Phelps probably has a Christian background, but he seems fairly non-religious today.
Phelps is an American icon and wisely stays out of the political debate.
Michael Phelps was born and raised in Towson, Maryland.
Phelps is (or was) a Christian of some kind. His MySpace page lists him as "Christian-other," but his Facebook page (clearly the more reliable of the social media sites) says "No Answer" under religion.
His quotes on the subject leave much in the way of ambiguity. He said:
I guess I was made this way for some reason, and I've been able to find the talent I have, and I've been able to use it, so I'm grateful for that. I believe in God; I'm not saying I'm highly religious. I used to always go to church on holidays, but I don't go much any more.
Believes in God? Not an atheist. Not a polytheist. Made for a purpose–determinist, Calvinist? These questions only leave more questions. C'mon Phelps! Where's the "God-granted-me-the-power-to-win-18-gold-medals stuff?"
He's a bit irreverent as well. He did turn down a chance to meet Pope Benedict in 2009. Maybe he's not Catholic, but it still would've been cool, just to say you did it, right?
Interestingly, some academics have said that Phelps has given people a way to address the existential angst they usually cure with religion–being that he's an immortal hero and all.
Next, it'll be: "Michael Phelps is Jesus!"
Michael Phelps ,is ,America!
Phelps is a representative of an entire nation–an entirely divided, cracked-down-the-middle nation. That being the case, he's wise to stick to patriotic platitudes and stay out of the debates over specific issues. For example, he said:
I think to be–for me to be an American is… it's one of the greatest things in the world… for me just because I've been able to grow up with everything. The freedom. You know, in my eyes this is the greatest country in the world.
And politicians all the way up to the top are congratulating him on his victories. Obama himself tweeted to Phelps:
Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record. You've made your country proud.
Thank you Mr. President!! It's an honor representing the USA!! The best country in the world!!
But that's far from any sort of endorsement. Maybe we could assume Phelps is a Democrat considering he garnered the ire of hyper-conservative Republican pundit Rush Limbaugh, who thought the fact that Phelps eats 12,000 calories a day was worthy of some sarcasm and calling Phelps the "epitome of what is wrong with the Unites States of America today."
Again, that's purely circumstantial. Maybe you commentators have a line on Phelps' real political views. And no, the fact that he smoked some pot isn't enough to call him a liberal.