Religion looms large in election: News Roundup

In light of tomorrow's election, the news roundup this week will be focused on religion and politics: a look at Mitt Romney's faith journey, Obama's evolving Christian faith, Mike Huckabee tells Christians to "stand the test of fire", religious voting groups could determine the next president, and other stories. 

Romney hopes the nation is ready to embrace a president who happens to be Mormon. But he has faced questions about his faith since first getting into politics in 1994, when he ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy. When Kennedy’s nephew, Joe, attacked Romney’s Mormonism, the insult drew a strong public response from Romney’s father – a former governor of Michigan who’d himself run for president – and failed to gain traction.

Since then Romney, who was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2003, has played down his faith on the campaign trail. But he did  address it in a December 2007 speech, hoping to stem voter concerns about his religion and how it might influence him as a president. It was a speech he likened to John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 address, when Kennedy was running to be America’s first Catholic president. CNN

Whether or not Obama has been spiritually “reborn” in the evangelical sense, his spiritual counselors say the president’s faith has helped shape his first term in ways that haven’t been appreciated by voters or the news media. And they say the presidency is bringing Obama to a new place in his faith – building on a system of belief and practice that helped bring him to the White House in the first place. CNN

Mike Huckabee has a dire warning for Christians: When you vote on Nov. 6, hell's fire awaits, and a vote for President Barack Obama will not stand up to the flames.

In a new ad, the former Arkansas governor and ordained Southern Baptist minister warns Christians that their votes "will affect the future and be recorded in eternity" and they must cast a ballot that will "stand the test of fire." The Huffington Post

President Obama and former governor Mitt Romney have mostly avoided any mention of their own religious identities and, to the extent that they have engaged in religious-based discourse, it has been of a very general nature regarding their commitments to belief in God and to how faith guides their personal and public lives.

Each candidate recognizes the downsides of emphasizing his own faith tradition, as surveys show substantial-sized minorities of voters expressing discomfort with Romney’s Mormon faith or not accepting the authenticity of Obama’s identity as a Christian. Religious identity nonetheless remains a key factor in the election. The Washington Post

Hindu Americans have run America's major companies and universities, won Nobel prizes and Olympic gold medals, directed blockbuster movies, and even flown into space. But one profession has so far been out of reach: Member of Congress.

That may change next week in Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, where Democrat Tulsi Gabbard is poised to win an out-of-nowhere bid over Republican opponent Kawika Crowley. Gabbard was leading Crowley 70 percent to 18 percent, according to an Oct. 12 poll by the Honolulu Civil Beat.

The heavily Democratic district also elected one of two Buddhists to have ever served in Congress, Mazie Hirono, who won her seat in 2006 but is now running for the U.S. Senate. Gabbard, 31, was born in American Samoa to a Catholic father and a Hindu mother, and moved to Hawaii when she was 2. In 2002, at age 21, she was elected to the Hawaii state legislature. The Huffington Post

A right-wing Super PAC is running attack ads against a Syed Taj, a Democratic congressional candidate in Michigan, in an attempt to portray the Muslim doctor as un-American and tied to terrorism. The 30-second ad charges that Taj "wants to advance Muslim power in America," has ties to Hamas, and is "too extreme for America."

The race to represent Michigan's 11th congressional district was already unusual—the seat became open when five-term Republican congressman Thaddeus McCotter failed to qualify for the primary ballot last spring and was subsequently investigated for allegedly submitting election petitions with fraudulent signatures. McCotter, who also pursued a bizarre and short-lived campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, abruptly resigned from Congress one month before the primary. The New Republican