Entries in Faith (7)


Mitt Romney Talks God on the Campaign Trail

Geoff Burke/Getty Images(MANSFIELD, Ohio) -- With the party conventions in the rearview mirror and Election Day less than two months away, Mitt Romney has found God once again.

At a campaign rally in Mansfield, Ohio, on Monday, Romney pledged that, if elected, “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.”

His promise in Ohio on Monday echoed his remarks in Virginia on Saturday when Romney led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

“That pledge says ‘under God,’ and I will not take God out of our platform,” Romney told a Virginia Beach crowd. “I will not take God off our coins, and I will not take God out of my heart.”

This relatively new line in Romney’s stump speech is partly a reaction to the Democratic Party’s platform debacle at their convention in Charlotte, N.C. last week. Democrats initially removed the phrase “God-given” from the platform, but at President Obama’s urging, the language was later added back -- and approved.

On Monday, Romney omitted his assurance not to “take God off our coins” from his speech in Ohio. But over the weekend, that line sparked a feisty response from Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith who said that Romney’s implication that Democrats ever suggested removing religious references from the currency was "extreme and untrue.”

It was not the first time Romney used the line, but it appears to be the first time in a while.

In a Feb. 2007 interview, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Romney about his views on the separation of church and state.

“Well, we have a separation of church and state in this country, and we should and it’s served us well,” Romney told Stephanopoulos at the time. “I don’t believe, for instance, we should take ‘Under God’ out of the Pledge of Allegiance. I don’t think we should take ‘In God We Trust’ off of our coins. There’s a point at which we take something which is a good principle to an extreme.”

More recently, in a questionnaire Romney filled out for Cathedral Age, a magazine produced by the Washington National Cathedral, he pledged to “acknowledge the Creator, as did the Founders -- in ceremony and word.”

“In recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning,” Romney wrote. “They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God.”

But Romney’s new emphasis on God in his stump speech likely goes beyond the controversy over the Democratic Party platform.

Republican strategist and former communications director to Rick Santorum, Hogan Gidley, said Romney was smart to include the religious reference for two reasons: “So that voters realize he’s focused on the economy -- and not going to waste his time trying to take God out of our lives and so that the vast majority of people who believe in that God know that he’s talking to them.”

Another GOP strategist noted that the new lines “allow Romney to make the sale with evangelicals -- who, despite what they say, are still unsure about electing a Mormon to office.”

According to a July Pew Research Center poll, among the 66 percent of white evangelicals who know that Romney is Mormon, 23 percent said his faith makes them “uncomfortable.” However, as the survey points out: “Overwhelming majorities of Republican and Republican-leaning voters who know Romney is Mormon support him, whether they are comfortable with his religion or not.”

One more reason for Romney to highlight “God” in his stump speech, this GOP strategist said: “It allows him to drive Catholic votes out of working-class states like Ohio. Between the contraception issue, the convention debacle, there is a mounting argument to be made to voters of traditional faiths that the president and his party are anti-God. It’s an effective cudgel if you’re trying to drive turnout and convince uncertain evangelicals.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan Hits ‘God’ Absence from DNC Platform

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(ADEL, Iowa) -- Paul Ryan weighed in Wednesday on the Democrats’ 2012 platform, which makes no reference to “God,” calling the omission “rather peculiar.”

“It’s not in keeping with our founding documents, our founding vision, but I guess you would have to ask the Obama administration why they purged all this language from their platform,” Ryan said on Fox News.

The word God is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. The word “Nature’s God” appears once in the Declaration of Independence, alongside mention of the word “Creator.”

The new platform refers to faith, saying it “has always been a central part of the American story.”  It also says the U.S. was founded on the principle of religious freedom and the ability of people to worship as they please. It praises the work of faith-based organizations.

Republicans have sought to highlight the absence of the word God from Democrats’ platform. “God” was mentioned once in Democrats’ 2008 platform. The 2012 GOP platform mentions God 12 times. Democrats also left out two sentences from the platform draft that identified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and a pledge to “isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism.”

As for leaving out the mention of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Ryan called it “tragic” because “this is one of the few issues where the Republican Party and the Democratic Party agreed.”

Jerusalem is declared the capital of Israel in the RNC platform.

“To see this kind of language, this acknowledgement removed from their party platform is really kind of disappointing,” Ryan said.

At a rally in Iowa, Paul Ryan mentioned the DNC again, previewing Bill Clinton’s speech to the Democratic National Convention this evening saying he thinks the former president will look back at the time he was in the White House rather than the “last four years.”

“We are going to hear from President Clinton tonight in Charlotte,” Ryan said. “My guess is we will get a great rendition of how good things were in the 1990s, but we’re not going to hear much about how things have been the last four years.”

Ryan even mentioned some of Clinton’s successes including welfare reform and accused President Obama of “rolling back welfare reform.”  He noted that Clinton worked across the aisle with Congress, while Obama is a “gusher of new spending and only demagoguery from those of us who have offered solutions.”

“Under President Clinton, we got welfare reform,” Ryan told a crowd of several hundred people. “Chuck Grassley, everybody else in Congress — we got welfare reform, which moved people from welfare to work to get people out of poverty. President Obama is rolling back welfare reform. President Clinton worked with Republicans in Congress to have a budget agreement, to cut spending.”

Ryan’s welfare attack has been widely debunked. Instead of “rolling back” the work requirement, the Obama administration is responding to requests from both Democratic and Republican governors to allow states to apply for a waiver to administer the work requirements in their states. The Romney campaign has used this as a line of attack, accusing the president of wanting to gut the work requirement.

The Obama campaign immediately responded, calling the attack a “lie.”

“While the Congressman has proven his willingness to ignore the truth, even he should know that President Clinton has joined with every independent fact checker, news organization, and a Republican architect of welfare reform in calling the welfare attack blatantly false,” Obama spokesperson Danny Kanner said in a statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dems Shift Language on Israel, Remove ‘God-Given’ from Platform

Alex Wong/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — For Democrats, there is no God in 2012 — at least as far as the party’s platform is concerned. Nor is there a Jerusalem. Democrats removed those two words, and the passages surrounding them, from the 2012 party platform as it was released this week.

In Charlotte on Monday, the Democratic National Committee released its 2012 party platform after the DNC Platform Committee approved it under the leadership of Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker. The Platform Drafting Committee, led by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, gathered feedback for an initial draft in Minneapolis over the summer.

Gone are three sentences identifying Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. There is no mention of Jerusalem in the 2012 document, after the 2008 version included this mention:

  • Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.

Also gone is this reference to Hamas:

  • The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.

President Obama has publicly endorsed a two-state solution for Israel. Disagreements between his administration and Israel have at times become public, as the president has opposed new settlement construction, and the Jewish state’s more hawkish supporters have relentlessly criticized him for his handling of U.S./Israeli relations.

“The Obama Administration has followed the same policy towards Jerusalem that previous U.S. Administrations of both parties have done since 1967,” a DNC spokeswoman said of the change in platform language. “As the White House said several months ago, the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians – which we also said in the 2008 platform. We will continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue as part of a two state solution that secures the future of Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people.”

Also gone is a previous reference to “God.”

The Democratic Party’s 2008 platform mentioned “God” once, in this passage (emphasis added):

  • We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.

Explaining the removal, a Democratic official explained: “The 2008 platform reference is ‘God-given’ and is about growing the middle class and making America fair, not actually about faith. The platform includes an entire plank on the importance of faith based organizations and the tremendous work that they do. Further, the language we use to talk about faith and religion is exactly the same vocabulary as 2008. I would also note that the platform mentions: ‘faith’ 11 times; ‘religion’ or ‘religious’ 9 times; ‘church’ 2 times (one is a quote); and, ‘clergy’ 1 time.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Admires Romney for Taking Mormon Faith ‘Very Seriously’

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- Policy differences aside, President Obama says he admires Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his family life, personal discipline and outward practice of his Mormon faith.

“He strikes me as somebody who is very disciplined. And I think that that is a quality that obviously contributed to his success as a private equity guy,” Obama said in an interview with TIME magazine ahead of the Democratic National Convention next week.

“I think he takes his faith very seriously. And as somebody who takes my Christian faith seriously, I appreciate that he seems to walk the walk and not just be talking the talk when it comes to his participation in his church,” he said.

The personal praise for Romney — and rare mention of his religious practice — goes beyond what Obama has publicly offered heretofore on the campaign trail.  He regularly refers to his rival as a patriotic family man, even though he vehemently disagrees with his policies.

“This isn’t a matter of who is more patriotic or who is more empathetic towards people or who is nicer,” Obama said later in the TIME interview. “It’s a hard-headed assessment of what makes our economy grow. And the facts are on my side in this argument. The question is whether while we’re still digging ourselves out of this hole that we found ourselves in, that the facts will win the day.”

The Obama campaign has said it would not make an issue of Romney’s Mormonism during the lead up to the November election — a pledge which it so far has appeared to keep.

“We’ve said that’s not fair game,” senior Obama strategist David Axelrod said of both candidates’ personal religious views in an interview with CNN earlier this year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney Evokes Importance of Living for God in Liberty University Speech

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(LYNCHBURG, Va.) – Delivering the commencement address at the evangelical Liberty University Saturday morning, Mitt Romney evoked stories of his faith, albeit broadly and without mentioning his own Mormon faith specifically, telling students that their relationship with God will “make for a good life” and reasserting his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“The best advice I know is to give those worldly things your best but never your all, reserving the ultimate hope for the only one who can grant it,” said Romney, addressing the more than 6,000 students who participated in the ceremony, held on the football field known as the “Home of the Flames.”

“All that you have heard here at Liberty University – about trusting in God and in His purpose for each of us–makes for more than a good sermon. It makes for a good life,” he said.

Romney, who follows in the footsteps of many politicians and public figures who have come to the University to appeal to the conservative core of his party, gave what was one of the most religious speeches of his campaign thus far.

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“People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology,” said Romney. “Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.”

“That said, your values will not always be the object of public admiration,” said Romney, whose own faith has been scrutinized throughout his career. “In fact, the more you live by your beliefs, the more you will endure the censure of the world.

After a week that has been all consumed by the debate over same-sex marriage, President Obama announcing he supports it and Romney saying he does not, Romney took his time at the microphone here to tell the crowd of more than 30,000 that “Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”

“As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate from time to time,” said Romney, to a mounting applause. “So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage.”

Evoking the name of his one-time GOP rival Sen. Rick Santorum, who endorsed his candidacy last week, Romney said it was Santorum who told him about a study that showed the probability of being poor is significant lower “for those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child.”

“Culture, what you believe, what you value, how you live, matters,” said Romney.

The address was not without a few more light-hearted moments, Romney at one point joking that he hopes he “hasn’t seen the last” promotion of his career.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


As Popularity Increases, Santorum Makes Controversial Remarks

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- Rick Santorum is on a roll. He’s drawing huge crowds on the campaign trail. The latest Gallup poll shows him ahead of Mitt Romney by eight points nationally. Even in Romney’s backyard of Michigan, Santorum looks like the candidate to beat.

Yet, his success at driving enthusiasm on the trail in the short-term may hurt him in the long run.

After his three-state sweep in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri two weeks ago, Santorum argued that it was his stance on the economy — not social issues like contraception — that was responsible for his success.

To prove he was more than just a one-dimensional candidate, Santorum and his supporters promised that he would be talking about jobs and the economy. After all, his blue collar roots and his focus on reviving America’s manufacturing sector was going to be a strong sell in places like Michigan and Ohio.

Instead, Santorum has been spending almost all of his time since his wins the other week talking about almost everything other than the economy.

Santorum appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday and sought to explain his comments that President Obama’s agenda was based on a “phony theology” — a remark that he made at a campaign stop in Ohio over the weekend.

“I’ve repeatedly said I don’t question the president’s faith,” Santorum said. “I’ve repeatedly said that I believe the president is a Christian. He says he is a Christian. But I’m talking about his world view or his — the — the way he approaches problems in this country and I think they’re — they’re different than how most people do in America.”

Santorum got tangled up in his words on the campaign trail on Sunday too. As ABC’s Shushannah Walshe notes, he’s been introducing new lines into his stump speech, comparing GOP voters to the so-called “greatest generation” and this year’s election to World War II.

In a mega-church in Georgia on Sunday, he ramped up his rhetoric, urging his crowd not to be complacent about the Obama administration as Americans initially were before they finally learned that “this guy over in Europe” was “not so good of a guy after all.” (Santorum’s historical analogy appeared to be a reference to Adolf Hitler.)

And he spent a series of media interviews last week disassociating himself from the comments of one of his wealthiest benefactors, Foster Friess, who joked that “back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”

To be sure, Santorum’s success with very conservative voters and evangelicals is helpful in the upcoming primaries. But, in Michigan where just 39 percent of GOP voters in 2008 identified as evangelical, the economy, not social issues, remains the driving agenda.

The more Santorum spends talking about home schooling and “phony theology”, and not the economy, means that he misses the chance to expand into a real three-dimensional candidate.

Apparently hoping to change the subject back to jobs, Santorum wrote an Op-Ed in the Detroit News on Monday declaring that when it comes to the economy and the manufacturing sector, “America can do better. Much better

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Christine O’Donnell Claims Divine Mandate for Candidacy

Photo Courtesy - Christine2010 [dot] com(DOVER, Del.) -- Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell says “God is the reason” that she’s running for U.S. Senate and that prayer has played “a direct role in this campaign.”

“I know that God has called me to this,” she told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody in an interview to be aired Tuesday on The 700 Club program.

“If I didn’t believe that there were a cause greater than myself worth fighting for, if I didn’t believe that it takes a complete dying of self to make things right in this election cycle I would not be running,” she told CBN. “When you die to yourself you rely on a power greater than yourself, so prayer is what’s gotten us all through.”

O’Donnell, who has been trailing Democrat Chris Coons, also directly credits prayer with helping her narrow the gap in some recent polls.

O’Donnell’s outspokenness on matters of faith and her punditry on several television talk shows during the 1990s, which she has since described as a “ministry opportunity,” have garnered national attention during the campaign. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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