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Religious Leaders At Republican National Convention 2012 Take Center Stage

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Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus speaks to delegates during an abbreviated session the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27.
Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus speaks to delegates during an abbreviated session the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27.

As thousands of Republicans, journalists and activists convene in Tampa, Florida when the Republican National Convention kicks off Tuesday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, religious voices will take center stage.

The convention will open Tuesday with a color guard from the Catholic Knights of Columbus and close Thursday with a benediction from Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and President of the U.S. Conference for Catholic Bishops. Between, Republican delegates will hear prayers from Mormon, Sikh, evangelical and Greek Orthodox religious figures, while popular politicians who have made religion central to their service, from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to Sen. Rick Santorum, will also speak on behalf of the party.

In addition, voices of faith that are not participating in the formal convention have gathered in local churches, in public parks and during political panels to discuss the role faith should play in public life. That includes controversies over legalizing same-sex marriage, abortion rights and the highly contested mandate in President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul that requires faith-based employers that are not houses of worship to provide free contraception to their employees as part of insurance plans.

Below -- in no particular order -- are some of the top religious voices to watch for in Tampa.

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