Role of faith, family emphasized at Republican convention

Marco Rubio speaks during the 2012 GOP Republican National Convention on August 30 2012 in Tampa CNA US Catholic News 8 31 12 Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaks during the 2012 GOP Republican National Convention on Aug. 30, 2012 in Tampa, Fla.

Prominent members of the Republican Party highlighted faith and family values as being intrinsic to America's identity as a nation at the party's 2012 national convention.

America is unique as a country because it "was founded on the principle that every person has God-given rights" and that people should be free, said Florida Senator Marco Rubio on Aug. 30.

Rubio – a Catholic – was among the party leaders who spoke at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in recent days.

He explained that America stands out because it is united as a country "not by a common race or ethnicity," but "by common values."

These values include the conviction that "family is the most important institution in society" and that "almighty God is the source of all we have," he said.

"Our national motto is 'In God we Trust,' reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all," he added.

Americans are "a blessed people," enjoying opportunities beyond those experienced by most nations throughout human history, Rubio said. He contrasted the American experience of freedom with that of Cuba, which his parents left in order to seek a better life in the U.S.

Rubio described the 2012 election as "a choice about what kind of country we want America to be" and whether the nation will apply "the principles of our founding to solve the challenges of our time."

While the GOP convention was focused heavily on the struggling economy and millions of unemployed Americans, matters of faith and values were also raised by several speakers.

Former Pennsylvania senator and one-time presidential contender Rick Santorum explained that "healthy families" are critical to the success of the nation.

"We understand many Americans don't succeed because the family that should be there to guide them and serve as the first rung on the ladder of success isn't there or is badly broken," he said.

Santorum, who is also Catholic, argued that "if America is going to succeed, we must stop the assault on marriage and the family," adding that "married moms and dads" must be "pillars of strong communities" in the United States.

Marriage has become a key issue in the 2012 election, as the Democratic Party has drafted and will likely approve a platform embracing "gay marriage" for the first time in history.

Also of serious concern to religious communities in the 2012 election is a Obama administration mandate that requires employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.

The regulation has drawn widespread criticism from both the Catholic community and members of other faith backgrounds who object to the threat it poses to religious liberty.

The mandate was referenced several times at the convention, including by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who responded to commentary on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Mormon faith.

"People wonder whether guys like me, an evangelical, would only support a fellow evangelical," he said.

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He observed that the only self-professed evangelical on the ticket this year is President Obama.

"And he supports changing the definition of marriage," he said. "(He) believes that human life is disposable and expendable at any time in the womb, even beyond the womb. And he tells people of faith that they have to bow their knees to the god of government and violate their faith and conscience in order to comply with what he calls, health care."

Huckabee is one of numerous Christians who have joined in the protests against the mandate on the grounds of religious freedom. He explained that "this isn't a battle about contraceptives and Catholics, but about conscience and the Creator." 

"Let me say it as clearly as possible, that the attack on my Catholic brothers and sisters is an attack on me," he said.

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