Religion, rhetoric and the 2012 presidential election

Anthea Butler

Candace diCarlo

Who says religion and politics don’t mix? Religion scholar Anthea Butler thinks they do, now more so than ever. The 2012 presidential contest, she says, “could be the most religiously based presidential race in recent memory.”

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, Butler, an associate professor of religious studies in the School of Arts and Sciences, will discuss “Faith Matters: Religion and Rhetoric in the 2012 Election” for the Penn Lightbulb Café. Free and open to the public, the talk will begin at 6 p.m. at the Pepper Mill Café on the second floor of the Penn Museum.

A highly sought after media commentator, Butler blogs regularly about religion and politics for the daily online magazine Religion Dispatches. She also is completing a book titled “The Gospel According to Sarah: How Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are Galvanizing the Religious Right,” set to be published in the spring of 2012.

The Butler Did It

Candace diCarlo

Butler believes religion is already playing a crucial role in the forthcoming election. “When you have candidates who spend a November Saturday night in Iowa telling their ‘Christian’ testimonies, while [Mormons] Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman decline to attend, that is a story,” she says.

A survey conducted in November by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that Romney’s Mormon faith may hurt him with white evangelical Protestants in the Republican caucuses and primaries. With the Iowa Caucus scheduled for Jan. 3, 2012, and the New Hampshire Primary a week later, Butler says now is the time for voters to educate themselves about the religious rhetoric and strategies used by the Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

Those attending the discussion will be able to purchase menu items, beer, wine and other refreshments from the Pepper Mill Café. RSVPs are encouraged. Contact Gina Bryan at 215-898-8721 or email

Originally published on December 1, 2011