic voters in swing states like Ohio and Colorado.

5. Could this Democratic convention be a lot less faithy than the last one? Happening in the shadow of the “values voter” election of 2004, the 2008 Democratic convention was something of a faith fest, especially when it came to evangelicals. Convention roles went to the Rev. Joel Hunter, a megapastor from Florida, and best-selling Christian author Don Miller. This year, some religious activists are quietly wondering if the convention will come off as more secular. Hunter, who remains close to Obama, is skipping Charlotte. "There’s no reason for me to be there,” he told us. “My relationship with the president is pastoral and not political."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Politics

soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. Rational Libertarian

    The Dems have already lost the convention battle as they don't have Clint being an American hero.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  2. no

    I saw this during the first 20 minutes of the convention.
    1. Prayer by a Greek orthodox priest
    2. The pledge of Allegience by a group of third graders.
    3. A speaker introduced as a Bishop of the African Methodist Christain faith
    Someone is basically not telling the truth as God was referenced over and over again within the opening minutes of the convention.
    The camera's scanning the delegates as they were of many faiths.
    I see some basic mistakes as this convention started off as offering praise to God and our country and its citizens, someone is making up lies.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  3. Tallyman

    What are the odds that you are the smartest person on earth? 1 against 6.7 billion. What are the odds that you are the strongest and the smartest? 1 against 6.7 billion squared. Now add most morally good. 1 against 6.7 billion cubed. Keep adding 1 to the exponent for each of the qualities that God is the "best in the universe." However, God isn't supposed to be just the best out of humans, but out of all enti-ties to have ever existed. So instead of the base number being 6.7 billion, try some unimaginable number. That, 1 against "near infinity" you come up with is the odds of a judeo-christian God. Love you all. If you are an atheist though, I would not suggest arguing against someone's personal religious experiences. Haven't seen it end well yet. People, in general, like to use "magical thinking" and that's really what you are up against.

    September 4, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  4. Agnostic Atheism is Healthy for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    Let your kids be all that they can be. Just teach them that there are:

    1. Things we know that are unfounded and most likely political sales literature from the beginning of mankind (all religions); and
    2. Things that we don't know a damn thing about (god/deities).

    An agnostic approach regarding deities keeps us honest about what we don't know anything about, but also prevents unfounded junk from #2 above (religion) from dirtying up our rational thinking on the matter.

    So instead of praying to make-believe characters and trying to get others to follow the political garbage from long ago, just sit down, put on some good jazz, and collect you damn thoughts. My goodness.

    September 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • old golfer

      Good post. A person can also be a Deist.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Huebert

      Why would you want to be a deist? Their is no reason to believe a god exist so why make one up, and then say you can't know anything about him?

      September 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  5. truthman

    Polls suggest Dems don't go to church as much as Repubs, so why does it matter to Dems if this convention is more secular or not, as the author ponders?

    September 4, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • exlonghorn


      Because the Democratic Party wants to court those who DO go to church. This election is shaping up to be one of the tightest races in history (as if Bush/Gore wasn't close enough), so every block of voters counts. Certainly there is a large block of voters who are democrat-leaning but who also have belief. No need to scare those folks off, right? I guess the bet is that democrat-leaning atheists or agnostics will not be so offended by this that they'll switch their vote. Personally I find this pandering to religious groups to be completely abhorrent.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Howard


      September 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  6. Ed

    AvdBerg is spamming us with their deceiving URL again. Please report abuse on all their posts.

    September 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  7. caddolakeguy

    Faith matters to the DNC as long as it's not Christian faith.

    September 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Plucky

      Faith matters to the DNC and the RNC as long as it votes.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • exlonghorn


      That's true, but I see less evidence of the Democrats infusing faith-based values into their party platform. Women's rights, gay rights, and the right-to-choose don't exactly align with most mainstream religions. For this reason, I would almost consider voting for Obama (I have voted 3rd party the last 4 elections).

      September 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Plucky

      I think everything revolves around getting the most votes withing a broad framework called the platform. Even the platform morphs in order to maxamize those votes. And the sad thing in all this is that they know it (the DNC and the RNC), and we know it (the voters) and they know that we know it! The emperor has no clothes!

      September 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      @caddolakeguy – You are an idiot. Tha majority of democrats ARE Christians. Yes, it's true, there are still many many religiously deluded morons in the democratic party as well even with the statisticly higher IQ's. In a 2009 study in the journal "Intelligence" psychologist Lazar Stankov argues that “conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated …. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, vocabulary, and analogy test scores.” Stankov speaks of “Conservative syndrome,” which I suppose is something like Down syndrome. Conservatives are characterized by dogmatism, intolerance of ambiguity, low openness to experience, anxiety, and fear. In other words, if you’re conservative, you shouldn’t be voting, you need to see a shrink.

      September 4, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  8. mikeinsa

    I hope Rev. Jerimiha Wright gives a little sermon to kick off this shin dig.

    September 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • .


      September 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  9. Reality

    Why faith will not matter in this or any other convention:

    Only for new members of this blog:

    The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used are available upon request)

    September 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • .



      September 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      Yes, and remarkably all those scholars whom you surely have referenced came to the exact same conclusions they had entered their research with. Remarkable really.

      I can provide a whole bunch of theologians who still support the same Apostle's Creed that has been used for 1600 years.

      September 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  10. Dyslexic doG

    Sister Simone Campbell, you are a hero!

    September 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  11. Dyslexic doG

    "attacks on religious freedom" is a concept invented by republicans and FOX News!

    How will catholics justify voting for Romney who beleves in a cult that spits in the face of far more catholic beliefs than Obama ever could. Do "attacks on religious freedom" only concern abortion and no other part of the christian faith?

    September 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      They NEED a Boogerman in order to exist.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  12. Tex71

    The thing about religion in politics is that for many people, it is nothing but a thin veil to disguise their real agenda of hatred, bigotry, and ignorance, while for others (admittedly fewer) it is an inner drive to act responsibly so that others may be treated as they themselves would wish to be. It takes no more than a perfunctory glance at the way religion is used in our polarized political environment today to see where the aforementioned groups align.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • William Demuth


      It's even simpler. It is a power play. A thirst for the property of others.

      It is a way to use an imaginary creature to justify abominations.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • .




      September 4, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  13. Desmond, a Canadian


    September 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • William Demuth


      If I find you "preaching" to my kids, you will find your Holy Book buried colon deep.

      Please keep your ignorance to yourself.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • .



      September 4, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      @Desmond, a Canadian,
      Preach the Gospel indeed.. but the whole Gospel... not just the parts we like.

      @William Demuth,
      You have clearly shown your moral superiority today.

      September 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  14. cary lacayo

    Ask Mitt Romny to explain the book of mormon and its writing that came from the founder joe smith which mormons still to this day support and stand by! That's his faith which he is deeply rooted in and what drives his decisions as a leader...Ask him why mormons still believe in the book of mormon that was changed to fit societies connections as in blacks being ex communicated and not aloud into the cult and the many wives issue??? Ask him where God is located? What star or planet??

    September 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Tex71

      First I'd like to see Mr. Romney explain how Joe Smith's hat influences Mormon orthodoxy.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  15. AvdBerg

    Are those that call themselves ‘Christians’ followers of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God, or do they follow after an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24: 2 Cor. 11:13-15: Gal. 4:8)?

    For a better understanding of the history of religion and Christianity and its spread throughout the world, we invite you to read the articles ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’ and ‘The Mystery Babylon’ listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Also, please read the article ‘Barack Obama – President of the United States of America’. It explains why politicians continue to mix religion with their political agenda.

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I was deceived by Satan, AvdBerg. I wonder how many people can make that claim. How about you, AvdBerg?

      September 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • AvdBerg

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Yes, I was deceived for 38 years but once I turned to Him for repentance (changing of spirits) He removed the veil that was upon my heart (2 Cor. 3:14). Unfortunately there are only few that believe (Matthew 7:14).

      September 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      not the word of god....those are the words of men, edited by more men.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Ed

      AvdBerg is spamming us with their deceiving URL again. Please hit "report abuse" on all their posts.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • .



      September 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  16. Socal Reggae


    September 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  17. Socal Reggae


    September 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  18. Socal Reggae


    September 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  19. Bill Deacon

    If atheism isn't a faith why is "love to atheists" part of the faithy dialogue? If this DNC is going to be less faithy than previous does that mean not very faithy? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that Democrats are not about faith at all?

    September 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • BRC

      These are discussions about running for public offices that affect people of ALL faiths. Wouldn't leaving faith out of the discussion be a good thing?

      September 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • William Demuth

      You really don't get it do you?

      It is not about love, it is about holding those who would cater to your cult accountable.

      Some of us believe the separation of church and state is mission critical.

      The right and the left ignore us at their own peril.

      You Christian Right wingers have thrown up a Muslim straw man to scare the idiots, but in doing so you made what I believe is a fatal mistake.

      We are closing in on a day when the majority of Americans reject the Evangelical Christ outright, so please continue to run around and worry about Sharia law all you want.

      It is we Atheists that will drive your God off the public stage and into the realm of myth, as we have done with the three thousand fabricated Gods who came before him.

      In any age, in any society, under any faith, we have thrived and indeed out endured the preferred fable of the times.

      Your Christ shall fare no better. History proves this.

      Christianity is living on borrowed time, and we are here to remind you that he is over his credit limit.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      like most Americans, most Democrats are Christians.

      Sure atheists trend democratic, but atheists are a small percentage of Democrats. Let's do some simple math. No more than 4% of Americans are atheist/agnostic. Even if 50% of Americans were Democratic (they're not) no more than 8% of Democrats could be atheists.

      I did see some Pew data that said 71% of atheists are Democratic.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • .



      September 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      @William Demuth,
      Atheists have driven 3000 other gods (note we use God as opposed to god because we also use it as a proper name, those other gods have their own name) into myth? I think you have clearly deluded yourself on the influence of atheism on popular culture. Atheists are currently at the high point of their influence on western culture... perhaps they will go higher, perhaps not. But what is clear is that it was not atheists who eliminated belief in the pagan gods of the Ancient world... it was Christianity and Islam (at least in the West). People didn't abandon faith in Zeus for faith in Jesus because it furthered the Atheist agenda, but because it was a more compelling story.

      Now, perhaps atheism will ultimately be more compelling, perhaps not... if you are the best they can do, definitely not.

      September 5, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  20. Bob

    Sad that supersti-tions such as Christianity still hold sway in America.

    September 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • .



      September 4, 2012 at 6:02 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.