Leaving God Off the Campaign Trail

NPR’s Barbara Brown Hagerty reports on the limited role that religion has played in this year’s presidential campaign.

While many scholars expected Mormonism to be a major issue in the campaign, it has not played a significant role.  I find it interesting that the so-called “Mormon Moment” may have been more a creation of scholars and pundits than an actual political issue in the presidential race.  Romney has, for the most part, kept quiet about his faith and Obama has chosen not to bring it up.

Here is a taste of Hagerty’s story:

Shaun Casey, who teaches politics and religion at Wesley Theological Seminary, says there are several reasons for Romney’s reluctance to emphasize faith.

“The downside for Romney is, first of all, he’s not a natural cultural warrior,” says Casey, who also advised the Obama campaign in 2008.

Second, Casey says, is that every reference to Mormonism “reminds people in his conservative base that he is a Mormon and he is not an evangelical Christian.”
Romney needs those voters to turn out in record numbers, Casey adds, “and the fear is there, that those folks are going to stay at home.”

But despite reservations about Mormon theology, evangelicals immediately snapped into line once Romney became the Republican candidate. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, says that new unity means Romney doesn’t have to spend time or money reaching those religious voters. Instead, Jones says, the GOP candidate needs to focus on voters in the middle.