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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. USAJOHN

    Last time I checked, G-D does not have a vote, he's not even registered... and nobody is checking HIS birth cirtificate

    September 16, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Dippy

      Who's G-D?

      September 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  2. haily

    I just got out of church and pour pastor was just talking about how we should not sell out our faith to support the cult bishop Romney.My pastor also said even though we all vote republican Romney is a fake just like his religion and should not trust Romney,he is like the devil;

    September 16, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • End Religion

      this is the same pastor that tells you talking snakes are real?

      September 16, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • sb

      @ haily....suck it. your pastor can suck it too.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  3. Zeus ex Machina

    He should sacrifice some goats or whatever sick, sociopathic thing brainwashed religious nuts do with their free time.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  4. Jeff 30

    Romney will pardon Warren Jeffs if elected ,he will put him in the whitehouse as his advisor. Romney is a crazy cultist who is not a christian. Romney and Warren Jeffs are 2 peas in a pod,a vote for Romney is a vote for Warren Jeffs

    September 16, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  5. REALLY?

    DID HE INCEASE REFERENCES TO MORMONPLANET KOLOB?

    September 16, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  6. ELH

    Welcome to the first American Theocracy. Atheists and Libertarians beware! The Romney/Ryan cabal have your names, addresses and all your vital statistics. You will be "corrected in your thinking" or cast into the outer darkness.

    A radical Islamist has nothing on a good old American Mormon fundamentalist. Couple one of them with an evangelical Christian and there will be blood.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  7. Nikki

    Romneys grandpa was ran out of the USA for being a polygamist cultist having 11 wives some as young as 10 years old.Once he arrived in Mexico a Jealous husband at his Mormon commune gunned him down. Yeah this is they type of values we need in our whitehouse right? A man who comes from a cult religion that believes his Mormon Magical Underwear Protects him from evil..............What a weirdo lol .................................

    September 16, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  8. Bob from texas

    Mormons are Sicko cultists....Its well known to most christians that Mormons are not christian and are twisted pathetic people that hurt women and children,molest children,enslave the women and children and brainwash them into believing that the incest,molestation is gods word. The mormon cult is a group that belongs in jail for all the crimes agains the women and children,if the public knew how bad mormons were they would be ran out of town like in the old days with pitchforks........Send the weirdo Romney back to his polygamy commune in Mexico where his family is from...

    September 16, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • End Religion

      As a christian you speak the same crazy language as Romney, just a different dialect. And if you live in America then your family is from somewhere else just as Romney's is. Really, how did you graduate from elementary school?

      September 16, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  9. Cynda

    God Rhetoric?! Who comes up with the headlines? Come on media people....you can't even call yourselves journalists anymore. How about something more like, Romney faithful to his beliefs, Romney faithful to God, Romney's not afraid to put Christianity in his political platform.
    Why do you think he's a religious fanatic, with republican religious extremism? ***News Flash**** 78 percent of the US Population consider themselves Christian...probably another 10-12 percent are religious and faithful to some other religion...so who are you speaking to, when you talk this way? The 10 percent? How narrow minded of you.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • David

      Narrow minded? How narrow minded of you to try to couch their headline in your interpretation of what it should mean. Romney risks being ostracized by Protestant Christian Americans because he subscribes to a religion that holds Joe Smith in as great esteem as Moses. They also believe in magical bullet proof underwear and amended commandments inscribed on steel plates buried in Utah. And, to a more clandestine and rarer extent, polygamy.
      Now doesn't a more generic "god rhetoric" make more sense?

      September 16, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • End Religion

      CNN is smart enough to know we're all atheists. You just might not know it yet.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Nikki

      Romney is not a christian....he is a Mormon Magical Skidmarked cultist who spits on christians..........

      September 16, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  10. repub christian

    Time to send the cult Bishop Romney a message...........Christian repubs do not want him or support him and his Skidmarked Magical panty cult. Many of us did not want Romney ,he was forced on us. A man who thinks his skidmark in his underwear gives him magical powers needs to get some therapy. Many people from my area who vote repub will not be voting this election,many will not sell out their faith to support the cultist.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • End Religion

      Excellent! The more of you religious nutters that stay out of politics, the better for all rational people.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  11. Jack 21

    Romney is a sicko and should take his cult underwear back to Utah. Many repubs like myself will not sell out their christian faith to support a cult Bishop and his magical skidmarked underwear....

    September 16, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • End Religion

      It is sublime irony to listen to all you "loving and tolerant" delusional religious people bickering over who is crazier. I love it!

      September 16, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  12. not supporting cult

    Sorry but voting for Romney is like voting for Warren Jeffs. Polygamy,molestation of women and children,incest,cult rituals,Magic Underwear, sorry but I am also a republican who is appauled by the sick stuff mormons are about and have to agree with my church,we will not support Cult Bishop Romney ..

    September 16, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Cynda

      would you vote for a muslim, would you vote for an athiest, would you vote for a quaker, would you vote for a catholic? I hear that catholic priests have their dirty little secrets, muslims, well, they take the war on women to a whole new level, etc....I think you need to consider the man, and what you can see of his life and his family before you make such snap judgements. I am not a Mormon, I am a Christian who attends a Methodist church, but I can see that Mitt Romney is no Warren Jeffs, and to make such a leap, is preposterous.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  13. Mormon Magical Underwear

    Step right up folks Step right up!!!!!! Romney is giving out some goodies at the Republican Convention!!!!!! First you will reciev a free pair of MORMON MAGICAL UNDERWEAR that protects you from evil when you click your heels together,and only the most devout shall never take them off even during a bath.Then you will recieve a picture of The Mormon Messiah Joesoph Smith who the Mormons worship over Jesus,Joesoph Smith was a con man,molester,Polygamist and a murderer,yet he is revered higher than christ.......Then you will recieve the BOOK OF MORMON that the con man molester Joesoph Smith wrote to help him control his followers and Brainwash them....You will also recieve the teachings on how all people of color are products of evil.....like the Mormon church teaches.Last but not least you will recieve directions to the planet in outer space named KOLOB where the Mormons believe their god lives and if you die wearing your Mormon Magical Underwear you will become a god too and fly in outer space to be with Joesoph Smith on KOLOB wih as many wives as you want.......THIS IS NOT CHRISTIAN IN ANY WAY!!!!! Romney can click his heels to activate his magical underwear all he wants but christians will not buy his Phoney garbage religion......This religion was made up by a polygamist murderer who conned so many in the 1800s conservative repub christians will not vote or support such an evil vile man like Romney.Draft dodger.....cultist....tax evader......magic underwear...it just keeps getting better and better.............Romney does not belong anywhere but a padded room.........................................Go back to Utah Romney with your Magical Skidmarked Pantys......The gop does not want you,America does not want you................................

    September 16, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • End Religion

      A talking snake is less crazy? Moses parting a sea with the wave of his hands? The whole preposterous Noah's ark episode? A human virgin producing offspring? This is all normal everyday stuff for you but the magical underwear is crazy?

      September 16, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • sb

      bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!! Suck it.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Nah

      Magic,

      You just hold out your magical cross at him... that's the ticket! Poof! He's gone.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  14. us_1776

    Religion is the worst thing that ever happened to the human race.

    .

    September 16, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  15. gop usa

    I am a Republican and I will not sell out my christian faith to support a Mormon cultist.No matter how Mormons try to spin it they are sicko cultists and are NOT CHRISTIAN.....there are no crosses on their church,no bible,wears Magical underwear or pantys.......weirdo rituals,polygamy,sisterwives......molestation of women and children and the abuse of women and children to make sure they keep it all secret. Mormons are just as bad a Johovas whitnesses or heavens gate cult...Satan worshippers.......but NOT CHRISTIAN and many conservative christian repubs will not support such a vile man like Romney we will stay home in November...........................

    September 16, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  16. Nikki

    I wonder if Romney clicks his heels once or twice to activate his Mormon Magical Underwear he believes Protects him from evilll. Can Romney put his undies on his head and use them like radar for evil or can he see through walls? Where does the power come from? is it his skidmark that gives his underwear power?????? Lol the cultists have the weirdest things....Magical underwear....whats next Magical buttplugs?????????????????? Send the cult Bishop Romney back to Mexico where his polygamy commune is from. We conservative christians do not want him or his skidmarked cult Magical underwear in the whitehouse representing christians.....................

    September 16, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  17. lynn

    romney will lose because he panders to the dark dank cobweb filled corner of the far far right .

    September 16, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • southexas

      Mitt, God = the one who created you, us, water, the animals, plants etc. not your Mormon Leader.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  18. Dirk the Daring

    "And thus I clothe my naked villainy in old odd ends stolen out of holy writ
    And seem a saint when most I play the devil." from William Shakespeare's "Richard III"

    September 16, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  19. christopher

    If Mormons were christians why not just go to a christian church without magic underwear....

    September 16, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  20. Hillcrester

    In polls released this morning, Nelson (FL), Stabenow (MI), and Warren (MA) are all ahead in their US Senate contests.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:13 am |
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About this blog

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.