There has never been a more loudly Christian group of presidential candidates than this primary season’s GOP contenders. From the start, the campaign has been an exercise in Christian one-upmanship. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann set the standard for religious fervor, boasting of setting her alarm clock at 5 a.m. so she could read the Bible and issuing born-again testimonials like “I radically abandoned myself to Jesus Christ.” Herman Cain said that he was inspired to run for president by the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Rick Perry released a video in which he intoned, “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian … As president, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion and I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.”

Bachmann, Cain and Perry are no longer sharing their spiritual rectitude with a national audience, but the remaining candidates continue to flaunt their Christianity. Newt Gingrich, who has noisily proclaimed that his conversion to Catholicism saved his soul, repeated Perry’s charge, accusing President Obama of launching a “war on religion” by requiring that church-owned hospitals and universities provide insurance that covers birth control. “It’s a fundamental assault on the right of freedom of religion,” Gingrich said. “On the very first day I’m inaugurated I will sign an executive order repealing every Obama attack on religion.”

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