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On campaign trail, Romney ratchets ups God rhetoric
Early in his campaign, Mitt Romney spoke at Liberty University, the largest evangelical Christian university in the world.
September 14th, 2012
03:14 PM ET

On campaign trail, Romney ratchets ups God rhetoric

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – At campaign events these days, Mitt Romney often says that if he is elected president, he will emphasize the role of God in American society and will not “take God out of the public square.”

That kind of rhetoric is a departure from earlier less God-focused versions of the Republican candidate’s stump speech and his early apprehension with discussing his Mormon faith.

According to Mark DeMoss, Romney’s adviser to the evangelical community, such lines are designed to create a contrast with a Democratic Party that had to fight to get God into its platform at its recent convention.

“I will not take God out of my heart, I will not take God out of the public square, and I will not take it out of the platform of my party,” Romney has been saying in his stump speech since the Democratic platform fight this month.

The former Massachusetts governor used the line at a campaign stop in Mansfield, Ohio, on Monday. In nearly the same breath, he said that “we are nation under God.”

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DeMoss says the new rhetoric is not a departure from anything but is “as much as a response to something that really shocked a lot of people.”

“I think the governor is probably doing two things,” said DeMoss, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign: “reinforcing his own commitment to God and, secondly, showing some contrast.”

Some religious leaders and scholars see Romney's new God talk in a somewhat different light.

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and media commentator, said Romney’s line that “I will not take God out of my heart” is a coded way to question to veracity of the President Barack Obama’s Christian faith.

“Critiquing the president for taking God out of the public square when he regularly refers to God and implicitly critiquing him for taking God out of his heart, any way you look at it, is offensive,” Martin said.

In his critique of Romney’s religious rhetoric, Martin cited Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

DeMoss, a Christian PR executive, said questions about the president’s faith should not be read into the speech.

“I take that comment as a reinforced pledge and commitment that God is not going to be stripped from anything if he has anything to say about it, whether it is his heart or the public square or the party platform,” DeMoss said. “I think it would be unreasonable or unfair to suggest that that was a comment on the president.”

Last week, at an event in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Romney pledged to keep God on U.S. currency.

“Our pledge says ‘under God,’”  Romney told thousands of energetic supporters at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach. “I will not take God out of the name of our platform. I will not take God off our coins. And I will not take God out of my heart.”

On Tuesday, the anniversary of terrorist attacks of September 11, Romney tweeted, "On this most somber day, America is united under God in its quest and freedom at home and across the world."

The increased God rhetoric adds to a campaign that has frequently discussed religious issues, even as Romney says the economy is the most important issue.

From debates over religious liberty – sparked by the Obama administration's "contraception mandate" for health care plans – to abortion rights, the Romney campaign has taken stands on a number of religious issues, attempting to draw a distinction with Obama.

CNN Belief: Religious exemptions grow in contraception mandate

Jacques Berlinerblau, a Georgetown University professor with an expertise in religion and politics, says he sees the change as a response to a president who is doing better in recent polls.

“When (Republicans) get nervous about a loss, they go into base-whip-up stage,” Berlinerblau said. “They try to energize the base even more.”

He argues that such rhetoric will not appeal to “moderate religious voters” and that it is pushing Romney off his economic message.

“They are totally getting off-script,” Berlinerblau said. “We hear that this election is all about the economy, but now we are talking about religion and faith issues.”

DeMoss says it's possible to emphasize both religious and economic issues.

“I am comfortable with the balance that he has struck about talking about his faith and other people's faith, and I was comfortable with the balance at the Republican convention,” DeMoss said. “It is part of the equation, but it is certainly not the dominant part.”

– CNN’s Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • God • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (3,354 Responses)
  1. Joesnopy

    Romney do not want to bring up God because when people in the South think about the mormon faith will be put on stage if he becomes President. Just think about it. The Book of Mormon goes against the Bible. He will place his hand on the Book of Mormon to become President. How many souls will he convert to the Mormon faith if he is President. Will millions be converted.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • TC

      Mormons have been quietly working for years to supplant Baptists. Putting their boy in the White House will yoke them far more than a half black man ever possibly could. And those in the Bible Belt will never see it coming because they're distracted to look the wrong way.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  2. greg

    Freedom and Religion do not mix. We see it so clearly in Islamic countries. Yet so many are blind to our own.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      like oil and water.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  3. Bootyfunk

    sit back and let me tell you a tale of the christian god:

    one day god's prophet is walking down the road. he comes upon a bunch of children. the children make fun of the prophet for being bald. the prophet, angry at being insulted, calls upon Yahweh to punish the children. god sends two she-bears to murder 42 of the children. justice done. amen.
    (2 Kings 2:23-24)

    heartwarming story of infanticide. but to be fair, it's not nice to make fun of someone who's bald. it may seem a bit heavy handed to have children mauled to death by bears, but the children that escaped with only claw marks or a severed limb will think twice about teasing god's prophets again.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • TC

      Let's read up on how Howard Hughes trusted Mormons, yet they neglected his care and then conspired to steal his fortune.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Leo

      Where does it say God sent the bears? Tell us the truth!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i listed chapter and verse above.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Leo,

      so just coincidence then, or did the bears have free will too?

      23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
      24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  4. Mike - WA

    The difference between the Democrats andf the Repbulicans on Christianity is that Democrats actually live by the teachings of Jesus, where the Republicans use the words, claim to be religous, claim to live by the bible, etc. - but little of what they practice is in line with the true teachings of Jesus. Evangelical christianity is fake Christianity morphed to support corruption and greed. Even atheist are more "Christian" than the fake evangelical christians in America today. Give me a choice of an atheist and an evangelical christian and I will trust the atheist any day. Evangelical christians are conditioned to lie, hate, cheat - all in the name of their false teachings..

    September 14, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  5. ogre12

    Romney will have my vote PERIOD. He best represents what I stand for and fought for for over 22 years in the military. Dont care what any atheist and/or gay (same thing by the way) has to say to this.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      You have shown how willfully ignorant and divisive you are.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You may have stood and fought for this country for 22 years, but Romney didn't.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      omg, all atheists are gay? no one told me!
      i better tell my fiance i like dudes!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • sybaris

      all atheists are gay?

      With such profound ignorance and bigotry it's no wonder you support Romney and the gop

      September 14, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • John

      Being atheist and being gay is the same thing? And you were in our military for 22 years? I shudder to think people like you are "defending" us.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Damocles

      Huh? Gay and atheist are the same thing? How'd you come up with that nugget?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • aaron

      Good for you. Get you 5 or 6 wives, move to a compound in Utah, then you and Romney can be best buds. Bet he makes you pay taxes though, even though he apparently doesn't.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • John

      Oh...I finally got it. Atheists and gays are the same to you because what they have in common to you is that you hate both.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Yoiks

      ogre12,
      "over 22 years in the military."

      I hope you were a cook or worked in the laundry or something. Certainly no brain work came from that head of yours.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  6. Joe

    If Romney truly values God and what he teaches, he wouldn't be slandering President Obama right now. Last article says that Romney is already accusing Obama will be lying at the debates and it hasn't even happened yet. God teaches us to uplift and Love our neighbors. Where's Romney???? Just anything he says is questionable.....

    September 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      They do not believe in truth absolute God, but they invoke "HIM" to fool humanity.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • ogre12

      you call upon your political thought (ill advised) but then throw to the twist of the Bible. (You are a closet atheist..which who are all deceitful, and generally nasty personality wise).

      September 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Joesnopy

      Romney is the one that will be lying because he is running on lies. Romney is center right and he is running on the far right so who is lying even before the debates the man tell a lie so he can during the debates.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  7. Sounds Like BS to me

    I think it's important to remember that Mitt Romney was the last possible choice for the Repubkican presidential candidate.

    Look at the list of clowns they had to go through before they finally settled on Mitt.

    He's no clown but he's certainly not made of the stuff of Presidents.

    Obama / Biden 2012 ........................ The only adults in the room.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  8. Bob, NY

    Repubs/Dems Two wings..........SAME BIRD!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  9. katiepea

    lol romney standing under a banner that says "liberty" is possibly the most ironic thing i've ever seen.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Borne to be gentile slave of hindu Jew's, filthy self centered.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      What, doesn't "Liberty University, the largest Christian University in the Nation" strike you as ironic to begin with?

      Featuring such schools as the "Helms* School of Government" and the "Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary".

      * So named for Senator Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina, famously "Senator No" who opposed: civil rights, disability rights, feminism, gay rights, affirmative action, abortion, and government support for contemporary art with graphic $exuality.

      Sound familiar?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  10. Girl Number 20

    Which god is that, Romney? After all, Mormons believe in so many of them...there's Elohim, Jehovah and Michael. And of course, don't forget the Heavenly Mother, Elohim's wife, who is a goddess in her own right. Then, of course, you have all of the good Mormons who have died and will be elevated to godhood themselves; Mitt Romney is certain, as all good Mormons are, that he will be receiving his own planet to rule in the Afterlife. So, Mr. Romney, to which god are you referring? All of them, or just one in particular?

    September 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Bunch of hindu's, desires of truth absolute, God.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • sb

      Girl number 20, do not speak of things you know nothing about. better yet, just shut the hell up.

      September 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  11. Kef15

    Yes Mr. Romney! Praise Joseph Smith and the mighty planet Kolob! Let us make Mormonism the dominant religion in the USA by bringing it into the White house and ensuring it's teachings and infinite knowledge has a place in every decision you make! You can to it Mitt!!!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • TC

      Tell us Mitt, what is the secret name you have for your wife...the one you'll speak to her in the afterlife so she can get into Heaven? No woman in the Mormon religion can gain access to Heaven without a man. You'd probably sooner release your tax record than tell us your Mormom secrets. Seriously folks, don't trust this crap. I'd tell you to Google it, but the Mormon Church has been systematically for years scrubbing search results. Try the Phoenix New Times and Deborah Locke's article about Mormon marriage. They haven't squashed that yet.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Girl Number 20

      @TC - if you search YouTube for "NewNameNoah," you'll find his channel which is devoted to his hidden camera footage of what goes on inside the Mormon temple. There is one segment that is over 1 hour long that shows the entire Endowment ceremony. Mormons CANNOT lie that "these things don't happen" or "our church doesn't teach this" when there is actual footage of a full temple ceremony at one of Utah's temples right there on YouTube for the world to see.

      The LDS cult has tried hard to cover up its history, but truth will prevail in the end, and once footage of the Endowment ceremony is on the internet, it is never going to go away, no matter how hard they try to cover it up.

      This isn't the days of the "Nauvoo Expositor" anymore, Mormons. You can't burn down a printing press like your Prophet Joseph did, and think that all of the bad publicity will go away. This is a new age, and the truth WILL come out.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Kef15

      @Girl Number 20. Come on now, you have to admit, Mitt has some pretty impressive memorization skills if he's able to do the secret handshake. I think the secret handshake has prepared Mitt to be president way more than any of his other experiences.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  12. Peter Metz

    Most Presidential candidates campaign on what they will do. Romney is running one what he won't do. He's sunk to new lows for a Presidential candidate. Can you imagine him as President? Every time his poll numbers sag he will champion some religious issue, like printing "In God We Trust" in bigger letters on our currency, to rally his base. Just like George Bush Sr and the Flag. We don't need this kind of disgusting political pandering.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Did you expect anything else from a business shark turned politician?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It is naught but Federal electioneering, American style.

      At least in the good old days they barbequed a pig and gave the voters whiskey.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Tim

      Yes, he's god-awful, but how is he the GOP nominee? How does he garner over 40% in polls? HOW?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Tim,

      easy.

      1. he was nominated because there was no other plausible Republican candidate.
      2. Most Americans identify as much with a political party as they do with religion. They don't really care who the candidate is they will vote for them.

      Yes, registered independents are growing, but they are still a minority. The crazy part of electioneering is that of the ~20% or so of independents, only the ones in a handful of counties in states like OH, PA, WI and FL matter.

      The next President will probably be elected by less than 1% of the population.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It's time to start the campaign for the 28th Amendment – the abolition of the electoral college!

      September 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
  13. clarke

    Everyone has something or someone that they believe in or pray to. I have no problem with that, for me my faith is a personal thing and I don't need to wear it on my sleeve to prove anything to anyone. It belongs to me and how I live my life. I don't understand why people must parade their faith and beliefs in front of everyone. I may not believe in your faith or you in mine, but that does not make either one of us wrong. Why can't people just respect others beliefs and faith and who they pray to. I don't understand , but I accept it. It doesn't change what I believe in or make it wrong. Just different!

    September 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      "Everyone has something or someone that they believe in or pray to."
      Umm... I don't.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Rob

      Well said. If one cannot tolerate another's differing beliefs, it makes me question their security in their own faith.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  14. Bart

    Last time I checked, this country was not a Christian Theocracy as the Republicans want to believe.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  15. BlackDynamiteNYC

    He's throwing spaghetti at the wall, and we all know it.

    An empty suit in a sinking ship.....
    BD

    September 14, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  16. John

    Christians are the most gullible group in the US. Why wouldn't Mitt blow smoke up their ass? Both Mitt and Obama are just taking advantage of them before their pastor fleeces them.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  17. Itmustbeso

    Romney failed to mention that his GOD includes the teachings in the "Golden Plates" about an entire Civilization living in Central and South America and Jesus Visited these people! Its called the Book of Mormon.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  18. ug

    The libs always try to spin on their lies...

    September 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gosh, what insight! You must be a GENIUS! Wanna tell us all about the great job the conservatives have done?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Larry

      ...to ug....all religions have a liar going to hell. That is where Mitt will be going. He was an unpopular one term governor who is the Republican "Liar of the month". Even a group of nuns are going around the country to let people know that the "Romney/Ryan budget is "Against humane principles to take so much from the poor". Your "Let them eat cake" mentality will not work anymore.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  19. Smarter than ewe

    Can we call a restart and find two more qualified people to run? Both of these guys will do and say anything at this point to get elected. Not even a God will be able to get congress to agree with what the winner proposes.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      What do you expect from hindu's, crooks, they are hind, blinded by their hindu soul filthy desire to get, what they want, hell with people of USA or the world, true follower's of hindu Judaism, filthy secularism.s. To know causes of mayhem among humanity, handy work of hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, denier of truth absolute and thir hinduism, fabrication, hindu Mithra ism pagan savior ism, labeled as Christianity, please visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/blog.html and click on word Choice to open file.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  20. 0rangeW3dge

    Evangelists think they are being "persecuted" when people don't agree with them and bow down to their "ideals"

    September 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • John

      Look, I'm suffering just like Jeeeeezus....my power went out for two hours and I had no AC. Must be evil science loving atheists at fault.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Bob, NY

      @John I see why they named you John. Is your middle name Lew...or crapper?

      September 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.