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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. Mopery

    A good sign that as the campaign goes on, Romney gets more and more delusional...

    September 15, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  2. Ronald

    The desperation on the GOP side is getting worse no matter how much money they spend it won't cover up that all they have is lies. They have no plans that don't hurt the middle class, that don't damage forever social security and medicare and they only political attacks they have now is fear using religion or bald faced lying. Clearly these are not the right people to be the leaders of the free world when the only solutions they offer are lies. In the 2010 election their number one promise was jobs. Since they took over the House they haven't produced one job...nothing. They only work and get paid with our money to advance their political and ideological vision and not for the American people.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  3. 21k

    in preparation for the new administration, i want to get some new facts right: will the special long underwear keep my soul IN, or does it keep the devil OUT? and do i get to name my own planet where my soul will reside after death?

    September 15, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • brokenpinata

      Both actually, but unfortunately, they don't breath well, so any farts you may let go can't escape either. But you can consider it extra protection from the devil. I have no answer to the planet question.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  4. RandalH

    The irony of an LDS member who holds a non-traditional view of who/what God is attempting to appeal to the mainstream religious right by invoking the name of God is not lost upon me.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  5. Cedar rapids

    Considering how often Romney 'bears false witness' I would say he is being more than a little hypocritical here.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  6. rker321

    As I am seeing as the election process progresses, and comes to an end, that the Republican Party are not seeing that landslide election that they were hoping for.
    I would find it very funny, if after spending all those millions and millions they would loose. To me it would represent that we the people will not be dupped by any of the super pacs, and will vote with our brains.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • southexas

      Money will never buy good working families since they work to support their family..

      September 15, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  7. GO_GOP

    The only way to save this country is by returning to Christian values. The further we turn away from christian values the deeper we will sink. The last 3.5 years are a proof of that. Vote GOP. Bring back GOD into our lives and save this country.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • southexas

      You must listen to Rush L. everyday..

      September 15, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Zeus ex Machina

      You're right. The Bush/Cheney years were great for this country.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      "GO_GOP – The only way to save this country is by returning to Christian values. The further we turn away from christian values the deeper we will sink."

      you mean when 'christian values' were stronger like during slavery? trail of tears? jim crow? those times? those so holy and christian value times?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • brokenpinata

      @ GO_GOP: Did Jesus tell you this in a dream you had?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • 21k

      oh yeah, that's right, we need to ask the god that would not stop hitler for help. good luck with that.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Maragie

      Since when the Mormons are Christian, The last time I saw they were a cult. They don't believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God or our savior. .

      September 15, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  8. charles_darwin

    People, you can't argue with anyone that believes:

    the earth is flat,
    the sun revolves around the earth,
    There be witches, burn her at the stake!
    She got pregnant but was a virgin, ya sure!
    Jesus visited me in a cheese sandwich,
    An invisible man in the sky,
    If I pray I will win this football game, if I lose it's god's plan.
    Have as many kids as possible...the Government will pay for them.
    Etc etc.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • southexas

      You must be on drugs..

      September 15, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  9. capnmike

    Yup...when all else fails, start yakking about your imaginary deity to inflame the brainwashed and get them on your side. What a sleazebag this Romney is...an arrogant, rich pig country-club liar who is now driveling religious hogwash to get more votes. YUCK!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  10. longshot

    He sounds just like the Taliban – and the right wing followers no different than the under-educated mindless mobs.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  11. Jethro

    I am a religious person. Using God as a way to win a presidency saddens me. This is how the mullahs in the middle-east have seized control of their countries. These people are not religious, they are manipulators.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • End Religion

      Jethro, it is heartening to hear you see through Romney's charade. Please consider taking it one step further and apply your critical thinking to religion in general. It's all simply a sham, conveniently used by many to control you. There is no "one true" religion no matter who proclaims it. They're simply delusional beliefs we are born free of but that are unfortunately impressed upon us by those around us. For the vast majority, their "one true" religion is simply a product of where they are born.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  12. Rainer Braendlein

    Let us talk about the Islamic matter, Romney is not relevant at the moment, I would suggest.

    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 9:57 am |
    • caesarbc

      "it is somewhat unwise to provoke the Muslims"... let me stop you there...

      you are scared, and let the real men of society deal with this problem. Now go back to your room.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • ConnieLynn

      Keep your religious faith to yourself. God does not belong in politics. According to Wikipedia -worlds largest religions are 2.4 billion Christians, 1.65 billion Muslims, 1.12 billion non-religious, 1 billion Hindus, 365 Million Buddhist – then you have the Jews and others. Shallow thinking results in shallow mentality. This can be very dangerous.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  13. bluebird1

    Since Romney is losing ground on all credible issues (economy, foreign policy, taxes, etc.) he has no other sound bites to spew off. Too bad he can't present his own person, but instead has to cow cow to GOP right wingers.
    Religion needs to stay OUT of politics and the campaign. The US is a nation of many belief systems and to focus on just Christian faith alienates all other populations. Yes the US was founded on Christianity, but times (world) has changed - its time to move forward and embrace all.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • southexas

      Agree...we should embrace all names given to God since at the end there's only one God. Amen..

      September 15, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  14. caesarbc

    At some point, it becomes way too obvious that he is simply attempting to curry favor from Chrisitan consitutents... i.e. using them.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • southexas

      agree..he's losing on all fronts

      September 15, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • caesarbc

      What is their number one tenant??? "Don't use God's name in vein?"...

      it seems as though it should be a campaign slogan for Mitt.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • End Religion

      One can hardly blame him. Chirstians exist to be led around by their religious nose rings.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  15. southexas

    Mitt, welcome to the world of God. Before God. I guess you worshipped Mohammed or another follower of God. This is OK. However, there's only one God though different people and cultures have different names for him . When you die, you'll see that there's only one God and he created all us and the universe.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • End Religion

      Don't be absurd. It's time to stop sucking your thumb and grow up. Billions disagree with your assessment of god. Its simply all a farce, young Padawan. End religion.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  16. GO_GOP

    Midwest rail: A man who has Hussian as his middle name is an atheist in my book. What other proof you need? And what is your religion?

    September 15, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • midwest rail

      His middle name proves he is an atheist ? Good grief, what a delusional remark.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • caesarbc

      this is what religion does to you (?)... no thanks.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      "A man who has Hussian as his middle name is an atheist in my book"

      a person's middle name, that they had no say in choosing, determines their religion?
      boy just how much of a nut are you?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Jif Extra Crunchy

      Just Saying is very nutty.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • brokenpinata

      Apparently GW has taken to trolling the CNN comments sections.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  17. lindaluttrell

    Makes me wonder what happened to separation of church and state...I don't care about your belief system. I care about what your politics are going to do to/for this country...

    September 15, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • rker321

      The problem that I have with Romney is now interjecting the word God in his speeches, is that as a Mormon, he cannot speak as the same God that we Christians have to believe.
      Apart from the statment, I also believe in the separation of Church and State.

      September 15, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  18. GO_GOP

    USA was created as a white christian country and will remains so. Whether you like it or not. If you don't do let me know and I will sponsor you air tickets to leave my country. We are ONE NATION UNDER GOD.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • midwest rail

      False. But you already knew that. Still waiting for proof of your earlier assertion that the President is a "Godless atheist". Or are you going to run from that one ?

      September 15, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Convoluted

      that is your world...why do you insist on jamming your beliefs down my throat??? Christians seem to be the worst at letting people have the right to choose. stuff your religion where the SON don't shine!!
      oh and so some history we left england to get away from people like YOU!

      September 15, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • John Monini

      God is not republican

      September 15, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • LesPaul23

      So what happens when whites are in the minority wise man?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • rker321

      You really believe that this country is to remain as a "white Christian country'? Wow, in this date and age, that is quite a statement, I don't think that Many Christians, Romney and many Republicans will even agree with you,.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • brokenpinata

      Too bad "One Nation under God" wasn't even added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, 178 years beyond the "founded on" date. "In God We Trust" wasn't adopted officially until 1956.

      I love the typical response from these types too. 'If you don't love my god, then leave my country.' How about, since you want a country dictated by ancient religious beliefs, how about you leave? I hear Saudi Arabia's nice this time of year.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  19. KATHY/Minnesota

    This is where I draw the line......DONT DRAG GOD INTO YOUR LIES AND DECEIT.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Shawn

      EXACTLY KATHY!
      ESPECIALLY, since gawd is nothing but a lie and a deceit given to man as well!

      September 15, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • End Religion

      Actually, by that rationale I think it is appropriate to bring god into the conversation. If the conversation is about lies and deceit then god will fit right in.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  20. Think about it...

    Romney, did you make a pact with the devil.....or maybe God. You are bleating to the base again.

    September 15, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • End Religion

      Yes, Romney made pacts with imaginary beings. *sigh*

      September 15, 2012 at 10:18 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.