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. Earl

    Religions will not matter if all world leaders would gather their forces together in exposing it

    Here is where they can get their evidence:


    October 5, 2012 at 2:06 am |
  2. John Stefanyszyn

    Yes, religion does matter...and the true religion of both President Obama and Mr.Romney is the religion of freedom of self-rights...the state religion of all self rule nations.
    XES...to serve and magnify oneself.


    October 4, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  3. Ronald Regonzo

    Someone kicked Obamas ass-ertions to the curb last night. Romney / Ryan 2012

    October 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      I laughed so hard I finally expelled that gerbil, Simon and Garfunkel Greatest Hits CD and even my old Matchbox Car collection from my rectum. Romney / Ryan 2012

      October 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  4. *

    Say, did anyone mention General Conference is tomorrow and Sunday? Now is your chance to see for yourself if living prophets again walk the earth. LDS.ORG!

    October 4, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  5. Mass Debater

    There is no doubt Romney won the debate in sense of style and composure. The only problem was that he did so by lying his ass off every chance he got. When confronted by the reallities of his own plan he just said "No, thats not how it works" and then never went on to explain how it did work. The fact that the president did not press him on this was the only reason Mitt appeared to dominate the debate. And Mr. Lehrer was allowing Romney to walk all over him while chastising the President when he would attempt it.

    Long term, the debates will be a negative for Romney because he gave Obama too many one liners that could be used against him in adds when taken one at a time. You could almost piece together sound bites from last night and think Mitt Romney was the Democratic candidate. No tax breaks for the wealthy, Romney care, investing in clean energy (not green energy, like theres a difference...) and pouring the $716 billion in medicare back into medicare (just to the doctors who were gouging customers and tax payers in order for them to accept medicare). But I guess thats what Mitt Romney is best at, taking a position and then changing it almost faster than you can blink. He's like a street corner shell game performer and trys to keep all the eyes on his white smiling teeth. Too bad American's are almost stupid enough to fall for his slight of hand politics.

    October 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      A true Republican is not limited by the Truth, never has been, never will be. What counts is the win and brother Mitt kicked butt !Romney over obama 70 / 30. Romney / Ryan 2012 (3 more months of sin and incompetence then it's tea time !)

      October 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  6. PeterVN

    Like that great blog quote said, religion is for the ignorant, the gullible, the cowardly, and the stupid, and for those who would profit from them.

    October 4, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • nope


      October 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 4, 2012 at 4:26 am |
    • *


      October 4, 2012 at 8:32 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 4, 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 4, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  8. *

    Don't forget to tune in to general conference Saturday and Sunday! LDS.ORG!

    October 4, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • *

      That was LSD.org. You need to take some to believe the dogma.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  9. Abinadi

    A bin nadi an now I gets a spankn.

    October 4, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  10. Abinadi

    A bin nai>di an now I gets a spankn.

    October 4, 2012 at 1:03 am |
  11. Abinadi

    October 4, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  12. Abinadi
    October 4, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  13. Abinadi

    Tune out and turn on now to LSD.org

    October 4, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Timothy Leary

      It's "Tune in, turn on, drop out."

      October 4, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • *

      Thank-you Abinadi. Yes, tune in to lds.org Saturday and Sunday!

      October 4, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • *

      Posting to yourself is no better than playing with yourself. The site is LSD.org and you need to take some to believe Abinadi's flimflam.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  14. Abinadi

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

    October 4, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  15. Abinadi

    October 4, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  16. Abinadi

    October 4, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  17. Abinadi

    October 4, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  18. Abinadi
    October 4, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  19. Towelie

    Towelie says, "If you go to a German Sparkle Party, it might get messy so you better take a Towel!"

    October 4, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Towelie

      I'm so high I forgot to press Reply.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  20. German Sparkle Party

    It is funny that Romney was so poised during this debate, UNTIL he started talking about God and then he started fumbling all over the place. Interesting.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Abinadi

      When one speaks of god, one must wait for clearance to come in from Golob.

      October 4, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • *

      Actually, one only needs to go to one's knees to talk to God. I know that God hears and answers every prayer!

      October 4, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Derek

      Abinadi/*, that has big asterisks after it. Getting on your knees increases the amount of atmosphere that signals to and from Kolob have to get through, so you'd expect the comm to get worse, but negligibly so.

      The more significant consideration is the huge latency from the electromagnetic signals going back and forth, so even when god responds, well, you'll be waiting a heck of a long time to hear from him. Just think about the term "light years" and maybe you'll catch on. It's an hour round trip just to Jupiter and back. Kolob is a long way from home, Dorothy, and there are better things for you to do on your knees.

      October 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
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.