Faith at the RNC

A look at the role faith, actually several faiths, will play at this year’s Republican National Convention

Delegates pray during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. (CNS Photo/Reuters)
At the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, a bit of religious history will be made when Mitt Romney, a Mormon, and Paul Ryan, a Catholic, are nominated for president and vice president. This will mark the first time in history that no Protestant is on the GOP ticket. And when President Obama and Vice President Biden are re-nominated next week, it will mark the first time that no white Protestant is running for the nation’s highest offices.

Religious leaders will be featured prominently throughout the week. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, will conclude the convention with a prayer on Thursday night following Romney’s acceptance speech. Though Catholic prelates have been invited to pray at previous conventions of both parties, the selection of Dolan caused some waves in Catholic circles when it was announced last week. And it’s been confirmed that he will pray at the Democratic National Convention next week in Charlotte, North Carolina, as well.

Joining Cardinal Dolan in offering prayers at the convention in Tampa:

  • Archbishop Demetrios, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America
  • Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, a leader in the Jewish Orthodox community
  • Ishwar Singh of the Sikh Society of central Florida
  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, pastor of New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento, California (representing the Evangelical element at the convention)
  • Kenneth Hutchins, fellow Mormon and a close friend of Romney

Romney has been guarded about discussing his Mormon faith, as a large swath of GOP voters aren’t entirely comfortable with his religion, but Hutchins’ presence at the convention may signal a small shift in this strategy.

Atheists are clamoring for some love at both conventions, as well, purchasing billboards in Tampa and Charlotte, where the Democrats meet next week, ridiculing both Romney’s Mormonism and Christianity in general.

If you want to pray for party leaders, a group called Conventions Prayer Coverage is filling up 15-minute slots for individuals to pray for the United States during both conventions, inviting people from all over the nation to sign up. And while Tampa is ranked third in the nation for the number of strip clubs per capita, Religion News Service reports on the many religious offerings around town for convention goers.