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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. nbgb

    All this god talk. My god is better than your god. You can't get to heaven except through my god. THIS IS WHAT IS CAUSING ALL THESE PROBLEMS. Get over it people. The gods came from the annunaki. It is only through human ignorance that these religions flourish.

    September 14, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Where will you be living after November? Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Ronald – Dream on man! Romney has NO chance of winning and it's getting worse for him EVERY day!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      All the votes haven't been bought yet. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  2. GoodAndSecular

    I am an American, I am middle class, I'm someone's loving wife, I work full time, I've stopped in a parking lot on my way home to give a stranger a jump, I volunteer, I donate, and I DO NOT BELIEVE IN YOUR GOD! Being atheist does not make me a bad person, but I guess it's enough to somehow make me un-American or at the very least, less worthy as a human being.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      It will also make you an undesirable alien subject to deportation. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Not to me. To me it makes you a good citizen.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Guantanamo isn't full yet. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Where woud natural born Americans get deported too?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  3. Ramse Kfoury

    So, the antiChrist wants to discuss God, how peculiar.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      The antichrist always has god on his lips.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  4. graymatter

    One of Romney's first acts will be to fund a space mission to Kolob to visit the Mormon God.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Priority one will be to return America to its moral high ground. Kolob may have to be a second or third term item. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • liberal disease

      thats funny, at least he wsn't sitting in Reverent wrights church for 20 years, hating america, jews and gays!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • nbgb

      Actually he will first have a trial mission: return Newt Gingrich to the moon.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Only way for Romney to do anything in a 3rd term would be for him to take over the government like Monkey Bush tried to. Read "500 Days" if you don't understand what I referring to.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Exactly, third fourth and so on. Learn to see the light. REAL change ! Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Are you really suggesting or wanting Romney to suspend the const!tution?

      September 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Everyone came from somewhere. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  5. J

    Last week, at an event in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Romney pledged to keep God on U.S. currency.

    He also pledged to let his rich friends get the greatest percentage of this currency with God written on it through the tax cuts he proposes.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • liberal disease

      Obummer has a lot of friends in that salary range..all those Hollywood phonies

      September 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Anyone who publicly declares his belief in the claptrap perpetrated by Joseph Smith has forfeited any right to be elected to high office.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    What is is about "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" that Mittens and all these right-wing whackadoodles don't get?!?

    September 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      You will get an answer to that in early 2013. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  7. serdich

    There we go again..

    September 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  8. garwin1

    God, spoken by a heretic.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  9. bam

    .
    get religion OUT of politics.....
    ,

    September 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      And into the courts and schools. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Get politics out of religion.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • House_Divided

      It's amazing how the republicans always politicise God with every breath they take. They spitefully use God for their own personal gain. Problem is that these people spew forth hate so much and are dishonest in most everything they do and yet they call themselves christians. Pathetic!!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Well, they do know that most likely there are no gods, so they know they never will have to pay for their hypocrisy.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  10. Frank

    For someone who calls on God over and over, how can you lie over and over. What is your real agenda, will we all become Mormon's if your elected?

    How can you be so convinced that war is the solution to settle foreign issues?

    September 14, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      Too true. I'd like to also hear how evangelicals are rationalizing voting for a Mormon, which they believe is a cult and not a Christian denomination.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      It would be better to vote for a rock rather than a liberal democrat. Romney / Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      A rock has at least two redeeming qualities over Romney – a rock won't rely on what his imaginary friend alledgedly says and a rock won't get the USA into yet another stupid war.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Well Ronald Regonzo, if that's the case, don't be surprised when you get a rock.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • jack johnson

      Remember the Mormon baptize you after your are dead wheather your family wants it or not!

      September 14, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  11. lynnmarie2u

    Has Mitt not lived in this country? Does he not understand that you should not mix religion w/politics? We are not voting for a Bishop,but a President.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      God goes where the Godly go. Get all your sinning done before November, after that it will be criminal. Romney Ryan 2012

      September 14, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Barrie hunter

      Unbelievable – we have a member of a quasi-christian sect playing the god card! I think he probably has his silk underwear tied in a knot.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  12. Fuzzbee

    Adding more religion to the campaign is the sure sign of a desperate man. He can't win on logic. He can't win on his skill set. He can't win on facts. He can't win on charm, personality or likability. Every overture he's made in the arena of foreign affairs he's blown terribly. Maybe fake religiosity and mumbo-jumbo will do the trick!

    September 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      You forgot to mention that Mittens can't win on policy proposals because he's offering all the GOP's economic, military and foreign policies that are all PROVEN FAILURES.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  13. Sandy

    Something about all this Christian GOD stuff that turns me off. This is supposed to be a country that separates church and state. All this talk makes me worry about the possibility of a theological movement to set a national religion. This would cause much trepidation among all citizens of non-christian beliefs. It would drastically change the basis tenet of the country.You do not have to be a Christian to be a patriotic American.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  14. Brian

    I thought there was supposed to be a separation between church and state....just sayin.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • redzoa

      Absolutely, the 1st Amendment provides a wall of separation between church and state. However, Romney is not the "State" and as an individual, he's free to express his religious beliefs, or in this case wear them like a cheap campaign button to entice gullible voters. Should he get elected and begin attempting to employ State powers to advance religion, then the 1st Amendment would kick in. The sad part here is not Romney and Obama's appeal to religious voters, it's that there are voters on both sides who find these appeals meaningful.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  15. Carol

    Only thing is, Romney doesn't worship the same God as the Christians do. His "God" used to be a human and got to be "God" because he was better than everyone else. Romney thinks that if he's a good boy in this life (if he makes enough money), that he will get to be a god when he dies and he'll get to populate planets just like God did with the planet earth. Beam me up, Scotty!

    September 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      His beliefs are just as crazy as talking snakes, 72 virgins upon death, and all the other lies collectively known as "religion".

      September 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Joseph Smith put that second M in mormon because he didn't think many people would join if he spelled it with only one.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  16. Scrith

    Given that Romney thinks the second coming of Jesus was a confused person from Boston with 30 wives, who cares what he has to say about God?

    September 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  17. Bob, NY

    Let see...The party that likes to wear their religion on their sleeve, wants to saber-rattle us into another war, (God created Muslim Infidels for us to kill) wants to control women's right to choose their own health needs, (God's plan for judgement doesn't happen quick enough) wants to give more power to the wealthy kings on the backs of the poor and middle class, (that should make Jesus proud) says the president is blaming our economic mess on the administration that caused it, (while they are trying to blame him) says he is lying, (unlike Bush on Iraq's WMD's ) does not follow the ninth commandment, (don't false witness thy brethren) and will not adhere to another commandment, Remember the Sabboth...the ONLY day mentioned in our Christian Bibles. We changed it to Sunday. Perhaps those were only 'Suggestions. Makes one wonder which lord they are serving. Did our God give us a brain for some purpose? Oh yeah...to give us free will to make choices and help us recognize the prophets of good or evil! Maybe, we should..............THINK?

    September 14, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • End Religion

      I was near death laughing at your assertion that thought leads to a particular god. Critical thinking leads to a lack of god, and rightly so. All religion is false. Religions are man made creations to suppress us, and survive to this day only to divide us.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      Very well said! Commandments as "suggestions" reminds me of that line from "Pirates of the Caribbean" when the pirate says of the Pirate Code, "the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules ...."

      Mittens and these other so-called "Christians" are much like those pirates, twisting and bending the truth to justify their destructive words and actions ...

      September 14, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Bob, NY

      @EndReligion Critical thinking leads you to EXAMINE the FACTS and create your hypothesis. Your narcissistic way of thinking only provokes anger and hatred. When you learn some facts, we can compare our hypothesis's.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • End Religion

      @bob: "Critical thinking leads you to EXAMINE the FACTS and create your hypothesis. Your narcissistic way of thinking only provokes anger and hatred. When you learn some facts, we can compare our hypothesis's."

      The "facts" of the births of the various fictionalized religions have been examined. They are all false. Why would my words provoke hatred unless you were inclined to it despite your god's supposed commandments to love? I have no feeling toward you one way or another aside from a bit of pity concerning your delusion, but its not anger when I say you are a hypocrite. It's fact.

      September 14, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  18. Neo-Con Joke

    Mitt is truly a holier than thou, unless you count pandering and lying.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  19. 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

    Please, please – vote for the *least* delusional presidential candidate – Obama!

    September 14, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  20. David in Tampa

    Mr Romney .........please stop using the Lords name in vain. You are going to bring the wrath of Archangel Micheal down upon US.

    September 14, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • End Religion

      Actually laughed out loud on this one. I can't figure out which part is most pitiful. That you think using a word will anger a god, or that an angel will fly down out of a non-existent place to attack us.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:49 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.