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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Obama and Romney Discuss Role of Faith in Their Lives


Religion is enough of a political minefield that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have declined interviews with reporters about their faith. But they agreed to write answers to nine questions about their personal faith and the role of faith in public life posed to them by “Cathedral Age,” the magazine of the Washington National Cathedral.

Neither reveals much that he hasn't said before, but the responses are still telling. President Obama says his Christian faith gives him security and comfort he would not have otherwise: “That I am loved. That, at the end of the day, God is in control.”

Mr. Romney writes that his faith is about service, both as a lay pastor in his church, and as a human being to his fellow Americans and “to every child of God.” But, as he has done in other settings, he never mentions the name of the church he has served, and that has shaped his life, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Both men have been subjected to derision and deep misunderstanding about their religion: Mr. Romney's church has been called a non-Christian cult; Mr. Obama has been called a closet Muslim. Both men are asked how they respond to those who “question the sincerity of your faith and your Christianity.”

Mr. Obama says, “You know, there's not much I can do about it. I have a job to do as president, and that does not involve convincing folks that my faith in Jesus is legitimate and real.”

Mr. Romney emphasizes the commonalities between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity, saying he believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of humanity. Then in a nod to his church's distinctiveness, he wrote: “Every religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These should not be bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance.”

Mr. Obama gives kudos to former president George W. Bu sh for putting his faith over his politics on certain policy issues: “I don't know how he would have approached the issue of immigration reform or AIDS in Africa if he were not a man of faith.”

The Rev. Francis H. Wade, interim dean of the Cathedral, said the only thing that surprised him “was that they responded when they haven't responded to others.

“We think the faith positions of the candidates are a significant part of the conversation that goes on,” he said. “It's also kind of obvious that our culture is afraid of that.”

To read the whole interview go to www.nationalcathedral.org