Category Archives: Unspecified

Early Reactions

Early reactions appear to be largely very positive for Romney’s speech. First Read lists mostly glowing reactions from several conservative commentators. The Fix also has some good discussion of what did and did not work. I’ll update this post throughout the day with other good takes on this speech.

UPDATE: Chris Matthews on the speech: “For the first time in this campaign, it’s long already, I heard greatness this morning.”  Not bad.

David Brody also seems to have loved it, watching it in person.  I found Brody’s closing paragraph especially cogent:

Bottom line: With an American President introducing him, American flags behind him, family hugs on stage and a speech written by him that was delivered from his heart, this day could indeed turn out to be the beginning of Mitt Romney’s ascension to the Presidency. All the candidates wish they could capture a moment like this. But they aren’t Mormon. In that way, maybe, in a way, Romney’s Mormonism could actually end up helping him rather than hurting him.

“Faith in America”

The following is the complete, official text of Governor Romney’s speech, “Faith in America,” as prepared for delivery.  You can view the video of the speech here.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your kind introduction.

It is an honor to be here today. This is an inspiring place because of you and the First Lady and because of the film exhibited across the way in the Presidential library. For those who have not seen it, it shows the President as a young pilot, shot down during the Second World War, being rescued from his life-raft by the crew of an American submarine. It is a moving reminder that when America has faced challenge and peril, Americans rise to the occasion, willing to risk their very lives to defend freedom and preserve our nation. We are in your debt. Thank you, Mr. President.

Mr. President, your generation rose to the occasion, first to defeat Fascism and then to vanquish the Soviet Union. You left us, your children, a free and strong America. It is why we call yours the greatest generation. It is now my generation’s turn. How we respond to today’s challenges will define our generation. And it will determine what kind of America we will leave our children, and theirs.

America faces a new generation of challenges. Radical violent Islam seeks to destroy us. An emerging China endeavors to surpass our economic leadership. And we are troubled at home by government overspending, overuse of foreign oil, and the breakdown of the family.

Over the last year, we have embarked on a national debate on how best to preserve American leadership. Today, I wish to address a topic which I believe is fundamental to America’s greatness: our religious liberty. I will also offer perspectives on how my own faith would inform my Presidency, if I were elected.

There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation’s founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom. In John Adams‘ words: ‘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.’ Continue reading “Faith in America”

Writing Romney’s Speech For Him

I was asked by one Mormon blog to contribute a few paragraphs of the speech I would write for Mitt Romney.  This is what I (too quickly) came up with:

Many have criticized me for holding my religious beliefs to be private, while some have accused me of making my faith too explicit a part of my candidacy. Both criticisms arise from a misunderstanding of the role faith plays in America. Religious conviction was at the core of America’s founding and drove the progress of this nation from slave-holding and divided to free and united, and then from separate to equal. At no point in our history did any great decision turn on one person’s received theology. Rather, the unique religion of Jefferson, the fervent faith of Lincoln, and the fiery passion of Reverend King formed the course of American events in unison, on their common foundation of belief in God and in His gift of liberty. If those men gathered in a room today, would we ask them to discuss their different interpretations of the Bible? If we did, they would not take the bait. Their contribution lies in their ability to find God in humanity. We would dishonor their legacy by demanding doctrine more detailed than this.

My own doctrine provides more detail of course, as do the teachings of many different faiths in this country. The question is whether the doctrinal details matter when it comes to solving America’s problems. I have considered my religious beliefs deeply, and have always concluded that they have made me better than I might have been without them. Some have focused on marginal or sensational details of my religion, as if my belief in the origin of scripture is more important than my relationship with its author. The beliefs I hold most sacred and most formative are those that teach how I can improve, how I can strengthen my family, and how I can help others in the world. If this rings of Christianity, it’s because I believe the Christian message of love for God and neighbor to be the heart of my religion.

And yet, large differences remain between my faith and that of many others. But large differences existed at the time of the founding, and always have. The differences never defined the best Americans. We are one nation under God. We have always asked our leaders, regardless of their specific doctrines, to embrace that idea, combined with a love for this country, its institutions and laws. I share that belief in God, and that admiration for this nation. I would lead this country without regard to my own specific beliefs, or those of others of my church, but in reverence for the American ideals of freedom and faith.

This was posted as one of several thoughtful contributions from other sharp writers.  You can read all of the suggestd speech-lets here.

One Good Take

Setting aside my little boredom rant in the last post, I thought this was a good angle, from Ed Kilgore at The Democratic Strategist:

 If I were Romney, I’d go right at the conservative evangelical Protestant suspicions about Mormonism by stressing and restressing its culturally conservative teachings and practices, ignoring the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and formal theological issues altogether. Theology aside, Mormons could be perceived as evangelicals with a much better track record of worldly accomplishments and moral fidelity. And in many respects, the LDS church has built the sort of conservative commonwealth in Utah that many evangelicals dream of for the whole country. I happen to have a family member, a longtime Southern Baptist Deacon, who’s travelled to almost every corner of the world. The only place I ever heard him wax rhapsodic about was Salt Lake City. “It’s so clean!” he kept saying, reflecting a tanglble envy for what Mormons have wrought in comparison to the messy and hypocritical cultural milieus in which most evangelicals live.

A Nice Summary of Mormon-Christian Relations

This article in the American Thinker focuses on the disputes going on in the academic world among theologians and scholars along the Mormon-evangelical divide.  It may come as a surprise to many readers that this fight has softened in tenor, while remaining bitterly contested in substances.  Its application to the current political battles is not direct, but is certainly suggestive of how a more civil dialogue could eventually prevail.

Highly recommended.

Values Vs. Theology

After making a nice effort to fact-check the ludicrous accusations being thrown around by some anti-Mormons on its discussion forum, Slate has now reverted to form– deliberately obtuse and mockingly dismissive of religion. The latest iteration comes in Slate’s coverage of the recent endorsement of Romney from Bob Jones III, who operated the famously fundamentalist college that bears his name, and is the grandson of its founder.

Slate’s blog-bite coverage in full:

Losing his religion: Check out Bob Jones’ official “endorsement” of Mitt Romney:

Asked whether Romney’s religion was a stumbling block for him, Jones replied, “What is the alternative, Hillary’s lack of religion or an erroneous religion?”

“As a Christian I am completely opposed to the doctrines of Mormonism,” he said. “But I’m not voting for a preacher. I’m voting for a president. It boils down to who can best represent conservative American beliefs, not religious beliefs.”

Wait, what? I thought the whole point of an endorsement from Bob Jones was that he—or any other fundamentalist Christian university president, for that matter—does pick based on religious beliefs. No one cares what Bob Jones thinks of the health-care plan or tax cuts or plan for Iraq. They want to know who worships the best God! It’s like a master chef recommending a restaurant even though he hates the food.

People always discuss Romney’s beliefs as a weak spot. Who knew he’d be our nation’s last defense against a pagan Giuliani or Clinton administration?

In other words, “I, Slate writer, can’t think of any reason why any religious leader or follower would care about anything besides theology! What’s up with this wacky guy- endorsing someone from a church he doesn’t believe in? These Christians just keep getting crazier and crazier!”  Clearly, Bob Jones III has conducted himself in a way unbecoming of a Christian stereotype. Continue reading Values Vs. Theology

The Best of Last Week

And . . . we’re back. Hope you weren’t holding your breath.

While there was plenty of coverage of Romney-religion issues during our week of posting silence, we might as well use the comeback post to highlight the best entry. That award goes (by a long shot) to A Mormon President, by Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp writing in the Christian Century. Several readers sent emails regarding this story while I spent last week mostly in a drowsy haze, and I’m glad to have seen it.

This piece should serve as the authoritative reference on the topic of “How Would Romney’s Religion Influence His Politics as President?” The treatment of Mormonism is surprisingly fair, but even more unusual, it is full of depth and nuance that is possible only for someone deeply familiar with this religion.

Ms. Maffly-Kipp’s writing is especially interesting for one of its repeating themes– the idea that for all its moral absolutism and hierarchical authority, Mormonism is absolutely bristling with emphasis on individual autonomy. While this element of the faith is admittedly easy to overlook in favor of the flashier doctrines, it is absolutely crucial to an understanding of what motivates the average Mormon, particularly in political life. You could even go a step farther and say that Mitt Romney himself is undoubtedly motivated by Mormon concepts of agency, free will, and spiritual humanism (that’s my own term– the LDS-inspired idea that human individuals are beings of enormous value and potential).

Kudos to Ms. Maffly-Kipp for her piercing insights and willingness to get the Mormon faith right. Further compliments for the ability to analyze Mormons as a unique set of people while also refusing to assume that Mitt Romney must be exactly like every other Mormon. Needless to say, this article is highly recommended.

Reader Responses Requested

Several readers have emailed to alert me to these two articles by columnist Mark Davis, both of which complain that Romney has not been sufficiently juicy in commenting on his religion.  Needless to say, I think these arguments are pure nonsense.  But unfortunately, I just can’t find the time to offer a proper response today.

So let’s see what the readers have to say.  If you think, as I do, that Mark Davis is badly misguided, consider writing up one or two paragraphs summarizing your thoughts, and sending it to me at [email protected]  I’ll post the ones I enjoy the most.  That way you’re doing my work for me, and I’m free to do my real work.  Everyone wins.  And by the way, winners will receive a free mention on a prominent Romney-religion related blog.

Or, if you’re all just as busy as I am, we can wait until another day to put up a real response to these articles.  It’s up to you.