Will religion matter at presidential debate? Should it?
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will meet in Denver on Wednesday night for thier first debate together .
October 3rd, 2012
03:32 PM ET

Will religion matter at presidential debate? Should it?

Follow Wednesday's presidential debate coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV, CNN.com and via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Web users can become video editors with a new clip-and-share feature that allows them to share favorite debate moments on Facebook and Twitter.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Will religion factor into the first 2012 presidential debate in Denver on Wednesday night? Maybe, though it's likely to happen in subtle ways.

Both President Barack Obama, a Protestant Christian whose political base is largely secular and whose last presidential campaign was almost brought low by his association with a minister, and Mitt Romney, whose Mormon religion is misunderstood or viewed skeptically by many Americans, have generally avoided talking religion on the campaign trail.

But both men spoke about their faith in recent speeches at the party conventions. And a number of issues at Wednesday's domestic-policy-focused debate could intersect with religion, like questions about abortion, gay marriage and religious liberty.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

We put the question of whether religion would matter to Twitter and got some interesting responses:

Would you say that the US is a christian country? Would be a good one for the debate as well.

This is a perennial question for candidates, with Obama and Romney touching on it on different occasions, though neither appears to have answered the question directly. Obama has said the U.S. is no longer "just" a Christian country, given its religious diversity, while Romney has accused Obama of saying the U.S. should be a "less Christian nation."

They need to have a law that protects all places of worship no one should burn or bomb places of worship

This looks like an allusion to the summer shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left seven dead and perhaps to reports of violence against other houses of worship, particularly mosques. Will moderator Jim Lehrer or either candidate bring up the Wisconsin shooting or other violence?

How is it possible to be so gullible in the year 2012?

That tweet suggests it would be silly to invoke religion in a presidential debate. Many among the growing chunk of Americans who claim no religious affiliation feel the same way. Most of those folks line up with the Democratic Party.

Do u believe n separation of church & state?

Another hearty perennial in American politics. Obama has said yes, he does. Romney has said that Obama has taken church/state separation too far.

How will your candidate's beliefs on who God is be seen in how he serves as President?–is what I would ask.

Obama has talked a fair deal about his faith influencing his policy priorities, including at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. Romney, who generally avoids talking about his personal faith, has been less willing to go there.

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

What do you think? Will religion play into the debate? Should it? Share your thoughts.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Mitt Romney • Politics • Uncategorized

soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. eyesopened

    The question was not a question of rightousness, but instead voting having anything to with religion and when one looks to history the corruption by both of these establishments speaks for itself. Now Scripture states across the board and this statement speaks forth the truth by way of true faith in Christ Jesus is that there is no one Rightous period. Again which leads us to the truth again where Jesus says I did not come to save the rightous... not to mention your ways are not my ways. listen the Love of God is exactly that we dont have to argue about something that God alone says we cannot do anyway, apart from me... you can do nothing that not our grace but His grace is sufficent, again we either have a relationship with Jesus who is the word or we are have a relationship with the text itself HUGE difference, Praise God for our founding fathers who Gods grace prepared the way for Gods word to estabished and boy did they suffer and again as Gods word states this world as we know it is not the kingdom Jesus did not die for the USA and He did not die for our right to vote but instead that we may have reedemtion and victory over the enemy satan the curse of sin and death as no other has conquered the grave but the Great I AM Himself. Ask the Holy Spirit in your heart and He and He alone will show you as the individule the way the truth and the life. This is called ACCOUNTABILITY cant fake it, its either Christ or its not.

    October 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  2. A Davies

    Religion should affect our vote because the Bible says, "Righteousness exalts a nation." This nation was established on Godly principles and to have high moral values and reverence for God creates healthy guidelines and order. People today want to do their own thing and not answer to anyone, even God. Any society in the past that has become depraved, folowing their own dictates and forgetting God, has fallen.

    October 31, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  3. eyesopened

    No I dont agree that politics and the true faith should have anything to do with whom one should vote for. Now the issue with religion (Christianity) does not speak for ones faith or God this can onlt be done by Grace and Grace alone. I do believe how ever that a fact is a fact and our Nation does have certain laws in place that pertain to the rights of mankind, and again just the way they should remain as physical laws and rights. The words ignorance and hypocrite come to mind,not to mention confusion. See the worlds laws should have actual physical ramifications when they are set in stone, where as the ways that a follower of the way KNOWS is that his or her life on a whole is completely and enternaly in the hands of the Son of man. One thing I can say for sure is that we as a nation have fallen for religion after religion and all this accomplished was a bunch of self rightous double minded junk. God set us up with the basics of everything to get by with on this earth, physicaly and we cant even be thankful for that or hold dear to those rights that our founding Fathers fought and died to make it possible that life would have a chance. People lets be honest and I say this compassionately a person either blames something or someone, or they assume full accountability for their life as they know it. This my friend is the difference between knowing the difference between the truth and a lie, peace and hope vs anxiety and hopelessness. This is something that we will not get out of politics let alone religion. Faith on the other hand is a different word all together it is the word made flesh, there is only one that is called faithful and He has forgiveness to offer, to who ever believes they need it, its a priceless Gift especialy when you may have done nothing wrong and have lost a dear friend or family member. remember the lie is very real and his will is that no one knows peace but instead uses religion, self rightousness and pride to seperate us from Love -Joy- and Hope those things that make this world a nice place to live no matter who is president. Im not a great writer or speller but I hope this helps

    October 24, 2012 at 11:41 am |

    Yes it matters, thank God! The people of the United States is soo sick of obama, and we are going to take this country back!! Romney is going to make a GREAT president!!

    October 8, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  5. Lauren

    During every presidential election the issue over what role religion should play in politics arises. In regards to this question I feel like it is important to first remove the labels of what religions the candidates choose to associate with, and instead focus on what values that religion has given them. Both Obama and Romney have openly discussed what role they feel their faith plays in politics (here’s the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/obama-and-romney-answer-q_n_1818290.html ). As Obama put it, “faith motivates people to do incredibly compassionate and good work that helps our nation thrive.” Yes, he is saying this from a Christian background, but the important point to come from his speech is the fact that he is advocating certain values over religious affiliation. Romney takes a much stronger stance on the role of religion in American politics, but he too said “…while we are a country with so many differences in creed and theology, we can all meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.” Taking off the label of what religion they claim first allows us to focus on how those values will play out in our futures. Then we can focus the bigger picture of religion in politics.
    Once we have taken a look at the values that the candidates are advocating, then I feel it is fine to discuss religion’s role in politics. One of the greatest things going for our country is the fact that we allow for such diversity in thoughts and ideas. We do not have a set national religion or language with which we require everybody to be a part of. Given that America prides itself on diversity I think it becomes our responsibility to allow religion in politics. We tackle every issue from abortion to taxes in politics, so can we really claim to be democratic if we leave the issue of religion out of politics? Democracy requires shared participation in discussing the issues that play a role in shaping how our nation is run. Religion or lack thereof, is some of the focus that shapes cultural perspectives and morals. By leaving it out of the conversation all we are doing is suppressing a large part of what is shaping our values and opinions, and in turn hindering democracy. So yes, we should be talking about religion and what role it plays in politics. There are plenty of views from atheist to secular beliefs and as a nation that has such diversity we need to be talking about it.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  6. sally

    No – it shouldn't, but I'm sure some will not feel comfortable voting for a Mormon. But it doesn't even matter. Rummy pirate and Repubtards are embarrassing themselves at every opportunity. The latest thing is that now that the latest unemployment numbers look a little better, the Repubtards are accusing the Dept of Labor or "cooking the books". That's a laugh. The dept. of Labor has had a very strict set of procedures in place since before Reagan to ensure that there is no tampering with their data. Nice try Repubtards like General Electric CEO Jack Welch. Awww, don't like the numbers and wanna cry... awww..... sorry sport repubtards. Rummy pirate ship is going down FAST!

    October 5, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  7. David Steffen

    Religion the root of all evil and the cause of most wars....I can do without it....

    October 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      This assertion has been repeatedly debunked. Why keep posting it?

      October 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • old ben

      No Bill, I'm afraid it's true.

      October 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm |

      Man is the root of all evil and the cause of all wars.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 5, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent truths is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent truths, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      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

      October 5, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs^!

      October 5, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • .

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degnerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" deganerates to:
      "captain america" degnerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degnerates to
      "Bob" degnerates to
      "nope" degnerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degnerates to:
      "fred" degnerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert"

      This troll is not a christian.

      October 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  9. Reality

    Should religion matter in this election? YES!!! The reasons why:


    Romney is Mormon because he was born Mormon. Should we hold this against him? Actually in the 21st century we should since he has this severe affliction, the Three B Syndrome i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Mormonism with no obvious change in his mental state which he could easily cure with some rational thinking.

    Obama also suffers from the same affliction as he believes in "pretty/ugly wingie thingies, bodily resurrections, atonement mumbo jumbo, et al. And there has been no change or desire to cure his version of the Three B Syndrome.

    We should be voting for leaders who can think rationally. Believing in angels, satans, bodily resurrections, atonement, and heavens of all kinds is irrational.

    Bottom line: BO and MR have been severely brainwashed in their theologically and historically flawed Christianity and they are too weak to escape its felonious grip. And we will be stuck with one of them for another four years of "god bless America" HOPING THAT THIS GOD WILL HELP THEM ELIMINATE OUR $16 TRILLION DEBT.

    October 5, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • Tom Baker

      Woah there, cowboy

      October 5, 2012 at 9:38 am |
1 2 3 4
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.