We have seen what happens when we take religion out of it…..

Religion has moved to the forefront of the Republican race for president.

While the social conservative movement isn’t as strong as it used to be, matters of faith remain a potent force in GOP politics and could play a pivotal role in the crowded Republican contest.

In a move seen as an attempt to undercut his main rival, Donald Trump implied over the weekend that Ben Carson is outside the religious mainstream.

During a rally in Florida on Saturday, Trump said, “I’m Presbyterian. Boy, that’s down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”

Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist, a religion some other Christians soundly reject.

Seventh-day Adventists — Protestants who observe the Sabbath on Saturday — embrace a literal interpretation of the Bible. There are more than 18 million Seventh-day Adventists globally and an estimated 1.2 million in North America.

Carson has risen past Trump in several recent polls in Iowa, which holds the first caucuses in the nation. According to a Monmouth University poll released Monday, Carson holds a 14-point lead over Trump. He also bests Trump 36 percent to 18 percent among evangelical Christian voters.

Some experts told The Hill that they believe Trump is clearly hoping to win political points with evangelicals but is making a tactical mistake.

Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida, said the business mogul is “going down a treacherous path because people of faith don’t like people bashing other people of faith.” But, she added, in reference to Trump, “They wouldn’t do it unless someone were telling them it would work.”

Trump declined to apologize for the comments during an appearance Sunday on ABC News’s “This Week,” telling anchor George Stephanopoulos: “I would certainly give an apology if I said something bad about it. But I didn’t. All I said was I don’t know about it.”

Christian conservatives are a powerful constituency in Iowa, as demonstrated by the fact that the two most recent GOP caucuses in the state were both won by candidates whose religious conservatism was central to their appeal: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2008 and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in 2012.

Trump’s remark on Carson’s Seventh-day Adventism was in some ways reminiscent of a comment Huckabee made during the 2008 campaign regarding Mitt Romney’s Mormonism.

Huckabee, asked by a writer for The New York Times Magazine whether he considered Mormonism a religion or a cult, replied, “I think it’s a religion. I really don’t know much about it. … Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”

Huckabee later apologized.

More generally, the issue of religion is an intriguing one during this campaign because of the divergent experiences of several candidates.