Religion and politics may not always mix well together, but that’s not the case for Republican candidates.

Virtually all of the candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination have spoken candidly about their faith. In fact, many like Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have made it a central feature of their campaigns. Even Mitt Romney, who has mostly attempted to steer clear of questions about his Mormon faith, has said that if an affirmation of his faith sinks his candidacy, “so be it.”

Though the United States is a secular state and there’s no informal religious test for office, religion plays an important role in the minds of the American electorate. And voters, in many ways, view their leaders through a religious lens, experts say.

“Religion always remains a significant factor in elections,” said Melissa Deckman, a political science professor at the Washington College. “I think there is a litmus test” for office.

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