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What Role Will Religion Play in the Presidential Election This Year?

Will religion play a decisive factor in the outcome of this year's presidential race? Tell us your thoughts.

In my house, as in many others, it’s been said that one should not discuss politics or religion at the dinner table. Forgive me for breaking both of those rules in one fell swoop, but I wonder: what role, if any, religion is going to play in this particular presidential election?

In 1959 many national pundits and a great many Americans believed that John F. Kennedy, the junior senator from Massachusetts who was then running for president, could not be elected. He had plenty of charm, political acumen, and oratorical talent, as well as a lot of money.

Kennedy was a Roman Catholic, and in 1959 there had never been a Catholic president. Many thought it would sink his candidacy, from fear that he would be more beholden to the Pope than the U.S. Constitution. Of course, it didn’t. Kennedy won, but by a small margin.

Four years ago, many people said that a black man with the Muslim-sounding middle name of he Hussein would never get into the White House. But he won by significantly larger numbers than Kennedy. And now he wants another term.

This time, however, his opponent is not only an exceedingly wealthy man—what some might call a bona fide member of the One Percent—but he belongs to the Mormon faith. It is the first time a member of that particular religion has been so close to achieving our nation’s top office.

There are some who believe that those who belong to the Church of Latter Day Saints are members of a cult. Though Mormons call themselves Christians, other Christian sects don’t necessarily agree. A large group of Christian evangelicals are reportedly urging their followers to write in Jesus Christ on their ballots this year, rather than vote for Romney.

And many voters still believe that Obama is secretly a Muslim, though he has emphatically denied it many times, claiming a strong Christian faith. Still, the belief persists with many, and those who believe it will likely vote for anyone else because of it.

Neither candidate has brought any of this up. Though it is no longer considered off-limits to openly discuss religious faith (George W. Bush was very candid about his beliefs), the candidates in this election have been far too busy courting voters with promises of economic revival, and a return to prosperity.

So the question becomes, what role do you think religion will play in this election? Assuming that most voters will cast their ballots for the man who best represents their political leanings, most pundits believe this election will won or lost by a razor-thin margin, and every vote will count. Even a small number of religious-driven voters could decide the outcome. Will those who believe Obama is a Muslim, and thus should not hold office, cancel out those who cannot vote for a Mormon?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments. 

DONALD E. BARKLEY October 29, 2012 at 08:27 PM
This is a rather off the beat subject, face it we live in California and all our 55 electoral votes,shall, be cast for Obama Period with Calif voting over 25-20+ % in his favor! As we by some oddity are "On Religion" I am PROUDLY a CHRISTIAN! However that a person of Good and Solid Morals that I agree with is the Candidate I shall cast my "Popular Vote for"! The Statement that we voted for Obama, as a BLACK MAN... is 1/2 true! Look at his Mother she was from Kansas and was as white as Lincoln! His father was indeed Black from Kenya, and in no place in President Obama's history do we see the pain of "America's Great Sin", Slavery in his family at all. Most Black Americans do in their Family have that sad history! Plus he was raised almost exclusively by white people in his family! I care not to "Get into" His 20 Year History With his "Uncle Like Minister Jeremiah Wright" /Who mad raciest and anti American Remarks From his Pulpit. that the President in 20 years "MISSED"! FOR ME I SHALL CONTINE TO SAY "MAY GOD BLESS" as I Please/no disrepect! but in PRIDE! Donald E. Barkley
DONALD E. BARKLEY October 29, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Pat: very correct and to the point..... you may not survive on here.... // overly "thought or stated" seems to be the rule!! :) be well Donald E. Barkley
Don't Tell Me What To Do October 30, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Was this written in code because I couldn't decipher half of it?
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop November 01, 2012 at 04:02 AM
In the 70s, I had a brother-in-law that moved to Logan, Utah, to start an air-conditioning business. He had a tough time making a go of it here and, because his family was there and Mormon, he thought he'd have some better success. He failed miserably, until he joined the Mormon church. Things got better almost immediately. They soon had purchased a home and were on their way financially. While it was tough going, they were shy about having visitors because they appeared so 'unsuccessful'. They were ashamed of themselves. When things turned, they invited my girlfriend and I to visit. We were living together but not yet married. They asked us to'adjust' the truth about that should we be in a social situation. Mormon's frowned on such behavior (but secretly condoned the practice of multiple wives, a sort of slavery, sexual and otherwise) and they said it would make things 'easier' for them. Word was out that we were in town somehow and one evening the doorbell rang. A young couple came in, introductions were made, and soon a none too subtle interrogation ensued. They also sniffed the air for signs of marijuana, and we all laughed. Soon the natural point arrived (dinner was ready) when they should have left. But they stayed and stayed, waiting I assume for us to confess. It got extremely uncomfortable. When they finally left, my brother-in-law thanked us for being so 'normal'. if we had been perceived as anything but so...
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop November 01, 2012 at 04:15 AM
...they would have thoroughly vetted, and suffered punishment expressed in a loss of business or the like. They were anxious to distraction and finally asked us to leave. They needed to determine what the 'conclusion' drawn about us was going to do to their lives in Utah. They were warned that Californians, particularly from the SF Bay Area, were highly suspect and that the 'Church" was concerned about the introduction of subversive and immoral influences into their lives. They were informally placed on a sort of 'probation' and advised to visit us if they had to fulfill family obligations. This is not a fabrication. This draconian nonsense was very real for them, their very livelihood depended on their cooperation. They had 'spies' in their home to 'inspect' their visiting family! This "religion" is very akin to the mafia in its demand for absolute loyalty and the penalty for failing to play along is financial death and banishment. These folks lived in fear. Do we want a President with deep roots in such an oppressive, totalitarian regime? That someone would submit to required submissiveness, to an array of unconscionable precepts so contrary to basic American rights and freedoms, horrifies me. The acceptance of a philosophy of amoral control and utter the lack of reason in a framework of subservience does not a President make. Of course he sold American jobs to gain his wealth. It is not only acceptable, it is wrong if he did not. Mitt=Unfit!

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