December 12, 2007
Romney's Speech on Faith
by Mike McManus
Mitt Romney made a speech about faith and politics recently -
consciously modeled on a similar speech by John Kennedy 47 years ago.
Both were from Massachusetts and from a denomination whose members had
never been elected President.
However, Kennedy's Catholicism was never as significant to his life as
Mormonism was to Romney. When his father, Gov. George Romney, was
running for President, Mitt was a Mormon missionary in France, when he
longed to help his dad. As a teen he campaigned for George's race for
governor, making speeches at county fairs from the back of pickup
Mitt once asked his dad if he should become a politician someday, and
was told "Don't get involved in politics until your kids are raised and
you have become financially independent." Ever disciplined, he earned
degrees in law and business at Harvard and then founded Bain Capital, an
investment firm where he built a $200 million personal fortune. Then
he was elected governor of Massachusetts.
However, rather than run for reelection, Romney sought the presidency.
Since he was less well known than front runner Rudy Giuliani, he
invested heavily in ads in Iowa and was leading in polls there until
Mike Huckabee, an ex-governor and ex-president of the Arkansas Baptist
Association, lept ahead, 32 percent to 20 percent.
Huckabee's appeal to the large evangelical sector of the Republican
Party is what forced Romney to give a speech on faith.
Romney did not attempt to explain his Mormon faith or its influence on
his life, but strategically chose to frame the common values of people
with faith since two-thirds of Americans are members of a house of
"I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents
closer to God," he declared.
"And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were
in my own. I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the
approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the
tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence
of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through
the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims."
It was an accurate characterization of the best of each tradition. He
acknowledged there are differences in theology between the churches, but
argued, "We share a common creed of moral convictions." He cited
several that few would dispute:
1. Historically, he saw a connection between "the survival of a free
land and religious freedom, and quoted John Adams: "We have no
government armed with power capable of contending with human passions
unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made for a
moral and religious people."
2. Religiously convicted people led the fight to abolish slavery, grant
blacks civil rights and are at the forefront of the abortion battle,
"the right to life itself."
3. A person of faith seeking public office should be expected "to share
these American values: the equality of human kind, the obligation to
serve one another and a steadfast commitment to liberty," Romney
4. Like Kennedy, Romney testified that "no authorities of my
church...will ever exert influence on presidential decisions."
However, he disagreed with Kennedy who claimed that a candidate's views
on religion are his own private affair." Romney argued religion "is not
merely a private affair with no place in public life." He noted the
Founders "proscribed the establishment of a state religion" like
European nations where the cathedrals are empty today.
"But they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the
public square. We are a nation `Under God,' and in God, we do indeed
trust. We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders - in
ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in
the teaching of history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes
and menorahs should be welcome in the public square," he asserted,
More controversially, he argued that "Freedom requires religion just as
religion requires freedom." However, the fifth of Americans who are
unbelievers would disagree, believing they are just as committed to
freedom as Mormons or Catholics.
Finally, in a flat-out appeal to Evangelicals, he asserted, "I believe
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind."
Will that be persuasive with Evangelicals he is courting? Richard Cizik,
vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, doesn't
think so. "Mormons and Christians have different views on Jesus."
Mormons regard Jesus a "brother."
Nor do Christians revere Mormon founder Joseph Smith as a prophet, a man
who had 30 wives, ten of whom were married to other men.
2019: Column 1965: Protecting Girls from Suicide
Eight Reasons To Marry
Ten Myths of Marriage
The Ministry of Marriage 911
The Message by Eugene Peterson
Green New Deal
Christian Persecution Rising Abroad
Gun Control Laws Needed
The Worst Valentine:
Pornography: A Public Health Hazard
Sextortion Kills Teens
Cohabitation: A Risky Business
same sex marriage,
abortion and infanticide,