The annual Values Voter Summit in Washington is always pulsating with worry that God and Christianity are being pulled from the national fabric at a frightful pace. That concern was more elevated than ever this year at the social conservative confab hosted by the Family Research Council, thanks to an ordeal that took place during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte earlier this month.
Christian leaders have been warning for years that modern elections boil down to a fight between those who would have God as part of the United States and those who would not. But the DNC episode — in which Democrats added the word “God” and support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to a chorus of boos from some of the audience — was all the evidence social conservatives needed to prove they’ve been right all along.
Though most Americans who watched the Democratic convention didn’t catch the brief and chaotic fight over the amendments, which came early on the second night of festivities, Values Voter Summit attendees were intimately acquainted with the episode. And just about all the speakers on stage at the conference were clear on its ramifications.
“Let us not mistake: The fight for religious freedom starts here at home, because we are one nation under God,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Friday. “This is despite what that other party has put in their platform.”
Cantor wasn’t the only speaker to make an issue out of the Democratic platform fight. It was mentioned in countless other addresses, and was on the lips of attendees throughout the conference. Mainstream Republicans have attempted to leverage the Democratic platform changes — which were reportedly pushed by President Obama — to attack the president’s campaign, to limited effect. Mitt Romney was widely criticized after he seemed to suggest Obama would remove the phrase “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency.
Romney made reference to the God divide in his video address to the summit.
“Above all, we must preserve the American spirit of ‘one nation under God.’ As president, I’ll support the expression of religious faith in the public square,” he said. “Our government should respect our values, not seek to silence them.”
For “values voters,” the three votes required in Charlotte to get the platform amended are just the kind of thing its base needs to get fired up before the election. Democrats, social conservatives say, are now unabashed in their support for the removal of God from the national conversation.
“If there was ever a time that we needed to be identifying ourselves with God, it is now,” FRC “resident Tony Perkins told TPM at a press conference Saturday. “I think there was pushback to the quote-unquote ‘oversight’ by the Democratic platform committee and that’s why they went back and made this oblique reference to God. I think it’s very telling.”