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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.

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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. Scott

    I guess he's never heard of "Separation of Church and State" ?

    September 15, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  2. Delat

    Romney/Ryan is starting to make me nostalgic for McCain/Palin.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Huebert

      Yeah...Romney/Ryan is pretty good but McCain/Palin was peerless late night comedy fodder.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  3. grant

    This man is digging into the gutter now using God to try to win an election.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  4. Rainer Braendlein

    Romney believes the God had se-xual intercourse with Mary in order to produce Jesus. Ain't he more delusional than Muhammad who only said that Allah created Jesus in the womb of Mary (of course, also Muhammad's statement is wrong although it isn't as ridiculuous as the LDS doctrine)?

    I have watched the certain video, and must say that it is not completely unhistorical. Muhammad was not perfect, ineed. Yet, maybe, it is somewhat unwise to provoke the Muslims by such a video (however, I don't think that the producer should be punished for his video for the sake of religious freedom and freedom of expression; it must be possible to criticise sharply a religion, especially the Islam, which has caused a lot of sorrow, suffering and bloodshed in the course of history).

    It is only that we should not stress too much the fact that Muhammad was a womanizer because even Western leaders or princes had a preference for women.

    I myself don't hate any Muslim or any Muslim country, I only reject the Islam as a doctrine. According to the will of the good being which has created us we shall love each other independent from distinct belief, nationality, color. social status and the like. Please keep in mind this when you read my following lines, and let us love the ordinary Muslims as victims of evil seducers:

    One of the greatest errors of Muhammad was that he regarded it as legitimate to spread and defend his self-made, non-divine religion using the sword. Jihad or Islamic Holy War belongs to the core tenets of genuine Islam, and any honest man or historian will not deny that. Muhammad was a warlord and it is possible that he invented the Islam only in order to unite the ancient, single Arabic tribes or gangs for a war against the Christian Empire Byzantium (Eastern Roman Empire). It is also possible that Muhammad was obsessed by a demon and really believed the moronic things which he teached.

    In contrast the Christian doctrine or faith rejects any violence as a mean to spread or defend the faith. A Christian or Christian leader shall only fight by using words but not any physical weapon. The crusades were conducted by the moronic popes (the current one is called Benedict XVI), and have nothing to do with genuine Christianity. Catholicism or papalism is anti-Christian just as Islam.

    The Muslims should not be set up too much about the video because it contains some histrorical truth: Muhammad was indeed violent and a lover of the women, everybody knows that.

    It is only that a Christian should maybe not stress too much the errors of Islam or Muhammad when he approaches the Muslims but more emphasize the good message of the gospel (regretably yet this can enrage the Muslims).

    The basic Christian message is that Jesus Christ or Jesus from Nazareth was not only a (Jewish) man but man and God at the same time. In his unholy Koran Muhammad reduces Jesus Christ to a mere human being, even if an Islamic (!) prophet, which is like saying Mister Obama would only be a frog or a bug. I guess, nobody of us would like to be called a bug or a frog, and hence we should not call Jesus Christ only a prophet but God or the Son of God, a person of the Holy Trinity.

    As far as I know there is no reliable historical docu-ment which accuses Jesus Christ of any sin or any wrongdoing. Jesus Christ indeed lived a holy life, which cannot be imitated by any mere human being. Jesus Christ had got the full divine power of holiness, he had got the Holy Spirit of the eternal God without measure (any Christian has only gifts of the Holy Spirit but not the Spirit in fullness).

    I myself love the women and hate my fellow human beings like Muhammad, it is only that this longing and misbehaviour is dampened through the Holy Spirit of God which I received through faith and sacramental baptism, and this is what I wish for every Muslim that he gets to know the releasing power of Jesus' death and resurrection: Jesus, God's Son, has borne our sins when he died for us on the cross, and has resurrected for the sake of our justification. Dear Muslim, believe that and get baptized, and God will make you better than Muhammad or me.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • >-O

      "Jesus, God's Son, has borne our sins when he died for us on the cross, and has resurrected for the sake of our justification. Dear Muslim, believe that and get baptized, and God will make you better than Muhammad or me."
      A-M-E-N !

      September 15, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @>-O

      Am I allowed to ask, where you go to church?

      September 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  5. Chris33

    .

    Romney doesn't worship God, but money.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  6. >O

    Now, if he was advocating darwinism and was pro-'gay'marriage, you would hail him and proclaim him to be your savior.
    I can't stand the slick tongued politi.tian myself, but if you hate him for saying what he said about God, you hate him for wrong reasons!
    BTW, his god is not God.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  7. todd

    The GOP Party needs to start all over. This guy is a male version of Sarah Palin.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  8. 66Biker

    Romney knows that he needs God's help to get elected. It's gonna take a miracle...

    September 15, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  9. Annie

    Ha, Ha! This is so funny coming from a cult leader! If anybody buys this crap, they deserve to drink the Koolaid and become another Mormon zombie. Bishop Big Love wants to rule the world, he thinks he'll make the cult and it's practices mainstream and exceptable.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  10. Joqu

    The flipflopper and Lyin Ryan are at it again.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  11. 4sanity

    It's good to know that Romney will keep his divine creator Elohim from the planet Kolob in his heart. We definitely need more diversity in our beliefs of supernatural dieties guyiding our government.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  12. Nikki

    I wonder if Romney clicks his heels once or twice to activate his Mormon Magical Underwear he believes Protects him from evilll. Can Romney put his undies on his head and use them like radar for evil or can he see through walls? Where does the power come from? is it his skidmark that gives his underwear power?????? Lol the cultists have the weirdest things....Magical underwear....whats next Magical buttplugs? one thing is forsure Romney is no christian.....if anything Romney is a weirdo like his cultist Mormon hero Warrren Jeffs who is a fellow magical underwear and panty wearer...

    September 15, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  13. greg

    This loser makes George Bush look great which is hard to do.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  14. Mormon magical Underwear

    Step right up folks Step right up!!!!!! Romney is giving out some goodies at the Republican Convention!!!!!! First you will reciev a free pair of MORMON MAGICAL UNDERWEAR that protects you from evil when you click your heels together,and only the most devout shall never take them off even during a bath.Then you will recieve a picture of The Mormon Messiah Joesoph Smith who the Mormons worship over Jesus,Joesoph Smith was a con man,molester,Polygamist and a murderer,yet he is revered higher than christ.......Then you will recieve the BOOK OF MORMON that the con man molester Joesoph Smith wrote to help him control his followers and Brainwash them....You will also recieve the teachings on how all people of color are products of evil.....like the Mormon church teaches.Last but not least you will recieve directions to the planet in outer space named KOLOB where the Mormons believe their god lives and if you die wearing your Mormon Magical Underwear you will become a god too and fly in outer space to be with Joesoph Smith on KOLOB wih as many wives as you want.......THIS IS NOT CHRISTIAN IN ANY WAY!!!!! Romney can click his heels to activate his magical underwear all he wants but christians will not buy his Phoney garbage religion......This religion was made up by a polygamist murderer who conned so many in the 1800s conservative repub christians will not vote or support such an evil vile man like Romney.Draft dodger.....cultist....tax evader......magic underwear...it just keeps getting better and better.............Romney does not belong anywhere but a padded room..................He can take his cultist skidmarked underwear back to Utah where all the cultists live....

    September 15, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  15. robCM

    I believe there is freedom of religion, so why do we need God in all public places. The Bishop of the Cult needs to actually try to come up with solutions of the nations problems instead.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  16. Mario

    Certain words are believed to possess magic powers, such as Beetlejuice, god, jesus, "him, not me!", etc.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  17. Johnson

    Hear the chanting and see women veil themselves like in Islam; search “Inside the Prayer Circle” on YouTube. Posted by “Newnamenoah.” Someone finally recorded the bizarre Mormon Temple rituals using hidden camera!

    September 15, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  18. Huebert

    It never ceases to amaze me that Christians will criticize Mormons for their crazy beliefs and then, in the next breath, vigorously defend the idea that god fathered himself via a virgin.

    September 15, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • pastmorm

      That may amaze you heubert, but it amazes non-mormons even more to realize that you mormons believe you will become gods and that the current god of this world was once a human man....I think a virgin birth is a little more believeable.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • robCM

      All religions have their magic!

      September 15, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • fogerty

      Newsflash! It's ALL a bunch of made up malarky.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Huebert

      @Pastor mom

      That is like arguing that a fire-breathing dragon is more believable than an ice-breathing dragon. What you fail to understand is that BOTH positions are completely ludicrous.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • pastmorm

      @ bert and ernie, perhaps if you made your original post more understandable, then I wouldn't have thought you were defending mormonism. So you find justification in attacking mormons and christians, while still "slightly" defending the mormons. Take a writing class and learn to define your objective. Also, if you're an Atheist, that's fine, I'm agnostic, not christian or any other religion, but I think that putting down every religion makes me no better than they are...hmmmm

      September 15, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Huebert

      @Pastormom

      Sorry I wrote above your comprehension level, I'll keep this simple for you. At no point did I offer any defense of Mormonism. And I wasn't putting down "every religion" I was pointing out the hypocritical behavior of some Christians. Did you get all of that?

      September 15, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • pastmorm

      Oh, sad, silly bert...you really do have a complex don't you? Is something on your body a little to small? LOL!

      September 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Huebert

      Just responding in kind to your ad hominem attacks.

      September 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  19. bigmeechy74

    Just the image of him speaking at Liberty "university" is enough to scare the hell out of me. They teach that the earth is 6,000 years old and humans rode on dinosaurs. Do we want a lunatic that believes that nonsense running our country?

    September 15, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  20. km

    mittens believes that he will become Lord Mittens of his own harem filled planet when he dies....thats a RIVAL god...thats blasphemy. the blasphemer better be REAL careful about this god stuff...

    September 15, 2012 at 11:06 am |
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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.