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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. Jared

    Romney believes by his faith that he himself will be a God. Most people haven't really investigated his church beliefs. I question how a man can run our country when his own faith dictates that anyone other than the faithful LDS are beneath them and they must convert them either while living or after their death to give them salvation. How can you respect others and their beliefs when you feel that your church is the ONLY true church. Dont take my word for it....research yourself.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • brrryce

      Jared, I will do so. Thank you.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  2. JJ

    I'm disturbed by this. Not because of the references to God, but it just shows that Mittens will literally transform before your eyes when desparately trying to pander to different groups. I'm not a huge fan of Obama, but Romney frightens me.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • mocomment

      Like! And they show Romney is his priestly garb? We're screwed either way this ineffection, I mean election.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  3. bill

    End Religion, you say there is no God and you renounce the Holy Spirit. You have a mixed message because you say there is no God but you end up saying there is a Holy Spirit. You are right when you say that you are responsible for your own actions and you have to answer for them now and after you depart from this life. I trust that you change your views before death. No matter what, have a great day.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      He only says that about the holy spirit because YOU say there is one in your mythology and because YOU say that the ultimate blasphemy against your alleged god is to do such a thing against this holy spirit. Don't you ever think?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • End Religion

      @bill: "End Religion, you say there is no God and you renounce the Holy Spirit. You have a mixed message because you say there is no God but you end up saying there is a Holy Spirit. You are right when you say that you are responsible for your own actions and you have to answer for them now and after you depart from this life. I trust that you change your views before death. No matter what, have a great day."

      I think it's clear to most anyone above grade school reading level that I present no mixed message. I believe there is no god of any kind, nor any "holy spirit". However, an important step to getting Christians to finally break the chains of religion is to "renounce the holy spirit" since according to the bible that is the one and only sin that god will not forgive, ever. You did see the quote marks when I said, "repeat after me"...? I, myself, was not denouncing a holy spirit. I don't feel the need to since I never believed in one to begin with. Some people do feel the need to specifically say those words because they do/did believe in the nonsense. They've been conditioned to ridiculous hocus pocus magical mumblings through the church, and sometimes feel the need to continue more of it to end their god delusion.

      I don't see why you feel the need to take anything one step further to "after death". I never claimed anything about an afterlife. You've tacked that on because you are afraid of what happens after death. You can't fathom why we'd live such a life, losing everyone we love along the way, to never see them again. You can't imagine there is no "point" to life because you feel you're special in some cosmological way. You can't understand why you should be good if there's no reward later, or maybe why others shouldn't be "evil". I do understand. It's all a delusion, Bill.

      You're aware when our brain gets damaged, sometimes we lose parts of our faculties? Brain damage, you've heard of? When the brain dies we lose all senses including speech. You cannot see or hear either. There is no spirit, and if there were it wouldn't have any of the senses our brain affords us. There is no accounting for anything after death. It's a frightening leap for you, Bill, but it's plain to see.

      I most certainly will not change my views before death. Why would you want me to? Wouldn't I simply be saying "i'm afraid of what comes next so i say take-backsies and i wanna be in the jesus club"? That seems shallow. Wouldn't I have cheated, living my entire life as I please only to convert on fear right before the final buzzer? Is that really what you want your religion to be, based on those paralyzed with fear at the end of life? How twisted is that?

      Thanks for your well wishes, Bill. I hope you have a nice day as well.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  4. Charlie

    Genuinely, God is within.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • End Religion

      ...a book of fiction. There, finished that sentence for you.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Think about it...

      The ONLY place you will find God is in your heart, not in a Building where everyone seems to think he visits on Sunday or Saturday or which ever day. I think God would despise Religion, I doubt he would be happy with any of them.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  5. Rainer Braendlein

    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 9:11 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Wrong blog, Rainman. This is about Romney, the Magic Underpants Gnome.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • snowboarder

      christianity has plenty of history of the sword. thankfully, christianity has evolved to the point of being little more than a social club in modernized countries. we can only hope for the same in islam.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • scoobydoo

      I wonder how a warren Jeffs movie will play out . He was a prophet too .

      September 15, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Where did you get your strange name from?

      This is the right blog because the topic of the Islamic attacks is still actual, and CNN makes a mistake to focus on the ridiculous Romney again.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Oh come one Rainy! My screen name is pretty obvious. Are you that stupid? Haven't you said it a few times in your head and realized what it sounds like? And the funny thing is I got to put the name of another god from another made up mythology into my name. What a hoot!

      Yes, well the 16 trillion dollar US debt is still rising at an alarming rate and is just as current as the Islamic BS. So should I be muddling this blog with such discussions?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Think about it...

      So, you want to convert Muslims to Christianity? I will one up your offer and tell them to drop all religion, they would be much better off not being led around by the nose.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  6. greenaxe

    This guys eyes are brown....because I think he is full of sh&*t

    September 15, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  7. peridot2

    Oh, Lord.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  8. Andrew

    Eye of a needle, a@#hole. Go away, GOP.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  9. bill bavis

    I remember they had to shame Obama into putting an American Flag on his suit...

    He did put the Rainbow flag on Air Force One and is trying to take In God we trust off the American Coins..

    September 15, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • peridot2

      Prove it. Pose links to prove it's not a lie.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • peridot2

      FOX News just won't quit, will they? Metaphor.

      BS, dude. There is no campaign to change money. And Jesus said, 'Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and render unto God that which belongs to God.' Yet we have 'In God we trust' on our money.

      If the atheists are suing to have the slogan removed, how is it President Obama's fault? PROVE IT; post links or you're lying.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • End Religion

      @beavus "I remember they had to shame Obama into putting an American Flag on his suit... He did put the Rainbow flag on Air Force One and is trying to take In God we trust off the American Coins.."

      1) post links to factual evidence or you remembered it wrong
      2) post links, oh heck, nevermind. For goodness's sake use your brain. Your own stinky bible tells you that ever since after Noah's flood the rainbow is a sign of god's love and peace. Are you saying there's something wrong with celebrating god's love on Air Force One? What in tarnation is wrong with you? Aren't you nutters always trying to tie religion to this country and now you're COMPLAINING about just that? You are so incalculably vapid I am embarrassed for you.
      3) post links that Obama initiated some effort to rid money of a god reference or consider yourself a liar that will unfortunately burn in a rather hot semi-solid for the next couple of eternities. And by the way, super monkey, taking a god reference off money would only bring it back closer to how it was originally. You can't say you don't know those references were added in the 50's (against the founding father's wishes).

      September 15, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Think about it...

      Fox News Dork dribbles on CNN again.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  10. QR Code

    So, the Mormon leader of the Conservative Republican Party states America is on a quest... resetting the calendar about 600 years into the past. Can he truly rally the nation's crusaders and conquistadors to serve his glorious kingdom?

    September 15, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  11. LWJR

    Like your founder TED TURNER, CNN hates all things Christian. You should have printed for a headline: OBAMA ADMITS MOSLEM FAITH. But you won't cause your media outlet is anti-christian and unAmerican.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • midwest rail

      Disingenuous nonsense.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Ah but Fox Views will tell you the 'truth" you seek. Why not just stay there?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  12. axaxax

    I was wondering when the mormon cultist would start spewing his religious beliefs. I wonder how long it will be before he starts referencing the book of moron.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  13. PJ

    Which God is he referring to. According to their Doctrines there is a different God for every planet, Jesus was not God, and every LDS person can become a God in the next life and be given a planet.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • End Religion

      I have to admit, being given one's own planet is pretty darn cool. I just hope it supports life as we know it. So far as I can tell, Mormonism is pretty high up on the list of cool religions: men can marry a gaggle of women and we get a planet when its all said an done. Muslims get 72 virgins though, so its a close call. I may hold out for Jedi-ism because I hear we'll get our own light saber and that is just too frickin' cool. I could pull more than 72 virgins with that hanging off my belt, I'm sure of it.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  14. Tom

    Good time to announce this when the world is about spin out of control once again for the beliefs in God. Is seems everyone is keeping track of who’s part of what belief and how many members they have worldwide. Here’s maybe a number we should teach our kids on Sunday mornings. The number of humans that were killed in the name of God in the past 2000 years! Religions create segregation and hatred for fellow man. The question is does it give more to our race than it takes? Hard to tell when we keep burning the history books & brainwashing children! But if killing one other to keep the population under control is god’s will. Then it’s doing exactly what the good load intended it to do. Only time will tell!

    September 15, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  15. johnmccain

    Is he running to head a religious organization now?

    September 15, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • PJ

      Yes. If he wins his religion will get a real boost.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  16. Daniel

    Does this mean he wants us all wearing magical underwear?

    September 15, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • End Religion

      How else would we be protected from bullets?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  17. Rick

    We need leaders who recognize that our founding fathers were faith filled Christians and that Christian morality is not only a key element of our nations founding, God is the very source of love and if liberals are eventually successful dissecting God from who we are as Americans, then history wil show that our founding principles crumbled and with it the most successful system of government in the history of the world. All because a minority of the population controlled the media long enough to impose an ideology and their view of political correctness. It's sad but, with the election of Barrack Obama and the far left liberal leaders like Pelosi and Reid, I do believe that our nation and system of government will fail one day and history will repeat itself. Rome, Greece, and other governments right up to today including the USSR had a life expectancy and the fall of those governments has been studied for the common elements that lead to their demise. We are on that path as some paying attention would agree with me.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • snowboarder

      all nations eventually fall. regardless of their religion bent.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • End Religion

      False. Founders contained anti-religious Deists. Our founding SPECIFICALLY kept Christianity out of the picture. It was only in the 50's that religion worked its way onto money and into the Pledge of Allegiance, straying from the true history of the country. All countries come and go. While most of us in the country are not eager to see it die, blaming it on a lack of Christianity is not only simply false, its delusional.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Think about it...

      Dude, you are in sorry need of a History lesson that is not found in the Bible. Look up Thomas Jefferson and tell me how religious he was.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  18. taint

    That's what we need, more fairy tales in government. And we wonder why nothing gets done. Delusional leading the delusional.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  19. blue dog

    Well, then shouldn't it be one nation under Gods, not God?
    And which God I Romney talking about? The one whose prophet is Brigham Young? Or Jesus?

    September 15, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  20. higherforce

    What makes this republican muffet think it's ok to even mention the holy name of God when all he believes and refers to is nothing but CULT? Know the clear difference people. Make no mistake. He is just trying to paint himself as real Christian in order to appeal your vote and it's not the same God you and I genuine Christian all believe. It's one thing if he uses the word Mormon God in front of his own mormon group but he cannot misrepresent the holy name acting like it's the same God we believe from the Real Bible. I find this very sneaky and offensive.

    September 15, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • snowboarder

      a cult – an unpopular religion
      a religion – a popular cult

      September 15, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Christianity is a CULT, too. All religions are.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • taint

      Do you really thing anyone cares that your version of a made up story is more accurate than his? You find Mormons offensive. You and your dogma are offensive my friend.

      September 15, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • End Religion

      You're speaking the same crazy language he speaks, just a different dialect.

      It's difficult and scary but grab a stuffed animal or favorite blanket for comfort, and repeat after me, "All religion is false. Christianity in particular was created during the Iron Age, forged from the mythical scraps of even more ancient religions in an attempt to fill gaps in our knowledge in the areas of science, medicine and law. Having grown our body of factual knowledge quite a bit in the last couple thousand years, humans no longer need this ancient societal crutch. *I* no longer need the crutch of religion. I am responsible for my own actions. There is no god of any kind. I renounce the Holy Spirit."

      September 15, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      And "End Religion" has been posting on this blog for some time. No "god" ever smote him with a lightning bolt. See how fake "god" is?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Andrew

      Problem is...God is a Independant..and voting Democrat. I guess Wrongmney didn't get the heavenly sent angel with the memo..sooo sorry...

      September 15, 2012 at 9:03 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.