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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:

@Molecules3
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."

@FranticKL
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?

@Seattleite76
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.

@bowmamapeace
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.

@PastorRileyF
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. Abinadi

    7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Old Testament, Amos, Chapter 3)

    October 4, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • *

      Hey Leviticus is in the OT so don't be bringing that sh!t up or they'll get you for goat sacrifice and all.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  2. Abinadi

    The reaction to the idea of living prophets is really interesting? Why don't these people want you to see them?

    October 4, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Abinadi

      You would think I hit a nerve!

      October 4, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Rondom Bittes

      While I do not like seeing people having their names hijacked (and I expect I will be next), Abinadi, you do not appear to realize that many people will find your personal statements offensive. If you hit a nerve or maybe they were bored, maybe you should examine the reasons why you thought it would be a good idea to say what you say on the internet and here specifically.

      Consider: Aren't there other places to leave comments? Why do you come here and start telling us what you think according to your personal interpretation of your religion? Those are your opinions, fine, but if you just yell at us without reasoning things out, why would you expect anything but someone shouting back?
      Why not try explaining your reasons for thinking we should not only hear your words but why we should listen to them and think about them, and can you do so clearly?

      Speak clearly. Don't preach unless you have common, secular, logical, or rational explanations handy for why we should even listen to you. I prefer to argue. Whoever hijacked your name evidently prefers to attack our ability to communicate for some unknown reason. We already have too many ways in which to misunderstand and miscommunicate.

      And your Mormon religion is a total FRAUD. (just had to get that in there)
      Just letting you know how I feel about your religion as I disappear. I'm going to do something else for a while. bye

      October 4, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  3. Abinadi

    11 Proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true, and that God does inspire men and call them to his holy work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old;
    12 Thereby showing that he is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.
    13 Therefore, having so great witnesses, by them shall the world be judged, even as many as shall hereafter come to a knowledge of this work.
    14 And those who receive it in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life; (Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 20)

    October 4, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • I wonder

      What did Joseph Smith tell Oliver Cowdery when Oliver asked why he could not read the revelations from the bottom of Joseph's hat?

      October 4, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  4. Abinadi

    Wooo wooo wooo. Tune out and turn on to LSD.org. Mormons everywhere are tuning in to their outer moron.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Abinadi

      Why do you steal my name and try to divert people's attention? You are really desperate aren't you?

      October 4, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Rondom Bittes

      Please do not use names that other people are trying to use. And don't cut in front of anybody while waiting in line. Same deal.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  5. Abinadi

    Has God forgotten us? Why aren't there prophets today like there used to be? God has not forgotten us. He has a once again called living prophets to give us revelation. Tune this Saturday and Sunday to General Conference and see and hear God's modern day prophets. Tune into LDS.ORG.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Abinadi

      Tune out and turn on to LSD.org

      October 4, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Madame Zeroni

      No, no... it is I, my child, who have the true revelations. Tune in at http://www.crystalinks.com/gypsyfortune.html

      October 4, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Abinadi

      He didn't forget us. It's hard to forget when you don't exist.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  6. Reality

    The prayers and debates of Obama and Romney are useless, ideas are priceless!!!

    Some ideas for creating new jobs: (What are your ideas?)

    1. Inst-itute an “old-house/condo/apartment” replacement program akin to the successful “automobile gas-guzzler” removal program. Today, there are simply too many houses, condos and apartments in the USA. It is significantly stupid to continue building new ones on new lots. Tear down existing dwellings and rebuild on the same lot thereby keeping the number of housing units stable and providing many jobs in the demolition, building material suppliers and construction industries.

    2. Are big cities needed anymore? Most exist for the service industry and these days most services can be provided from the home via PCs. Time to consider big city downsizing with conversion of these outdated areas to parks and entertainment centers. Again, more jobs are created to accomplish this. (planners, architects, landscapers, construction workers and building material suppliers).

    3. Fresh water diversions/capture: It is insane to allow all of our fresh water to flow back into the oceans. Areas like Southwest and Western states have droughts almost every year. Time to build huge canals from rivers like the Mississippi and Missouri to irrigate these parched lands. And it is time to dramatically increase the number of reservoirs in states like Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico. Again more jobs created for planners, civil engineers, construction workers, building suppliers, farmers and ranchers.

    4. R&E jobs- a. computer-driven cars, busses, trucks, planes and ships b. Robotic police, fire and protective aids c. More efficient birth control methods d. A pill to temporarily eliminate the s-ex drive.

    5. A female “Vi-agra”

    6. Continued search for cheap fusion energy.

    7. Space jobs-a. Moon/Mars stations/mining run by robots. b. Highly functional, well-equipped, super-fast interstellar probes

    October 3, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  7. Atheism is healthy for children and other living things

    YES ! the SCROTUS has shown that regilion matters at the RedDawn Mass last Sunday !!!!

    October 3, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  8. Reality

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

    ONLY FOR THE NEW MEMBERS OF THIS BLOG:-–>>>>>

    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 IS ABLE TO ELIMINATE OUR $16 TRILLION DEBT.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    October 3, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for new members of this blog:

      Some ideas on how to save a large number of our global citizens and also how to reduce the Federal budget: (did not hear these ideas suggested during the debate)

      How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?: And how many “souls” would be saved?

      Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
      There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror LIKE 9/11.

      – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

      – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

      – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

      Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
      There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

      – The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.
      – the faith-based federal projects supported by both Bush and Obama will be eliminated saving $385 million/yr and another $2 billion/yr in grants.

      – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
      Abraham and Moses never existed.

      – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

      – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

      Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube,Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

      Other ideas are welcomed.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  9. German Sparkle Party

    You are at a friend’s house. It is a party with a few friends and a girl you are interested in getting to know better. You have to go to the restroom, which is visible from the kitchen where everyone is gathered. You go in and do number 2. You have diarrhea. It smells bad and there is no air freshener. You reach for the toilet paper and there is none. There is a knock on the door, you recognize her sweet voice.

    Where is your god now?

    October 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • fred

      If there is a god and he is perfect and he created us perfectly, why do we need to excrete at all?

      October 3, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  10. bec bon

    Third party presidential candidates, Jill Stein from the Green Party and Rocky Anderson from the Justice Party, will have an opportunity to join the presidential debate on Democracy Now! tonight, live from 8:30pm to 11:30pm. Stream at http://www.democracynow.org

    October 3, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      Show me a hindu Jew, filthy self centered, atheist and I will show you Lucifer, self centered devil.

      October 3, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  11. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    Fairy tales should be completely absent from the speeches of so-called leaders!

    October 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • truth be told

      Show me a man humble before God and I will show you a real leader.

      October 3, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      Show me a man humble before God and I will show you a real fool.

      October 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Jess Troline

      Show me someone who believes in a god and I will show you a delusional and gullible fool.

      October 3, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Chris

      G.Zeus, yes, no one wants to hear the fairy tale of evolution during the debate.

      October 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Chris

      Sorry Jess, fool belongs to the atheists.

      October 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chris

      You got any evidence that evolution is a fairy tale? Because there's sure as hell a lot of evidence that supports the model of evolution.

      October 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      It is amazing how many people still fall for the 6-day creation myth, the invisible-god myth, the 6,000-year-old earth myth! What? Never heard of, oh, fossils? What about carbon dating? Dolts!

      October 3, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ Truth be Told:

      Show me a man humble before God and I will show you a man who never entertained the thought of entering politics.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Rondom Bittes

      There is nothing to fear but fear itself and the giant fanged monster hiding under your bed.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  12. Robert

    Religion shouldn't matter. Sure, a lot of so called Mormon beliefs are pretty screwy but so are a lot of Christian ones. I generally accept that while most people claim to believe in one religion or another most don't take every detail literally.

    October 3, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  13. Abdullo

    The debate is starting in three minutes. I put my money on...........

    October 3, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  14. kimberly

    Ithink religion shouldn't be involved in politics at all ,but sadly kinda is ... ithink we should remember that they are tryîng to run a country not achruch and I'm an athesist myself but still have respect for others religion .

    October 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  15. Good News

    The name of God should never be used (by individuals/presidents in their mouths) to gain the favor of the people;
    The name of God should always be remembered (by individuals/presidents in their souls) to gain the favor of God.
    And there is only one real GOD:

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com

    =UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES=

    October 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  16. NoLooneysInWH

    Religion absolutely should matter in the debate, but I doubt anyone will have the courage to bring it up. I want Romney to respond to specific questions about his faith and not dodge them deferring to religious leaders of his church like he always does when asked. He was a bishop of his church after all, and I want to know if he actually believes the tenets of the Mormon faith. If he does, he's crazy in my opinion, and a b i g o t, to boot. Mormon tenets are out there and involve believing their god is on the star Kolob (which is hiding behind Saturn), that there are many heavens, that their under garments protect them from harm and evil, that one day each man can become a god and rule on his own planet if he does good work for the church, and that black people are descendants of Lucifer who was Jesus' brother. I kid you not. This man, if these are his beliefs – and I believe they are, he just won't admit it, is not mentally fit to lead this country. Religious freedom is one thing, and all religions are sort of nuts in their own way (Catholics with your wine into blood, come on), but the line must be drawn somewhere, and that line, to me, should be drawn at whacked-out crazy-town.

    October 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      Truth absolute is God and every one must obey truth absolute regardless what a situation may be, live by truth absolute in life and die in truth absolute, a must for peace, Islam in life and hereafter.

      October 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      truth absolute, islam is crap

      October 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

      Hey stop copying me. Use your Theen Allah, Thick Allah, Fat Mullah, Skinny Mullah to make your points.

      October 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      Keep your hinduism, absurdities for yourself hindu, ID thief.

      October 3, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

      truth absolute, hope for absurdities to get in my hind

      October 3, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

      Theen Allah's disguising f'art, stop copying my post, you goon. Look your ma is calling you, now be a good boy.

      October 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      I concur.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Rondom Bittes

      I concur that you concur.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  17. hinduism by Judaism self center ,secularism source of hindu filthy hinduism, racism.

    Religion is a universal tool invented by hindu Jew's, criminal self centered secular's to hide hinduism, denial of truth absolute under a blanket of hindu fabricated holiness by corruption of truth absolute, both of them have hinduism religion of Pharisee's ism, on path of hypocrisy to hind, fool Americans with hinduism, lies, Masters of hindu Judaism, filthy self center ism, secular ism, denial of truth absolute in following of hindu Lucifer, filthy self centered devil as their god.
    Truth absolute is identified as GOD foundation of American consti tution , not religion's, corruption of truth absolute by hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, deniers of truth absolute, as a tool be Pharisee hypocrite. visit limitisthetruth.com and learn what founding father's of America knew and was deleted by hindu's, crooks.
    Church dungeon of hinduism, illegality based not on truth absolute but hindu Mithra ism, racist savior ism under the shadow of sign of hinduism, racism has nothing to do with truth absolute GOD, foundation of American consti tution and it must be kept out of domain of truth absolute like a hindu pig, filthy self centered , secular to follow truth absolute, way of foundation of American independence.there is no faith, trust worthy of faith, trust but truth absolute GOD, foundation of existence for every thing and foundation of American consti tution, religion's are hinduism, violation of truth absolute and have no place in domain of truth absolute GOD, in united states of America. Religions are hindiism, corruption of truth absolute, a hind, crime against truth absolute against truth absolute GOD and his humanity, desire.
    visit limitisthetruth.com and learn what founding father's of America knew and was deleted by hindu's, crooks.

    October 3, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

      corruption of puke ism, Theen A.

      October 3, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    October 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • 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 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm |

    • I've had just about enough of your dark warnings and pathetic threats.

      October 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven

      October 3, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Jesus

      You're a proven liar. 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 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • According to the bible prayer cannot change things

      If god's supreme plan rules in the heavens then prayer is useless. If you pray for something that's not in the plan it won't happen, no matter how hard you pray. And if you pray for something in the plan, it would have happened anyway even without your prayer.
      If god gives us free will, then no matter how hard you pray god refuses to do anything, like not doing anything for the 6m Jews because that would interfere with Hitler's free will

      October 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  19. therealpeace2all

    Reblogged this on peace2alldotme.

    October 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Rondom Bittes

      But WHYYY?????

      October 4, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  20. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Religion could matter if Romney comes out and admits that one day he plans to be a god. Grandiose delusions in a candidate would be a cause for concern.

    October 3, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      No one will ask him a direct question about his beliefs for just this reason.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:22 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.