In the three weeks since the Democratic vice presidential nominee madeheadlines with a pair of speeches in which he sought to "renew thededication of our nation and ourselves to God and God's purposes,"Lieberman has been mentioning God less frequently.
At a Peoria, Ill., coffee house, he talked about tax cuts for child andelder care, but not God. In Houston, he criticized Texas Gov. George W.Bush's record on health care for the state's children. Again, no God. InArkansas, it was education and the economy. No mention of God.
Lieberman, the first Jew to run for national office on a major party ticket,evoked criticism after his religious speeches in Detroit and Chicago fromgroups advocating separation of church and state and, oddly enough, from theAnti-Defamation League.
The ADL warned him that, at a certain point, emphasizing his religiousobservance can be "inappropriate and even unsettling in a religiouslydiverse society such as ours."
A poll released Wednesday suggests the public has mixed feelings aboutpoliticians talking about their religious beliefs. But it also indicatedthat Lieberman has not experienced a discernible backlash as a result of hisreligious talk on the campaign trail.
Half of those questioned in the Pew Research Center poll on religion andpolitics said they are uneasy when politicians talk about their religion.But that group had similar views of Lieberman--half favorable and a thirdunfavorable--as those who said they don't mind such talk from politicians. Lieberman aides say there has been no conscious decision to eliminate Godfrom the stump.We haven't backed down at all, spokeswoman Kiki McLean said. "We've hada lot of fund-raisers ... but he talks about faith and values all the time.If he doesn't, it's not intentional. He missed a line in his stump speech."
McLean noted that Lieberman talked about prayer in public schools Wednesdayaboard a school bus in Ohio. "I grew up with school prayer and found it tobe a source of strength," he said. "I wish we could find a way thatallowed us more inclusiveness. We are a very religious country."
If Lieberman hasn't been talking about God quite as much, it's only becausehe has been busy raising millions at fund-raisers for the Democratic Partyand appearing at events where his main task is to introduce Al Gore, theDemocratic presidential nominee, McLean said.
"If we went to a church or a prayer breakfast today, I'm sure you'd seeit," she said.
In fact, when he returned to Detroit on Labor Day--the first time since hisspeech at church there--he told some 700 union workers he would keeptalking about religious values and pushing for a place for religion inpublic life.
"Some people objected to it, but I'm going to keep talking about it becausethat's what most Americans believe," he said.
He confirmed that stand in a recent interview. What's more, he said, Gorehas never told him to tone down his talk of God. "He knows this is who Iam," Lieberman said.