RNS photo by Joshua Barajas / PBS NewsHour via Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/newshour/7868049488/).

COMMENTARY: The one bright light in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (RNS) Two forces of nature were bearing down on Tampa this week. One, Tropical Storm Isaac, was thought likely to reach Tampa on Monday as a hurricane. The other, the Republican National Convention, was bringing 50,000 Republicans to nominate a president and vice president, to adopt a campaign platform, and to make the usual quadrennial noise. By Tom Ehrich.

The roots of Rep. Todd Akin’s rape remarks

ST. LOUIS (RNS) Two pages from a 1972 article have influenced two generations of anti-abortion activists hoping to build a medical case to ban all abortions without exception. By Tim Townsend and Blythe Bernhard.

Why Ayn Rand is Paul Ryan’s favorite philosopher and a problem for some Christians

“You've got a guy who is a rising Republican star, and who wrote the budget, saying he's read her books and Washington needs more of her values,” said Eric Sapp, executive director of the American Values Network, which is trying to tie Paul Ryan to atheist philosopher Ayn Rand. “If you're a Christian, you've got to ask some serious questions about what's going on here.”

As candidates run for office, some run from their church

(RNS) On a recent Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann offered an Iowa church an intimate account of her pilgrimage from apathetic teenager to devout Christian whose faith has persevered through hardship, including a miscarriage. But when a reporter asked about the churches her family has attended, the Republican presidential candidate went mum. “We're not here to talk about anything other than just the church. Thank you,” Bachmann told IowaPolitics.com, referring to Des Moines First Assembly of God, where she recited her spiritual testimony before 500 fellow Christians — and potential caucus voters — on July 17. The Minnesota congresswoman's eagerness to bare her soul but not the site of her Sunday worship seems to reflect a convergence of wider concerns: evangelicals' increasing aversion to religious labels, a dread of being caught with “pastor problems,” and the cold political calculus of reaching the largest possible constituency.