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. 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 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    September 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • 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 2:40 pm |
  3. don't clik here

    You really make it appear so easy along with your presentation however I in finding this topic to be really one thing which I believe I might by no means understand. It seems too complicated and extremely wide for me. I'm taking a look ahead for your subsequent publish, I'll try to get the hold of it!

    September 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  4. Peter Wolfe

    Dear Bill Deacon, If America was so moral, then why were we isolationalist for much of WWI and WWII till it affected our borders? We sold weapons to the opposing sides for our own profit in exchange for the deaths of thousands. My grandfather James served in WWII and William in Korea and the U.S wasn' innoscent with the Dresden bombings by U.S Air Men and British Fire Fighters isn't either. By the way, the Evil like "Weapons of Mass Destruction" or Oliver North's lies on Iran-Contra or Melea Massacre of Lt Kaley?

    September 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  5. Peter Wolfe

    What part of preventive "health care" do conservatives not get? The individual mandate, abortions, contraception, medical cannabis, gay marriage and etc will help identify and lower health-care costs. Its as if the Conservatives pander to create dependence on companies determental towards their own health and could careless. Whoops this is the party of profit or jobs of "Greed" of short-term gratification that is why no serious woman republican candidate exist because no woman is that stupid.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  6. clubschadenfreude

    it comes down to "which verion of this god?" Romney is sure that he'll get a magical planet from this god if he gives the church enough money. Ryan is sure that the Virgin Mary intercedes with this god. Evangelical Christians want to claim a personal relationship with this god. And all of them hate the others for being so "sinfully" wrong, sure that those "others" will be damned to eternal torture for disagreeing with them. As soon as some idiot theocrat gets elected and tries to force his religion on others, that day we'll have a civil war. That's why the US is so great, that no one's imaginary friend is considered better than the next. We all have to follow the same laws, no matter what someone thinks their god told them to do.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  7. Emerson

    Once again, people are forgetting what religious freedom means. Romney has every right to believe in whatever deity he wants to believe in; that's his business. It is NOT his business to force it down the throats of people who might not believe in the exact same thing. This constant reference to how his god is going to remain in his public square is offensive to me, and despite people waving off any threats of a theocracy coming into power, I do fear where this could lead. Fine, Romney doesn't want to take the word "god" off money? I don't really care, it doesn't offend me, because they're just words on coins. But what if it becomes illegal to not say "under god" in the pledge of allegiance (where it originally wasn't, incidentally)? What if being out and about on a Sunday morning (when all good Americans should be dutifully worshiping Romney's god in church) becomes reason enough to be harassed by the police, as some sort of curfew violation? What if, when filling out an application form, religious preference becomes a mandatory disclosure, and if you don't check the proper box, you are denied? What if a variety of laws are passed under the guise of "because the american god said so"?

    It may sound silly and over-reacting, but little things can grow into big things, and if history hasn't shown us anything else, it certainly has shown that religious fervor can reach incredible heights.

    Tread carefully, folks.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  8. guest

    Romney and Ryan will say anything they think people want to hear depending on what day of the week it is or what is happening in the world that day. Romney looks like and acts like a slick car saleman and it's so unbelievably transparent.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Curiously today's politics news indicates that Romney's handlers are ready to shake the "Etch-a-Sketch" and start over with a new message – again!


      September 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Amniculi


      September 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  9. Peter Wolfe

    Did God tell the American people to drop two atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaka in 45? Did God tell americans to own slaves, forced removal and erradication of my ancestors, eugenics of the disabled in 30 states, invade and massacre vietnamese people and Iran-Contra and Tuskegee Experiments? Get real God is a imaginary figment of your grown-up fantasy so that people like you get a profit on it.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  10. Peter Wolfe

    Bill Deacon, Funny you say that about China because the U.S opened trade with them and also the U.S with Koch Sr exploited the soviets with petroleum deeposits. Funny to see that the U.S double standard always lingering its ugly head with ideals with a price and moral convenience at any cost. A sad people we've become when our bodies become bigger and our cranium capacity smaller or is that a indirect coorilation?

    September 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You have a scathing hatred for America and indict us for winning the major military conflicts of the 20th century. I only point out that if it were not for America, you would be living in a society guided by either Chinese or Russian communism or Nazism. Any of those governments would imprison or kill you for the things you have posted here today. It's all well and good to cry out for an idealized society but most of us have to play with the cars we are dealt and contend with the evil we are presented.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  11. Carl Rice

    I really, REALLY wish people would talk more about mormanism...

    September 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  12. Carl

    "In his critique of Romney’s religious rhetoric, Martin cited
    Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”"

    MARTIN is the one judging someone else's professing.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  13. hemplover

    God wants hemp legalized.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  14. Peter Wolfe

    I'm ashamed of being an american of a country ran by faith? Please faith like the belief in God gives you unlimited authority to abuse others in the name of "Greed" not about morals. This counry has killed millions in the name of God or "Freedom" or another name for it is "Money" the true God of Mitt Romney is "Money".

    September 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Perhaps you would be happier under Mao's, Stalin's or Hitler's philosophy?

      September 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  15. Tolerance617

    Who the HELL voted for him? I maybe a Republician but thank GOD!!! I have the brains to know that he's NOT the person to be behind the desk nor in the Oval Office!!


    Someone PLEASE TAKE AWAY HIS MIC AND PALIN'S becuase they make us "Americans Look DUMB!"

    September 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  16. The Shining Path

    “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,”
    He also won't take god off the Planet Kolob. And everybody knows that Jesus lived in Missouri! Behold the Flaming Salamander!

    September 17, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • tuvia suks

      As a kid, I used to catch salamanders and then let them go. I didn't know they were 'hole-y' salamanders. Never saw one flaming though, *sigh*

      September 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  17. todd in DC

    Not everyone believes in the Judeo-Christian God, RMoney. Deal

    September 17, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  18. Rob-Texas

    Weather you are religous or not, this is part of the American culture. Some just talk about it more than others. It will not be a theocracy.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Amniculi

      Jeez, Rob. Take all the fun out of hyperbole why don'tcha?

      September 17, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  19. Amniculi

    Who's ready for a theocracy? I know I am! My guns are ready, my bullets are ready, and my copy of the Const.itution is ready. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." – Thomas Jefferson

    September 17, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  20. lucas

    The Romney campaign has turned into a upside down one. The Romney campaign should get their facts right before politicizing the bombing of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi resulting in the killing of ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 other diplomats. Instead of waiting until the facts came out the Romney campaign comes out with a false statement the night of the bombing. And the next day Mitt the Moron Romney comes out with a double down ridiculous statement saying the president is apologizing for extremists. Romney showed he and his campaign strategists are classless, crass and tone deaf. It shows to me the Romney campaign will do and say anything to win a campaign. And it also tells me Romney is beneath the office of the Presidency. The Romney campaign is the lowest and dirtiest one. After the Libya disaster I truly believe this man, Mitt Romney is not qualified to be President/ Commander in Chief, Romney is a true amateur. When all of the chaos was going on the President and Secretary of State showed they are the real adults in the room. The President should not apologize, Romney should apologize to the families of the victims in Benghazi. RIP to the victims of the U.S consulate and my prayers are with their families.

    September 17, 2012 at 10:25 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.