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US government and politics no longer run by WASPs. Does it matter?

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Rather than the passing of an era, the importance may be in the issues as informed by a candidate’s faith.

Although they both attend Catholic mass regularly, Ryan and Biden have very different positions on abortion, gay marriage, and the “social justice” aspects of the economy – subjects of high interest to movement conservatives, particularly evangelical Protestants.

“As Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden articulate their views, we will be tuning into an intra-Catholic conversation pitting ‘social justice’ Christians on the left versus ‘family values’ Christians on the right,” writes Boston University religion scholar Stephen Prothero on his CNN blog.

Some conservatives see Romney’s pick of Ryan in positive terms regarding the Wisconsin lawmaker’s religion.

“Choosing a Catholic as your junior partner when you’re a Mormon in a Protestant country with a significant electoral bloc of Evangelicals is a bold aspect to Mitt’s choice,” writes John O’Sullivan, editor-at-large of the National Review, who also suggests that with Ryan on the GOP ticket, Roman Catholic bishops may be inclined now to turn from opposing Obama to actively supporting Romney.

“It would have been madness even 20 years ago, but something big has happened since then to make it advantageous,” Mr. O’Sullivan writes. “The Catholics and the Evangelicals have come together over a range of social issues and are now allies. A Catholic on the ticket will soothe most of those Evangelicals anxious about Romney’s Mormonism.”

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