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 Human

    Libertarian? Tell me why you should even be allowed to vote.

    September 5, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  2. ScottCA

    "Rational arguments don't usually work on religious people, otherwise their would be no religious people." – House
    Well said house. Well said, indeed.

    September 5, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  3. ScottCA

    The republicans are an anti science party, with more members denying evolution and global warming.
    The GOP has become a party of religious delusional madmen.

    September 5, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  4. Deliberatus

    When women wake up to the bondage of government law, all merry hell is going to break loose. Until then – vote Libertarian and sleep well at night.

    September 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Yo

      I smell troll yall

      September 5, 2012 at 4:04 am |
  5. Reality

    Why Christian 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 11:54 pm |
  6. JOHN

    Faith... God?.... Dems. are humanists, they believe in themselves as the highest power. The fact that inner city Christians continue to vote for these godless immoral people only shows their ignorance having been educated, indoctrinated through the public schools.

    September 4, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • ScottCA

      Faith has nothing to do with morality at all

      The golden rule was written long before the bible, and was reached through moral calculus, with nothing more than logic.
      It was written by the greek philosopher Pittacus: "Do not to your neighbor what you would take ill from him." – Pittacus[20] (c. 640–568 BCE)

      September 5, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • miscreantsall


      What is wrong with being a humanist? Jesus was a humanist.

      Republicans tend to be all for the corporation and the lie of "trickle down". They are falsely and inauthentically Christian (because Christianity is a Corporation).

      Viewing the behaviour of "Christians" is eye opening. They actually behave MORE ungodly than the ungodly.

      September 5, 2012 at 2:11 am |
  7. Travis

    Religion has no place in government; that is how you end up with places like Iran and Afghanistan. Religion is important at shaping the morals of an individual, I just wish many of those individuals would act as their good book teaches.

    September 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Teodoro

      Maggs, I don't think once can deny that there is an element of RACISM in the ferticoy with which the liberal media is pursuing the Minister. True, he is not perfect. Far from it. But, as you have pointed out, ALL politicians are liars. So why aren't the liberals baying for the blood of WHITE politicians too?Hey?

      October 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  8. WachetAuf

    Faith is important for one reason, only. Faith made sacred is unquestioned and unexamined. When a religion or a political party defines something as sacred, the herd will follow with out-question. The GOP has been "priming" the evangelicals for decades to accept its economic, social and foreign affairs policies as matters of "faith". In the process, it is my belief, that "Christian" principle has been twisted to a point where it is no longer recognizable except for certain Pagan traditions like the celebration of Christmas which seems to be the only glue which holds it all together. It, instead, has become transformed into a hybrid of Neitzscean/Aryan/Randean philosophy which bears no resemblance to the small group of fellow travelers who gathered around to hear Jesus' message. Too bad. Christianity has been "cooked like a frog". From the time of Paul it has been comfortably sitting in a nice pool of water. Over two thousand years the heat has turned up so very gradually that few, if any, even suspect that it is "done". well done.

    September 4, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  9. Chad

    Reason why the Roman Empire fell – Decline in Morals
    A decline in morals, especi ally in the rich upper cla sses and the emperors, had a devastating impact on the Romans. Immoral and promiscuous se xual behaviour including adultery and or gies. Emperors such as Tiberius kept groups of young boys for his pleasure, incest by Nero who also had a male slave castrated so he could take him as his wife, Elagabalus who forces a Vestal Virgin into marriage, Commodus with his harems of concubines who enraged Romans by sitting in the theatre dressed in a woman's garments. The decline in morals also ef fected the lower clas ses and sl aves. Religious festivals such as Saturnalia and Bacchanalia where sacrifices, ribald songs, lewd acts and se xual promiscuity were practised. Bestiality and other lewd and se xually explicit acts were exhibited in the Colosseum arena to amuse the mob. Brothels and forced prost itution flourished. Widespread gambling on the chariot races and gladiatorial combats. Ma ssive consumption of alcohol. The sadistic cruelty towards both man and beasts in the arena.

    September 4, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Did you have a point?

      September 4, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Chad


      Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes.
      Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it

      September 4, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      Don't have empires and emperors? Seems simple enough. Thanks for the suggestion. 🙂

      September 4, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Play Grrrrism


      You might at least give credit to the real author of that piece.

      September 4, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Buckaroo Banzai

      That is a lame and thoroughly discredited old lie that Christianity has long thrown around, Chad. The real reason it fell was that the empire got way too big to be managed, and the various barbarian forces on the peripheries meant Rome was fighting multiple wars at once, for centuries. The cost of that on any ecoomy is ultimately devastating – look at Iraq and Afghanistan now.

      The problem with your theory (plagiarized, no doubt, and from a lousy historian) is that all those things were going on right from the beginning, so they must also be responsible for the rise of Roman power if they were responsible for the end of it. But of course, it had nothing to do with anything.

      You have been discredited on this one repeatedly over the last few months. Why do you keep repeating lies? Christians are such liars.

      September 5, 2012 at 1:58 am |
    • Anal Alert

      Chad is like an anus.

      September 5, 2012 at 2:36 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Chad draws the comparison between the U.S. and ancient Rome because of moral decay. Buckaroo seems to oppose him but basically draws a comparison to ancient Rome and the U.S. by economic burden via an overtaxed budget. Hmmm. Either way, I see the similarity

      September 5, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  10. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    Religions are hinduism corruption of truth absolute, to learn more visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/ please.

    September 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  11. Mayflower

    My guess? The only religion anyone will see is the DNC praying Obama gets re-elected.

    September 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  12. Paxton W.

    "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State." Jefferson reflected his frequent speaking theme that the government is not to interfere with religion. "Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists (June 1998) – Library of Congress Information Bulletin".
    Loc.gov. http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html. Retrieved 2012-04-27.

    September 4, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Religions a hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by hindu Jew's filthy self centered, truth absolute is foundation of American consti tution identified as God, any one denying truth absolute God is a hindu traitor, not worthy of calling American, let alone to be president of USA.

      September 4, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  13. rhett

    Religion is only brought up when it can degrade Romney or the GOP. What are the Democrats afraid of? Revenge? Truth? Disclosure?

    September 4, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  14. Ronald Regonzo

    Poor leadership is Gods curse on a nation. Romney / Ryan 2012

    September 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • truth be trolled


      September 4, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • JOHN

      You are correct... Isaiah 3... the destruction of a nation speaks of God removing leadership.

      September 4, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  15. Paxton W.

    This is the Democratic convention. All I hear from CNN coverage is Romney this and Romney that. No one cares!

    September 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  16. MrHighMighty

    Dragging God into the human realm of politics is foolish, dangerous, and contrary to instruction in Scripture. No where in the Bible does God call on Christians to change the world through politics. No where in the New Testament does God call on Christian political leaders to legislate morality or impose religious beliefs upon their nation. (But there are plenty of warnings in the Bible of leaders using false religion and doctrine to turn people away from true salvation and righteousness). God calls His chosen as He sees fit, in His grace and sovereignity, and doesn't need or want puny man's politics or laws to help Him.

    September 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      MrHighMighty, I think you're partially correct. The sticking point for Christianity (and Islam) in particular is that their book tells them to make noise and try to save/convert people to their religion in a grand and divine pyramid scheme. For example,

      "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." – Mark 16:15

      "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." 2 Tim 4:2

      See their deity commands them to spread this garbage to everyone they can. Conversion has always been central to the major religions. Of course Christians will always say that they just spread the word and it's the Holy Spirit that does the conversion. My friends, this is absolutely splitting hairs. Their goal is still conversion, and I don't care for that mentality one bit.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Mayflower

      Exlonghorn, if proselyting is only the scourge of religions, can you explain to me the necessity of spreading your values and your politics? I think this diatribe of yours is completely misguided. I know plenty of good people, both religious and otherwise. People like to share things they get excited about. End of story. Stop making this about the religious being slaves to a rigid set of ideologies, especially if you're the kind of person who only checks the "vote all democrat" box on your ballot. Checking that box or only voting along party lines means your deity is your politics and instead of God.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • exlonghorn


      I have no desire to spread my views...I want Theists to stop spreading theirs in science classrooms, politics, law, and the secular workplace. I appreciate that you know good people. I am certain we all have anecdotal evidence to support our viewpoints. Honestly, it the only issue was people "sharing", I would be fine with that. But that's not reality, mayflower. When religious groups spend over $350 MILLION per year (Pew Research) on political candidates and policies, that's where we are going to fight. When theists insist on teaching creationism in a SCIENCE classroom, that's when we are going to fight. When political conventions are blessed by a specific religion (Catholicism), we should really be bothered by that. And that was my original point...most religions are not simply nice, happy groups of people. Groups like Wallbuilders seek to impose their beliefs on everyone else in America. Do you believe this is not the case? Do you not see any problem with this kind of behavior?

      September 4, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    September 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but you assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      What he/she doesn't realize is that he is completely discrediting theists by parroting the same things over and over again while demonstrating zero willingness to incorporate new ideas and information into his/her understanding of the world. It's impossible to respect anyone who doesn't make an honest effort at debate/conversation.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • Mayflower

      Actually, there is some evidence that people of faith and those who practice regular prayer are healthier and recover more quickly after hospital stays. Of course, scientists can't prove if it's God answering prayers or just the power of positive thinking at work, but does it matter? These people are grounded in something deep and meaningful to them. They have found a source of strength, and good for them. I'll take people like that over empirical evidence cynics who troll boards like this pouncing on anyone who dares express a little faith.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Goodweed

      No one would want to pounce on you.

      September 4, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      @Mayflower, that's odd, but I made no mention of the prayer or its efficacy. My concern is over people who will not engage in a real conversation rather than simply parroting the same statement repeatedly for months on end. ANYONE should object to such behavior, especially when it's not backed by anything. If I said "You're a bad example to others", I think you would object to that because I would appear to be saying it for no reason, and with no basis or explanation. This is the same objection I have to " Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things". Reasonable?

      September 4, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things

      September 5, 2012 at 4:31 am |
    • just sayin

      Simple statements of Truth do not require explanation or debate. It is Wednesday, atheism is not healthy for children and other living things. God bless

      September 5, 2012 at 4:34 am |
    • exlonghorn

      Entirely incorrect. Statements of ANY truth are subject to questioning, alternative logic, new information, etc. Saying "Proven" is equivalent to shouting "Aardvark" on this forum...it's a completely meaningless comment. Similarly, calling anything involving the Bible "Truth" is equally baseless without any sort of supporting evidence.

      September 5, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  18. Mass Debater

    And here I thought we were voting to put the most capable worker in a difficult secular job. Instead we have all the morons out thinking they are voting for the next Pope or something. Silly Christians.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • mike

      silly christian hypocrites you mean.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Mayflower

      Ugh. Really? It does not make people hypocritical to vote for people whose ideals match up closely with their own. It does, however, make you hypocritical to claim you are so open-minded while lambasting Christians for voting values on their own terms and not on yours. You vote for people who share your values, secular or not, because you can identify with them more easily. Everyone does it. This is not hypocrisy. This is human nature.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • exlonghorn


      Your response, while simple, is not adequate. ALL parties must operate within boundaries. For example, if one of the two main parties was 99% KKK members, and they wanted to impose Jim Crow laws as part of their platform, and if they were supported by "people whose ideals match up closely with their own", does that still make their platform legitimate? Should we chalk up slavery as "human nature" as people did 200 years ago? Heck, an entire half of the country arguably ceded due to their belief in slavery (among other things). Sorry, but I don't think your logic passes the test in this case.

      September 4, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  19. Paul

    Many of us who are Christians are getting sick and tired of right wing Republicans abusing our faith by making it look like they speak for Christianity when they don't. I'd just as soon the politicians stop using God every time they want popular support.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Frisco Gal

      The new Democratic party doesn't mention "God"....perhaps this is the party for you.

      September 4, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      @Paul. Thank you for saying this. It helps restore a tad bit of respect to the theist community.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • therealpeace2all


      I respect your comment.


      September 4, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      "New" Democratic party? What happened to the old one? And when?

      September 4, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Oh yes, and btw, amen Paul!

      September 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Yo

      whats wrong paul? thet crazy talk gettin you down? and you tell us? what can we do for you fool? your crazy

      September 5, 2012 at 4:07 am |
  20. DM

    Dems took God out of platform on Day 1 in THE BIBLE BELT???????

    How much more stupid can these people get??

    Faith is a fundamental of American principles.

    The dems are all about "what's in it for me?"

    Very sad party.

    Go vote for your anti-American self – serving piece of garbage.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Faith is for retarded people or those afraid to accept their finite existence.

      September 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Your first statement and second statement are incongruous. In the first, you seem to suggest that if the Dems were smart, they'd act in their own best interest to "include god" in their platform in "the Bible Belt." In the second, you outright state that the Dems are all about acting selfishly for their own gain. So which is it? Do you want them to include god while in the Bible Belt for their own selfish interests, or do you want them to act honestly and according to their own principles and do what they did-leave god out?

      September 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      After Moby and Rational's comments, I can do nothing more than applaud.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Mayflower

      Faith is for people who believe there is something beyond their own finite existence. Faith is for people who want to believe in something bigger and better than their own existence. This does not make them retarded. It makes the human. I do, however, have to question the mental capacity of people whose perspective is so limited and myopic that they can only refer to those whose beliefs differ from their own as 'retarded.'

      September 4, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Rational Libertarian: "Faith is for retarded people or those afraid to accept their finite existence."

      God has not given us the spirit of fear [nor retardation] but power, love and a sound mind.

      September 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Yup, the ramblings of a retard.

      September 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      How so Rat Lib?

      September 4, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Retards believe god has given them stuff. Hence, you are a retard.

      September 4, 2012 at 9:17 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.