President Obama and Mitt Romney used a new issue of Washington National Cathedral's magazine to give candid and extensive views on the importance of religion in their lives, with both men responding to questions about the sincerity of their faiths and their Christianity.
Romney's Mormon faith has been an issue for some conservative Christians, and he rarely discusses it publicly. He said in the interview with Cathedral Age, "Every religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These should not be bases for criticism but rather a test for tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle, indeed, if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree."
Obama, meanwhile, is a Protestant who has been inaccurately described as a Muslim, a perception that remains relatively widespread--17 percent of voters surveyed in a recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life said they believed that was his faith.
"You know, there's not much I can do about it," Obama said in the interview. "I have a job to do as president, and that does not involve convincing folks that my faith in Jesus is legitimate and real. I do my best to live out my faith, and stay in the Word, and to make my life look more like His."
Both men said that their faith plays an important role in their lives. Obama said it "gives me a perspective and security that I don't think I would have otherwise," while Romney mentioned his service as a lay pastor in his church.
"My faith is grounded in the conviction that a consequence of our common humanity is our responsibility to one another--to our fellow Americans foremost, but also to every child of God," the presumptive GOP nominee said.
The magazine asked the two presidential candidates their favorite scriptural passages. Romney cited Matthew 25:35-36: "For I was hungry, and ye gave me food: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me."
Obama said he had several favorites, including Isaiah 40:31: "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."