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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. Lou

    The Order of Creation

    Genesis 1:11-12 and 1:26-27 Trees came before Adam.
    Genesis 2:4-9 Trees came after Adam.

    Genesis 1:20-21 and 26-27 Birds were created before Adam.
    Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 Birds were created after Adam.

    Genesis 1:24-27 Animals were created before Adam.
    Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 Animals were created after Adam.

    Genesis 1:26-27 Adam and Eve were created at the same time.
    Genesis 2:7 and 2:21-22 Adam was created first, woman sometime later.
    Back to top ↑
    Other Issues in the Garden

    Genesis 1:31 God was pleased with his creation.
    Genesis 6:5-6 God was not pleased with his creation.
    Which raises the question, how can an omnipotent, omniscient God create something he’s not pleased with?

    Genesis 2:3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
    An omnipotent being required…rest?

    Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
    God placed temptation in the direct path of his two naïve children and allowed them to be tempted by the serpent (Genesis 3: 1-7), resulting in a single mistake that would contaminate hundreds of billions with a sin nature worthy of eternal torture?

    Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, ’You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?"
    A talking snake. Enough said.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Who me?

      I don't think religious folks would have a problem with a stupid,lazy,childish ego-maniacal god.They just want him(it?)to exist.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  2. ggirl

    Does Romney understand separation of church and state? Does he know that our founding fathers came here to obtain religious freedoms? There are many religions in the United States, why do Christians believe their religion is the only religion or that it should be THE religion of the United States???? Keep your GOD to yourself Romney!

    September 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Ann

      Tell that to Mr. Obama who is forcing us Catholics to pay for abortion and contraceptives and if we don't Hitler will fine us!

      September 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Wrong! Obama is forcing all employers to provide the same services to all employees via the insurance companies.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Reality Checker

      @0G

      Exactly right. FAUX news will lie to the fearful sheep and the "faithful" will obey.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Who me?

      @ Ann-I think Catholics have a little more to worry about than paying for health-care...see:the harbouring of 1000's of child molesters.Come to think of it-they don't really worry about that too much-do they?

      September 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  3. juan

    Mitt Romney, Bigot-in-Chief: that should help him at least understand the mental fabric of the other bigots that run Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or even Israel. I am glad I am not American, I would be really deeply worried about the future of my country.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  4. Reality

    Only for the newcomers:

    AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

    Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As does Biden and Ryan)

    Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

    "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.
    ========================================================================================

    September 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Reality Jr

      Yeah my dad Reality is back with some swell posts for you all.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  5. EffortPA

    I found this a while back and I liked it so much that I saved it. Enjoy!

    "Top Eleven Signs You're a Christian:"

    11- You believe in a book (New Testament) that was written 80 years after your Messiah died by men who never met him and who believed the earth was flat and the Sun revolved around the Earth, but continuously deny modern science books.

    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs - though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  6. Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

    Religion sure seems to create more problems that it solves.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  7. NoTheism

    Romney is a sociopath and he needs to learn something about the idea of separation of church and state.

    September 15, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  8. GAW

    November is just around the corner and it's time for someone to rake in the Evangelical votes. hmmmm

    September 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  9. Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

    You know that saying "There are no atheists in FOX-holes?"

    R'Money is desperate for a miracle to save his campaign.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • GAW

      Are you referring to FOX News holes?

      September 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  10. jasonak1974

    I would like to preface this by saying that I have known many Mormons (Mitt Romney’s professed faith), in fact my family lived in Salt Lake City, years ago when my father received a degree at the University of Utah and I have found most Mormons to be good, if religiously misguided people.

    However, I find it ludicrous that anyone with any type of education, anyone who has bothered to do any research, or anyone who really believes in Jesus Christ as our true savior would vote for a man who despite his ivy league education and supposed intelligence professes to believe in what is by every definition available a “CULT” that’s right a cult.

    The Mormon “Church” despite all of their good works was founded by a man who were he alive today would be in jail along with Warren Jeffs, Charles Manson and their like. Joseph Smith was a man who was a thief, a murder, a polygamist.

    Every serious religious scholar in the last 50 years, including many Former and current Mormon scholars have acknowledged that Mormonism is a cult, a large one that does a lot of good works, but still a cult.

    My point is do we really want a man that can be duped that easily as the new President of the US?

    The Mormon faith believes that God is not ontologically different than humans in the sense so God and humans are essentially the same species that humans can progress to eventually become like God. God is not radically “other,” but in a sense approachable and understandable and knowable. “The is idea that God, the God whom we worship, was once a human being and then grew to be God, grew to Godhood”

    This is the belief of the man that many want to be the new President? A simple internet search will show a great deal of scholastic research on this point and I invite anyone to look this up and then decide what type of man you want to become your next Commander and Chief.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • sbp

      Every religion is a "cult" to anyone outside that religion.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Ting

      I find it ludicrous that anyone with any type of education, anyone who has bothered to do any research, or anyone who really believes in Jesus Christ as our true savior would vote for a man who despite his ivy league education and supposed intelligence professes to believe in what is by every definition available a “CULT” that’s right a cult.

      Really? So your religion is better than his? Amazing. Come join the rest of us in the 21st century Jason.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • jackson ebner

      Personally I wouldn't want anyone as commander in chief who feels like they need a savior who has been dead for 2000 years. All religion is a cult, here's the dictionary definition. cult: noun. a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object:

      September 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • oy

      Sbp> Even as an atheist, I'm going to have to disagree with you. The definition of "cult" is much different than a simple set of beliefs that one happens to disagree with. Granted it can be a fine-line at times (I say this as an ex Fundie), there is a difference. The very fact that much of Mormon belief is shrouded in mystery to outsiders is a HUGE red flag of cultic activity.

      September 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Chutzpah

      I agree, Oy. It's mainly the secretism... the keeping of a double set of theological books (what we believe | what we tell outsiders we believe) in order that non-Mormons can't figure out what the real plan is.

      We should be asking ourselves why there has been an explosion of new Mormon mosques in and around Washington DC in recent years.

      September 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  11. Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

    I thought Romney meant "In Money I Trust"?

    September 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

      All of a sudden R'Money is all about GOD?

      September 15, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  12. Chewbacca

    Look at me!

    I'm Mitt Romney and I believe in a Middle-Eastern, Bronze-Age, genocidal deity named Yahweh and I also worship his son Jesus, who is also Yahweh.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  13. LMC

    I am a Christian, but I believe we need to leave religion out of politics. We are a nation of many cultures and religions and our government needs to be for everyone. So many people forget that except for Native Americans our ancestors were all immigrants.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • BillyK

      This atheist agrees with you...

      September 15, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • athiest

      This athiest also agrees with you.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

      I totally agree.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Athy

      And this atheist agrees.

      September 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  14. BillyK

    One nation under god – Iran

    September 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  15. dolly lanna

    The more I hear about what "religious" people are doing and thinking the more I am convinced religion is the root of most evil.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  16. Kweso

    The Rev. Romney sholud stick to the pulpit.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  17. The Bottom Line

    It's probably best that we are going to have a Democratic president and Republican Congress. Neither side is suggesting anything worth doing, so it would be best if they gridlock each other until some people who actually do have viable alternatives for the country as a whole come along.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  18. Peter Wolfe

    Is Mr Romney really prolife or prodeath? I ask this because the Mitt's denial of a ex-mormon when he was a bishop on his concern of her unborn child over her own health. Despite the fact that she already had four children and had a blood clot and going against her doctors advice? Secondly, Mr Romney's contorting of Douglas Melton's assessment of Stem cells called "murder" when no such word or inference could be drawn from their conversation. Witnessing the second was Leonard Kon of Boston's Children Hospital that states "Either he is a true believer or there is more pressing national politics involved" and being a skeptical person as I am that I am inclined to think in the latter not in the former. A third aspect is his betrayal of the gay community by his fellow Log Cabin republicans with gay marriage/rights in Mass and his total reversal on an multi-state Co2 emmition agreement being in office for national credentials over his own conviction. The only thing that I learned about this fellow named Romney is that he is an opportunist like I'm an opportunist and he is a complete and utter fraud not of any substance what so ever. Be weary what you wish for America because he is worth an estimated 200 million and simply put you nor I can relate to his numerous options that would easily deny to us not to himself. Lastly, a former advisor states Mr Romney to retweak, reshape and change platform ideals doesn't matter to Mitt and doesn't warrant a second glance but doesn't it when so much is at stake?

    September 15, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  19. Mitt Romney

    Hi, I'm Mitt Romney, and I'm desperate. The polls all show that my campaign is, uh, Titanic, so I'm clawing at any vote I can. You would think I would go for new votes, but my campaign staff of Howard, Fine, and Howard are certain that campaigning amngst my decided voters is the best approach. It's just like drilling a hole in the bottom of the boat to let the water out.

    Secretly, I am rubbing my magic undies extra hard to get my Super Invisibuddy to save me.

    I'm Mitt Romney, and I'd approve this message if I actually had a message.

    September 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • CalSheikh

      Yes!! People always remember God when they are in trouble

      September 15, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  20. floridamom1

    Just like Romney, I'm a Theocratic Communist. Our founder and god, Joseph Smith believed that he could make the great USA into a Theocracy under his rule. We the Mormons believe that the country will hang by a thread (this is a prophesy) and one of us (a Mormon ONLY) will come in and save it and restore America to a Theocracy of Mormon rule (instead the Church of England, which our ancestors worked so hard to break away from for freedom from religion).

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

      Happily We, the People, don't have to agree.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Sounds a lot like the ignorant fundiot nutters who want their version of christianity to take over our nation.

      September 15, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Athy

      Happily We, the People, won't let it happen

      September 15, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Rick

      This is not entirely true. We don't believe America will be under "Mormon rule"

      September 15, 2012 at 3:55 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.