The word "God" is nowhere to be found in the Democratic national platform this year, an omission Republicans have seized upon as a failure of their opponents to appreciate the divine’s place in U.S. history.
GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took to the airwaves Wednesday to criticize the change from the Democrats’ 2008 platform.
"I guess I would just put the onus and the burden on them to explain why they did all this, these purges of God," Ryan said on "Fox & Friends."
Ryan also attacked the Democratic platform’s failure to affirm Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, an issue important to some American Jews and conservative Christians.
It "undermines our nation’s support for our ally, Israel," Ryan told Fox News.
God is mentioned 12 times in the 2012 GOP platform. The 2008 Democratic platform made one reference to God: the "God-given potential" of working people. The 2004 platform had numerous references to God.
Melanie N. Roussell, national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, called the issue a "faux controversy" and referred to a section in the DNC platform on faith.
"Faith has always been a central part of the American story, and it has been a driving force of progress and justice throughout our history," the section reads in part. "We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires."
Roussell noted that the platform "mentions ‘faith’ 11 times, ‘religion’ or ‘religious’ nine times, ‘church’ two times and ‘clergy’ one time."
The Democrats’ emphasis on "faith" as opposed to "God" is unlikely to please many atheists, according to Hemant Mehta, chairman of Foundation Beyond Belief.
"The Democrats could have at least suggested that people without faith also care about progress and justice and that we support or volunteer with organizations that work toward those ends," Mehta wrote on his "Friendly Atheist" blog. "Instead, they ignored us."
On cutting "Jerusalem" from the platform, the Republican Jewish Coalition decried the omission of "critical pro-Israel language."
But the National Jewish Democratic Council called the change inconsequential.
"Jewish Democrats know full well," council president David A. Harris said, "that Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel."
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.