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. Atheism is Great for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and lets them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago. (Yes, charlatan folklore and spam started long before the Bible; what would make you think they hadn't?) And they need to be taught that other things, like God, we really don't know a damn thing about.

    Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Many religious folk have the best intentions. But too often, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). And too often, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!

    Although there are many religious folk with good intentions – some selflessly helping others, religions and religious organizations are, as a whole, just big old clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division (often disguised as love) along the way. The problem is that people too easily buy into religion and don't realize how unfounded it all is. And when they buy into it, they buy into a lot of really old, really weird tenets that are nothing but harmful for the human species.

    Of course Islam is a crazy religion. But look at Christianity. Just look at all the things that Christians argue about amongst themselves today – abortion, men's and women's roles in the church, celibacy, contraception, acceptance of gays, etc. Most of these issues have their roots in the conflicted, unfounded tenets of early Christianity. Non-Mormons harp on Joseph Smith these days. But we really don't have any more proof at all to believe that Paul, the self-proclaimed "apostle" was anything more than an ordinary man who needed to make up religious "sales literature" to survive and spread his own personal beliefs. And yet a good chunk of the NT is attributed to Paul and accepted by many Christians. And a lot of what he wrote about has to do with many of the issues I mentioned above that have Christians fighting amongst themselves hundreds of years later. I don't buy any of it.

    Get a good cup of tea, and sit down and collect your thoughts. If you find it helpful to pray to a god (something you know nothing about), fine. But it is really healthier for the mind to leave behind all the characters that people over the centuries have invented or given powers to, for which there is little or no foundation. Because with those invented characters and powers – that's where division and hate join the little party in your mind. That's where, in your mind, you are inheriting the division and hate from ordinary politicians, lobbyists and salesmen from long ago.

    mama kindless

    September 17, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Kev

      Although I don't agree in taking an athiest point-of-view, I do agree that one should take a deep assessment of their own beliefs, how you came to where you are in your beliefs, access other people's beliefs, or even other peoples point-of-view, how they came to where they are in their beleifs or their conclusions, and that it would also be good to pray about all of it. I beleive in faith, but I also believe that one's faith is meant to be tested.

      September 17, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • WASP

      @kev: i have a dumb question. i have always heard even when i was a baptist growing up " that god is testing my faith" or "my faith was being tested."

      how exactly can you test something that is untestible?
      how can something without proof be tested seeing regardless of the results, you win?
      i never could understand that even when i was religious.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Kev


      What I was referring to was that you have to make that judgement call because it is ultimately up to the individual to either beleive it, not beleive it, or wether or not to practice it. It's like trying to explain to someone who has never tasted salt before what salt tastes like, unless you experience it you really don't know. If you have tasted the salty snack of a certain faith before and didn't like it, then at least you know. If you tasted the faith before and didn't like it, then at least you tasted it. There is nothing like experiencing something in order to understand something.

      September 18, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  2. Peter Wolfe

    ""The Republican Party has totally abdicated its job in our democracy, which is to
    act as the guardian of fiscal discipline and responsibility. They're on an anti-tax
    jihad - one that benefits the prosperous classes."
    David Stockman on his own ideas controling the debt.

    September 17, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  3. Peter Wolfe

    I find it ironic that Paul Ryan of Winconscin neglects the lessons of the collective past especially with his own party. David Stockman of Reagan's OMD in "The Education of David Stockman" in Atlantic Monthly in December 1981 that "nobody knows what these taxes will do" just to paraphrase and freely admiting that he was lying to the American people with his analogy on the trojan horse alagory of tax policy. Lastly, never since Tricky Dick 1970-1973 have we had a presidential hopeful not release his tax records and when we did glimpse it was 15% and much of that was tax write offs for charitable donations to the Mormon Church. What a greedy self-righteous pig of a monster hat defeats your poin bozo!

    September 17, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  4. Peter Wolfe

    The MockingJay: Conservatives are just as Condescending, as liberrals are Condescending, just a different world outlook on how they communicate to their audiences. Thomas Hobbs warned us in The Leviathan that not to trust teachers or preachers and that is exactly what they both are to the American people. Don't you see that conservatives are preachers like unquestioning of authority of God/deity and don't believe in human intervention in social ills in society and liberals are teachers believers in individuality and changing the world. This is the best way to explain both sides of political partisanship witth conservatives not listening and liberals listening too much!

    September 17, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      When my daughter asked me the difference between conservatives and liberals I told her that: Conservatives are like a father that wants to kick you out of the house, make you get a job and start paying your own way and a liberal is like a mother that never wants you to grow up and leave home, just stay and she will take care of you. She's now a Republican.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      in political preferences, the apple rarely falls far from the tree.

      With that definition and your evident preferences, you daughter's choice is hardly surprising.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 17, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is: "TOTAL FAIL, DUDE".

      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 17, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  6. AvdBerg

    The local media, including CNN, Fox and your local TV stations and newspapers are a very important element of social and political behavior, as society is shaped by what it sees, hears and reads and it is conditioned by the events that influence the mind of every person. You reap what you sow.

    To allow anyone to be directed by public opinion is dangerous because most public opinion is the view of the media. If the media does not like something, their bias taints information getting to the public, and this forms public opinion. Public opinion is never based on research and facts. The public uses the media for its sole source of information and for this reason social behavior will continue to deteriorate and wax worse and worse (2 Timothy 3:13).

    For a better understanding of the role of the media we invite you to read the articles ‘Influence of the Media’ and ‘CNN Belief Blog – Sign of the Times’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    The media does not provide accurate information on ‘Religion’ as it continues to ignore the truth and its history of deceptions (John 14:17). They have created the big chasm that now exists without offering any solutions.

    Consider the truth about Mormonism, Judaism, Evangelicals, Christianity and Islam and all other religions and ask yourself the following question.

    Are so-called Mormons, Israelites, Evangelicals and Muslims and all those that call themselves ‘Christians’ followers of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God, or do they follow after an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:8)?

    For a better understanding of the history of Mormonism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam and its spread throughout the world, we invite you to read the articles ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’, ‘World History and Developments in the Middle East’ and ‘Clash of Civilizations’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Mitt Romney’s faith does not stand in the teachings of Christ but rather in an image of the spirit and god of this world and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:8).

    For a better understanding of the history of the Mormon Church and Mitt Romney’s quest for the Presidency of the USA, we invite you to read the articles ‘Mormon Church – Cult and Spiritual Harlot’ and ‘Barack Obama – President of the United States of America’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    September 17, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • The Mockingjay

      Oh, avd, your sources for learning about mormonism sound terrrrribly sholarly, and unbiased, and objective. You must be a greeeeeeeat scholar yourself. Can you speak in that Condescending, monotone voice for us, please, that liberals use? I love to hear it.

      September 17, 2012 at 7:01 am |
  7. Peter Wolfe

    What people on here need to do is read a nonpartisan federal budget premier to the federal budgets that addresses the costs to the budget. Two words come to my mind "HEALTH CARE" nothing else is nearly as vital nor as important than lowering health-care costs to the long-term economic competativeness and our standing around the world. Essentially you have two choices this election in a. unlimited freedom with no adaquate safety nett for the pooor or b. sensible liberty to contain costs and invest in medical to scientific research to lower costs and expand care. Nothing is more important to this campaign season than these two choices just its up to you to decide whether I live longer or die being on Medicaid.

    September 17, 2012 at 5:23 am |
  8. ccb

    I've read the a few AA pastors are telling their congregations to stay home and not vote for either candidate. Really? Yes, we can agree that Obama is biblically incorrect in re his position on abortion and gay rights, HOWEVER, staying home and not fulfilling one's obligation as a citizen is wrong. No Christian is 100% correct in re Christian beliefs, no one! What about the GOP sins of racial/racist ads,lying about the President, proposed cuts to Medicaid, food stamps,student loans, Medicare, etc., which are immoral and unChristian. What do you say to your congregations when not if these cuts occur if R/R are elected. When members of your congregation won't have the help they need is no longer possible, how are you going to look them in the eye?As Christians we dare not be 1-2 issue Christians like the so-called conservative evangelical movement. We have to look at the big picture. I guarantee you that if R/R win,there will be a terrible price to pay if AA don't vote for Pres. Obama. I've read and heard too many GOP-Tea Party people talk about repealing the Voting Right Bill, Civil Rights Act and other legislation enacted for AA and other minorities. Do we want to see a new era of Jim Crow-type laws and 'fight' AGAIN for what our people and others died for? I just wonder how many of these pastors and ministers are surrogates in disguise for the GOP anyway???
    I wonder if these same folk have been praying for the President???

    September 17, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Athy

      I, for one, don't agree that Obama is incorrect regarding abortion and gay rights. And churches should stay out of politics. Ideally they should stay out of everyone's lives.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has written "The Formation of Conscience for Citizenry" it gives a very clear mandate that Catholics are compelled to inquire and contribute to issues as well as vote their conscience according to Catholic teaching, as best they can discern. No party endorsements are contained.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  9. Peter Wolfe

    Maybe I shouldn't have gone to college and maybe not even my GED for that matter for all of either of them do for me. Seriously the American Dream is just like George Carlin said "they call it a dream for a reason" not real and only for children. Now I'm damned depressed thanks.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  10. Peter Wolfe

    As further evidense, the education system is a joke that I'm apart of the Pi Sigma Alpha groupp and the National Society of Success and Leadership of New Jersey and graduated 2nd in my class! My friend Chris in building science 4.0 gpa believes that blind people can read receipts! Ha, ha we are screwed

    September 17, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  11. Peter Wolfe

    Dr William Kelly of Vermont, a twenty-five year vetern of the Army and FBI and originally from Vermont spelled "lynch" as "linch" and I can't rereview like all of you over my post because of my stupid screen reader. Did you know that in the freest country on Earth that it costs $1000.00 just for me to use a computer and $3000.00 for a braille printer? Think about that next time you complain about printing costs.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Athy

      My apologies. Now I feel like a drip.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  12. Reality

    Only for the newcomers:-–>>>>>>>>


    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 11:56 pm |
  13. Peter Wolfe

    Personally I think liberal, libertarian and conservative are all filled with morons especially our nations leaders and previous generations. It was the Baby Boom generation and prior generations that sold the U.S down river by trading with China, inadaquate research in infrastructure to science and educational research and not doing nearly enough to protect the environment instead they were all stupid in believing in a ancient book! How sad is our nation fighting wars for material gain to become fat and illliterate!

    September 16, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Athy

      Now you're making perfect sense!

      September 16, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  14. The Mockingjay

    Nine little devils all dressed in red,
    Trying to get to heaven on the end of a thread.
    Well the thread broke and downt hey all fell
    Instead of going to heaven they all went to...

    September 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  15. Peter Wolfe

    I read seven days a week from five news sites, books, journals and etc whether political science, natural science, literature, etc for fun and self-enrichment. My professors from Vermont, Michigan, Ohio, California, Georgia, Utah, Texas, etc don't fair that much better than me. You can't make this stuff up that education needs to be reformed or else we are screwed as a people.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Athy

      Congratulations, Pete. But it's "fare", not "fair". Keep working at it.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  16. The Mockingjay

    I just think liberals are sooooo intelligent. Don't you all agree?

    September 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  17. Mia Way

    oh my god. This world is so sad I'm gonna die. What happened to that "separation of church and state" thing?

    September 16, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Athy

      Seems to be forgotten a lot, doesn't it?

      September 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • End Religion

      Don't despair. God has lost nearly every gap he could hide in. Religion is disintegrating.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Athy

      Yeah, it's like smoking. It'll eventually die down to some stable level, hopefully around 10 percent or so. But there will always be a few die hards that just won't give it up. I wonder what will happen to all those churches and temples?

      September 17, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Mia, It seems as if you misunderstand the concept of separation. The idea isn't to keep religious thought out of politics, it is to keep the state from establishing any approved religion. Likewise, it protects religion from infringement by government. Anyone who tells you that religious people should stay out of politics is lying to you based on their own agenda.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  18. Peter Wolfe

    I freely admit that my literacy is that of a sixth grader, yet our U.S education system passed me through without a blink. I had a professor say "English is the official language in the U.S" and she is from New York that is sad.

    September 16, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Athy

      Well, you're doing OK, Pete. Just keep working at it. Read a lot, if you can, that always helps.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • The Mockingjay

      You listen to Athy, Pete. He is a college professor. You can tell just listening to him!

      September 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • I wonder

      HS alert (MJ)...

      September 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  19. Peter Wolfe

    Who in their right mind made medicaid/medicare witthout control mechanisms to contain costs? How stupid are the american people and these academic elites?

    September 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  20. The Mockingjay

    Ten little devils all dressed in red,
    Trying to get to heaven on the end of a thread.
    Well the thread broke and downt hey all fell
    Instead of going to heaven they all went to...

    September 16, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ah, so you majored in poetry at Podunk U. in outer Bumfvck, Arkansas. Congrats.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • The Mockingjay

      That's very good, Tommy! Now a one and a two and a

      September 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Dippy

      "three" is next. Next week we'll work on "four".

      September 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Jerry Falwell Jr.

      Liberty University is proud to announce this year's Valedictorian, (drum roll)....................The Mockingjay

      September 17, 2012 at 9:00 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.