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December 31st, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Why do Iowa’s evangelicals wield so much political clout?

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) – At first blush, it’s just another standard-issue political rally.

Inside Mitt Romney’s Iowa headquarters – a former Blockbuster store on a commercial strip outside downtown – Romney and his wife, Ann, are introduced by former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty and his wife, Mary.

“It is an honor to be supporting Gov. Romney and Ann,” Mary Pawlenty tells the crowd of a couple hundred, a silver cross dangling from her neck. “They are good people, they share our values – these are people that we are delighted to call friends.”

How Mitt Romney's faith shaped him

A few moments later, Mitt Romney mentions his five sons and hands his microphone to 36-year-old Josh, who calls his dad “my hero.”

“He taught me my great love for this country,” Josh says, “and my great love for my family.”

Sounds like typical political posturing, right? Many Americans wouldn’t give such gestures a second thought.

But experts on religion and politics say the message to one particular subculture – evangelical Iowans – is clear: Mitt Romney may be Mormon, but he shares evangelical Christian values, including a rock-solid commitment to family, and counts high-profile evangelicals like the Pawlentys as friends and supporters.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Iowa • Michele Bachmann • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Rick Santorum

Split GOP presidential endorsements reflect fractured evangelical base
Rick Santorum was endorsed by the head of Iowa's Family Leader on Wednesday.
December 20th, 2011
04:25 PM ET

Split GOP presidential endorsements reflect fractured evangelical base

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - When Newt Gingrich’s campaign announced Tuesday morning that it had won an endorsement from Don Wildmon, president of the evangelical American Family Association, it seemed like one more bit of evidence that the former House speaker has become the unlikely favorite of conservative Christian activists.

But a few hours later, Bob Vander Plaats, president of an influential Iowa evangelical organization called the Family Leader, announced he was throwing his personal support behind Rick Santorum.

The day of split Republican endorsements reflects a Republican religious base that is largely fractured just two weeks before the first-in-the-nation Republican caucuses.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Rick Santorum

December 15th, 2011
01:32 PM ET

Gingrich vows to be faithful to wife

(CNN)–CNN's John King talked with Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in La Mesa, California and Richard Land, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention's public policy arm, about morality and the role of religion in the GOP race for 2012.

Land recently wrote an open letter to Newt Gingrich calling on him to, "Promise your fellow Americans that if they are generous enough to trust you wit the presidency, you will no let them down and that there will be no moral scandals in a Gingrich White House."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Content Partner • Ethics • Leaders • Newt Gingrich • Politics

Newt Gingrich’s faith journey: How a thrice-married Catholic became an evangelical darling
Newt Gingrich has spent time as a Lutheran, a Baptist and a Roman Catholic.
December 10th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Newt Gingrich’s faith journey: How a thrice-married Catholic became an evangelical darling

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories looking at the faith of the leading 2012 presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. We also profiled the faith journey of Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign.

(CNN) - There’s an e-mail war raging among some of the nation’s leading evangelicals over whether Newt Gingrich has repented enough for his sins to be president.

One recent skirmish was set off by an open letter urging Gingrich to give a major speech confronting his perceived moral stumbles, including an affair with his third wife, Callista, while married to No. 2.

“You need to make it as clear as you possibly can that you deeply regret your past actions and that you do understand the anguish and suffering they caused others, including your former spouses,” Richard Land, public policy chief for the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Catholic Church • Lutheran • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

GOP candidates court Jewish Republicans
December 7th, 2011
06:26 PM ET

GOP candidates court Jewish Republicans

(CNN) – All but one of the Republican presidential candidates made their case to Jewish voters Wednesday, voicing their support for Israel and criticizing Iran while uniformly hitting President Barack Obama's strategy of appeasement on the world stage.

Speaking before the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., the candidates stressed the importance of the United States standing with Israel, something they charged Obama has failed to do in his first years in office.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has said he will zero out all foreign aid from the United States if elected president, appeared to fully reverse course on the issue during his remarks.

"Strategic defensive aid in all forms will increase to Israel," Perry said, after calling Israel America's strongest ally in the Middle East.

Read the full post on CNN's Political Ticker
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Jon Huntsman • Judaism • Michele Bachmann • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Rick Perry • Rick Santorum • Ron Paul

Opinion: Republicans race to prove Christian cred
Texas Gov. Rick Perry leads a prayer event August 6 in Houston. Thousands prayed for God to save "a nation in crisis."
August 10th, 2011
03:06 PM ET

Opinion: Republicans race to prove Christian cred

Editor's note: Michael Wolraich is a founder of the political blog dagblog.com and the author of "Blowing Smoke: Why the Right Keeps Serving Up Whack-Job Fantasies about the Plot to Euthanize Grandma, Outlaw Christmas, and Turn Junior into a Raging Homosexual."

By Michael Wolraich, Special to CNN

(CNN) - When Gov. Rick Perry of Texas called for a day of prayer and fasting in Houston, world-famous televangelist John Hagee answered enthusiastically.

"We pray for our governor, Rick Perry," he gruffly proclaimed, "who has had the courage today to call this time of fasting and prayer just as Abraham Lincoln did in the darkest days of the Civil War."

When Perry officially launches his presidential campaign this weekend, he will not be the only Republican candidate to carry the banner of Christian piety. The presidential pre-primary season has not featured so many brave Christian Abraham Lincolns since the days of Abraham Lincoln himself.

Read the full commentary by Michael Wolraich
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Michele Bachmann • Newt Gingrich • Opinion • Politics • Rick Perry • Tim Pawlenty

June 13th, 2011
11:17 PM ET

At debate, Republican candidates spar over Islam

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - There weren’t too many sharp differences among the Republican presidential candidates in Monday night’s New Hampshire debate, but a crack did emerge over how Islam and Muslims ought to be treated in the United States.

The CNN debate opened with discussions on economic issues, but later veered toward faith-based matters like the role of religion in candidates’ decision making, abortion, gay marriage – and how the United States ought to treat Muslims living within its borders.

The exchange on that issue opened with a question to former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who had said previously that he wouldn’t feel comfortable appointing a Muslim to his presidential Cabinet.

“I would not be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and then you have militant Muslims – those that are trying to kill us,” Cain said at Monday night’s debate. “And so when I said I wouldn’t be comfortable, I was thinking about the ones who are trying to kill us.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Herman Cain • Islam • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Politics

My Take: GOP presidential field at odds with Americans' self-image
Mitt Romney in Michigan last week.
May 16th, 2011
10:05 AM ET

My Take: GOP presidential field at odds with Americans' self-image

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

All presidential candidates have flaws. But American voters want their presidents to seem presidential. What that means is that they want their presidents to look like them. Or, to be more precise, to look like they imagine themselves to be.

On this score, at least, the emerging GOP presidential field has three strikes against it.

Likely contender Mitt Romney may be tall, dark and handsome, but he didn’t do himself any favors by equivocating last week about the Massachusetts health care plan he signed into law as governor—a plan some are now referring to as Romneycare. Moreover, he is vulnerable for his resume as a moderate Republican.

But the real challenge for Romney, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, continues to be his religion.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Health care • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Polls • Uncategorized • United States

As he prepares campaign, Gingrich faces hurdles with religious conservatives
Newt Gingrich on Capitol Hill on Wednesday after addressing a Hispanic prayer breakfast.
May 11th, 2011
02:53 PM ET

As he prepares campaign, Gingrich faces hurdles with religious conservatives

Editor's Note: CNN’s Joe Johns will explore the relationship between Newt Gingrich and social conservatives Thursday on The Situation Room at 5 p.m. ET.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - How big a stumbling block will Newt Gingrich’s three marriages and admission of an affair pose to his efforts to win so-called values voters?

“It’s a huge hurdle,” said Richard Land, the public policy chief for the Southern Baptist Convention, the county’s largest evangelical denomination.

“I must have asked 500 Southern Baptists about this in individual conversations,” Land said. “Evangelical men are likely to give him the benefit of the doubt. I find an implacable wall of resistance among evangelical women.”

As he announced Wednesday that he'll seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, it's clear that Gingrich is aware of the huge role religious conservatives play in the GOP primaries. But he also knows that his past presents challenges to winning them over.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Newt Gingrich • Politics

Gingrich blasts secular 'fanaticism' at prayer breakfast
April 27th, 2011
10:44 AM ET

Gingrich blasts secular 'fanaticism' at prayer breakfast

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich condemned the growth of American secularism in harsh terms Wednesday at a Catholic prayer breakfast in Washington.

It's a pet topic for Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism two years ago. His 2006 book "Rediscovering God in America" opened with the blistering line: "There is no attack on American life more destructive and more historically dishonest than the secular Left's relentless effort to drive God out of America's public square."

Read the full story on the Political Ticker
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Church and state • Culture wars • Newt Gingrich • Politics

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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.

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