A new attack ad released by the Mitt Romney campaign Thursday accuses President Barack Obama of waging a "war on religion" by forcing religious institutions into complicated legal battles over faith versus federal law.
"President Obama used his healthcare plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith," the ad's voice-over states after asking "Who shares your values?"
A controversial mandate in Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act requiring employers to provide free contraceptive coverage to employees went into effect on August 1st. Although religious churches are exempt, the mandate does cover religiously-affiliated organizations such as colleges and hospitals.
The ad features video of Romney during his recent trip abroad as well as images of Pope John Paul II and Polish Nobel laureate Lech Walesa.
"In 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul II, spoke words that would bring down an empire - 'Be not afraid.'" Romney says in the ad in a clip taken from his speech in Poland on July 31, 2012.
"When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?" the ad's voice-over concludes, showing a video of Romney and Walesa shaking hands.
During the July Poland trip, Walesa endorsed Romney over fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipient Barack Obama in a story that grabbed global headlines.
"Poland and many other countries will certainly do their best for the United States to restore its leadership position. And after our conversation, I'm quite confident that you will be successful in doing that," Walesa told Romney during the trip.
He added, "Individuals who have struggled all their lives really favor the kind of views and perspectives that you share. Thank you very much for accepting my invitation and I wish you to be successful."
Recent polling data shows mixed results on the importance of religion in this year's presidential election. As far as voter awareness, more people correctly identify Romney's religion as Mormon, while less than half knew Obama is Christian, according to a July Pew Research Center poll.
However, this might not matter much come November, as about even numbers - 13 percent for Romney and 19 percent for Obama - are uncomfortable with the men's religions.
The Romney ad takes a new tack against the president and is a rare move away from attacking Obama on the economy. Romney will be in New York on Thursday for fundraising events while the president makes two stops in Colorado.
by RTT Staff Writer
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