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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. laed

    I don't think God would want a person for president who lies about his taxes.

    September 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  2. BADGUY

    We've JUST witnessed what mixing Religion and Politics DOES to a country (in this latest case, countries). Let's NOT have that same problem here!

    September 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  3. chicago

    Idk why anyone wold vote for Romney,especially if he is a member of a cult. I am no Romney supporter but if I was a republican I definately would not support him lol. Religion is a touchy thing,you cannot make someone support a man who is in a cult religion lol

    September 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  4. nadine

    Mitt the Twit and Lyin Ryan are 2 liars who deserve each other.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  5. Anon

    Why would anyone with a brain vote for this religious nut? KEEP YOUR @#$%^ RELIGION TO YOURSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 16, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  6. David Ellis

    Look, the fastest way to end all of this religious back stabbing is to create jobs in the Middle East for these young men. I am sure many have kids and they have no money and the daily temps are as high as 128 degrees F. No AC no few cold drinks and family screaming for relief is enough to turn any sane person into a religious nut. Now comes Climate Change which is going to radically change life on this planet unless we take decisive actions now. OK its create large and I mean huge scale reforestation, and land restoration projects in the Middle East and make the oil producers foot the bill. Give these men a meaning full jobs and this insanity will come to a quick end! David – A original American Tree Planter!!!

    September 16, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • End Religion

      reforestation.... in a desert?

      September 16, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  7. Atheism is Great for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and lets them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago. (Yes, charlatan folklore and spam started long before the Bible; what would make you think they hadn't?) And they need to be taught that other things, like God, we really don't know a damn thing about.

    Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Many religious folk have the best intentions. But too often, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). And too often, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!

    Although there are many religious folk with good intentions – some selflessly helping others, religions and religious organizations are, as a whole, just big old clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division (often disguised as love) along the way. The problem is that people too easily buy into religion and don't realize how unfounded it all is. And when they buy into it, they buy into a lot of really old, really weird tenets that are nothing but harmful for the modern mind. Of course Islam is a crazy religion.

    But look at Christianity. Just look at all the things that Christians argue about amongst themselves today – abortion, men's and women's roles in the church, celibacy, contraception, acceptance of gays, etc. Most of these issues have their roots in the conflicted, unfounded tenets of early Christianity. Non-Mormons harp on Joseph Smith these days. But we really don't have any more proof at all to believe that Paul, the self-proclaimed "apostle" was anything more than an ordinary man who needed to make up religious "sales literature" to survive and spread his own personal beliefs. And yet a good chunk of the NT is attributed to Paul and accepted by many Christians. And a lot of what he wrote about has to do with many of the issues I mentioned above that have Christians fighting amongst themselves hundreds of years later. I don't buy any of it.

    mama kindless

    September 16, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Hillcrester

      I don't buy any of it either. I am a devout disbeliever. I care not what anyone else's religious beliefs are and am even polite to religious recruiters, but let any public official try to impose religious beliefs on me and BAM! (s)he will feel the wrath of god (figuratively speaking, if course).

      September 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  8. Bob from texas

    Mormons are Sicko cultists....Its well known to most christians that Mormons are not christian and are twisted pathetic people that hurt women and children,molest children,enslave the women and children and brainwash them into believing that the incest,molestation is gods word. The mormon cult is a group that belongs in jail for all the crimes agains the women and children,if the public knew how bad mormons were they would be ran out of town like in the old days with pitchforks........Send the weirdo Romney back to his polygamy commune in Mexico where his family is from.....

    September 16, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  9. Nikki

    Romneys grandpa was ran out of the USA for being a polygamist cultist having 11 wives some as young as 10 years old.Once he arrived in Mexico a Jealous husband at his Mormon commune gunned him down. Yeah this is they type of values we need in our whitehouse right? A man who comes from a cult religion that believes his Mormon Magical Underwear Protects him from evil..............What a weirdo lol ....................

    September 16, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  10. repub christian

    Sorry but voting for Romney is like voting for Warren Jeffs. Polygamy,molestation of women and children,incest,cult rituals,Magic Underwear, sorry but I am also a republican who is appauled by the sick stuff mormons are about and have to agree with my church,we will not support Cult Bishop Romney .....

    September 16, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  11. kel

    Romney is a fraud!! OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!

    September 16, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  12. lance

    I know there are a lot of disingenuous politicians, but Romney takes dishonesty to a whole new level!!

    September 16, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  13. Garrett

    This rhetoric is terrifying. I'm by no means a supporter of Romney, but those of you who are making the absurd non sequitur from him to Warren Jeffs, labeling his faith as a "sicko" cult, and not making the Jesus Christ whom I know and love look very good would be well served to read this article (coincidentally the next article on CNN's religion blog):

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/15/my-take-its-time-for-islamophobic-evangelicals-to-choose/?hpt=hp_c1

    Shame on you.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • gop usa

      Republicans should not have a cultist represent a christian base......

      September 16, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • End Religion

      love love love the chrisitan in-fighting. Who's craziest? The folks who believe in imaginary beings or the other folks who believe in imaginary beings?

      September 16, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  14. not supporting cult

    Sorry but voting for Romney is like voting for Warren Jeffs. Polygamy,molestation of women and children,incest,cult rituals,Magic Underwear, sorry but I am also a republican who is appauled by the sick stuff mormons are about and have to agree with my church,we will not support Cult Bishop Romney ....

    September 16, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  15. Freelance

    It is good to see Romney bringing up God. Romney/Ryan 2012!!

    September 16, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • not supporting cult

      Yeah only if your a non christian cultist like Romney......or if your a magical skidmarked panty wearer like Mitt....

      September 16, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  16. gop usa

    I am a Republican and I will not sell out my christian faith to support a Mormon cultist.No matter how Mormons try to spin it they are sicko cultists and are NOT CHRISTIAN.....there are no crosses on their church,no bible,wears Magical underwear or pantys.......weirdo rituals,polygamy,sisterwives......molestation of women and children and the abuse of women and children to make sure they keep it all secret. Mormons are just as bad a Johovas whitnesses or heavens gate cult...Satan worshippers.......but NOT CHRISTIAN and many conservative christian repubs will not support such a vile man like Romney we will stay home in November....................

    September 16, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  17. Jeff 30

    Romney will pardon Warren Jeffs if elected ,he will put him in the whitehouse as his advisor. Romney is a crazy cultist who is not a christian. Romney and Warren Jeffs are 2 peas in a pod,a vote for Romney is a vote for Warren Jeffs.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  18. 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?????????????????? Send the cult Bishop Romney back to Mexico where his polygamy commune is from. We conservative christians do not want him or his skidmarked cult Magical underwear in the whitehouse representing christians............

    September 16, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  19. 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.........................................Go back to Utah Romney with your Magical Skidmarked Pantys......The gop does not want you,America does not want you.........................

    September 16, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • End Religion

      GOP, i love how you keep posting the same things over and over under different names. It was crazy when you did it all as GO_GOP. Now its super crazy.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • E Blalck

      Mitt the Twit is evill, he is a draft dodger, coward, liar and would kill his own wife to be president.

      September 16, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  20. Keith

    Religion is the worst thing that ever happened to mankind. Why would more of it be a good thing?

    September 16, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • End Religion

      Justin Bieber runs a close second.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:55 am |
      • Keith

        LOL, okay

        I seem to be able to avoid him in my life

        September 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
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About this blog

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.