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. Primewonk

    Why do none of the religious nutters understand Article VI, Section 3 of the Constîtution? Why do none of the religious nutters understand Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli?

    What the hell is with this bizarre need to "out Jesus" each other?

    September 15, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  2. Jokesterer

    Is Obama still the one true messiah? Oprah crowned him "THE ONE" just four years ago.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Primewonk

      Do tea baggers still lie? Only when they type.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      The irony that only the right ever call him 'messiah' is lost on them.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  3. Steven Colo

    So Mormon Mitt Romney is trying to convince the born-agains that he's a better Christian than Protestant Obama? We live in a weird world.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • W.

      Or does the weird world live in us?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  4. Mike

    Its funny years ago he was one of those on board for Separating Church from State.........That was the GOP dividing foundation......Funny how he cant keep God out of his mouth now......Hypocrite.......

    September 15, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  5. JDinHouston

    You know your in trouble when you are still trying to win over what is supposed to be your base after you've won the party nomination.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  6. Jokesterer

    South Park did say Mormonism was the one true religion. I guess all the others burn in hell.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  7. Jokesterer

    Which Romney would Jesus vote for?

    September 15, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  8. Fn0rdz

    Of course he's increasing the gawd talk... the only chance he has is to galvanize the sheeple.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  9. kathy

    He is a pathetic pandering pompous fool...seeing his puppy dog Ryan yesterday speaking at an event with the most vile religious maniacs did nothing to make people want to vote for them. Disgraceful.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • tony

      very well said K.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  10. David

    How many times do people have to scream "separation of church and state" before it finally catches on.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  11. Tom - Burr Ridge

    This is more Mitt pandering to the right. The GOP forces any candidate way too far to the right. Mitt sold his soul in order to win the nomination, including changing his stances on health care, abortion, guns, civil unions. What the dumb GOP right wing fanatics don't get is that the Moderate Romney might have won this election! Why is is the Right Wing talks about "small government", but then wants to invade your personal relationships, a woman's uterus and force you to believe in THERE God? That sounds like BIG BROTHER to me!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  12. Keith

    Thank you, Mitt, for helping to encourage the American Taliban. You are terrible. Religious people are NOT taken out of the public square. There have been NO laws passed that limit religious expression EXCEPT for those banning Muslims building Mosques. And who wrote those laws? Christians did, Mitt. So, who is it that's threatening freedom of religion?! It ain't the Democrats. Name one single law passed by a Democrat that's limited religious practice or expression? There AREN'T any.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  13. Rainer Braendlein

    Romney believes the God had se-xual intercourse with Mary. Ain't he more delusional than Muhammad?

    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 10:38 am |
    • ohreally

      Your invisible god is better then their invisible god. Romney, like you, clings to fairy tales to control the masses. We don't need your fairy tales and we don't need your invisible god. Keep it out of our government. I could care less what you worship, so long as you keep it out of my government and out of my face.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Greg

      Spoken like a true Catholic school boy.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  14. Tom

    Willard Romney is a real piece of work. He has gone into a desperation mode and is grasping at straws.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  15. Tom in ATL

    With all the mocking of GOD and GODless comments here, it looks like we're in for everything we've asked for. GOD turning his back on us. Our country is failing financially, morally, spiritually, and soon physically. Which evil country will take us over? Looks like Germany or China or Russia or Iran! There's always hope in Jesus, but most of you have already turned your back on Him and no surprise, He will do the same. Here's the real issue. Eternity is at stake. If you choose to ignore GOD, you've made an ugly decision for your eternity. Your body burning painfully forever. But you still have a choice. Read your Bible and meet the real GOD. The GOD who will save you from yourself. He wants to know you.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Read a science book and live in the 21st century. Your god is no more real than unicorns or fairies!

      September 15, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Keith

      Tom, our country is improving economically. Look at facts rather than opinion. Also, Crime is at its lowest point in over 30 years. That's a fact. Not opinion. Also, the real estate markets in almost every major market are improving. That's a FACT. Oh, yes, also, unemployment is creeping steadily downward and we'll have a (barely) positive job creation number by election time if current trends continue. All facts. All of them. Your fantasy that God is punishing us is based on your own fears, not on FACTS. We need FACTS to have intelligent, adult discussions about the real issues that this country faces and how best to address them.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      " GOD turning his back on us. Our country is failing financially, morally, spiritually, and soon physically."

      so god was with us during slavery, jim crow etc huh? its only now he's turning his back?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      When will you realize he's only manipulating you? This religious talk is a tool, no more, for Romney.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • stop the brainwashing

      Our country is not failing in any of the ways you claim, only those who continue to desire having control over others spew that fearful propaganda. In order to keep the fearful willing to surrender rights for protection, the "danger to our country" must continue endlessly; hiding behind God won't help you, and who do you think you are to condem others for their beliefs, or lack thereof . . .stop being so self-rightious and judgemental, who do you think you are, God?

      September 15, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Tom in ATL

      @Truth = you've decided that since man has made scientific discoveries, he is more knowledgeable than the Creator of all science – again, minimizing and mocking GOD.
      @Keith = wonderful, we're seeing some improvement. You choose to attribute that to man's ingenuity and accomplishments. I prefer to thank GOD for His provision on us.
      @Cedar = evil is all around us, evil practices will continually be on this earth. But where do you put our success as a world leader? Is it because our people are so much smarter than all others in the world or do you give credit and thanks to GOD for choosing America to be a world leader and prosper?

      It's all about perspective. Your comments are clear. Man is all powerful. You have no need for GOD. When you breathe your last breath and are face to face with GOD, what then? You have made your decision and He will treat you justly. For me, there's a better choice. I choose to believe GOD is who He says He is. He promises me eternity in a place where I can celebrate with Him. Your Bible explains it clearly if you give it a chance.

      September 15, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Thomas

      We're off to see the wizard...la la la la ... go ahead and believe in your make believe world. Not all of us are so gullible.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Keith

      Tom, you're amazing! The bad in the world is due to man. And it's all bad. The good in the world is due to God's grace. You claimed things were all going bad and that that was God's punishment? Yet, wouldn't that mean that it was God who was actively causing the bad? Isn't that punishment? Or, is the punishment just that He's *allowing* it? And, if that's so, how can you then claim, when I point out FACTS that things are improving, that He caused them to improve?! That's entirely inconsistent. But, hey man, if that works for you, great. I will say, though, that if I believed in God, I'd believe that He gave me arms and legs with which to do good. And, if I chose to do it, if I chose to stay away from the temptation He'd allowed to come into my life, I'd hope He'd give me credit for that, Otherwise, I'd say he's pretty mean to tempt me for no reason whatsoever! That's just sadistic!

      September 15, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      "@Cedar = evil is all around us, evil practices will continually be on this earth. But where do you put our success as a world leader? Is it because our people are so much smarter than all others in the world or do you give credit and thanks to GOD for choosing America to be a world leader and prosper? "

      success as a world leader? well for starters on the size of the country, the resources available, for a long time on having a slave labour force certainly helped. The US has a history of siding with dictators if it helps their interests, you think god rewards the US for that huh?
      But make your mind up, if the US is number 1 because god supports them then why if another country overtakes the US its not because god supports them more? your word for them was 'evil' no less.
      For a long time the biggest empire was the British empire, and they committed some terrible acts to make that so.....were they blessed by god then as well to make them number 1?
      Your idea that there is a god that supports and helps a country is just laughable.

      September 15, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  16. Stu Stewart

    This is exactly why he wont win. The GOP needs to just stop the God talk. Reagan didn't do it this way and won easily.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  17. dean morse

    Just who is this GOD, mentioned by Romney? Is this GOD a financial backer?

    September 15, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  18. qwedie

    When religion is in goverment then you have what is going on in the Middle East.

    September 15, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  19. Just a man...

    So I guess Mitt takes a look at the strife in Libya, Egypt, et al. and says... "You know, what this world needs is MORE religious zealots!"

    September 15, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  20. spellwizard

    So much for separation of Church and State, eh, Mitt??!!!!

    September 15, 2012 at 10:30 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.