The Romney “Faith in America” speech (MORE: VIDEO LINK TO SPEECH ADDED)

Posted by: ST on December 6, 2007 at 9:49 am

The much-anticipated, much-discussed speech will be given today at 10:30 a.m. ET at the George Bush Presidential library in Texas. The official Romney site has excerpts, which you can read here.

The speech is already being compared to the 1960 speech then-Senator JFK gave on his Catholicism to a group of Protestant ministers in which he assured them that as president he wouldn’t govern according to his Catholic faith but rather the laws of the land. Steven Stark at Real Clear Politics, on the other hand, believes the speech isn’t like JFK’s, and explains here why he thinks the speech won’t help Romney much.

Romney’s giving this speech mostly due to the fact that his Mormon religious beliefs have come under attack from conservative Christian quarters. There haven’t been any direct attacks on Romney on from surging candidate and conservative Christian Mike Huckabee (who, incidentally, likely will be surging in the other direction considering his admitted ignorance of the release of the NIE report on Iran, an admission which caused quite a stir earlier this week), but I think it’s safe to say that questions about Romney’s faith have probably helped the Huckabee campaign, since they are the two candidates who bring up religion the most in their speeches.

Personally, as a conservative Christian myself, Romney’s Mormon beliefs have never been a factor for me. It’s his seeming flip flops on several issues which has been my primary cause for alarm. However, I realize that for some people, his religious beliefs are a concern, and with that in mind, I wanted to link up to a good piece Jon Meacham has written in Newsweek today (h/t: Betsy Newmark) on what he thinks Romney should say in his speech in order to answer the criticisms that have been directed at him:

It is not an easy speech to give. The role of religion in politics tends to create extreme positions—or at least those who hold the more extreme positions are a good deal louder than more moderate voices. On the one hand there is a strong sense in the country that America is on the road to theocratic rule, that evangelical Christians are on the march and that the Founders were all about the “wall of separation” written about by Thomas Jefferson. On the other hand are many religious people who mistakenly think that America was founded as a “Christian nation” (which it was not), that the Founding Fathers were apostles in knee britches (which they were not) and that liberal activist judges have systematically stolen the country’s religious heritage (which they have not).

Neither side has it right. The separation of church and state—including the explicit prohibition against a religious test for office in the Constitution—was essential to the Founders, but they also understood that religion and politics were always going to be mixed up together. The critical thing was to manage this human reality, to minimize its ill effects and to make the most of the possible good it could do. And so if Romney wishes to argue that religion is important but not all-important, and that judging candidates by sectarian labels is not what America was intended to be about, then history is on his side.

These questions are hardly new. In 1800 there were advertisements saying voters could have “Adams and God, or Jefferson and no God.” Three decades later Andrew Jackson had to resist the formation of a “Christian Party in Politics.” Abraham Lincoln buried a proposed constitutional amendment designed to declare the nation’s dependence on, and allegiance to, Jesus. The only words FDR spoke in public on D-Day were those in a prayer of his composition, which he read over the radio to an audience of 100 million Americans, perhaps the largest mass prayer in human history. And the last line of the ur-text of modern liberalism, JFK’s inaugural, was: “On earth, God’s work must truly be our own.”

[...]

The question is just who this God is, this God of the American public square. John McCain stumbled recently when he said that the Constitution had established the United States as a Christian nation, which it most decidedly did not. In fact the wondrous thing about the Founding of the nation is how consciously and how carefully the Founders went about securing liberty of conscience. Washington said that the government of the United States was “to give to bigotry no sanction … and to persecution no assistance.” Jefferson said that his Virginia act for religious liberty was “meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindu, and infidel of every denomination.” And Madison said, “The religion of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man.”

Romney ought to call on Americans to recover and respect what Benjamin Franklin called our public religion: the belief that there is a divine force at work in the world, by whatever name, and that we render homage to it by doing good to others. Acts of charity and grace need not be religiously inspired, but many are. Religious people can be intolerant, cruel and exclusionary; they can also be broad-minded, kind and welcoming. And the same can be said of people who adhere to no religious faith. Yet it is the case that many Americans are religious—or say they are—and that the fundamental promise of the Founding, that all men are created equal, is grounded in the divine, as the gift of the “Creator.”

Make sure to read the whole thing.

Patrick Ruffini has the details on where you can go to watch Romney’s speech online. Captain Ed will be liveblogging it.

Update 1: Here’s the full text of Romney’s speech.

Update 2: The speech is getting some pretty good reviews in the blogosphere. Hugh Hewitt, a big Romney fan, thought the speech was “magnificent.” I read it, but didn’t watch/hear it. What I read, I liked. Here’s the video link to the speech.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Trackbacks

6 Responses to “The Romney “Faith in America” speech (MORE: VIDEO LINK TO SPEECH ADDED)”

Comments

  1. Lorica says:

    The final paragraph of the Declaration of Independance:

    WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connexion between them and the State of Great-Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of Right do. And for the Support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honour.

    This is the document that founded this country. The Constitution founded a form of Goverment, this Country was formed with this document in 1776, not with the Constitution in 1787.

    Now who were our Founding Fathers writing about when they talked about the Supreme Judge of the World. Notice the word Judge is singular not plural. It is idiotic to believe this Country was not founded on Christian Beliefs and was not intended to be a Christian Country. When our Founding Fathers wrote “with a Firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence” They were not writing about any other God than the Christian God. And when they pledged their Lives, Fortunes, and “Sacred Honour”, Who was it that made their Honour Sacred??? It was Jesus Christ and His Father in the Heavens, the same person who will be the Surpreme Judge of the World.

    Lastly, I get alittle tired of the whole Jefferson “wall of seperation” argument. Jefferson was in France while the Constitution was written. He had little to do with it. The Wall of Seperation letter was written almost 15 years later and even tho he believed in this wall as President he did not as Governor of Virginia, as he declared days of fasting and prayer. The object was to end the influence of a specific church group over the government, not to get rid of God in the public square. This needs to change, as this country has done nothing but gone down hill since the Supreme Courts stupid decision. – Lorica

  2. TheBrainGuy says:

    Still haven’t really warmed up to Romney, but he did seem more human during this speech. There is a person behind the Brylcreem; what he really thinks is another matter.

  3. Aquila says:

    What the mainstream media do not understand is that Christians are antagonistic toward Mormons because Mormonism is fundamentally antagonistic toward Christianity.

    Mormon doctrine teaches that the LDS church is the ” true Church of Jesus Christ today”. By saying this, they are marginalizing traditional Christianity. If they are the true Church then you cannot be, unless of course you join them and are baptized into the LDS church.

    Moreover, there will be posters who will say, but the Christian Churches say the same thing. You Christians are just as bigoted as the Mormons. Traditional Christianity does not say this, it says “Jesus is the only way”.

    There is a world of difference between these two perspectives.

  4. Austin says:

    The Declaration is not a legal document – the nation is governed by the Constitution which never mentions “God”. The framers knew very well that the people needed freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion. As for Mitt, he managed to piss off both the bible-waivers and the athiests.