Tribune Print Share Text

Living Faith

Confusion over candidates’ religious beliefs

Created date

September 25th, 2012

In May of 1960, a Gallup poll showed that 21% of Americans would not vote for a well-qualified candidate who was a Catholic, but Catholic candidate John F. Kennedy won the presidency that November. This year, both presidential candidates religions are causing a stir, primarily due to voter confusion. For Barack Obama, the confusion centers on what his religion actually is. Though he labels himself a Christian ( I have fallen on my knees with great regularity asking God for guidance, not just in my personal life and my Christian walk, but in the life of this nation and in the values that hold us together and keep us strong ), was baptized at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, and has attended several different Christian churches since moving to the White House, polls show that 11% - 24% of Americans identify him as a Muslim, and 25%-49% as a Christian.

Awareness vs. acceptance

Mitt Romney s religion problem is not awareness, but understanding and acceptance. While 60% of Americans correctly identify him as a Mormon, only 17% say they know a lot about The Church of Latter Day Saints. According to the Pew Research Center, the most common associations with Mormonism are cult, family/family values, different, polygamy, and good people. Eighteen percent say they would not vote for a well-qualified presidential candidate who happens to be a Mormon. Romney sees the parallels with candidate Kennedy: [About] 50 years ago, another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president. Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith. It comes as no surprise that opinions skew along party lines. Democrats are less likely to vote for a Mormon, and Republicans are more likely to identify Obama as a Muslim. In a civil public square, people of faith inform themselves about the candidates and cast their votes. For sources on the religious profiles of the candidates, please email me at or mail your letters to 703 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville, MD 21228.