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. cantilever

    One of Bain Capital's investments is in Mormon underwear. This god talk is more marketing.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  2. objectivist5

    Ideology has no place in politics. As a matter of fact, Ideology really has no place period. The breeding ground of hypocrisy, war, uprisings. Hell look at the Middle East TODAY. All over a fake religious person. The truth is no matter who or what you believe in, it is between YOU and YOURSELF. Leave it there. Stop trying to change the world over some false promise.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      But everyone's silly holy text tells them that they MUST spread the "good news" and take over the world in order to win favor with their imaginary deities.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  3. Thomas

    "Oh God I need a cheeseburger," doesn't make me more religious. It just means I really need a cheeseburger. Extra pickles, please.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Mei

      Obama has already taken God out of our country with his extreme acts to support abortion–even at the end stages of pregnancy–even in partial birth abortion where the baby is partly born and then killed–also in his 4-time vote against protection bills to save babies accidentally born (all the way) in the midst of abortion (and yes this has happened and those babies are literally left to die in the trash). Obama's policies are evil and whether he knows that or not is not the question. All Christians should NOT be voting for him.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Think about it...

      Mei.....ABORTION has been legal in this country since 1973. Obama has NOTHING to do with abortion. The decision to legalize abortion is named Roe versus Wade and was enacted during a REPUBLICAN presidents time. Try some education, it's good for self rightesnous.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  4. stateschool

    I would still like to hear Romney explain why his god requires him to wear magical underwear.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • realits

      I also want to know why Christians pray to a guy who supposedly came back from the dead. Who came from a virgin birth. Give me a break!! dont pit one religion against another in this country they all have the freedom of expression

      September 15, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Perhaps

      Them there magic underwear hold a larger pant load?

      September 15, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • freetime1

      He should also be using gods not god, because he believe in many not one and that he will be one some day himself.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Think about it...

      Maybe they are fire retardent?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  5. Jon

    really Mr. Romney? i wasn't aware that we were dropping out of the public square.

    i mean. your running for a public square position. and you're saying your not taking WHAT out of the public square

    September 15, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  6. Reality

    Only for the newcomers:

    One should be voting for leaders who can think rationally. Believing in angels, satans, bodily resurrections, atonement, and heavens of all kinds is irrational.

    Apparently, BO and MR have been severely brainwashed in their theologically and historically flawed Christianity and they are too weak to escape its felonious grip.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • realits

      Relgiion is a discipline and guide. Dont doubt the reasons why they were formed to control society. The core of their messages without the magic is needed

      September 15, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Reality


      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As does Biden and Ryan)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  7. jimranes

    What Mr. Romney means is "Elohim" the LDS version of God for the chosen people. His Book of Mormon clearly does not influence his avoidance of taxes vis a vis his investment accounts in the Caymans and Switzerland.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • Reality

      And JFK and his family did not have analogous investments??

      September 15, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • realits

      Romney does not draw a wage like the rest of us. He is retired!! His taxes were based on investments he made. We all have 401 k s that are not taxed. Why? To attract us to inveting. People like Romney invest/ Risk their money more when their is smaller risk of losing it all to taxes. In addition, he paid millions in taxes. If he did anything wrong the IRS and obamas goons would have vetted him. So it is clear what was done was legal. You issue is not with Romney but with the tax codes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • James Nealey

      Regarding writings other than the bible..... Galatians 1:8 "even if an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declare as good news, let him be accursed".

      ; 4

      September 15, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • snowboarder

      james – that passage alone should make every man wary. statements like that are definitely the makings of a cult.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  8. BlackSheep

    I am sick of Republicans. I live in a red state and they wear their stupid crosses around their necks at all times (for the camera, of course.) They say, "Have a blessed day" and mention God at every opportunity, which is part of their secret code. (If you don't respond to it, you're obviously a Democrat.) They are trying their best to destroy public education and to make this into a pseudo-theocracy. It's just ridiculous. Anyone who votes for Mitt Romney is stuck in the Middle Ages.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • realits

      You sound like a nazi expressing disgust for jews. Or southerners expressing disgust for blacks. Dont become what you are against. Romney 2012!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Stephen

      It would appear that 'realits' has provided a perfect example of what you've stated. According to him, if you don't vote Mitt and loudly profess your love of Jesus, you're a Nazi. Except that Mitt's god is not Christian, is he? Mitt's god came to earth in a space ship and the true word of Mitt's god was found by a guy out in Utah. If that's not your idea of real, vote Obama and stop the insanity.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  9. Maria Carvalho

    Questions for Mr.Romney: 1.This a secular democracy, my religion is a private matter. 2. Not every one is a religious zealot.
    3. We want to see evidence that he is an honest person, releasing his taxes would be the way to go. 4. Where is his plan other than "I'm not Obama"? 5. Have you looked at a geography book after you left grammar school? 6. Ever considered hiring a speech therapist? 7. Did you take Civics in high school? 8. Didn't they tell you that betting against your country was treason? 9. Remember how everyone supported Resident Bush in the 9/11 attacks? That how sane, decent public figures act. 10. Have your reviewed your church's doctrines about telling the truth? 11. Do you realize that when we are attacked we must present a united front instead of giving the enemy more fuel to attack us? 12. Did you forget that we are all Americans and President Obama is your political opponent, NOT your mortal enemy?

    September 15, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • realits

      Obama used his background and the use of god in his initial election. Now its not Kosher? Because the liberal media says so. Romney is being attacked from all sides. Obama is not right for this country. Romney 2012!!

      September 15, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  10. Anon

    Warren Jeffs and Fred Phelps are also full of God rhetoric.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  11. Bert L

    Romney's God talk is a thinly veiled ploy to whip up his base and unjustly slur President Obama. God wouldn't like that very much.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  12. Bob B

    Romney is going down.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • BlackSheep

      We can only hope.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Ewwwwww

      I wonder if he has ever gone down...

      September 15, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  13. AvdBerg

    Mitt Romney’s faith does not stand in the teachings of Christ but rather in an image of the spirit and god of this world and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15).

    For a better understanding of the history of the Mormon Church and his quest for the Presidency of the United States of America, we invite you to read the articles ‘Mormon Church – Cult and Spiritual Harlot’, ‘Barack Obama – President of the United States of America’ and ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • snowboarder

      great! one cult defaming another.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  14. Mark Taylor

    Because almighty God just loves being exploited for a puny man's political gain. right.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • realits

      Romney cant get a pass like the black man does.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  15. Stopthemadness

    Romney needs to be praying a lot because only God can help him win the election now.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  16. charles bowen

    Mormon Mitt now he's our man ,He can't do it he's Re pud li can.......Wake Up And Smell the Cannabis..... Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    September 15, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  17. snowboarder

    i'm really waiting for a candidate that runs on the platform that we must turn back to god to save this country.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  18. rainierclimber

    would this be the 6' 2" God living on Kolab ?

    September 15, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • John

      My thoughts exactly! Mormons believe in many gods i I assume Mitt is referencing the one who has charge over this planet – the father of Jesus and Lucifer, but I could be wrong : )

      September 15, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  19. DocHollywood

    Pretty soon Romney will be saying God sent him here to save us from our sins. Just call him Mitt C Romney. I'm surprised that he hasn't come out in support of those who made the anti-Islamic film.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  20. Portland tony

    I have no doubt that Mr. Romney would make make an excellent financial manager as President. However, by surrounding himself with religious zealots that babble about "end of days" and other parochial nonsense, he really scares the hell out of me. That, with the former Bush neocons he depends upon for foreign policy matters, makes me shudder. We don't need holy men running this country, we need smart perceptive individuals who hold values that most Americans believe in with the ability to communicate those values in a meaningful way.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:22 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.