Dems Quickly Switch to Include "God," "Jerusalem"

The Democratic Party amended its platform to include "God" and "Jerusalem."

ByABC News
September 5, 2012, 6:05 PM

Sept. 5, 2012 -- Moments after convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa gaveled in day two of the Democratic Convention, the hall burst into chaos as Democrats voted to amend their party's platform to include the word "God" and name Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Villaraigosa called the vote three times. The first two voice votes, which require a two-thirds majority to pass, were tied between "ays" and "nos." On the third vote it was still hard to tell whether he "ays" were audibly louder than the "nays" in the half-full arena.

When Villaraigosa announced "the ays have it," loud boos erupted across the arena.

An Obama campaign official said President Obama personally requested that "God" be put back into the platform. "Why did they change that?" Obama said, according to the official, when he heard the word had been removed.

The changes came after Republicans spent the morning criticizing Democrats for removing Jerusalem and God from their platform, which was adopted during the start of the convention on Tuesday. The Republican platform mentions God 12 times.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Wednesday that taking the word "God" out of the Democratic platform proved that the party is "veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don't recognize."

After Wednesday's voice vote, Romney's spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said in a statement that the vote was "unclear" and called on "President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel's capital," which Saul claimed Obama had not done.

Romney's vice presidential runningmate, Paul Ryan, said Wednesday that the omission of God in the DNC platform was "rather peculiar" and "is not in keeping with our founding documents, our founding vision."

But the word "God" does not appear in the Constitution and is printed only once in the Declaration of Independence, which states "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle" people. The Declaration of Independence also mentions the "Creator."

Today's platform changes restore the language that was used in the Democratic Party's 2008 platform, which uses the word "God" in this context:

"We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."

The changes also restore the 2008 language that named Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths," the Democratic platform now states.

A Democratic Party official said in a statement that the party made the changes to "to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the president and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008." A senior administration official the controversy an "unforced error" and expressed bewilderment that anyone thought the party platform needed to represent official White House negotiating policy.

Aboard Air Force One today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged the concerns over cutting out Jerusalem from the platform but sought to dispel them.

"Obviously, we've heard some of the concerns expressed about it, but let's be clear. ... As president of the United States, the position on Jerusalem held by this administration, this president is exactly the same position that presidents and administrations have held since 1967," Carney told reporters.

But while both party platforms now include the word "God," the majority of Americans support keeping a distance between religion and politics.

According to an ABC/Washington Post poll in March, 63 percent of respondents said political leaders should not rely on their religious beliefs when making policy decisions.