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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.

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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. Tim Bradbury

    The USA was founded on the belief of god and was a great country . As soon as this country started taken it away ( the pledge etc. ) we have gone down hill we no longer stand as one . To much hate this is sad.

    September 16, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Ken

      Romney is using God as a political prop, fly paper to catch the votes of people who become convinced he espouses the beliefs of the religious right. That wing of the Republican part has never liked his candidacy, recognizing him as a plutocrat first, and their kind of religious zealot, last. He needs each of their votes, and with that he may still lose.

      September 16, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Satan

      It is your choice to believe what you want. I would say that there should be no doubt why Mr Romney has raised so much more money than others. He is a fool, surely! He gives much of his profit away. That is not as it should be. He should keep it all.

      September 16, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • truth be trolled

      "The USA was founded on the belief of god". No, not at all. You should take a basic U.S. government course. Then I would strongly suggest doing something to improve your use of the English language.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  2. 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 16, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  3. boyamidumb

    R and R ..........Romney and Ryan...............Road to Ruin!

    September 16, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  4. William

    Romney is not going to win because he doesnt have the support of all america, all the people at his events are WHITE. And Obama draws people of all races, in todays country you need everyones support to win & Romney just doesnt have it.

    September 16, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  5. oldbones24

    I bet God is real proud of this money worshiper. Romney – Your actions tell us what you worship and it ain't God.

    September 16, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  6. Amy

    Did Romney forget the Ten Commandments? Especially "Thou shalt not steal" and "Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor."

    September 16, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      And how about,

      Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and,
      That which you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto me. [Jesus]

      September 16, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Thor

      Hey Amy! What about bearing false witness against thy neighbor?

      September 16, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  7. soul68

    Romney ought to be careful bringing God into the equation. People might start taking time to learn the Mormon belief system and find out just how kooky the whole thing is.

    September 16, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Thor

      Oh, so, the reasons Christians believe in a majic God and Trinity and Virgin Mother is any more plausible than a guy appearing before an American? Why is one magical event (Christianity) more believable than another (Mohammedism)?

      September 16, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  8. malw

    If you want facts about the Mormon religion, go to a serious, FACT based source, not something you heard from somebody who thinks they know something.

    September 16, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  9. Sandra

    Mr Romney.. God has no place in Government, no matter how you and your elders try to force it into the Government. God belongs in Churches, and the privacy of your home. God isn't a public spectacle to be paraded down main street, or used like currency to buy people.

    September 16, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • Thor

      Oh but Sandra, you already have this "God" thing in your government. Mr Romney proposes to make no change to what you already are pushing on those of us who do not believe in such a false religion!

      September 16, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  10. Jt_flyer

    So now Romeny is introducing the imaginary friend. Heads are spinning al over America.

    September 16, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  11. Richard

    Mormonism is a cult and if the evangelicals want to vote for a pagan religion. Make no mistak the New Testament talks about adding to the Bible and when you do the plagues of the Old testament will be added to your life. The Mormons have a short window of time until people really understand what there cult is all about. Check it out! http://www.biblebelievers.com/jmelton/Mormons.html

    September 16, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Spencer7171

      Richard, clearly you know nothing, Mormonism is not a cult, it is a sect of Christianity. Just like there are Catholics, Protestants, Lutherans, ect...

      September 16, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • soul68

      Richard Mormonism is not a pagan religion. You might think Im defending Mormonism, but Im not. Im defending paganism. Take a few moments to learn what paganism really is before you use it in a derogatory manner.

      If people voted for a paganist we would actually be better off.

      September 16, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Thor

      Hey ! Dummies! Your Catholic church wasn't a "sect" of Christianity! Hey Dummies! Your Catholic Church was the FIRST Christian church. You "Christians" always pick out what you want from the "holy bible"! You even have left out a few "books"! Well, prove to me that your Moses really did get some stone tablets, and I would use the same logic to prove that copper tablets were given to John Smith! Sorry, but the whole religion thing, if you are going to be "christian", needs no more than a "believer" in order to be a religion. ALL of your Middle Eastern derived religions: Jews, Catholics, Protestants... are all contrived from storys from the Middle East. Mr Jesus Christ was a JEW, born in BETHLEHEM! He was a MIDDLE EASTERNER! The religions stemming from his walking around and preaching are hence from the same bunch of mindless mythical believing shells of human flesh that Islam comes from! And surprise! WHO is ALLAH? Same guy as the God of Abraham, as I recall! Far be it from such a humble decendant of the guard of the Ark of the Covenant to be hypercritical of this whole nonsense, BUT, all of you Middle Eastern religious zealots need to go to war with one another so that the sense of the world can be restored. ...and you call the Mormon religion (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) a non-christian cult! How laughable!

      September 16, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  12. sue

    “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.
    God doesn't want to be affiliated with liars.

    September 16, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • Satan

      Geeze sue! So critical! Do you know "what's in a lie?"

      September 16, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  13. Harmsy

    Romney is desperate. A mormon. a Moron. And the biggest flip-flopper since I had a bluegill fish on the bottom of my boat!

    September 16, 2012 at 7:17 am |
  14. Benjamin

    Whose God is Romney referring to? The Mormon religion does not believe that Jesus Christ is God and they also believe that God is not a spirit but made of flesh and blood. Mormonism is a cult and not a Christian religion..

    September 16, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Satan

      It is good that one can afford to speak from such a high pedestal to criticize, perhaps, some of the most willing-to-give-to-their-brother group of people in America. How fantastic that one is so willing to desparage the most successful religion not made-in-the-Middle-East! Good work!

      September 16, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  15. Benjamin

    Whose God is Romney referring to? The Mormon religion does not believe that Jesus Christ is God and they also believe that God is not a spirit but made of flesh and blood. Remember, Mormonism is not a Christian religion according to Guiliani, Santorum and the rest of his rivals during the GOP primaries.

    September 16, 2012 at 7:12 am |
  16. wdavid barber

    There is something about this man that the more he talks the less i believe!

    September 16, 2012 at 7:09 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 16, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • August Berkshire

      Actually, citizens who live in more atheistic countries (and US states) tend to be healthier. This is because they believe in a good social safety net, not a god.

      September 16, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • GOD spoke to me.

      And said your message is SPAM.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  18. Doug

    Romney can reference God all he wants.. And i will reference Taxes the entire time.. This hypocrite is going to need more than an imaginary guy in the sky.. He needs to come clean, but i am certain he will never do that.. This man takes the American public as fools.. Please America do not let this monster ruin this country..

    September 16, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • Satan

      Yes, instead, let my brother ruin it!

      September 16, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  19. BOKinLarksville

    This guy will have you worship the devil if that would help get him elected.. This idiot does not even get a consideration of a vote IMO.. If he wins, he will outsource the Presidency to overseas.. I guess this election is about two things.. One, seeing how much money you can throw at it to get elected.. Two, if you are racist, any white man is a better choice than a black man regardless of how much Obama wants to make this country a better place.. Wouldn't it be nice if the DEMS/REPS tried working together for the benefit of the people, instead of their own pockets..

    September 16, 2012 at 6:31 am |
    • hannah1

      I totally love you abd agree 100%

      September 16, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  20. alien

    Your more of everything romney,compared to the POTUS. God will make sure you win the election, or at least the states that have skewed their voter ID laws will even see to it if God does not.

    September 16, 2012 at 6:17 am |
    • August Berkshire

      So, your god supports a political party that cheats people out of their opportunity to vote? Your god's message is so unbelievable that he has to cheat to win?

      September 16, 2012 at 8:03 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.