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.