Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a crowd of supporters Saturday that he would not take "God" out of the pledge of allegiance or off U.S. money.
With Pat Robertson behind him, Romney said, "The pledge says 'under God.' 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. We're a nation that's bestowed by God."
The comments were a reaction to a controversy during the Democratic Party convention. The original party platform omitted any reference to God. The Democratic Party acted quickly to fix their platform Wednesday after it was reported that there was no mention of God in the document.
The convention revised its platform by replacing its plank on hard work with language from the 2008 platform: "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" (emphasis added).
Conservatives such as Family Research Council president Tony Perkins called the omission a sign that the Democratic Party was working to exclude religion from public life.
"This is the natural evolution of an administration eager to push God out of the public square and squeeze Him only into the four walls of our churches" Perkins said.
The "God amendment" was approved, but not without controversy. The amendment was not voted on by itself. It was combined with a plank calling for Jerusalem to remain the capital of Israel. It took three voice votes before convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, ruled that there was a two-thirds support for the amendments. The ruling came despite considerable, loud objections voiced by the delegates. Many delegates booed after Villaraigosa announced the outcome of the vote.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told CNN that the omission was merely an "error" or "oversight" and that the platform is no longer an issue.
"It's been corrected, we move on from there," Pelosi said. "Platforms are usually even much more controversial than that."
The Republican Party 2012 platform includes a record number ten references to God, more than any major party platform of at least the last six decades. Most of the mentions were to "God-given" rights (including the God-given right to own a firearm). It is a matter of faith (pun intended) among many social conservatives that Democrats believe that rights are granted by government, not God.
GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) told a crowd in Colorado Thursday that Democrats were aligned with government, not God.
"[Democrats] actually said the government is the only thing that we all belong to. Then they cut references to God out of their platform. They reversed course on that one yesterday; it wasn't really a popular reversal if you watched it on the TV, but to quote a prominent journalist from Wisconsin: They were against God before they were for Him," Ryan said.
The Democratic 2012 platform did not mention "God" but it did include a plank on the role of faith in public life:
Faith has always been a central part of the American story, and it has been a driving force of progress and justice throughout our history. We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires … There is no conflict between supporting faith-based institutions and respecting our Constitution, and a full commitment to both principles is essential for the continued flourishing of both faith and country.
The Republican platform's discussion of religion focuses on religious freedom and a "war on religion" from liberals and the President.
That assurance [of religious freedom] has never been more needed than it is today, as liberal elites try to drive religious beliefs—and religious believers—out of the public square … The most offensive instance of this war on religion has been the current Administration's attempt to compel faith-related institutions, as well as believing individuals, to contravene their deeply held religious, moral, or ethical beliefs regarding health services, traditional marriage, or abortion.
The Democratic 2012 platform was not its first to exclude "God" from a platform. Indeed, references to God were absent from all Democratic Party platforms between 1960 until 1996. There was also no mention of God in the 1972 Republican platform. Until recently, those platforms that did mention God did so in small ways, such as quoting the pledge of allegiance.