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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.”

CNN Belief: Can Mitt Romney’s evangelical ambassador seal the deal before Election Day?

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. Alex

    God? Which one, Mitt? The guy in planet Kolob or one of the elder gods in their other planet?

    September 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  2. God

    Dear American Voters:

    God Here.

    First, I do not exist. The concept of a 13,700,00,000 year old being, capable of creating the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, monitoring simultaneously the thoughts and actions of the 7 billion human beings on this planet is ludicrous.

    Second, if I did, I would have left you a book a little more consistent, timeless and independently verifiable than the collection of Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology you call the Bible. Hell, I bet you cannot tell me one thing about any of its authors or how and why it was compiled with certain writings included and others excluded, nor how it has been edited over the centuries, yet you cite it for the most extraordinary of supernatural claims.

    Thirdly, when I sent my “son” (whatever that means, given that I am god and do not mate) to Earth, he would have visited the Chinese, Ja.panese, Europeans, Russians, sub-Saharan Africans, Australian Aboriginals, Mongolians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Indonesians and native Americans, not just a few Jews. He would also have exhibited a knowledge of something outside of the Iron Age Middle East.

    Fourthly, I would not spend my time hiding, refusing to give any tangible evidence of my existence, and then punish those who are smart enough to draw the natural conclusion that I do not exist by burning them forever. That would make no sense to me, given that I am the one who elected to withhold all evidence of my existence in the first place.

    Fifthly, in the same vein, I would not make about 5% of the human population gay, then punish them for being that way. In fact, I wouldn’t care about how humans have $ex at all, given that I created all of the millions of millions of species on the planet, all of whom are furiously reproducing all the time. Human $ex would be of no interest to me, given that I can create Universes. Has it ever occurred to you that your obsession with making rules around human $ex is an entirely human affair?

    Sixth, I would have smited all you Christian activists, and all evangelicals and fundamentalists long before this. You people drive me nuts. You are so small minded and speak with such false authority. Many of you still believe in the talking snake nonsense from Genesis. I would kill all of you for that alone and burn you for an afternoon (burning forever is way too barbaric even for a sick, sadistic bast.ard like me to contemplate).

    Seventh, the whole idea of members of one species on one planet surviving their own physical deaths to “be with me” is utter, mind-numbing nonsense. Grow up. You will die. Get over it. I did. Hell, at least you had a life. I never even existed in the first place.

    Eighth, I do not read your minds, or “hear your prayers” as you euphemistically call it. There are 7 billion of you. Even if only 10% prayed once a day, that is 700,000,000 prayers. This works out at 8,000 prayers a second – every second of every day. Meanwhile I have to process the 100,000 of you who die every day between heaven and hell. Dwell on the sheer absurdity of that for a moment.

    Finally, the only reason you even consider believing in me is because of where you were born. Had you been born in India, you would likely believe in the Hindu gods, if born in Tibet, you would be a Buddhist. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. What, do you think we all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Look, let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no god. Believing in me was fine when you thought the World was young, flat and simple. Now we know how enormous, old and complex the Universe is.

    Move on – get over me. I did.

    God

    September 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • mshawaii808

      That is one of the most STUPID, WASTED SPACE and USELESS information from an IDIOT! Shut up you frickin' LOSER!

      September 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  3. Rick

    Whose God ? Is the Mormon God the same as the Baptist God? How about Lutheran, Catholic, Hebrew, Muslim, Hindu? If so then why do we have so many religions? And how can they all be God, if there is only one God? Please put Morals back in the Public square and leave God, yours or mine, out of it.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • strangerq

      R-Money prayers
      – "God help me, i'm losing the election"
      – "Thank God I still have my Swiss bank accounts."
      – "God, don't let the IRS audit me!"

      September 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Neesy

      The Christian god. They won't be saying the same thing about Allah.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • mshawaii808

      Than you for your comment! My words exactly!

      September 16, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  4. Colin

    How fundamentally ridiculous that, in the 21st Century, after the first man on the moon has already died, we still have to talk about Bronze Ae Mediterranean sky-gods in order to be popular with an electroate. This, in and of itself, is proof, that our education system has been a miserable failure for at least two generations.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Absolutely.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • christopher hitchens

      That man on the moon was a child of God and resides with God right now. You on the other hand are without rememberance and rightly so for there is nothing in your vulgar, petty opinion that will benefit anyone.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      christopher,

      He (Armstrong) "resides with God right now."

      What is your verified evidence that this is a fact?

      September 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • christopher hitchens

      Sensing there would be those unable to comprehend, the explanation was already included in the original post. Did not allow that someone would be dumb enough to miss it.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      "christopher hitchens" blabbed: "You on the other hand are without rememberance and rightly so for there is nothing in your vulgar, petty opinion that will benefit anyone."

      Oooo. truth be told access her inner "Carrie's mama".

      September 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      "accesses", not "access". Spelling counts. Tom might be about. Lol.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • km6xu

      I agree, and it should pointed out that we didn't have "In God We Trust" on our paper currency until the McCarthy era when there was yet another brief effort by our Senators to prove that they weren't Godless commies.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      christopher,

      Yes, your explanation is missing... in the "original" post (whatever the heck that is) or anywhere else.

      - Again -

      He (Armstrong) "resides with God right now."

      What is your verified evidence that this is a fact?

      September 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Of course the false Christopher Hitchens has no proof. Christians don't deal in proof. They deal in faith. If christians required proof, there would be no christians.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • OTOH

      I sort of hesitate to run this sissy pants (christopher, etc., etc.) off. He/she is a very effective ally of non-believers.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  5. Humanist11

    The evangelical right has co-opted the republican party of Thomas Jefferson. Our founding fathers would not approve of this endorsement of religion by our elected officials. They knew the oppression of the Church of England all too well and wanted to ensure that they created freedom of religion for all as well as freedom from religion for all.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • scott

      well said. any candidate who decides to align himself with a relion as part of his platform loses my vote

      September 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  6. GW

    God is pretend.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  7. chiz3914

    is god going to pay off the deficit? god is not needed.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Humanist11

      You sir, are a wise man. Are you running for president?

      September 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Alley Loo Ya

      You will eat, bye and bye
      In that glorious land above the sky
      Work and pray, live on hay
      You'll get pie in the sky when you die.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • SoloLupo

      I think it would substantially increase Mitt's chances of a win if he could get God to show up in person at a rally. Anything has got to be a bigger crowd pleaser than Clint Eastwood- zzzzzz.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  8. JJ

    @Ronald Regonzo "You won't get those answers until well into the third or possibly fourth term of President Romney. Job one will be to restore moral dignity to America. Romney / Ryan 2012"

    Really? His fourth term? Did you pass fifth grade social studies or are you still waiting for Mom to make your breakfast and brush your teeth?

    September 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      You're right JJ, I am an idiot, but I can't help it.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • JJ

      Man enough to admit it. Too bad Romney can't follow suit.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      History is about to be rewritten to a time when America followed God ... prayer in schools, moral laws were enforced and Presidents could have unlimited tenure. It all starts in November. Romney / Ryan 2012.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Why does some ass hole that can't think for itself step in? That bull sh it will end in November also. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Ronald Regonzo: Not quite so easy and any woman with a care for her rights to her body won't vote for the republitards!!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • captain america

      And you liar prefails won't be voting at all because our politics is none of your F'n business. There's your sign

      September 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • PCBURGH01

      Obama is crusing easily to victory. This is Romney's last stop. Wait until you see the effects of what he has been saying this week. His unfettered criticism of Obama at any and all points, even when an Islamic terrorist cell, once again has attacked and killed our country men he couldn't stand back from trying to unseat Obama. He's a puppet. He's not himself and while he was governor he was an entirely different man. Entirely. His inability to hide his deceit, because I believe he is a kind person under the politician, is starting to wear him out. He's following a plan, not being himself and it shows.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      I don't know why, but I get all giggly when he finally comes out with the "there's your sign" crap. Idiot.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • christopher hitchens

      @truth be trolled
      What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed with out proof. Prove your assertions or fck off truth be trolled.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      Is the idiot asking me to prove that I get giggly?? LMAO.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Damocles

      @tbtrolled

      Yes, I believe he is.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      christopher,

      What "assertion" from @truth be trolled do you want him to "prove" - that he is giggling at you? He can easily make a youtube video of himself laughing his azz off while viewing one of your posts. What can you do to prove your supernatural stuff?

      September 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      heh... I was typing at the same time as you guys.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      "History is about to be rewritten to a time when America followed God ... prayer in schools, moral laws were enforced and Presidents could have unlimited tenure."

      oh you mean during the time of the jim crow laws? oh yes, what great moral christian times they were.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  9. PCBURGH01

    The Grand Old Party is exactly that; old. This country has embraced religious tolerance in practice, not speech. It's time to get the God and country rhetoric out of politics. It's got no place. Romney can wait for God to improve our fate or he can start to get specific about his plans. I am shocked he hasn't. It's clear to me that he has no plan except to let corporate america off their leash and run wild. Deregulation and tax cuts. Really Mitt? Is this in the Christian view to help the poor and less fortunate than yourself?

    September 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      His plan is to invoke god so many times that all the religious wackos will vote for him. But I have news for him, they're mostly evangelicals and Southern baptists, they'll never vote for a Mormon cultist.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  10. Ty

    Ever heard of separation of church and state Romney? Figured you didn't! Stop spewing religious beliefs to the public when you are going for a government position! If you continue, please start taxing the churches of this country!

    September 15, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  11. Ronald Regonzo

    My neighbors think I am a Communist and that really annoys me, but they don't understand that I HAVE to have things ONE way! I do like the communist manifesto and I confess that Romney fits the bill for that best. All hail Comrade Romney!!!

    September 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Because Fox News, my news of choice, won't allow anyone to make comments (they don't believe in free speech either) on their site, so I come here to terrorize people. I have a real personality disorder! Obama/Biden 2012!!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      You do indeed have a disorder. If you can't think for yourself why should anyone listen to you. You are more harm to the candidate you support and you can never be a help. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Keep stealing names we'll get the sympathy vote from undecideds. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  12. JC in Western US

    I am very disturbed by Romney's response to the protests in the Middle East. He said “Apology for America’s values is never the right course.” To me, that sounds like he thinks it's an American value to create the kind of hate-filled film that Nakoula made. It's not an American value to stir up religious fervor and bigotry.

    His increasing references to God in his speeches, when considered in light of his Mormon faith, also make me feel as if he is sympathetic to the views of the militant Christian right wing, which is embraced by people such as Michelle Bachmann and Terry Jones. I don't see them as responsible figures that I want involved in shaping foreign policy for our nation, and I think that's who Romney is aligning himself with.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  13. JJ

    God has no place in American politics.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  14. classybusiness

    How dare he act all Godly. Fabricating lies about our President? Strapping your dog to the roof of your car for 12 hours? Hate-baiting? Speaking out of both sides of his two-faced self? Hiding from Military service during the Vietnam War in Paris France while on a 'mission" to convert people to Mormonism? I bet God is shaking his head in disgust.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • classybusiness

      ...not to mention offshore banking accounts, refusing to show tax returns, running a business that killed other businesses and created jobs...in foreign countries.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  15. np

    Romney is the classic case of the cart leading the horse..GOP lead to rally around OBAMA for real change to happen...they (GOP) are on the down side of history.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  16. john316

    If you want a religious Theocracy lin this country like they have in the mideast......then just vote Republican.....all that's different are the names....... and a slicker dress code.......

    September 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  17. mikem

    America is a country filled with free-thinking people. Even when religious people try to brainwash everybody by having "under God" stuck in the pledge of allegiance in 1954, free-thinking people just don't buy it, and never will.

    We are one nation, under law, not God.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      America has been one nation under God since 1776. What that really means will be legislated to you after November. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Lying about something won't make it true, Brophy.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Which god? Zeus? Zarathrustra? Thor? Manitou? Alla? Jehova? Jupiter? All those sky fairies are the same – imaginary.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Pack lots of lotion for Guantanamo troll. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • christopher hitchens

      Don't be an ass Wu, there is one God and thousands of idols.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Ronald – All the gods that have been worshiped since the beginning of history would fill 10 football stadiums, but of course YOURS is the only one that's real. Grow a brain.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry, "Ronald Regonzo", your assertions about the United States of America are unfounded. I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • christopher hitchens

      If you have to ask Wu chances are when you finally find out you'll be headed for eternal justice.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Christopher – Delusional much?

      September 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      "Ronald Regonzo" (aka "truth be told", "captain america", "just sayin", but now as "christopher hitchens"): "If you have to ask Wu chances are when you finally find out you'll be headed for eternal justice."

      Hmm. I think I smell a disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      September 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Chutzpah

      > Don't be an ass Wu, there is one God and thousands of idols.

      And Romney's god isn't yours. Do some research. Mormonism is a cult, not much better than Aum Shinrikyo in its bloody origins. "Angels gave me a book of the truth, but they wanted it back before I could show anybody else." Oh, give me a break!

      Google "Lying fo the Lord" for the group's own words on deceiveing the "infidels", who aren't capable of understanding their truths and ultimate goals.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • truth be told

      @ truth be trolled
      A rotten skunk smells its own hole first.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Alley Loo Ya

      truth be told,

      Holy skunks chant, "Let us spray"

      September 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      "Don't be an ass Wu, there is one God and thousands of idols."

      yep, everyone knows Ganesha is the only real god, all the rest are idols

      September 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  18. AqW

    The most ridiculous thing is that Obama is a Christian and Romney is a Mormon, which is much farther away from Christianity- the that religion Obama follows. Just shows how naive people are leading themselves to believe what they want to believe. They will all pay their own price in yrs to come when Romney gets elected, just like they did under Cheney/Bush 2000-2008.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      "If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way."

      Bertrand Russell

      September 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      The cost under Bush / Cheney will look like the tip jar in a two bit fancy house after November. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • bb

      Correction, Romney will not have enough votes to get elected. People are not as stupid as he thinks. Plus, Romney will worship whatever God gets him elected.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      The cost under Bush / Cheney will look like the tip jar in a two bit fancy house after November. Romney / Ryan 2012.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  19. Janet

    "Religion is the opiate of the masses." -Karl Marx

    September 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Religion is an attempt to bribe your way out of dying.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Groucho, Harpo and Karl, i knew i remembered those guys. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  20. Luis Wu

    ALL religions are nothing but ancient mythology, period. Why anyone in their right mind would fall for that ignorant nonsense is beyond me.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • JWT

      For the majority they believe and that's fine. It harms no one. It;s the believers that have this crazy idea that non-believers are wrong and that all should live according to their particular religious beliefs that are a problem., Fortunately most of them can be ignored.

      September 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
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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.