Michael Gerson, the “reluctant evangelical” as I call him, has a helpful op-ed at The Washington Post. The religious confusion exhibited by the cross-denominational support for Mormons by Catholics and Catholics by Evangelicals points to a frenzied evangelical political engagement.
Religion in the 2012 presidential election is the topic that will launch a thousand PhD theses. The pre-Vatican II Catholic candidate, Rick Santorum, has risen largely on the support of evangelicals, who, before the Second Vatican Council, often regarded the pope as the Antichrist. The former Mormon bishop, Mitt Romney, won Ohio and Michigan (and thus probably the nomination) arguably because of Catholic support. Meanwhile, a significant portion of the Republican electorate regards a president who has affirmed “the resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ” as a closet Muslim.
In light of these developments, Americans have every right to be confused. But they hold one conviction about the role of religion in politics with increasing clarity: There is too much of it. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that 38 percent of Americans believe there is “too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders.” This is up from 29 percent in 2010.