Beliefnet's God-o-Meter (Gah-DOM-meter) is tuned to both the Kerry-Edwards and the Bush-Cheney camps, measuring factors such as mentions of God per 30 seconds, context (invoking God to, say, justify tax cuts would send the God-o-Meter into a frenzy), and other subtle criteria. With a startling degree of scientific accuracy, God-o-Meter then rates each campaign on a 10-point scale from "secularist" to "theocrat."
During the 2000 election, our first God-o-Meter led us to describe that race as having "the most faith-talk of any in the 20th century." Records, of course, are made to be broken. While Bush recently flew overnight to grab a photo-op with the pope and Kerry jabbed politely back with a reference to the Book of James (see chart), the upcoming set-to between a born-again Bush and Catholic Kerry already has God-o-Meter's needle twitching ominously.
Today's reading (9/3/04): Peppering his convention speech with four mentions of God, two "faiths"-not counting a "faith-based initiative"-and a quick (too quick for some) nod to the unborn, Bush bumps his meter reading to 7. His bonus use of "almighty," when asserting freedom is "the almighty God's gift" to humankind, shows why he's God's gift to the Republicans' faith outreach.
|Bush Accepts presidential nomination
September 2, 2004
|Any folk musician can work in that bit from Ecclesiastes about "everything has a season." Only Bush pull off a story of watching a man maimed by Saddam Hussein write a prayer to Allah for America. This is not your father's evangelical!|
|Cheney accepts VP nomination
September 1, 2004
|OK, everyone knows Cheney's conservatism isn't the religious kind--in deference to his lesbian daughter, he even came out last week in favor of gay marriage! But, Dick, not even a "God bless America"?|
|Kerry accepts presidential nomination
July 29, 2004
|Nearly 40 minutes into Kerry's speech Kerry "welcome[d] people of faith," compared his form of piety to Reagan's and Lincoln's, and then neatly claimed he didn't wear his faith on his sleeve. More than made up for mysteriously referring to "Honor thy father and mother" as "one of the oldest commandments."|
|Edwards accepts VP nomination
July 28, 2004
|After the faith-filled speeches of Barack Obama and former President Clinton at the Democratic Convention, God-o-Meter was a little disappointed by Edwards' acceptance speech last night. He did talk about values (8 mentions!), but his only God reference came with the "bless you" at the end.|
|Bush speaks to the National Urban League Conference
July 23, 2004
|Not to be outdone by his rival, Bush uses the same setting to mainly discuss minority business ownership--but throws in a plug for Americans' freedom to worship how they want and a push for the faith-based initiative, tipping the God-o-Meter upward.|
|Kerry speaks to the National Urban League Conference
July 22, 2004
|This new faith-filled version of a stump speech includes quotes from the Gospel of Matthew and the book of James. Kerry's used it several times this month with an African-American audience, working hard to appeal to religiously-conservative Democrats.|
|Kerry selects Edwards
July 6, 2004
|Kerry mentions Edwards' faith only in passing. The speech is big on values, however, with Kerry praising Edwards for his conviction and defense of American values. Ends with God Bless America.|
|Bush calls himself a 'voice of cultural change'
May 28, 2004
|In a candid interview with several Christian publications, Bush reveals that he prays "all the time," he reads Oswald Chambers every morning, and he views part of his role as president to "let the light shine." But he confuses God-o-Meter by referring to himself as a "secular politician." Is he sure?|
9/2/04: God-o-Meter returns from its August hiatus to find both sides suddenly mum on the Higher Power. Still recovering from their 1992 hangover, when Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Pat Buchanan turned Houston's Astrodome into a revival tent, the Republicans at this year's convention have avoided mentions of God. So far, a Democrat, Georgia Senator Zell Miller spouted the most faith talk in his speech.
7/30/04: Kerry's acceptance speech boosts the Dems' rating to 6, with most of the scoring coming with the candidate's warning that GOP isn't spelled G-O-D. But it was Kerry's use of the commandment "Honor thy father and mother" to justify importing seniors' drugs from Canada that put the two parties' ratings even at the close of the Boston hoopla.
7/28/04: We kick off the 2004 God-o-Meter with a look at a few recent speeches and interviews from Bush and Kerry. Since barely mentioning God in his September 2003 campaign announcement, Kerry's recent stump speeches have included several biblical quotes and faith mentions. Bush is still ahead, as he continues--as he's done throughout his time in office--to frequently draw on his faith in public appearances. Stay tuned: God-o-Meter is gearing up for Kerry's sure-to-be-Godly acceptance speech on Thursday night.
7/29/04:The Democrats hit the God-o-Meter hard early in their convention week, but veep aspirant Edwards went long on values last night without actually deploying the G-word, resulting in a 3.5. Will Kerry give the Democrats' meter--or let it plunge lower? Bush-Cheney, all but silent while the Dems rally, hangs in with a 6.