September 6, 2012
The Faith of Romney vs. Obama
By Mike McManus
The most moving part of the Republican Convention was testimony
by Pat and Ted Oparowksi whose 14-year-old son was dying of
cancer, who received numerous tender kindnesses by Mitt Romney,
many visits in the hospital.
“The memories are still
painful, but we wanted to share them with you, because David’s
story is part of Mitt’s story, and America deserves to hear
it…the true measure of a man is revealed in the…quiet hospital
room of a dying boy, with no camera and no reporters. This is
the time to make that assessment.”
Romney arranged a fireworks
party on the beach to bring David joy, and showed him respect by
helping David write his will, to leave his prized possessions to
his best friend and brother.
For decades Romney was a Mormon
bishop, equivalent to the pastor of a church, who donated two
evenings a week and every weekend – up to 20 hours a week – in
acts of service and pastoral counseling. The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as Mormons are formally known, does
not have a paid clergy. Yet it is a denomination of 6 million (4th
largest in America), with 45,000 volunteer clergy.
Grant Bennett, a
fellow volunteer pastor, told the gathered Republican
delegates, that while building his business and raising five
boys, Romney “met with those seeking help with the burdens of
real life…unemployment, sickness, financial distress,
loneliness…single mothers raising children, couples with marital
problems, youth with addictions..immigrants, individuals whose
heat had been cut off.”
“I treasure every
moment we served together,” he concluded.
reached out to the network of business leaders in the church to
help people in financial need. He tithed his income, giving
about $4 million to the church in 2010-11 and millions more
through a family charity. He expected other church members to
tithe as well.
rose to become a Boston stake president, overseeing all the
churches in and around the city. He served as a full-time
missionary in France for two years.
When a colleague
at work told Romney that his 14-year-old daughter had snuck off
to a rave party in New York, taken ecstasy and disappeared,
Romney shut down Bain and organized its 200 employees to fly to
New York to find her. Eventually, they did.
By contrast, faith
has been a small part of Barack Obama’s life. Like his mother,
he said he “grew up with a healthy skepticism of organized
religion.” His father was born Muslim, but became an atheist as
an adult. Barack lived for a time with grandparents who were
“non-practicing” Baptists and Methodists.
He said he began
to sense God beckoning to him to submit to his will and dedicate
himself to discovering truth. One day he walked down the aisle
at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago to affirm his
Christian faith. It was in that church that he was married and
children were baptized, and was a member for 20 years.
Its pastor, Rev.
Jeremiah Wright, is a firebrand. Some sermon quotes: “The
government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a
three-strike law and then wants us to sing `God bless America.’
No, no, no. God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing
“I am convinced
that this is one of the most unjust wars (in Iraq) that has ever
been fought in the history of the world."
The judgment of God is upon us today."
When quotes like
these became public in 2008, Obama denounced them as “divisive”
and quit the church. As President he only attends various
churches occasionally, such as an Episcopal church across from
the White House.
When he endorsed
same-sex marriage in an ABC interview, he made the case on
biblical grounds, specifically “the golden rule” the idea we
should “treat others the way you’d want to be treated,” he said
paraphrasing Matthew 7:12.
In that same
interview, he said, “I believe there are many paths to the same
place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power.” But
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes
to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Before running for
political office, Obama contributed about 1% of his income to
charity, but more later.
Democratic Platform removed a single reference to God, and to
Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Romney criticized these
omissions, and Obama asked that they be restored. But when asked
to vote for the changes, which had to be approved by a 2-1 vote,
there were as many delegates shouting NO as YES in the three
times a vote was called for.
changes were ruled approved.
appears to be more show than substance.