Thanks to the ascendancy of the so-called "values voter," the 2008 presidential campaign is filled with references to religion. As ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper recently pointed out, "You can't spend any time on the campaign trail this year without bumping into God."
Last week, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Jesus Christ is "the savior of mankind" and claimed secular forces were trying to keep God from the public square. Mike Huckabee, the surging Republican candidate, whom The New York Times dubbed the "Preacher Politician," has campaign ads that tout him as a "Christian Leader."
The God talk is not limited to one party. Democratic front-runners Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards often compete to out-God each other.
Edwards has talked about his faith freely, saying recently, "I strayed away from the Lord for a period of time, and then came back, in my adulthood, and my faith came roaring back during some crises that my own family was faced with."
Obama can't seem to pass up a church invitation or an opportunity to expound on his Christian beliefs. Over the weekend at a rally in Columbia, S.C. with media mogul Oprah Winfrey at his side, Obama quoted scripture in telling the audience of 29,000, "Look at the day the Lord has made."
Democratic front-runner Clinton also seems to relish shilling for votes at church. She recently took the pulpit at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., to deliver a speech intertwined with religious references.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Democratic candidate bragged that she was "fortunate enough to be raised to understand the power and purpose of prayer" and praised so-called "faith-based" charitable works. Quoting scripture, Clinton gushed, "Faith without works is dead."
To some Americans, this is all too much. On the religion and politics blog of PBS's "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly," Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn has challenged the increasing amount of religion on the campaign trail.
"There's vastly too much discussion about God and religion and the candidates in this election cycle," he said. "And it really doesn't get Americans to know two important things – are the candidates competent and what specific principles will they use to guide their policies?"
Lynn was not advocating for the candidates to put aside their religious beliefs. The ordained United Church of Christ minister and long-time civil rights activist, however, did say he looked forward to the day when candidates would not drag religion onto the campaign trail and not suggest that there's a religious test for public office in America.