God-o-Meter Adjustment Criteria*

The needle on God-o-Meter goes up if a candidate…
  1. Discusses his/her faith and how it would influence his/her presidency publicly or in an advertisement, or has staff or surrogates do the same.
  2. Publicly quotes from the Bible or other scripture, uses overtly religious language, or discusses personal religious life, even outside the context of how it influences his/her policy positions, e.g. discussing personal prayer life or own sinfulness.
  3. Frames issues in religious or spiritual terms, e.g. environmentalism as “Creation Care” or one-man/one-woman marriage as “God’s plan.”
  4. Delivers a speech or makes an appearance in an overtly religious setting, e.g. a house of worship, denominational convention, religious college, etc.
  5. Lobbies a religious leader/activist/organization/denomination for support, either personally or through staff and surrogates.
  6. Receives an endorsement or is the object of favorable comments from a religious leader/activist/organization.
  7. Buys ads in religious media, e.g. Christian radio or a Mormon magazine.
  8. Embraces an issue important to a key religious constituency, e.g. a Republican vowing to appoint Supreme Court judges who would overturn Roe or a Democrat vowing to retain President Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
  9. Takes steps to build or strengthen a faith outreach program.
  10. Grants an interview to a religious broadcaster or publication.
The needle on God-o-Meter goes down if a candidate…
  1. Says his/her faith doesn’t inform policy positions.
  2. Declines to discuss his/her personal faith life when asked, e.g. by a debate moderator.
  3. Consistently strikes a secular tone by foregoing mentions of God or faith in situations where it would be appropriate to do so
  4. Makes a remark offensive to an important religious constituency, e.g. a politically incorrect joke.
  5. Is seen to be disingenuous in discussing his/her faith.
  6. Is knocked by a religious leader/activist.
  7. Watches support of a religious leader/activist he/she was lobbying go to a competitor.
  8. Takes stand on an issue that rankles a religious community.
  9. Declines an invitation to participate in an overtly religious event

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*God-o-Meter is agonistic on the question of whether it’s preferable for a candidate to have a high or low rating.

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