Could 2012 be a presidential ticket of a major party without a protestant?
Were Mitt Romney to be the Republican presidential nominee and were he to choose a Catholic running mate--say, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie--that would seem to be such an event. Of course, the Obama-Biden ticket was historically WASP-free, an African-American attendee of the United Church of Christ--until the Jeremiah Wright controversy church--and a Roman Catholic.
The religions of our presidential nominees say a lot about our diversity and increasing tolerance, famously so with Catholics. When Al Smith was the Democratic nominee for President in 1928, it was shocking and another Catholic wouldn't be on the ticket until 1960. Then Catholics began popping up as veeps: William E. Miller on the Republican ticket in 1964; on the Democratic side, Ed Muskie in 1968, Sargent Shriver in 1972 and Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. John Kerry was the last Catholic to top a presidential ticket. No one made a fuss and the Kerry campaign found the number of Americans who were even aware of his Catholic faith and for whom it mattered to be inconsequential.
But the religious fludity of our candidates and their families say a lot, too. Ann Romney joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. George W. Bush was raised an Episcopalian but became a Methodist while his brother Jeb the Florida governor, became a Catholic. Spiro Agnew was Greek Orthodox turned Episcopalian. Sarah Palin was baptized a Catholic but her family attended non denominational churches and she joined a Pentacostal congregation
A quarter of Americans have switched their faith, according to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and within Protestant affiliations that number rises to 44 percent.
In 2003, Romney was sworn in as governor of Massachusetts using the same traditional Bible that his father had used for his swearing in as governor of Michigan in 1962. Were he to win in 2012 and choose the Book of Mormon for his 2013 swearing in, he'd be part of an American tradition
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