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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. JRMD

    We have pledged to a "Nation under God" only since 1954 and that pledge has been quite controversial. See reference http://www.religioustolerance.org/nat_pled1.htm
    I respect both Romney and Obama for their religious beliefs, as they should respect me. This country and this election should no be of religious relevance. In fact, we should be more comfortable with a president and presidential platform that voices tolerance and that it will not value those with religious beliefs over those without or with differing beliefs. We have a separation of church and state for very good reasons.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Athy

      And we should maintain it that way.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  2. Chad

    obama the true agnostic/atheist but cant say it because this country is so slow and uneducated. maybe he should bring up that our founding fathers were not christians and rallied against it! thats another fact. lol at the tea party thinking their democrate heroes were atheists. yes even abe lincoln was a liberal.. when the conservative party had brains. now the party of today is off the cliff. my dad a repub even agrees. lets all watch faux news now... also msnbc is full of crap too. brainwashing america day by day. dont believe facts believe in tooth fairies... the tooth fairy is real im telling you im 6 years old and i know it!!!!!!!

    September 15, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  3. john

    Now, Now let's have the American Pope card. Dolan sanctify All the Romney's Oh wait I got that backwards and so Mitt whatever happened to christian Humility? Oh Yeah You ARENT Christian! LOL on US we goofed again!

    September 15, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  4. Chad

    also uneducated christians maybe you should read up on what mormons really believe. and you make fun of muslims?

    September 15, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  5. Chad

    we are one of the last countries in developed nations to believe in evolutionl. this stupid uneducated country. its scary. listen to smart people not snakes in trees and pedophiles wanting your money

    September 15, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • paul

      worse still: we allow our kids educated at home, sort of 'retail madrassa' to be brain washed and deprived of reason and logic and interpersonal skills.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Damocles

      @paul

      I wanted to homeschool my kid because I think the education system is junk in many ways.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  6. Dave, CA

    Ronald Regonzo- rrrrriiiiiggghttttt. Rmoney and lyin Ryan. What a pair you've got. Aren't you ashamed?

    September 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Yes Dave, I am filled with shame, like most republicans, I am ashamed because I have secrets that are very bad...so I want to keep the republican party in control!

      September 15, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Shame will be reserved for those despoiling America today. We who obey will enjoy the just rewards of a restored nation. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      If you cannot even think up your own alias what use are you to the other side? Your kind give us confidence of a Romney victory in November. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      I'm have multiple personality disorder. The one thing I'm good at is having two totally different sides to my opinions. It drives the people around me crazy, but that's why I don't have friends. A lot of people think I'm just a freak.
      I love, respect and admire Presiden Obama. He truly is a shining example of an American Patriot. I am so weak and small in comparison. Obama 2012!!!

      September 15, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Too bad for Obama your on his side. I pity the bas tard with supporters like you, Tom. Romney/ Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Rubber ducky I'm awfully fond of you! Doodoodeedoo!

      September 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  7. Bill

    If I were running for pres, I'd leave God out of it. Trying to invoke something you absolutely can't prove is a losing position.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Damocles

      Fantastic! If your policies are sound and you have a doable plan to get the country back on track, I'm all for you.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  8. Kathy

    Mitt already has the Christian vote sewn up. He doesn't need to worry about that. What he DOES need to worry about is further alienating non-Christian swing voters, of which there are many. As much as Christians scream that "we are a Christian nation," um, no, we are not.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  9. Ronald Regonzo

    Hey just sayin, lets meet later in the mensroom. wink, wink!

    September 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  10. just sayin

    I'm back to drive all of you as crazy as I am! It's my turn on the computer at the psych ward so now I'm going to say everything I was mumbling last night after my haldol shot. God bless.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  11. Dave, CA

    Getting desperate with the pandering there aren't ya Mitt?

    September 15, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  12. JayJ7

    That's exactly how Pakistan and Afghanistan became such wonderful places. Lets run our society according to the wishes of an invisible sky Fairy.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  13. Rhonda Rahn

    In these comments, pgraham52 said: "Romney pays more taxes in a year than you do in your lifetime."

    Prove it. Let's see Romney's tax returns. Put up or shut up.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  14. pachecosita

    I thought we had separation of church and state. Is Mitt trying to move us backwards?

    September 15, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Damocles

      Short answer: Yes.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Athy

      Long answer: Yes

      September 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Damocles

      @athy

      ^5.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  15. warren isleib

    If we are a nation of majority rule "under God", we are a "Christian" nation. A follower of Christ would know that his kingdom is not of this world; he said so. Technically, there's no such thing as a Christian country or government, only the people that are in it. Government, policies and voting are about strength and stability in the world. I am more concerned with obvious lies using godliness as cover. When did Romney find religion; before or after he made money on aborted babies' bodies? Anyone know what "sole shareholder" means? (ref 1999 Stericycle) Further research continues to confirm that Romney's god is profit.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • sbp

      We most definitely AREN'T a nation of majority rules – we are a Republic. Which protects us from the "tyranny of the majority" – particularly when it comes to the mistaken notion that we are a Christian nation. In a few decades, will we be a Hispanic Nation?

      September 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  16. Harry

    The problem with this is he is talking about the Mormon God here. No I don't want to have 20 wives and spawn children on other celestial planets and wear magic underwear.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      ALL christians believe crazy fairy tale stories. mormon, baptist, catholic - they're all the same.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  17. Bootyfunk

    here's a heart-warming tale about god sending bears to murder children:

    2 Kings 2:23-24
    "And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them"

    how can anyone worship such a disgusting and evil god?

    September 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • truth be told

      Never happened no one was murdered. Fail

      September 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      read the passage. 42 children were mauled to death by the bears god send. the children were making fun of god's prophet for being bald, and the prophet called upon god to punish them. god sends bears to kill the mouthy children. it's there in black and white. read it. look it up in your bible. just because you don't like it doesn't make it not true.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Damocles

      @tbt

      If it's in the bible, it must be true, right? I mean you can't just pick and choose which passages to.... ohhhh..... nevermind then, carry on.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • truth be told

      No one was reportedly mauled to death you are adding to what was written.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Chad

      oh i know if people really believed in the bible there would be chaos everywhere. i used to believe in it because thats what i was taught. when i grew up i read science books and realized 90 percent of the bible is disgusting. just read some of it last night i learned another FACT. noah was 500 years old. i strive to be noah thats inspiration and factual. if you work on sundays according to the bible you should be killed for not resting on that day. bible thumpers are you doing as instructed?

      September 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them"
      some part of that sentence you don't get? or is it that you don't to get it because it would prove what a disgusting god yahweh is?

      also, noah live to 950 years old. he wasn't even the most long lived. methuselah lived to 965. wonder if retirement age was 65 back then? 900 years of retirement seems a little long...

      September 15, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Damocles

      @tbt

      No one was reportedly mauled to death?? Did the reporters arrive to late to interview anyone? Were they held back from the crime scene by the police?

      It's truly amazing how many eyewitness accounts there supposedly are about all the good things that happen in the bible and strangely enough, no witnesses to the bad.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • truth be told

      Not disgusting at all, as previously explained, tare is not killed , see the difference "killed" is a larger word (there are more letters in it) and means something entirely different than tare. And justice and prophecy are being served. Nothing disgusting with justice or prophecy. Once again you are wrong but then you delight in being in error.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Damocles

      @tbt

      So murder is a fair punishment for making fun of a bald person?

      September 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • BeEnlightenByTheTruth

      The God of the Bible always send prophets to tell the people of the Old Testaments to repent and turn back to God or face punishment. But the rebellious people often lead by rebellious and selfish kings as in the book of kings ( 1 and 2 Kings) hated prophets killed them always God forbids people from worshipping idols, but disobedient kings and its people kept doing it. Even during Moses time (in Exodus) after God freed the Jews grom Egyptian slavery, the trip to the promise land which could have taken 40 days instead of 40 years, was full of strife because many rebellious and unbelieving Jews and their families did not believe and trust in the God they could not touch and see. When Moses went up to Mt. Sinai, the rebellious impatient side of the Jews erected "golden calf" to touch and worshiped. Sin was stopping and delaying the Jews from moving forward and reaching the promise land. Also sin made the Jews vulnerable to their enemies. God sees sin like cancer that must be cut off before it spreadS further. Sin is like a virus that infects without discrimination. It invades the spirits of everyone including children. Sin (evil) in handed down from old to young, from government/idealogy to people. Think of the Nazis and their families, for example. When he sees the part of the Jews that are rebelling and out of control as in the case in Exodus, he had to destroy them to keep going forward (yes this might have included rebellious children of the unbelievers).

      The passage you quote in 2 Kings 2:23-24, took place in Bethel, one of the two cities (the other one is Dan) under the rebellious king of the northern tribe, King Jeroboam. In these towns king Jeroboam erected "golden calves", "which he set up as symbols of God, enjoining the people not any more to go up to worship at Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, but to bring their offerings to the shrines he had erected. Thus he became distinguished as the man "who made Israel to sin." This policy was followed by all the succeeding kings of Israel." (Wikipedia).

      The male youths (boys) that came out of the city of Bethel to harassed prophet Elisha as he was walking up the path, were offsprings of the rebellious inhabitants of the city of Bethel where worshipping idols was practiced in direct violation of one of God's ten commandments. Prophets are considered "party-poopers" in the old testament. They are always hated and often killed by those who did not want to be told how to live by God. Elisha, the successor of prophet Elijah, might had been stoned to death by those harassing youths if God had not intervened. Remember there were like a mob in numbers and 42 of them were indeed mauled by the female bears that came out of the woods. Obviously it wasn't time for Elisha to die yet.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      "Not disgusting at all, as previously explained, tare is not killed , see the difference "killed" is a larger word (there are more letters in it) and means something entirely different than tare."

      talking of being wrong.....sorry but they meant tore, as in ripped to pieces. Those 42 kids were killed, ripped to pieces, mauled to death, rend limb from limb.......in his love and mercy.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    September 15, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      actions cause change; prayer wastes valuable time.

      unclasp your hands, get up off your knees, go outside and put those hands to use helping people.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      “Every time a child says 'I don't believe in fairies,' there's a little fairy somewhere that falls down dead.” - Peter Pan

      September 15, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • just sayin

      Action without a Plan ? Useless. Prayer provides a plan ! Priceless. A good man prays a great man acts on prayer. God bless

      September 15, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i don't believe in god.

      *THUMP*

      good, he's dead.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • truth be told

      Nope ... you are .. thump. Then judgement and eternal torment, wishing for death but unable to find it.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Damocles

      @just

      Meetings provide plans, talking out the problem can provide a plan, talking about the problem to a friend or relative can provide a plan, hell, doing nothing about the problem can provide a plan.

      When you are on your knees praying, at what point are you confident that you are hearing your deity's voice telling you what course of action to take? Is it a timing issue like 3 hours of prayer results in an action that is 70% likely to succeed? Or do you have to choose which voice in your head to go with like 'oh that voice is my Aunt Edna's and that voice is my neighbor across the street.... oh.... now I'm zeroed in on my deity's voice'?

      September 15, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but you assertions regarding atheism and prayer 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 3:54 pm |
  19. RS, CA

    @Jesus Christ – RS, you sound VERY proud of yourself! Yet I need to point out that when you say that your religion is above all others, you are saying that you are superior...and that, in its own way, is "calling people nasty names."
    ------------
    Yes, Jesus, I AM proud of myself. Got a problem with that? Too bad! The rest of your "logic" is funny.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • nope

      @rs,ca
      nope

      September 15, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  20. magnum12

    In the coming years, as evil powers continue to grow in the world, things will continue to worsen and the good people will continue to live as best they can among the wicked. Turmoil, chaos, oppression, and conflict will increase dramatically. Storms, earthquakes, calamities, plagues, and wars will intensify. The division between those who worship Christ with pure purpose of heart and those who worship the adversary of all righteousness will grow and become more obvious. There will be no fence sitters and all the world will be forced to choose between the two sides.Unfortunately, those who choose Christ will be a much smaller group. During these times, choosing to follow Christ will not be popular and will put those who so choose at odds with those in power. It will probably mean severe hardships, imprisonment and possibly even death (as we are now seeing in Muslim countries). There is a way for peace that alone will produce results, and that way is to keep the commandments of God. If that way were followed, all the problems that are so serious in the world could be solved, and peace would come to this unhappy earth. Though the world may be filled with distress, if we know that God lives, and our lives are righteous, we will be happy, there will be peace unspeakable because we know that God approves our of lives.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Oneironaut

      Thank goodness we believe in separation of church and state in this nation.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      November will put a complete end to the "separation" thingy. Real change for real Americans. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you know what all end-time predictions have in common? they've all been wrong. we're still here. no matter how many times the end of the world is predicted by nutjob religious kooks, they're always wrong. jesus said he'd come back before his disciples tasted death - but he didn't. he didn't come back. jesus failed, just like the christian god fails.

      grow up, take the pacifier out of your mouth and live in the really real world.

      September 15, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • just sayin

      It is the last days It isn't the end yet. God bless

      September 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • JWT

      You better see about a med increase.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:13 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.