In the three weeks since the Democratic vice presidential nominee made headlines with a pair of speeches in which he sought to "renew the dedication 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 and elder 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. In Arkansas, 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 from groups advocating separation of church and state and, oddly enough, from the Anti-Defamation League.
The ADL warned him that, at a certain point, emphasizing his religious observance can be "inappropriate and even unsettling in a religiously diverse society such as ours."
A poll released Wednesday suggests the public has mixed feelings about politicians talking about their religious beliefs. But it also indicated that Lieberman has not experienced a discernible backlash as a result of his religious talk on the campaign trail.
Half of those questioned in the Pew Research Center poll on religion and politics said they are uneasy when politicians talk about their religion. But that group had similar views of Lieberman--half favorable and a third unfavorable--as those who said they don't mind such talk from politicians. Lieberman aides say there has been no conscious decision to eliminate God from the stump.We haven't backed down at all, spokeswoman Kiki McLean said. "We've had a 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 Wednesday aboard a school bus in Ohio. "I grew up with school prayer and found it to be a source of strength," he said. "I wish we could find a way that allowed us more inclusiveness. We are a very religious country."
If Lieberman hasn't been talking about God quite as much, it's only because he has been busy raising millions at fund-raisers for the Democratic Party and appearing at events where his main task is to introduce Al Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee, McLean said.
"If we went to a church or a prayer breakfast today, I'm sure you'd see it," she said.
In fact, when he returned to Detroit on Labor Day--the first time since his speech at church there--he told some 700 union workers he would keep talking about religious values and pushing for a place for religion in public life.
"Some people objected to it, but I'm going to keep talking about it because that's what most Americans believe," he said.
He confirmed that stand in a recent interview. What's more, he said, Gore has never told him to tone down his talk of God. "He knows this is who I am," Lieberman said.