Mitt Romney’s Speech “Faith In America”: Your Reaction

December 6, 2007 | 191 comments
By

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.”

Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.

Given our grand tradition of religious tolerance and liberty, some wonder whether there are any questions regarding an aspiring candidate’s religion that are appropriate. I believe there are. And I will answer them today.

Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president. Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.

Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.

As governor, I tried to do the right as best I knew it, serving the law and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution—and of course, I would not do so as President. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.

As a young man, Lincoln described what he called America’s “political religion” — the commitment to defend the rule of law and the Constitution. When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A President must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.

There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers; I will be true to them and to my beliefs.

Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it. But I think they underestimate the American people. Americans do not respect believers of convenience.

Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.

There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.

There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church’s distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths.

I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. 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. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life’s blessings.

It is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions. And where the affairs of our nation are concerned, it’s usually a sound rule to focus on the latter — on the great moral principles that urge us all on a common course. Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people.

We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, 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 our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from “the God who gave us liberty.”

Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage. Perhaps the most important question to ask a person of faith who seeks a political office, is this: does he share these American values: the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another, and a steadfast commitment to liberty?

They are not unique to any one denomination. They belong to the great moral inheritance we hold in common. They are the firm ground on which Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united.

We believe that every single human being is a child of God — we are all part of the human family. The conviction of the inherent and inalienable worth of every life is still the most revolutionary political proposition ever advanced. John Adams put it that we are “thrown into the world all equal and alike.”

The consequence of our common humanity is our responsibility to one another, to our fellow Americans foremost, but also to every child of God. It is an obligation which is fulfilled by Americans every day, here and across the globe, without regard to creed or race or nationality.

Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government. No people in the history of the world have sacrificed as much for liberty. The lives of hundreds of thousands of America’s sons and daughters were laid down during the last century to preserve freedom, for us and for freedom loving people throughout the world. America took nothing from that Century’s terrible wars — no land from Germany or Japan or Korea; no treasure; no oath of fealty. America’s resolve in the defense of liberty has been tested time and again. It has not been found wanting, nor must it ever be. America must never falter in holding high the banner of freedom.

These American values, this great moral heritage, is shared and lived in my religion as it is in yours. I was taught in my home to honor God and love my neighbor. I saw my father march with Martin Luther King. I saw my parents provide compassionate care to others, in personal ways to people nearby, and in just as consequential ways in leading national volunteer movements. I am moved by the Lord’s words: “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me…”

My faith is grounded on these truths. You can witness them in Ann and my marriage and in our family. We are a long way from perfect and we have surely stumbled along the way, but our aspirations, our values, are the self-same as those from the other faiths that stand upon this common foundation. And these convictions will indeed inform my presidency.

Today’s generations of Americans have always known religious liberty. Perhaps we forget the long and arduous path our nation’s forbearers took to achieve it. They came here from England to seek freedom of religion. But upon finding it for themselves, they at first denied it to others. Because of their diverse beliefs, Ann Hutchinson was exiled from Massachusetts Bay, a banished Roger Williams founded Rhode Island, and two centuries later, Brigham Young set out for the West. Americans were unable to accommodate their commitment to their own faith with an appreciation for the convictions of others to different faiths. In this, they were very much like those of the European nations they had left.

It was in Philadelphia that our founding fathers defined a revolutionary vision of liberty, grounded on self evident truths about the equality of all, and the inalienable rights with which each is endowed by his Creator.

We cherish these sacred rights, and secure them in our Constitutional order. Foremost do we protect religious liberty, not as a matter of policy but as a matter of right. There will be no established church, and we are guaranteed the free exercise of our religion.

I’m not sure that we fully appreciate the profound implications of our tradition of religious liberty. I have visited many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired! so grand! so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just too busy or too “enlightened” to venture inside and kneel in prayer. The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to Europe’s churches. And though you will find many people of strong faith there, the churches themselves seem to be withering away.

Infinitely worse is the other extreme, the creed of conversion by conquest: violent Jihad, murder as martyrdom… killing Christians, Jews, and Muslims with equal indifference. These radical Islamists do their preaching not by reason or example, but in the coercion of minds and the shedding of blood. We face no greater danger today than theocratic tyranny, and the boundless suffering these states and groups could inflict if given the chance.

The diversity of our cultural expression, and the vibrancy of our religious dialogue, has kept America in the forefront of civilized nations even as others regard religious freedom as something to be destroyed.

In such a world, we can be deeply thankful that we live in a land where reason and religion are friends and allies in the cause of liberty, joined against the evils and dangers of the day. And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion — rather, we welcome our nation’s symphony of faith.

Recall the early days of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, during the fall of 1774. With Boston occupied by British troops, there were rumors of imminent hostilities and fears of an impending war. In this time of peril, someone suggested that they pray. But there were objections. They were too divided in religious sentiments, what with Episcopalians and Quakers, Anabaptists and Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Catholics.

Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot.

And so together they prayed, and together they fought, and together, by the grace of God … they founded this great nation.

In that spirit, let us give thanks to the divine “author of liberty.” And together, let us pray that this land may always be blessed, “with freedom’s holy light.”

God bless the United States of America.

———————
From Adam Greenwood:

Matt E. has the prepared text of the speech above, or you can read it at this link. The video is here and

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191 Responses to Mitt Romney’s Speech “Faith In America”: Your Reaction

  1. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Posted on the wrong thread a minute ago:

    I absolutely loved the speech – even more than the ones submitted here. *grin*

    I especially love how he said, in essence, “I’m Mormon. Take it or leave it.”

  2. Paul Reeve on December 6, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    I listened on KSL radio in Utah. Doug Wright said Romney hit it out of the ball park. His first caller claimed to have been moved to tears. This is the hometown crowd, however.

    To keep with Doug Wright’s baseball metaphor, I thought it was a strong double, but it left me underwhelmed. I really don’t think it will change an evangelical voter’s mind in Iowa. It may, however, serve to neutralize the Mormon issue among journalists. The speech did not make Mitt more real, more personal to me, something I had hoped for.

    The aspect I liked the most was when he said he would not distance himself from his faith in exchange for the presidency. It wasn’t worth it to him. Kudos for that.

  3. Nick Literski on December 6, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    I thought Romney’s statement that the oath of office would be his “highest obligation to god” was mildly shocking. I can’t help but think he’s either not being entirely honest, or else he has a much lesser regard for temple covenants than I ever did. (Of course, he’s saying this to counter recent comments that he would supposedly be bound to obey LDS leaders, due to his temple covenants.)

    I was perplexed with Romney’s claim “freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom.” I can not, for the life of me, see how “freedom requires religion” is a supportable statement. At best, it’s a mindless platitude, crafted to appeal to evangelical flag-wavers who deny the separation of church & state.

    Romney explicitly stated that no leaders of his church, or any other church, would ever exert influence on his decisions as a president. This is a rather bold promise, which I very much doubt any public official could fulfill. Are we truly to believe that no religious leaders will ever “exert influence” on a POTUS? I have a hard time believing this. I think Romney vastly overstated here. He should have said that no religious leader would have more influence on his official decisions than any other American. Besides, the statement as given effectively disenfranchises religious leaders from political discourse. BAD idea, whether one agrees with those leaders or not.

    Romney continued this statement, claiming that while religious leaders have authority in ecclesiastical matters, their authority ends where the affairs of the nation begin. I agree with that on its face, but I find myself wondering how many active LDS believe that to be the case?

  4. WillF on December 6, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks for posting the speech!

    I don’t know about neutralizing the Mormon issue among journalists Paul — currently below the story on CNN’s homepage they are prominently running this headline to another article: “Poussaint: Equality talk often lip service” and the link within the story takes you to this page: http://topics.cnn.com/topics/the_church_of_jesus_christ_of_latter_day_saints which is a mish-mash of stories including stories about the FLDS polygamy news.

  5. Blake on December 6, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Romney did himself, his family, his religion and his party proud. It as a fabulous speech that came across as sincere (I watched it on NBC/KSL). He stated in effect that he was willing to lose rather than renounce his faith, but he had faith that Americans are bigger and more tolerant than that. His references to not exiling religious speech from the public square was important. It was also a perfect reflection on the deep Mormon commitment that the Constitution is inspired and the establishment of the United States was providential. I don’t expect it to influence deeply anti-Mormon evangelicals, but then nothing would or could. Some of them are beyond reason or charity. However, I expect it to be a grand slam for the vast majority of reasonable and tolerant evangelical Christians. There was absolutely nothing in the speech of the society of atheists however.

  6. California Condor on December 6, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    I’d give Romney an A. The speech made me proud to be an American and proud to be Mormon. The crowd went wild went Romney told the final story about Sam Adams.

  7. John Dehlin on December 6, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    My 3 least favorite parts were:

    1) When he talked about the province of Mormon leadership ending with “church affairs” — that seems so incredibly “un-Mormon” to me. It’s definitely a pragmatic stance for a politician — but not one informed by the Mormonism I was raised with. In Mormonism, the prophet speaks directly with and for God. How can Romney now put the laws of the nation above God?

    2) When he talked about the oath of office becoming “his highest promise to God” — I wonder, then, how he views his LDS temple covenants. Did they just get downgraded?

    3) I really struggled when he said, “Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.” Isn’t that simply a description of his candidacy as president to date?

    Sorry I’m so harsh. My idealistic Mormon self just wanted more. :( He leaves me feeling a bit cold.

    To me, Romney’s problem isn’t his religion. It’s his appearance of lacking the integrity of sincere convictions.

  8. BTD Greg on December 6, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    My initial thoughts are that this is pretty bland stuff. I probably won’t really help Romney–those with anxiety over Romney’s faith are probably going to vote for Huckabee anyway–but it won’t hurt him either. The speech doesn’t get into any of Mormonism’s odd quirks or answer anyone’s questions or quell any fears about our weird beliefs. That’s probably just as well as there’s really no way to address such things in a campaign speech.

    As someone pointed out in another forum, this is “Obama-lite.” I honestly think that Obama could have delivered this speech and no one would have noticed any difference. Except that the delivery would probably be a lot better. (I’ve been unimpressed so far with Romney as a public speaker.)

  9. California Condor on December 6, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    @John Dehlin

    The thing is, no Mormon has ever been president. I don’t think temple covenants and the oath of office are mutually exclusive. I think Gordon B. Hinckley would agree with me.

  10. Kevin Barney on December 6, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    I didn’t hear it or see it live; I just read it here (thanks so much for posting it). I thought it was a helluva speech.

  11. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Seriously, I challenge anyone to write a better speech. I have written speeches all my life (and some damn good ones), but the thought of writing this one . . . I couldn’t have come close to this one.

  12. Steve M on December 6, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    “Freedom requires religion”

    What is Romney saying? That in the absence of religion, freedom cannot exist? If that’s what he meant, then it sounds like substance-free rhetoric to me.

  13. Matt Evans on December 6, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Because Mormons believe the Constitution was inspired by God, they believe politicians face no conflict between sustaining the Constitution and their covenants to God.

    John Dehlin, I realize you’re a liberal and not a Republican, but I don’t see what religious beliefs anyone could think Romney’s jettisoned during his campaign. What do you have in mind?

  14. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Having said that, I personally don’t think any of the issues in #6 are issues coming from a Presidential candidate. I can’t believe any of the FP or Q12 would have any issue whatsoever with those statements – and I think Harry Reid would agree completely.

  15. Sherri on December 6, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    I’m almost certainly going to vote for someone else but I loved his speech. I teared up. I felt like I was in testimony meeting on the Fourth of July.

  16. John Dehlin on December 6, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Matt — I think you’d be a bit surprised by my political beliefs. I actually don’t think your labels of me are accurate at all. Have we even met (e.g. talked before)?

    Also, I didn’t say religious beliefs — those are your words. I said beliefs … as did he.

  17. David H. Sundwall on December 6, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    I favor Romney, but I thought it was an excellent speech and don’t see how anyone else could have improved on it.

    He was smart to refuse to take the bait and elaborate on his Mormonism but didn’t scold either.

  18. Matt Evans on December 6, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Hi John, you and I have spoken by phone and at the party at the Sunstone convention. Romney said he would not renounce his religious beliefs — he didn’t claim, rightly, that he had not renounced some of his political positions.

  19. Nate Oman on December 6, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    I liked the little riff on sacred envy; it rang true to my own sense of the universalist strand within Mormonism.

    John Dehlin doesn’t like that he said that he would not allow church dictation in political questions. The odd thing, of course, is that this has been the official line of the church for over a century. It is also consistent with my knowledge of the interaction of the church hierarchy with LDS politicians. The church will take its own positions on “moral issues,” it will lobby on particular issues or bits of legislation that directly effect it — e.g. RFRA and RLIUPA or using Sen. Gordon Smith as an entree to the Secretary of State when Mormon missionaries were kidnapped in Russia, etc.. On the other hand, the Church does not instruct Mormon politicians on how to vote. Whether or not this practice (and after a century I think that it is pretty entrenched) is consistent with Mormon doctrine — particularlly the rather stark version of it that Dehlin peddles as “authentic” — hinges on the issue of how one understands “doctrine” within Mormonism. On the other hand, the tension here is not somthing that Romney has created because of his own religious waffling. The tension is embedded within a century of Mormon teachings and practices. In that sense, Romney’s response strikes me as “authentically” Mormon.

  20. John Dehlin on December 6, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Matt,

    Did we talk about my politics? I honestly don’t remember.

  21. john f. on December 6, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Thank you very much for providing a transcript so quickly. I was unable to watch or listen to it but read it with great interest here.

    I think it was a magnificent speech. To be sure, I think that inclusion of a little more personal detail of his relationship with his faith would have been very effective. To that end, I wish he had followed the advice of Richard Bushman in Tuesday’s Salt Lake Tribune: “Romney shouldn’t delve into unique Mormon beliefs, Bushman said, ‘just talk about what it meant to grow up in a Mormon Christian household, having family prayer, being a deacon, going on a mission, being a bishop.'” This would go no further than his speech as is in convincing or encouraging Iowa voters and the rest of America that they should agree with Mormon doctrines or beliefs or even that they should Mormonism as a religion as acceptable but it would have brought his life and experience down to a personal level that at least voters could relate to.

    As to Adam’s question about the “Mormonness” of this speech — I think it was very Mormon indeed. To all non-Mormons: this speech was Mormon-speak. This is how Mormons in the United States routinely talk about religious freedom in the United States and the principles on which the United States was founded.

    I am aware that one passage in particular will be a point of debate:

    Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.

    John Dehlin has already examined this statement as potentially contradicting Mormon belief at Mormon Stories and has pointed out that Romney’s temple covenants are supposed to be prioritized above the oath of office for the Presidency of the United States. Although I understand John D.’s point, I believe that a Latter-day Saint can choose to put a political oath of office as first priority for the time being and that temple covenants should not conflict with the oath of office for the Presidency because even as President, he still acknowledges that he will remain true to his faith. The counter-example is the hypothetical of what happens if some statement of the President of the Church seems to require some act of members of the Church that is inconsistent with the office of the Presidency and I concede that could be a cause of some concern for someone put in that position, although it seems so unlikely as to be an item of curiosity only. But Romney pointed out that he will view the oath of office very seriously as an oath he makes directly to God. He is not making this oath to the office or to the people but to God. As such, it can rightly be prioritized alongside his temple covenants as solemn obligations he has made to God.

    Moving past this sticking point — which I agree with John D. comes across at first blush like a little bit of compromise on sustaining the prophet, although as I have stated above, I believe that deeper examination of the statement and intent reveal otherwise — the speech is full of deeply “Mormon” content. I submit the following as an example:

    I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. 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. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life’s blessings.

    This is reminiscent of quotes of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, echoed by many other Church leaders over the years and on the local level in wards all over the world. To be sure, we have perhaps too much of acrimony with other faiths, and I stand at the forefront of being guilty of no-holds-barred argumentation with them. I need to improve that and I realize that in engaging in such activity, I have obscured what I truly believe about other faiths, and it approximates this statement by Mitt Romney today. I know that many, many Mormons share this sentiment.

  22. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    I really liked the speech. I loved that the part where he told people he was a Mormon and if they didn’t like it, so be it. Paris is not worth a mass. I also loved the Samuel Adams narrative at the end.

    I noticed the same things John D. did in #6. I don’t think its un-Mormon, since I think most Mormons would generally agree and since there’s no clear doctrine to the contrary. But the idea that the authority of the state is a separate source of authority that Mormons recognize apart from the Church–while implicit in our idea that the Constitution is inspired, in Article of Faith 12, in our continued rejection of polygamy, and in our encouragement to local patriotism and civic engagement in America and other countries–is not something we’ve ever explicitly said. I still think its right though.

  23. NJensen on December 6, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    #11

    I think Romney means that freedom needs a spiritual temperament to be true freedom, otherwise it becomes license (i.e. licentious).

  24. valerie on December 6, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    First time poster. Longtime lurker here.

    Romney\’s speech actually made me like him less especially the line, \”Religion needs freedom and freedom needs religion.\”

    How can I as an agnostic feel sorry for him about the horrible attacks on him by evangelical conservatives when in his mind I\’m anti-freedom for my beliefs or lack thereof?

    That and the absolutely laughable line about respecting Muslims when he\’s admitted to not wanting a Muslim in his cabinet revealed what a horrible opportunist the man is.

    Romney\’s Mormon faith doesn\’t scare me. His lack of character does.

  25. john f. on December 6, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    By the way, I thought Romney’s mention of Brigham Young was well-placed — among others who had been pushed out of society because of certain religious beliefs.

  26. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    The counter-example is the hypothetical of what happens if some statement of the President of the Church seems to require some act of members of the Church that is inconsistent with the office of the Presidency and I concede that could be a cause of some

    The proper thing, it seems, would be to resign in that extremely hypothetical circumstance.

  27. the narrator on December 6, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Romney is a political genius. He successfully used his faith to garner 30 minutes of national television, cable, and radio time (and countless hours of pundit talk) solely for himself. 30 minutes of ‘look-at-me’ time that he didn’t have to share with any other candidate. As far as I’m aware, no candidate has been able to achieve such free public advertising, nor will any other candidate be able to achieve such (barring some scandalous affair – which would not be positive advertising).

    Brilliant maneuver Mitt.

    While I believe that it was quite a politically powerful speech and most certainly will win the approval of many religious people, I can’t help but feel like his speech was too religious. He spoke on and on about religious pluralism among religions (well only western religions), but in the process seemed to alienate the non-religious, atheist, agnostic, questioning, and non-western faiths from his candidacy. He gave reasons as to why Christians and maybe Muslims and Jews should vote for him, but offered nothing for the non-religious. On the contrary, much of his rhetoric seemed to imply that the non-religious lacked morals and were somehow antithetical to his campaign (and thus anti-American).

  28. John Dehlin on December 6, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Nate — I agree with you. The church has become much more savvy over the years. And I definitely applaud the change.

    Still — in the Mormonism in which I was raised (and this is a cultural point — not an “official church position in the 20th century” point) — God and the LDS Church are above all. Period. And the temple covenants seem to leave little wiggle in this regard (for where our priorities ultimately lie).

    But Mitt is a politician, after all — and we live in a messy world. I understand what he’s doing — and I understand everyone’s defenses of him.

    I guess I’m just still mourning the church I once knew (along w/ my old binary world view). I actually believe these changes represent a “better church” now — perhaps I just need a little more time, and I’ll work through it all.

    I will say that I envy your more progressive upbringing, Nate. I feel as though it has inoculated/protected you a great deal. I wasn’t so lucky.

    But like I said — I am very happy with the 20th and 21st century changes in the church. I just hope that it can remain strong. I’m confident that it will.

  29. Josiah on December 6, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    I thought the speech was pretty good. I liked that Romney wouldn’t distance himself from his church or its doctrines but at the same time saying that political candidates should be spokesmen for their faith or spend a lot of time explaining their distinctive doctrines. I also think that his refusal to back away from his religion does something to undercut the perception that he lacks core convictions, and will say just about anything to get elected.

    There were a few lines I could have done without, though. “I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God” comes to mind.

  30. Miles on December 6, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    #23 valerie, Romney has said he doesn’t want a Muslim in his cabinet in order to fill some kind of ethnic quota, but would consider a person of any faith based on merits. The dude has enough flip-flop problems without adding things that aren’t really true.

    Anyway, I thought the speech was pretty decent. I’m a sucker for anecdotes about the founding fathers.

  31. Nate Oman on December 6, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    BTW, I think that Dehlin is right that Romney’s big problem isn’t religion but the apparent lack of clear poltiical convictions. For my money this problem is created by the fact that Romney doesn’t have a set of clear political convictions. I don’t think that this means, however, that he is a purely venal and opprotunistic politician dirven by nothing but personal ambition. (He does, of course, have immense personal ambition but nobody chooses to run for president who does not have immense personal ambition.) Rather, I think that it means that for Romney ideology is of secondary importance. I think that he has basically conservative instincts, but that these instincts are not articulated into an elaborate set of ideological first principles from which correct answers on disputed issues of policy are deduced. Rather, I think that Romney ultimately sees himself as a problem solver who is more interested in creating incremental improvements in institutional structture and policy rather than realizing some grand sense of “vision” for the country. I suspect that he sees ideological flip-flopping on hot button issues of limited practical significance as epiphenomenal window dressing. And the end of the day he is a technocrat rather than an ideolog. As a problem solver and technocrat, I think that he has better credentials than any other candiate — Democratic or Republican — in the race. (I would put Giullianni second; not as a technocrat but as a problem solver.) Simple competence plays badly in primaries, but I suspect that given the spectacular failures of the Bush administration — which overflows with “vision” — running on competence will play better than principles in the general election. Given the absence — from my point of view — of compelling ideological visions on either the left or the right, I am inclined to think that a technocrat with conservative instincts for a couple of years wouldn’t be such a bad thing, although on certain issues — like immigration for example — I am not a fan of Romney’s position or anyone else within the GOP right now.

  32. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    The last part of the post is cut off in some browsers, so I’m putting it here:

    Matt E. has the prepared text of the speech above, or you can read it at this link. The video is here and here..

    The chattering classes will have lots to say about the speech politically and as a statement of American principles. But what about the speech as a statement of Mormon principles? Do you think its consistent with mainstream Mormon belief and practice? What should a Mormon think about the principles Romney espoused in it? Let us know in the comments.

    P.S. If you think something he said is inconsistent with Mormonism but you think most Mormons would probably disagree, be sure to mention both facts. We don’t want to give the wrong impression.

  33. bbell on December 6, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I am wondering the following:

    What type of promises or covenants an ative Catholic or ordained Baptist minister would be under that would compare to temple covenants in some regard. I am thinking of Huckabee’s ordination or Rudy’s Confirmation

    My brother once was best man at a Catholic marriage for 2 practicing catholics and the bride and groom raised their arm and made all kinds of promises to the catholic church during the ceremony. Is their an analogy there?

  34. Nate Oman on December 6, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    John Dehlin: I suppose that Romney — or any other Mormon politician — could say one of two things:

    1. My ultimate loyalties reside with my religion and my church, but those loyalties — including loyalty to God’s living prophet on earth — will not create any problems for me as President because I am confidence that neither the prophets nor the church would place me in a position where I would be forced to choose between my obligation to follow my oath of office and my obligation to keep my covenants to God. We have more than a century of experience with Mormon church interaction with elected Mormon officals that bears me out. This is a nonissue in practical terms.

    2. “Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.”

    I take it that you would prefer something along the lines of 1 as opposed to 2. Do you think that any one could get elected who said 2? Do you think that there is a meaningful distinction between the two? Why?

  35. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    There were a few lines I could have done without, though. “I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God” comes to mind.

    President Hinckley could have said the same thing. I remember him saying something about our message to a Catholic being that they should take the good they’ve learned there and let us add to it. I’m not blowing you off, though. Lots of Mormons are a little uneasy about the degree to which we’re making nice with all and sundry. I just wanted to point out that its not really Romney who’s responsible for this.

  36. valerie on December 6, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    #29 Miles

    You are right and Romney justified that by saying he wouldn’t consider a Muslim because they are such a small part of the population.

    We can all debate whether it would be a good thing to have a Muslim in the cabinet to help with understanding the Muslim nations we interact with but surely anyone can see in his explanation the deep hypocrisy and lack of respect for a religion that many Americans follow.

  37. Matt Evans on December 6, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    John, at Sunstone we spoke briefly about the effect of Romney’s candidacy on the church. I think you’ve misunderstood Romney, he’s not saying God and religion are now concerns secondary to politics, but that God and religion require him to sustain the Constitution and to honorably perform his political service according to his oath.

  38. Miles on December 6, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    #35 Valerie,

    He claims he didn’t say that at all. That’s what a (Muslim) reporter said he said, but there’s no recording.

    In any case I don’t disagree that he seems to have pretty serious consistency issues.

  39. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    BTW, for anyone who wanted the speech to address specific Mormon beliefs, that would have killed not only the speech but his entire candidacy, as well. He had to address a believe in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior, unfortunately, but to go any further would have opened up the entire scope of doctrine to question and, effectively, sanctioned an imposition of a religious test. He simply couldn’t let that happen.

  40. smb on December 6, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    The speech is well-written and seems an appropriate response to pressure from the evangelical radicals. My largest concern is about the politics of Romney and the Religious Right, as it always has been with the Romney campaign. These arguments about what it means to be truly religious in America all focus around a particular aggressive, pietistic view of God and his Plan that militates against the radical attacks formulated by both Jesus and Joseph Smith in their own epochs against the politics and institutionalization of greed. That’s what is most disappointing to me about the Romney campaign (I intend here no personal criticism of Romney)–Mormonism’s great chance to shine, and what we offer to the world is warmed-over evangelical extremism combined with management consulting, gently decorated with a smattering of the cultural trappings of twentieth-century Mormonism. (Again, I am not commenting on Romney’s faith, merely his political platform.)

    I do admire Romney’s willingness to acclaim his Mormonism openly. I just wish it meant something a little more religious. In fact, the speech has motivated me to finally get around to subscribing to Sojourners (http://www.sojo.net/).

  41. Last Lemming on December 6, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    It was a fine speech. I expect the brethren are very happy with it, even the part where he tells them not to butt in. But I don’t see how it changes a single vote in the Republican primary. Maybe the publicity brings out a few who would have stayed home.

  42. California Condor on December 6, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    @john f. (21),

    You should watch a video of the speech. Romney’s delivery and the crowd’s reaction will probably make it seem more inspiring than just reading the transcript. And I really liked that part about other churches and steeples all across America pointing towards heaven. Romney not only made Mormonism seem awesome in this speech, he made other religions seem awesome. I mean who doesn’t love beautiful Catholic cathedrals or picturesque New England congregationalist chapels? I like religious imagery and Romney made it all seem just so wonderful in this speech. It was inspiring.

    @Nate Oman (31),

    Nice summary of Romney. I like it. The hot-button issues get too much attention. And although I like Romney, I’m totally opposed to his stance on immigration. But he has pragmatically taken the anti-immigration stance that he has to take to get the Republican nomination.

    @bbell (32),

    I think you raise a good point.

  43. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Do you think that there is a meaningful distinction between the two? Why?

    I don’t think there’s a *practical* difference, but I think there’s a meaningful one. In the first, you’re acknowledging theoretical prophetic authority over political affairs while affirming that it won’t be used in a way inconsistent with your oath. In the second you’re saying that the prophet lacks authority there.

  44. Chad S. on December 6, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Overall, I enjoyed the speech. I’d give it a B+.

    One small addition that I think could have potentially made a big difference: The Sam Adams vignette was a strong finish, though I think he needed to emphasize the differences between the religious congregations at that time more, to make the parallel with his situation more effective.

  45. Ivan Wolfe on December 6, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Nates #31 almost (almost) convinced me to support Romney.

    But I’m still conflicted over who to support. If i had to vote today, I’d likely vote for Rudy, but not because I like him the best, more because I dislike Rudy the least (out of all the candidates).

    The speech was good, if a little boilerplateish at times. But modern political rhetoric is mostly boilerplate anymore, so that fight is a lost battle.

  46. smb on December 6, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    #35: even when the earliest LDS were actively defaming Protestant clergy as hireling priests and corrupters or worse, they still would pause, in moments of calm, to remember that there was good to be found in the majority of religions. I suspect there would have been less anti-Protestant invective if there had been fewer pastors fulminating against the Mormon delusion from the pulpit (or occasionally carrying the tar bucket and a hatful of feathers). It’s more a question of manners and their intermittent application than it is of a sea change in the church toward other religions. I think Romney’s statement in this speech is entirely consistent with language that Joseph Smith and John Taylor would have used.

  47. Ivan Wolfe on December 6, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    That was Nate’s #32. T(hat was weird – it’s clearly #31 on the previous screen, but #32 on this screen. Perhaps it will be #33 on the next one.)

  48. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    The Church issues a statement:

    http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2ced329706ca6110VgnVCM100000176f620aRCRD&vgnextchannel=9ae411154963d010VgnVCM1000004e94610aRCRD

    Key paragraph:

    Relationships With Government

    Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.

    That’s going pretty far. I hope it doesn’t come back to haunt us.

  49. gfe on December 6, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    I didn\’t have a problem with Romney\’s statement on where church authority ends. To me, saying that his oath of office becomes his \”highest promise to God\” is consistent with the Articles of Faith, particularly the 12th, and his strong defense of religious freedom is certainly consistent with the 11th.

    And I liked this statement too, and it\’s intriguing: \”I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own.\” That\’s consistent with the idea that we seek to add to the good that other people have in what they believe, not to take away from it, as well as to Brigham Young\’s oft-quoted statements that if the Presbyterians and others have anything good, it should become our own.

    So I thought Romney portrayed Mormonism very well. While I still have a wish that a politician weren\’t the most public face of the church these days, and especially a Republican (grin and wink), I thought Romney represented the church well. I certainly didn\’t hear anything to make be wince.

  50. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    #34 – The first wording would have killed any chance he has to garner the votes he needs to get the nomination. Evangelicals, especially, but liberals, as well, would have jumped all over it as proof that SLC really would be the power behind the Presidency. Politically, it would be suicide even to hint at that possibility – and it would be completely unnecessary, as well.

  51. Nate Oman on December 6, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    “I was perplexed with Romney’s claim “freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom.” I can not, for the life of me, see how “freedom requires religion” is a supportable statement. At best, it’s a mindless platitude, crafted to appeal to evangelical flag-wavers who deny the separation of church & state.”

    Nick: There is a pretty venerable tradition in republican political theory that goes something like this —

    1. Humanity is pretty screw-up if left to its own devices and its nastier urges must be controlled.
    2. This can be done either through overwhelming government coercion or by the innoculation of internal norms and standards.
    3. The first approach is inconsistent with robust freedom.
    4. The second approach requires some method of instilling norms of behavior with sufficient power as to meaningfully curb human nastiness.
    5. Religion does this better than other approaches — such as reasoned argument — because it appeals not only to men’s minds but to their habits, emotions, etc.
    6. Ergo, political freedom requires religion.

    One may not be horribly persuaded by these arguments, but they were subscribed to by most of the founding fathers as well as more radical bits of the republican tradition, such as the French Jacobins. Notice also, that the arguments don’t necessarily rest of being a mindless envangelical flag waver. Indeed, they have been acccepted by decidedly areligious folks like Napoleon Bonaparte or Leo Strauss.

  52. Matt Evans on December 6, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Adam, that statement’s not new. I believe they’re right to say they have no more authority over Mormon politicians, in the domain of their work and service, than they do over non-Mormon politicians. Whatever the prophet’s authority for a government, it doesn’t turn on the chief elected official’s religion.

  53. Chad S. on December 6, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Nate #32: Nice summary of Romney. I vote you develop it a bit and make it a separate post.

  54. Joseph D. Walch on December 6, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Yes, Leo Strauss the ‘Post-Jew’ did believed that moral philosophy. It is pretty compelling. Absent religion, belief in God we are only left with the will-to-power which Dosteovsky showed was a pretty impotent tool for use in the interest of the common good.

  55. John Dehlin on December 6, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Matt —

    A confession (please forgive its personal nature):

    My logic and concerns largely stem from my emotions — trying to come to grips with the church I grew up with (culturally) and the church I experience now. To me, they are quite different — and change (for me) in this regard can be hard.

    I also just wish that Romney could have figured out a way to keep his political convictions consistent between his governorship and now. I hate to hear folks (even prominent Republican ones) say things like, “Can we believe a word he says?” about a fellow Mormon. It just hurts my feelings…that’s all. I know it’s silly. But in a way, I do feel as though he’s brought this on himself. Like Nate seemed to say, I don’t see his political convictions (currently) as sincere — and I believe that this comes across to potential voters.

    But I think that Romney is taking a pragmatic and a politically smart approach, and I don’t really despise him as much as my comments might suggest. I’m sure that Romney would bring many very fine qualities to the presidency. Part of me (the Mormon part) would be ecstatic to have him win.

    Politically — well….I’m so anti-War at the moment….his stances on the war, Guantanamo, torture and the military budget really do trouble me. I’m not sure I’m for outlawing abortion either — even though I consider myself (in may ways) pro-life. (I also admit that I could be misinformed on his positions — these are just my impressions)

    Still — I openly acknowledge that I’m not being completely fair to him (in his situation). This is much more an emotional reaction for me than an intellectual one.

    And I am VERY happy for all the good things that will come from this whole Romney thing (regarding the church). I believe that in the end — all of this will be good for the LDS church. And that makes me very happy.

  56. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    I thought the paragraph I cited was new, Matt E. Could be wrong. Anyone know?

    Anyway, I object to this kind of statement because in my view Mormons recognize four independent sources of authority–the Church, direct revelation, the State, and the family–and I think its better to have fuzzy boundaries between them. I don’t want the line drawing to be too crystal clear.

  57. Steve M on December 6, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    I think Romney means that freedom needs a spiritual temperament to be true freedom, otherwise it becomes license (i.e. licentious). (#23)

    I think that might be a stretch of what Romney was saying (he said “religion,” not “spirituality”–I think the difference is important). In any case, it’s a fallacy to believe that if given freedom, people will act in antisocial, immoral, or otherwise undesirable ways if not for the presence and influence of religion. Many nations that are less religious than the United States (Norway, for example) have substantially lower crime rates than we do.

    I am not comfortable with how religious Romney’s campaign has been; it doesn’t appear that he’s even trying to appeal to members of non-Judeo-Christian religious groups or the non-religious. Although I do not doubt that he is a tolerant individual, this makes me wonder whether protecting the interests of those people would be much of a priority for him as a President. Given the amount of energy he’s devoted to courting the Religious Right throughout his campaign, I get the feeling that he would continue to cater to their interests if elected. I don’t think that the agnostic, the non-religious, the non-mainstream religious, or any other group whose interests don’t align with those of the Religious Rights would fare well under a President Romney.

  58. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Ditto #53.

  59. valerie on December 6, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    #51 Nate

    Isn’t what you are describing a Hobbesian argument?

    Civics class was a long time ago for me but I thought that government was the answer to the chaos man woulod be left to if left on his own?

    Anyway, I understand what you are saying but isn’t the only reason that Romney is even giving this speech because of his falling support amongt white evangelicals and thus a statement like this one would not necessarily be interpreted as a part of a long political tradition but a blatant appeal to the worst aspects of the theology those evangelicals?

    I understand the Mormon context of the comments on this blog ( and as a non-Mormon they are illuminating) but one can’t separate the context of this speech and the audience it’s aimed at from what he’s said.

  60. the narrator on December 6, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    I am moved by the Lord’s words: ‘For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me…’

    He starting to sound like a Democrat – though I wonder how well his policies on illegal immigration work with the whole ‘taking in the stranger’ bit… unless you count the illegal immigrants that were hired to work on his lawn, and then subsequently fired for being strangers.

  61. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Not to go all scriptural on everyone, but the BofM *clearly* draws a distinction between the authority of the Church and the State (whenever they are separate) when Alma tries to get apostates punished by the Chief Judge and has them sent back to him for internal discipline – since their actions weren’t crimes against the State. I have no problem whatsoever with a Mormon politician saying that the **authority** of the Church leaders does not extend into national or state affairs but is limited within the religious.

  62. jeff on December 6, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – The Declaration of Independence

    We are endowed by our Creator with liberty. This is the pretense, I believe, of Romney’s statement that “Freedom requires religion.” If God gives us our liberty, no earthly entity can take it away, and to have freedom requires an admission that God is the source of our freedom. If our freedom comes from the government, then it can be taken away by that government.

    There is a broader point that Romney touched on but didn’t specifically hammer out: Separation of CHURCH and STATE is a very different matter than separation of RELIGION and STATE. One refers to a specific organization, where the other simply refers to the notion of belief in a higher power.

  63. East Coast on December 6, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    I’ve read the discussion up to this point and am still hung up over the statement in # 8

    “1) When he talked about the province of Mormon leadership ending with “church affairs” — that seems so incredibly “un-Mormon” to me. It’s definitely a pragmatic stance for a politician — but not one informed by the Mormonism I was raised with. In Mormonism, the prophet speaks directly with and for God. How can Romney now put the laws of the nation above God?”

    I don’t see how the two are mutually exclusive. I can’t imagine what position he would be placed in that could force him to compromise his religious views. Signing bills with funding for ___ (fill in the blank)? Ordering a political killing? What are you really, truly concerned about?

  64. East Coast on December 6, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    Furthermore, I don’t see him as having a lack of integrity. Nothing that I have seen him do or say that’s been reported in the media would give me that impression at all. In any way. On the contrary, his professional life is a solid record to the contrary. I understand that some people can’t deal with the concept of negotiation and compromise. Some people have to “win” and always be right and consistent in everything. They are very hard to live and work with. They tend to not have the life skills to get tings done and work with people and delegate.

  65. Matt Evans on December 6, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Adam, I don’t know how old the statement is, but it’s been part of the church’s response to questions about Romney since at least this past summer.

  66. Nate Oman on December 6, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    valarie: The argument is meant, in part, as a response to Hobbes. Hobbes denied the possiblity of political liberty because of human depravity. A Leviathan state was the only response to human nastiness. The republican argument, in effect, was that Hobbes is wrong. We don’t need a Leviathan if we have some way of creating virtuous citizens. Religion — particularlly in its affective and ritual sense; as opposed to its discursive, theological sense — does this very well. In effect internalization of norms of behavior substitutes for a strong state. This is why, for example, that Napoleon — despite his disdain for Catholicism — thought that it was a horrible mistake for the Revolution to turn against the church. In particular, he thought that the primary education of children should be conducted by priests in parochial schools. (Napoleon is admittedly a complicated example given his strongly authoritarian streak, but he does get at the issue of how one might see political and social value in religion quite independent of one’s religious convictions.)

  67. Blake on December 6, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    Steven M. It is doubtful that “freedom” generic requires a religious belief. However, it seems quite arguable that a belief in inalienable rights requires some sort of religious conviction — at least a theistic one. The bedrock of American law and the Constitution more or less assumed that there are certain rights that are God given and are not dolled out to us by governments. So as I heard Romney, that was the underlying assumption of his statement about freedom. If we are merely accidental animals as secular evolutionists hold, one could attempt to ground such rights in “human dignity,” but it is pretty hard to maintain such inalienable dignity in the face of the fact that we are merely biological organisms on that view reducible to more or less mechanistic interactions (everything boils down to nurture and nature). So Romney just may be a bit more savvy than you give him credit (and he may not).

    Note that Romney didn’t say that people act in anti-social ways if they don’t have religion. You said that.

    Finally, I wonder at the requirement that a politician must stake out a clear position politically and then his mind must die and s/he can never learn or change views. Such an expectation is not only ridiculous, we don’t politicians like that (at least I don’t). Don’t we want politicians who can learn and grow and articulate why they changed their views and what led them to do so? Romney has carefully explained why he changed views on abortion and gay “rights”. Are there other things he changed about that really have any meat to them?

  68. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    My favorite lines (beside the “I’m Mormon and proud of it” paragraph) were:

    “There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church’s distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution.”

    “A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.”

    “Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.”

    In essence, very subtly, he said, “If you demand that I describe and explain my beliefs – or that I believer exactly as you do you are rejecting the Constitution” – and I loved it. Of course, he was appealing to evangelicals, but if you look closely at what he actually said in numerous places, he actually challenged them to be “more American / better Americans” by accepting common values over different religiosity. He was appealing to them by asking them to not be narrow-minded and bigoted, and I liked that more than I can express.

  69. John Dehlin on December 6, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    East Coast,

    I think you’re right — I’m struggling to find an example where the authority thing (in the practical world) would really become an issue. I am writing more out of emotion.

    Though I do like your question. Can anyone envision a realistic potential conflict for Romney between church and country?

  70. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Wow, I mangled my summary in #68. It should have read, “If you demand that I describe and explain my beliefs – or that I believe exactly as you do – you are rejecting the Constitution.”

  71. Steve M on December 6, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Re: #67,

    It is doubtful that “freedom” generic requires a religious belief. However, it seems quite arguable that a belief in inalienable rights requires some sort of religious conviction — at least a theistic one. The bedrock of American law and the Constitution more or less assumed that there are certain rights that are God given and are not dolled out to us by governments.

    I disagree that a recognition of inalienable, natural rights is dependent upon belief in a higher power. The secular and non-religious generally recognize the sanctity of human life and the fundamental importance of protecting natural rights, even if they do not believe that those rights are derived from a “God”.

    Note that Romney didn’t say that people act in anti-social ways if they don’t have religion.

    I was responding to comment #23, which offered an interpretation of Romney’s remark that “freedom requires religion.”

    How do you interpret that statement?

  72. NJensen on December 6, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Steve M

    Nate explained my feelings best in comment no. 51. The belief that I ascribe to is definitely more Hobbes than Locke, inasmuch as I do believe that the natural man left to his own devices, without a government (whether that be religious or civil), is going to be carnal, sensual, devilish; all those things we read in the scriptures. I chalk up other countries’ lack of crime to two things: Regulating everything (i.e. state-socialism) and apathy. If you take away initiative and replace it with pre-determined positions in a bureaucracy, or an industry, you anesthetize the citizen and create indifference.

    Believe me, I work for the judiciary!

  73. Jeremiah J. on December 6, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    A good speech overall. The Sam Adams story was a great touch at the end. No great money quote, and no really tightly woven paragraph which captures the pith of the whole, but in general a lot of fine things in a good package.

    Only one possible weak spot. His mention of the Kennedy speech was curious. He didn’t go as far as Kennedy did (“separation of church and state is absolute”), but he didn’t distinguish himself from Kennedy, either. One could imply from Romney’s reference that he basically wants to make the same statement (of course there are real differences if you compare the two speeches). But he even seems to suggest that religion adds nothing to his candidacy (“a person should not be elected because of his faith”)–freedom needs religion, but political leadership isn’t even helped by it? The answer to the question in the speech is a bit muddled.

  74. valerie on December 6, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    #67 Blake

    Why does a belief in inalienable rights need a theistic basis? I’m an agnostic and I absolutely believe in your rights as a citizen and a human being without a belief in God(s) as many people do. Why is that so hard to understand?

    I’m sorry but it seems that the universal values that Romney talks about are not just based in Judeo-Christian belief but only for Judeo-Christian believers.

  75. Jim Bennett on December 6, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    There was a 97% chance that Mitt would botch this.

    He beat the odds. He hit it out of the park. He nailed it.

  76. Nate Oman on December 6, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Valarie: I think that Blake’s claim is conceptual rather than empirical. As an emperical matter it is clearly true that many atheists and agnostics believe in inalienable human rights. The question is whether or not they can consistently do so. I am not necessarily persuaded by Blake’s claim, but I am pretty certain that saying, “Hey! I am an agnostic and atheist and I believe in human rights” is not a response.

  77. Nate Oman on December 6, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Theological punditry question: Was it a mistake for Romney to talk about believing in Jesus?

    Here is my take. Romney was doing one of two things here. First, he was trying to respond to those who insist that Mormons are not Christans, reassuring them that he is in fact a Christian. I think that this is a mistake. You are never going to persuade these people; don’t bother trying as it will simply get them riled up and defense. Second, he was doing this as a matter of personal conviction. Having had his faith in Christ publically questioned, he is trying to fufill his sacrament covenant to take upon himself the name of Christ. My question is whether or not he was bound to do so by covenant even if it doesn’t make political sense for him to do so?

  78. Jacob M on December 6, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    valerie, he’s talking to people with Judeo-Christian belief specifically at this point in his campaign. He needs them to win the Republican primary.

    And by agnostic, do you mean that you believe that there is a higher power, but that the organized religions have screwed it all up? The reason I ask is, that higher power is the basis for inalienable rights, according to the Founders’ understanding. If your agnostic in the sense that you have atheistic tendencies but aren’t convinced either way, then your argument makes more sense, but I still think that Romney isn’t running on the grounds of curtailing the liberty of atheists and agnostics. I won’t touch the Islamic issue, as that is too complicated for a simple post.

  79. Dave on December 6, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Just reading the text (didn’t hear it live), it sounds like Romney worked hard to move the discussion onto traditional “civic religion” turf with the faith-affirming but nondenominational vocabulary and content that American Presidents have generally employed regardless of their own denominational commitments (or lack thereof, for that matter). See Jon Meacham’s recent book, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation, for a nice survey of how presidents from Washington to Reagan have successfully used that approach. It doesn’t appeal to sectarians but it does resonate with most of the electorate. No one really wants a sectarian president.

  80. WillF on December 6, 2007 at 2:29 pm
  81. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Jeremiah J., that’s an excellent point. I can see two particular responses: the first is that while you could argue that en masse freedom requires virtue and virtue requires religion, one can evaluate the individual virtue of a political candidate without reference to his religion. The second would be to see Romney arguing that politicians should not be judged on the basis of their particular faith, because it is the common areas of faith that are civically important for inducing virtue.

    I’d be interested to hear your analysis of the differences between this speech and the JFK speech.

  82. the narrator on December 6, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    he’s talking to people with Judeo-Christian belief specifically at this point in his campaign. He needs them to win the Republican primary.

    The sad part was that in doing so, he took (very) subtle slams at atheists and other non-religious people in order to win the hearts of atheist hating Christians. He could have easily thrown in the lines to bridge a gap between believers and non-believers, but seems to intentionally not done so for the very same reasons.

  83. WillF on December 6, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    and the video can now be seen here: http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=10374 (I couldn’t get the links to the video to work in the post above).

  84. Steve M on December 6, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Re: #72,

    Sorry, I missed that earlier comment. While I understand the significance of that philosophy in American law and politics, I’m not prepared to agree that “freedom requires religion” just because religion, on the whole, does a decent job of curbing people’s less destructive or antisocial tendencies. Morality, reverence for human life, etc., can be effectively instilled through non-religious means. While religion may promote morality, responsibility, and social stability, it is not an exclusive source of these values. Nor do I believe that the only alternative is extensive government intervention and coercion.

    When Romney makes comments such as “freedom requires religion,” I get the idea that he assumes that a society’s stability depends upon its devotion to religion. And inasmuch as church and state are to occupy separate spheres, I don’t think this is an assumption that a would-be President should have.

  85. Blake on December 6, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    Valerie: Nate is right, I don’t claim that there aren’t atheists and agnostics who don’t believe in inalienable rights. There are clearly are — and here you are to prove it! However, I don’t believe that it is easy to defend the view of inalienable rights in an atheistic or agnostic assumption. What grounds such rights? Where did they come from? As I said, one perhaps could attempt to base such rights on human dignity, but I’ve never seen it successfully worked out in a non-theistic context. Moreover, one certainly cannot accept the language of the Declaration of Independence that we have such rights because God endowed us with them.

    However, my point was that I believe that Romney is on reasonable ground in making such a claim.

  86. john f. on December 6, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    re # 72: The belief that I ascribe to is definitely more Hobbes than Locke, inasmuch as I do believe that the natural man left to his own devices, without a government (whether that be religious or civil), is going to be carnal, sensual, devilish; all those things we read in the scriptures.

    Although Hobbes has a certain (scary) Calvinistic logic about him, I would consider myself as subscribing much more to Locke than to Hobbes based on my belief in LDS scripture (which includes the Bible). I don’t recall a verse in the Book of Mormon that holds that the natural man is going to be carnal, sensual, devilish, etc. when not under the yoke of a government. Rather, I seem to remember that verse being in connection with individuals choosing to put off the “natural man” by making a religious choice: to accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

    I think that by striking a Lockeian course by building on a subtext of the trusty principle of republican civic virtue, Romney made some very effective and high-level points. Civic republicanism does not have to be accompanied by religion but flows naturally from a life informed by certain religious views, as Blake explains nicely in # 67.

  87. the narrator on December 6, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    also, to add to the discussion about religion and inalienable human rights. It was Camus, the atheist, whose philosophy, more than any other, had the greatest impact on me in instilling a notion of inalienable human rights.

  88. Blake on December 6, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Steven M. I believe that believing that religion is essential in the American scheme, or at least that anyone who can be effective in the American democratic process must make room for religious beliefs, is unassailable. In that sense, American freedom requires religion (with a small “r”). You assert that: “Morality, reverence for human life, etc., can be effectively instilled through non-religious means.” Perhaps so, but in the ends, I believe that a purely secular and naturalistic outlook reduces to mere animals and mechanistic explanations in a world without any basis for believing that morals are anything more than social convenience. What is your view of ethics that would ground ethics and morals without religion?

  89. Jeremiah J. on December 6, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Nate: I like your analysis, especially the second part. The reason I can see for him to talk about his faith in Jesus in this particular context is because he’s really annoyed by even his evangelical *supporters* telling him to stop calling himself a Christian. To obey that advice would be to play right into the charge that the previous professions of Christianity were in fact disingenuous. I’m sure at least one of his advisors said, “okay, do the speech, but don’t mention Jesus.” And that made him want to do it all the more. So I was really cheering for him to do it. But you’re right, there is no political point to it, in fact I bet it could only harm him. Mormons are among the few people in America for whom it’s not necessarily politically beneficial to play up your relationship with Christ. Which, oddly enough, makes it seem all the more genuine to me. Especially for a guy who openly says in a debate about one of the most pressing moral issues of our time, basically “my advisors told me not to make a statement on that.”

  90. Nate Oman on December 6, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    “Especially for a guy who openly says in a debate about one of the most pressing moral issues of our time, basically “my advisors told me not to make a statement on that.” ”

    I don’t have TV so I have been obsessively following the canidate debates. Can you fill out the context for the reference here?

  91. john f. on December 6, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    great point Jeremiah J. (#89)

  92. Blake on December 6, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Narrator: Really? It is news to me that Camus believed in or even promoted inalienable rights of any kind. Indeed, as an existentialist, his point was that there are no such rights and the only claim we have is the assertion of rebellion which endows with a dignity of defiance. But inalienable right from Camus?

  93. Mark N. on December 6, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    OK. So, since the “Jack Bauer scenario” is so popular with the “we need to be able to torture someone to stop an atomic bomb” fans, what if we merge that with the “Book-of-Mormon-ask-the-church-leadership-where-to-send-the-troops-next” scenario and ask “If there’s an atomic bomb set to go off and torture has been unsuccessful in getting someone to spill the beans on where it is and how to stop it, would it be OK if President Romney were to ask President Hinckley to ask the Lord what he should do next?”

    Just asking.

  94. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    #82 – and he took a subtle jab at evangelicals for even making him address religion and faith at all. In fact, the “jab” at atheists and agnostics has to be interpreted from what he said; the jab at those who would vote against him simply because of his Mormonism was much more open in the words he actually used.

    #73 – Reading “a person should not be elected because of his faith” as saying that religion adds nothing to his candidacy or that political leadership isn’t helped by it is a radical revision of what he actually said throughout the speech. Sorry for the bluntness, but that reading is WAY off. All he said was that a person’s faith should not be the reason he is elected or rejected – nothing more; nothing less.

  95. Mark N. on December 6, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    That and the absolutely laughable line about respecting Muslims when he\’s admitted to not wanting a Muslim in his cabinet revealed what a horrible opportunist the man is.

    I don’t think he likes illegal aliens working in his yard, either, for that matter.

  96. Steve M on December 6, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    For what it’s worth, I’d like to note that there are alternatives to the Hobbesian philosophy on which the “freedom requires religion” comment depends. I’m not saying that Western society should (or even that it could) adopt or transition to such a system, but it’s worth thinking about.

    For instance, Chinese Confucian philosophy starts from a totally different assumption than Western philosophy–it does not assume that men, if left to themselves, will inherently act in selfish or destructive ways. Rather, the Chinese believe that people become altruistic through values that are instilled in them. The instilling of desirable values will lead to responsible behavior and a prosperous society, while the instilling of undesirable values will have the opposite effect. From this perspective, creating a stable and prosperous society does not depend on the institution of laws that limit govern people’s behavior and curb antisocial tendencies (unsurprisingly, legalism has never had much traction in China). The system actually functions similarly to religious communities, in that certain values and are taught and instilled in the people, and these values are enforced both by personal conscience and social norms. Significantly, the system is not based around the worship of a God. Rather, its explicit purpose is to promote societal stability and prosperity.

    I am by no means promoting specific values that traditional Chinese culture emphasizes. My point is simply that morality, ethics, and other socially desirable values can be instilled through means other than government coercion or religion. However, it requires the acceptance of a different baseline assumption–that men are not necessarily predisposed to antisocial behavior.

  97. Mark B. on December 6, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    The speech will be on CSPAN 2 at 9:00 EST tonight.

  98. WillF on December 6, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    video link that includes George Bush’s introduction: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=&nid=520

  99. NJensen on December 6, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Steve M-

    It’s just simply opinion on my part that religion is the best way to teach morals and shape behavior. It’s puts us in a much more emotional (and less safe overall) existence than by simply teaching morals secularly and emphasizing human dignity, but then again, life’s more fun that way.

  100. Steve M on December 6, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    What is your view of ethics that would ground ethics and morals without religion?

    Personally–I believe that there are really compelling reasons for acting in unselfish, altruistic, socially desirable ways, which have nothing to do with religion. Ethical behavior promotes good interpersonal relationships, peace, social stability, etc. If I expect others to treat me with a certain level of kindness and respect, I’d better be willing to do the same for them…

    As my last comment pointed out, for millennia Chinese society has functioned without relying on either a theistic religion or excessive legalism. Of course, part of that may have to do with the fact that the culture is inherently less individualistic than American culture.

  101. Marc on December 6, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    Adam and Matt: The Church revamped its political neutrality statement in late 2006 and included the aforementioned paragraph. Here’s a Deseret News article on it.

  102. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    You’ve shifted from freedom to talking about a functioning society, Steve M. They aren’t the same. I think Confucianism does a pretty good job of creating a decent society but not one that is particularly keen on freedom, equality, and individual rights.

    You’re also ignoring the religious cast that confucianism took on, either directly (they had Confucian temples, for pity’s sake!) or as part of a syncretism with Taoism and Buddhism.

  103. Jeremiah J. on December 6, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    “I don’t have TV so I have been obsessively following the canidate debates. Can you fill out the context for the reference here?”

    It was the torture exchange with McCain, where he deferred to his advisors (he did the same thing on don’t-ask-don’t-tell and some other issues) who said he shouldn’t talk about it. I think Romney’s position on talking about torture is incoherent, but I didn’t want to raise that issue, or specifically criticize Romney on torture, I was just alluding to the fact that he seems highly handled. Part of it is that he’s so open and honest about the give-and-take between himself and his people, e.g. bluntly revealing his disagreements with his advisors over “the speech”. Part of it is that he *is* a bit wooden as a politician and dependent upon his handlers, I think. So I’m saying I like that he probably broke with them on the subject of mentioning Jesus, that’s all.

    I’m actually in the same boat that you are, Nate. I wish I had TV so I could watch the debates live, but I’m consigned to YouTube. I only saw the Dem debate held in Vegas on actual TV.

  104. Dan Richards on December 6, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I don’t claim that there aren’t atheists and agnostics who don’t believe in inalienable rights.

    One negative too many, perhaps?

  105. Bob on December 6, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    He had better written every word of this speech. There will be a hundred guys dusting it for prints. Few politicians write their own stuff these days. Before giving him all these kind words, I’d like to know that he wrote this speech.

  106. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    You’re a Grinch, Bob. (said with a smile and as much love as those words can contain) Who gives a rat’s backside who wrote it? He gave it, so it’s his.

  107. cyril on December 6, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Having just returned from the speech, I offer these thoughts. On another blog, I said that this speech would either be brilliant or crazy. I was wrong. This speech was inspired, inspiring, and marked a new inflection point in American political history. Either we are the country we said we were when we began or we are doomed. Mitt Romney believes we are a tremendous tapestry of faith that can and will continue to be the hope and strength of the world. Mitt looked like a President in that room today. He talked like a President. And he acted like a President. This speech was easily the best political speech of the campaign season and, whatever the effect, will surely be said to be a great and necessary message to America. God bless America and God bless Governor Romney.

  108. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    cyril, but how do you feel about Romney as a Mormon presidential candidate?

  109. Marc on December 6, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    So you’re leaning toward voting for Mitt, are ya’ Cyril? :)

  110. Jason J on December 6, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Romney\’s team made it clear when they announced the speech that Romney was working on the speech himself. I\’m sure his staff looked at it, but the campaign gives Mitt credit for writing it. He also does not have a \”speech writer\” position like pretty much every other candidate in recent decades.

    That\’s what the campaign claims. Whether or not Mitt actually wrote the whole text is another story. The reason I believe he wrote it without much help from his staff is that it was so much better than anything the campaign has done so far. As a Massachusetts Mormon independent, I have been immensely disappointed with Mitt\’s campaign so far – particularly the intolerant hard line on immigration. Finally Mitt goes against his advisors, gives a speech they told him not to give, and apparently writes it without their help, and it\’s the best thing he\’s done to date. Not perfect, but far better than anything else he\’s done.

    Maybe Romney could have turned out to be a more palatable option for me if he had surrounded himself with a better staff.

  111. Peter LLC on December 6, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    #72:
    I chalk up other countries’ lack of crime to two things: Regulating everything (i.e. state-socialism) and apathy. If you take away initiative and replace it with pre-determined positions in a bureaucracy, or an industry, you anesthetize the citizen and create indifference.

    Believe me, I work for the judiciary!

    Piffle. That’s the silliest thing I’ve read all day. Believe me, I work for the [insert irrelevant job description here]!

  112. NJensen on December 6, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Well, I’m glad I made somebody laugh.

  113. jw on December 6, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    I’m a pretty avowed non-Republican of the Republicans-are-Gadiantons ilk, and I thought it was a great speech. I actually think it reads better than Mitt presented it; his style is too reminiscent of Thos. S. Monson, what with the sometimes absurd pauses mid-phrase. I wanted 10% more gravitas from Mitt, but maybe that’s just the way he is: trying to channel some of Clinton’s folksiness.

    Still not planning to vote for him, but as a Mormon I thought it was swell.

  114. Jacob M on December 6, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Republicans-are-Gadiantons

    If you change that to politicians – Democrats included – I would be much more inclined to agree with you.

  115. Bob on December 6, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    #106: Ray: Right again. If you only knew how much Grinch stuff my family gives me each year (maybe you do). I only wish there were more Scrooge stuff out, I’d like some of that for my collection.
    But tell me why a man can get up and say his being Mormon doesn’t matter, then I have to read a hundred posts as to why it does? If Romney is able to septate his Mormonism from being President, why can Mormons? Now you say you don’t even care if he wrote the speech. I agree with one of the posts: Obama and Huckabee says the same things about religious freedom, etc.in their speeches. Where’s the difference?

  116. Kent on December 6, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Michael Medved just gave Romney’s speech a “10” and is calling it the “Symphony of Faith” speech.

  117. Sarah on December 6, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    I’ll say it again: I liked the speech. I thought he looked Presidential. I don’t need a President who tells jokes instead of answering questions. And I wouldn’t mind a President who sounds smart, picks smart people to listen to, and makes decisions at least partly based on the question of whether or not they’ll accomplish his stated goals. Oh, and I can’t get enough of the Adams quote thing.

    For crying out loud, Pat Buchanan said he was moved. It was a good speech. Go read D&C 134. Good night.

  118. senor guapo on December 6, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    #105: I have it on good authority that he wrote it, using the help of a researcher for references to history.

  119. mmiles on December 6, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Is anyone following the Talk of the Nation today on Mormonism?

  120. Kira on December 6, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    This is my first post on this blog, although I\’ve read all the way through it. First of all, I\’d like to thank you Valerie- because it\’s refreshing to me to hear from someone who\’s views are different from my own, who is still respectful in all your comments. I appreciate your input and have been given some serious thought to what you have said. I have friends who are both atheist and agnostic, so I find your posts enlightening.

    Second, John d. I agree with your post #69. I have been an active member all my life. I have been to the Temple. I cannot think of a single covenant in the temple that he would have to violate to fulfill the laws of the land. Even the church supports his statement, and since the time of Joseph Smith, we\’ve been told to be subject to the laws of the land- so where is the issue? I supposed if ever there were to be the extremely unlikely situation where a conflict presented itself, than the president would likely resign, but I cannot imagine a situation where that would be necessary…. and by the way, I\’m 27 so I think I\’m part of the younger generation to which you have referred. :)

    #71- Romney commented on Jesus because he has been asked about his feelings on Christ more than any other question in his \”ask me anything\” sessions. He felt it needed to be addressed. Whether or not \”mainstream\” Christians accept the \”Mormon understanding\” of Christ will be up to them. But he really had to address it. Hopefully that will be sufficient for the majority.

    Overall, I thought it was an excellent speech. I still haven\’t decided who to vote for, but I think he did a good job (and I didn\’t hear it- just read it.)

  121. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    #115 – Because you are mis-stating what he actually said – and what the 100+ comments here actually say?

  122. jw on December 6, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    #114. No Republicans ARE Gadiantons. Democrats are something else — not necessarily better, but different. Democrats don’t cozy up to big business and don’t hawk for war and don’t seem to thirst for blood and power the way Republicans do. Democrats are perhaps the hedonistic judges in King Noah’s court. Doesn’t quite seem strong enough, but it’s closer to the bill than Gadiantons.

    Anyway, to contribute to the topic and hand, one of the great things about Mitt’s speech is that it seemed surprisingly genuine. When he said, “So be it,” if he loses I think he means it. He would rather lose than sacrifice his faith and I find that refreshing. I don’t think that many other current Reupblican candidates could say the same (and mean it). I don’t know enough about the Dems to judge, but Obama and Edwards seem appropriately sincere that they might be able to as well. I said _might_ be able to, so please don’t tell me if I’m wrong; we’ll save that for another discussion.

    The comments about Christ I found unmoving, personally. They were the words of testimony, but spoken with a pre-written, rehearsed cadence. They didn’t feel like a testimony. That’s what I meant by lacking gravitas. It _was_ good, but I wish he could have taken it just one step farther tonally.

  123. Jacob M on December 6, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    The desire for power is what kick-started the Gadiantons, and in that respect, Democrats are no different.

    Anyway, I haven’t been able to watch the speach yet, but just reading it here, I’m impressed. I didn’t find what I was fearing the most, self-pity for being the picked-on-Mormon-kid. My other thoughts have been articulated far better by others.

  124. jjohnsen on December 6, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    The thing that stood out to me was that he only mentioned the name of his religion once. Doesn’t it seem strange that he spent so much time talking about “Catholics”, ‘Jews” and “Muslims” more than the name of his own church?

    It feels like he’s trying to convey how Christian he is, without reminding people of the religion he actually belongs too. Or am I reading to much into it.

  125. Kira on December 6, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    jjohsen- I think you are reading too much in to it. He did say “Mormon” once, but he said numerous times leading up to the speech that he was not, and would not be a spokesman for his church. His speech was titled “faith in America”, not “My faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and how that fits into faith in America”.

    105- he said he was writing it himself several times in interviews before the speech was given- to the frustration of some of his staff who would lave liked more control.

  126. Kevinf on December 6, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    I haven’t had the chance to read all your comments, but I did watch the speech this morning on CNN, and I am not particularly a Romney for President fan (full disclosure): I’m a Chris Dodd fan). I’m copying part of a comment I made over at the Juvenile Instructor blog here:

    While I am not particularly inclined towards Romney, I have to say that the speech exceeded my expectations. I think he said all the right things, and I believe he meant them. I am not sure that this makes him that much more attractive to the evangelicals, but it does make him more acceptable to moderate republicans, independents, and the Blue Dog Democrats.

    Interesting to note that CNN quoted a poll, showing that more people are now willing to vote for a Mormon, and more people also think Mormon’s are Christian (51%) over a similar poll in June. However, the percentage of folks who say Mormon’s are not Christians grew from about 30% to 40% over the same time frame. Undecideds dropped from 30% to about 10%. It appears that two messages are making headway. One is that we are not a weird, brainwashing cult, (a view) spread by the church, and the other is that we are a weird, brainwashing cult, (a view) spread by the evangelicals.

  127. East Coast on December 6, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    About #124, why does he need to keep saying “Mormon” if there is no real conflict between his religion and standing up and saying, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    Do Mormons need him to affirm their identity? I don’t.

    Do the Mormon people need him to stand up and say that if Salt Lake City (as they say in the media coverage; I suppose they mean the LDS church leadership and not Rocky Anderson) approached him on an issue that he would say yes-sir, what-ever-you-say-sir and forget the rule of law and his responsibility to the American people and the constitution? I don’t live in Mormon country, so maybe I can’t understand what is behind your comment. What do people think “Salt Lake City” is going to approach him about? Establishing Mormonism as the state religion? Legitimizing polygamy? Reinstating prohibition?

    All I can say is, “Weird.” I guess I’ve lived outside the rarified air too long. Can someone explain it to me?

  128. Rosalynde Welch on December 6, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    I was interested in the language on conscience: “Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people.” Interesting both in that he framed the issue of activism in terms of political conscience and also in the particular illustrative causes he selected. Although religious practice often supports the security of the state in the ways discussed above, “private conscience” has historically been the name given to the religious authority that competes with state interests. Even a committed opponent of religion would have to (ruefully) concede that he is probably right on this most of the time, however: with the exception perhaps of feminism, most successful movements at one point have turned to the Bible at least for post-hoc legitimacy, as we see happening now with environmentalism.

  129. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    Call me crazy, but I happen to think that neither of the two US political parties are oath-bound secret conspiracies intent on murdering their way to control of our country. Good thing too, since lots of Mormons are Democrats and lots and lots and lots of Mormons are Republicans.

  130. Mark M on December 6, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    Nate #77,

    You are thinking too hard. Option #2 – one is constrained by covenant even in the timing of one’s delivery of affirming one’s faith in Christ?

    You are probably aware that he has stated his simple belief in Jesus Christ repeatly on the campaign trail when asked about his beliefs.

  131. tyler on December 6, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    The tagline at the bottom of the screen during part of the CNN coverage/commentary concerning the speech read “Mitt mentions ‘Mormon’ only once” and many of the pundits I have heard say it was a great Judeo-Christian/freedom/unity speech but that it doesn’t say anything about what Mormons believe. While I agree that Mitt stayed away from explicitly delineating Mormon theology that seems like an obvious necessity–what possible purpose could such delineation achieve except garnering either carping from those who believe differently that he was trying to soft-peddle differences or else preaching this coming Sunday about how beliefs X and Y are evil. More importantly, however, my take on the relationship between Mormon Faith and American values is that Mormonism emphasizes and expands the central tenet of the American Civil religion: all men are created equal. Thus, by making that the idealogical fulcrum of his remarks, Mitt brilliantly showed that his Mormonism makes him a great American without preaching or dividing at all.

  132. Y Stephenson on December 6, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    I have been waiting to hear Mr. Romney say something a little more substantive. I find I don’t believe him when he says that it is the Presidents job to represent all of the people. That is antithetical to conservative thinking. But that is another subject.

    I want to hear him say what he thinks the purposes of the government actually are. And yes, I would be more impressed if he paraphrased the articles of faith (We claim the privilege. . .) or section 134 of the D. & C. I would like to have heard him quote something from James Madison (the author of the constitution) on the role of religion in government. Of course that would not have agreed with Adams so he couldn’t do that. I don’t think he needed to bend over backwards to make himself look the most tolerant all inclusive person running for office.

    But, I agree that his religion should not be an issue in this or any other election. Had the people who think the Church of Jesus Christ is not Christian decided to make it part of the campaign it wouldn’t be. I seriously doubt that a substantial number of them will be converted by what he said.

  133. Jacob M on December 6, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    You’re crazy, Adam! (Grin)

    So maybe our politics bashing was a little over the top. I still don’t trust politicians not to go down that road, eventually.

    And your forgetting about the “vast right-wing conspiracy” against the Clintons! (Chuckle)

  134. bbell on December 6, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    My own take.

    1. The talk was well done and sincere
    2. The timing of it was driven by the Huckabee surge
    3. It helps Romney for a while because he is in the news and Huck is not
    4. Not sure it will help him. As many may have noted I do not believe that Romney will in the end be the nominee
    5. The publicity is good for the Church.

  135. Mark M on December 6, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    John D. (#55),

    Concerning Romney’s apparent inconsistency of political convictions between running for Massachusetts governor and for U.S. President, I would be concerned too if I only had media coverage to rely on. But having lived in Massachusetts for the past 8 years, I have a better understanding of the contexts, and see steadier convictions than what is commonly reported.

    One example — Romney was supposedly “pro-choice” when he ran for governor. Fact: In a debate, he promised that he would not change abortion laws during his term as governor if elected. Even at that time, I understood that as a practical matter — he wasn’t going to fight that battle in a state that didn’t want it. He would focus on other things, like erasing the budget deficit. In his own defense on the “flip-flop-flip” as a Presidential candidate, he accurately says he was “effectively pro-choice” as governor, even though he personally opposed abortion. That means he did not fight against existing abortion laws as governor, as promised.

  136. Mark M on December 6, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    jw (#122),
    “He would rather lose than sacrifice his faith and I find that refreshing. I don’t think that many other current Republican candidates could say the same (and mean it).”

    Probably true, although McCain certainly could also say that and mean it. He said as much about his unpopular position on the war several months ago.

  137. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    I find I don’t believe him when he says that it is the Presidents job to represent all of the people. That is antithetical to conservative thinking.

    News to me. The President shouldn’t be poll-driven, but he is bound to be concerned about the welfare of all the citizens, not just the ones who voted for him.

  138. Ray on December 6, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    If Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan agree that it was the best speech in the entire campaign season, and if Matthews calls it a great day for American politics, I’m not going to quibble about a phrase here and there.

  139. Jeremiah J. on December 6, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    RW, You’re pointing out a very interesting passage that I had glossed over. It’s appears to be a very striking claim: no movement of conscience (I’m not sure what falls into that category and what doesn’t) can succeed unless it can be put into religious terms? Or perhaps stronger, and stranger: no movement of conscience can succeed without a theological basis? Or much weaker, and fairly banal: no movement of conscience can succeed if it can’t get the support of religous people?

    The fact that all major movements have reached for scritpural support is not that striking, but Romney is saying, it seems, that they all must do so. Or perhaps not; I’m not sure. Whatever it is, it sounds more like a premise of the religious left rather than the religious right (except that the pro-life cause is probably a “movement of conscience” and feels itself quite at home in conservatism).

  140. Bob on December 6, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    #121: ( on #115) Right again, Ray (grin). He said being a Mormon is what makes him the Right-Guy for President. And everyone on this blog has said “NOT!”

  141. Bob on December 6, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    #128: “Most successful movements at one point have turned to the Bible at least for post-hoc legitimacy, as we see happening now with environmentalism.
    I have to disagree on this. (Of course I would need to know what you mean by ‘successful movement’). It seems the *Right* has been the one to use the Bible for legitimacy in it’s movements and has failed (?). The secular *Left* does not seek Bible legitimacy for it’s movements, and has had success(?). Examples: Right to vote. Social Security, Medicare, Unions, Planned Parenthood, Public Schooling, Environmentalism, Gay Rights, etc.

  142. Jacob M on December 6, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Uhm, proponents of Social Security have used the Bible in their justifications, as have proponents of Public Schooling (and even the Book of Mormon, recently used in an ad for School Vouchers). And, thinking about it, George W Bush has expanded Medicare, and given how “religious” his administration has sought to be, you can bet there are biblical passages that he would site for legitimacy.

    And I would define the abolition and civil rights movements as rather successful.

    Your argument is also way too simplified.

  143. East Coast on December 6, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    #141 Actually Social Security came out of progressive Wisconsin, not liberal politics. Also I don’t know that I would attach the labor movement which began almost two hundred years ago to the “secular Left.”

  144. tamilyngf on December 6, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    i just have to respond to this from Valerie: \”That and the absolutely laughable line about respecting Muslims when he\\’s admitted to not wanting a Muslim in his cabinet revealed what a horrible opportunist the man is.\”

    This is the perfect example of the nauseating amount of spin that is accepted in our present culture and the media. Mitt was saying he would not give someone a post in his cabinet only to fulfill a Muslim quota. If he did so, then what is to stop any special interest group from demanding a spot in a cabinet…why just the Muslims?? I was very very discouraged when I read this anti-muslim spin in the paper on this non-story, and even more disappointed to know it would be swallowed up by many as a story, as news.

    I would also like thoughts on this thought: I am growing tired of the drama about flip-flopping. I understand how disappointing it is to see politicians play the game of \”say anything to win\”, but anyone who is truly a THOUGHTFUL politician would of course, over time, flip-flop, because he/she would actually LISTEN to opposing ideas, and maybe even act on those opposing ideas. What scares me is someone who never flip-flops!

  145. Jack on December 6, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    I loved the speech.

  146. Ivan Wolfe on December 6, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Here’s another comment from some pundit or another:
    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/jpodhoretz/1506

    “Mitt Romney’s Boilerplate Mistake”

    It’s a bit harsh, but I more or less agree with the basic point. I don’t like boilerplate rhetoric.

    The comments on that thread are worth reading as well.

  147. Adam Greenwood on December 6, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Can it really be boilerplate when people here and elsewhere are disagreeing with him? The notion that America needs to be a nation that acknowledges God is not without controversy.

  148. Ivan Wolfe on December 6, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    Can it really be boilerplate when he’s people here and elsewhere are disagreeing with him?

    Yes. Boilerplate is language that can be inserted into almost any speech in any circumstance. Saying “he’s people here and elsewhere disagreeing with me” is a rather standard rhetorical move, and the same (or similar) language crops up in hundreds of political speeches a year. In the end, boilerplate is unavoidable, as there are only so many ways to say the same thing, but I felt that too much of Romney’s speech consisted of boilerplate that could have been said by pretty much anyone.

    I shouldn’t be too down. It was good speech, and one that needed to be said. I just have a personal aversion to boilerplate rhetoric. I wish there had been more uniqueness to the speech. But perhaps uniqueness would have been perceived as “weird” and Romeny was clearly trying to avoid being seen as weird.

    While I’m not a fan of politicians, but i don’t envy them either. It’s impossible to please everyone.

  149. Bob on December 6, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    #142: I will be even more simple: “proponents of Social Security have used the Bible in their justifications,” No.
    “as have proponents of Public Schooling …No
    “George W Bush has expanded Medicare” No
    “…how “religious” his administration has sought to be…No
    #143: My idea of ‘Liberal Politics’ pre-dates the USA

  150. cyril on December 6, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    When Matthews, Buchanan, Bopp, Dobson, Krauthammer, Medved, Limbaugh, Hannity (and on and on) all agree that this was a great speech for America, that is a pretty big deal for Mormonism and Mitt. Parse away, but this speech was historic. Our forefathers and forbearers are smiling on Mitt Romney right now, and with good reason.

  151. veritas on December 6, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    I think this speech was very well written and many people (haven’t read all the comments) to be sure will be moved by it. But, I think it perfectly illustrates why I so strongly dislike Romney.

    This speech is fluff. Carefully crafted to tug at the heartstrings of patriotic christians in Iowa and other important states but purely lacking in anything sincere or concrete, just like Romney himself. A whole lot of nothing in a pretty package. Yep, thats sums up Romney pretty well.

    When I heard this speech, I was just thinking ‘gee, THATS what we did during the last century??” No wars for anything but freedom huh. Sure would be nice to see the world through those glasses.

    But, I do think this speech will help him get some of the votes hes so obviously pandering to: the christian members of AARP. We all know they swing the primaries anyways.

  152. Mark D. on December 7, 2007 at 12:23 am

    #149:

    1. Senator Huey Long argued in favor of Social Security from the Bible in Congress on January 23, 1935.

    2. Even better: Once upon a time the King James Bible was a major part of the American public school curriculum. Hence the ‘Bible wars’ [pdf] of the nineteenth century.

    3. Three words: Prescription Drug Benefit

  153. Jack on December 7, 2007 at 12:24 am

    I thought he was sincere.

  154. Ray on December 7, 2007 at 12:39 am

    He was, Jack. Some people just see what they are convinced they are going to see.

  155. veritas on December 7, 2007 at 1:45 am

    if he was sincere life is going to be a bit of a wake up call were he to get elected. If life were only so simple. Seriously. If you think a speech of this nature by any presidential candidate no matter their religious persuasion is simply sincere and has nothing to do with manipulating people’s votes when a major primary is looming in a state full of old people who happen to be christian and want to vote for the other guy…well…you must have some of those glasses…

  156. Kevin on December 7, 2007 at 2:01 am

    Romney\’s speech was okay, sort of bland though. I do find it interesting that some of the harshest critics on the post are from Mormons who say Romney was not Mormon enough. I think that is a stitch. To those critics, do you really want Romney to say the \”Doctrine and Covenants\” document is much more important than the Constitution of the United States? Do you have any idea of how odd that sounds to a non-Mormon conservative? He already has your vote. He does not need to placate your concerns since you will probably vote for him anyway. You know what everyone says, don\’t you? It is commonly thought that Mormons will only vote for other Mormons. So even if that isn\’t true, what are you going to do, run off and vote for Joe Biden?

  157. veritas on December 7, 2007 at 2:24 am

    People keep comparing this speech to Kennedy’s, but to me all he did was (again) take his cue from Bush – who in the 2000 South Carolina primary overcame the favorite McCain but saying that Jesus Christ was his Lord and Savior (over and over again) in debates and speeches. People loved to say he was sincere then too….

  158. Bob on December 7, 2007 at 2:59 am

    #152: I invite all to read those speeches of Huey Long and judge.
    It was the ‘Bible Wars of Cincinnati’, And the public schools rejected the Bible as a text.
    It’s two words: Pharmaceutical Lobby.

  159. Jack on December 7, 2007 at 8:24 am

    veritas,

    It’s nice to know that the Literati is still alive and well–so alive and well that not only do I not have to do my own thinking, hell, I don’t even have to do my own feeling anymore. Thanks.

  160. Jack on December 7, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Sorry, for my mean spirited comment, veratis. I just seems to me that Mitt was sincere in spite of whatever formulaic quality there may have been in his speech. I feel the same way about the talks I hear in general conference–most are filled to the brim with the standard rhetoric one would expect hear in that venue. And yet, they are invariably heartfelt and sincere in their delivery. I think what many of us (including me) hear as obnoxious rhetoric is really a sincere attempt on the part of the speaker to throw off his/her pride and communicate in a common language with his/her fellow travelers on the earth.

  161. john f. on December 7, 2007 at 9:35 am

    re # 132, I want to hear him say what he thinks the purposes of the government actually are. And yes, I would be more impressed if he paraphrased the articles of faith (We claim the privilege. . .) or section 134 of the D. & C. I would like to have heard him quote something from James Madison (the author of the constitution) on the role of religion in government.

    Although I am not particularly critical of the speech and thought it was very well done, I agree that it would have been even more exciting for me as a Latter-day Saint if Romney would have literally quoted the Eleventh Article of Faith among the other fine quotes and concepts he presented in his speech:

    We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    He might have also taken a few snippets from Doctrine and Covenants 134:4:

    We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

    Of course, it might have only detracted from the greater accomplishment of the speech, which, I believe was that he extolled a religious pluralism (and not mere toleration) that he believes should hold sway in the United States through which society recognizes the value of having people of all faiths work for and contribute to the common good through their own faiths.

  162. NJensen on December 7, 2007 at 10:39 am

    If he wasn’t sincere, than most Stake Presidents I have had in my lifetime haven’t been sincere. It sounded like I was in Church on the 4th of July.

  163. john f. on December 7, 2007 at 11:03 am

    I must admit that I noticed him channeling President Monson in a few sentences, at which times my wife and I burst out laughing. Why do public speakers seem more eloquent in the past? Watching JFK (a good person but not really any smarter than Mitt Romney) or other past figures giving speeches you get a sense they are orators, not merely people speaking at a microphone. This also goes for listening to J. Reuben Clark or other past church leaders give talks at General Conference. There is an identifiable “orator’s tone” that has gone missing from public speaking in the last few decades. Now our politicians and other public speakers are just people standing at a microphone saying words. The speech itself might be great and inspiring, like this one, but the diction and tone are just normal. Just thinking aloud here, or, in print.

  164. Mark D. on December 7, 2007 at 11:29 am

    #161: Romney does not want his candidacy to be a referendum on his religion, and rightly so. I think that is why he didn’t spend any time describing uniquely Mormon beliefs. He can’t say we believe this and we believe that. He can say this is what I believe, and this is why it is relevant to a run for public office. I thought he did a good job of that.

  165. Adam Greenwood on December 7, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Saying “he’s people here and elsewhere disagreeing with me” is a rather standard rhetorical move.

    It also happens to be true. Dismissing a fact as a rhetorical move doesn’t make it go away.

  166. Dan Y. on December 7, 2007 at 11:40 am

    john F.,

    RE: 11th article of faith. Or he could have quoted William Penn’s 1682 Declaration of Rights. It would preclude accusations of using an overtly Mormon source, while sounding familiar enough to Mormons hoping to be thrown a doctrinal bone.

    “All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship… against his consent.”

  167. Ivan Wolfe on December 7, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Adam, Adam, Adam –

    I’m not dismissing it at all. Just stating that it is a standard rhetorical move and has taken on rather boilerplate-ish langauge. That has nothing whatsoever to do with the truth of the statement, just a criticism of how that particular truth was expressed.

    If someone tells me to “look before I leap”, I may respond “that’s a rather cliche phrase” – but if I trust the person, I likely will look before I leap.

    You can criticize how a truth is expressed without criticizing the truth itself.

  168. valerie on December 7, 2007 at 11:56 am

    #144 tamilyngf, Perhaps if you actuallty read the rest of the thread you would understand my comment but I’ll explain it again just for you.

    Romney justified his rejection of the idea of not having a Muslim in his cabinet by saying that Muslims were too small a part of the population to warrant that kind of place in his administration.

    It was a weird answer to give because if that standard was applied to Mormons who by the way only make up 1% of our population then he wouldn’t be allowed to run for president!

    And the idea of “quotas” is laughable because that wasn’t what the question was about. It was about giving Muslims a voice because if you haven’t noticed we are doing such a good job interacting with Muslims internationally and maybe giving a Muslim a position as essentially a consultant would help us in our dealings with Muslims around the world.

    The man answered a perfectly reasonable question about our lack of knowledge about a certain faith with a bunch of ignorant non-sense.

    You would think as a Mormon who I’m sure has suffered bigotry in his own life he would do better.

  169. Bob on December 7, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    #163: “There is an identifiable “orator’s tone” that has gone missing…”.I agree, but Obama does a good skit with his Baptist speeches.

  170. Adam Greenwood on December 7, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    The real problem we probably have, Ivan Wolfe, is that I’m a fan of cliches when sincerely meant. I’m with Calvin Coolidge, who was pleased when he read a review of a speech of his that said it was nothing but cliches, truisms, and platitudes.

  171. Ivan Wolfe on December 7, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Adam Greenwood –

    Got it. So it’s (more or less) differing aesthetic tastes on our part. Well, as I said above, it’s impossible for a politician to please everyone, so I really don’t envy them in the least.

  172. veritas on December 7, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    “It sounded like I was in Church on the 4th of July.”

    Exactly. Sigh.

    “The lives of hundreds of thousands of America’s sons and daughters were laid down during the last century to preserve freedom, for us and for freedom loving people throughout the world. America took nothing from that Century’s terrible wars — no land from Germany or Japan or Korea; no treasure; no oath of fealty. America’s resolve in the defense of liberty has been tested time and again. It has not been found wanting, nor must it ever be. America must never falter in holding high the banner of freedom.”

    This is what I had the biggest problem with, but was probably the smartest part of his speech. There isn’t a grandma who listened that won’t vote for him now, but this whole paragraph is pure garbage. When will we have leaders who don’t see the hundreds of thousands of lives lost as a GOOD thing? When will the people of america hear that line and not think ‘god bless america’ but, instead, ‘thats horrible’. When will people realize that we did come away from the past century of wars with sooo much? That no war has been fought with a lack of self interest.

    Also, I’m all for optimism most of the time, but what we need in a president right now is someone who can see things as they really are. a President firmly grounded in reality…thats what I want.

  173. Blake on December 7, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Valerie: I believe that what Romney actually said in the context of his full answer is that he didn’t feel compelled to put a Muslim in his cabinet and that he would put the most qualified person for the job. At least that is my take in the full and complete context. I’m not saying it cannot be interpreted as you do; I’m saying it isn’t a the most charitable interpretation.

  174. Jeremiah J. on December 7, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    “The real problem we probably have, Ivan Wolfe, is that I’m a fan of cliches when sincerely meant. I’m with Calvin Coolidge, who was pleased when he read a review of a speech of his that said it was nothing but cliches, truisms, and platitudes.”

    I’m with you, Adam. Much of political and religious rhetoric is an exercise in publicly putting outselves on the side of certain things which we’re *for* and certain people who were *with*. Without the boilerplate, earnestly delivered, we lack one really good way of doing that. I guess that’s why religious and political rhetoric can sometimes seem to some people slavishly conformist, unoriginal, and boring.

  175. Ivan Wolfe on December 7, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Also, Adam Greenwood, I would say that I more with George Orwell than Calvin Coolidge. His rules of writing were:

    (i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

    (ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.

    (iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

    (iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

    (v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

    (vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

    Of course, the last rule is the most important one, and if a cliche is the best thing to say in a given situation, then by all means use it. But I tend to agree with Orwell. But read his “Politics and the English Language” if you haven’t already.

    But, in the end, I don’t know if it is that big of a deal. In regards to Romney’s speech, it comes down to aesthetic taste. In this case, I’ll be a relativist and claim that “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”

  176. Adam Greenwood on December 7, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Ivan Wolfe: If being a relativist is your thing, man, that’s cool with me.

    Thanks, Jeremy J. That’s a good way of putting it.

  177. dpc on December 7, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    “Also, I’m all for optimism most of the time, but what we need in a president right now is someone who can see things as they really are. a President firmly grounded in reality…thats what I want.”

    A President who runs on a platform of realpolitik is going to have a tough time attracting voters. Nobody wants to hear that America may use force to protect the power it has relative to other states.

  178. Mark B. on December 7, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    If Orwell really wrote all those things, did he borrow from Strunk & White, or did they borrow from him?

  179. Ivan Wolfe on December 7, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Adam Greenwood –

    It’s all good.

    Mark B. –

    Well, Politics and the English Language came out in 1946.

    The Elements of Style originally came out in 1918, but was almost unknown outside a small circle, and didn’t recieve wide distribution until 1959, when E. B. White was comissioned to revise it.

    I have no idea if Orwell even knew who William Strunk, Jr. was, but perhaps he had come across the book or the ideas.

  180. Jack on December 7, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    “It sounded like I was in Church on the 4th of July.”

    Yes, and a damn good meeting it was.

  181. djinn on December 9, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    #135 Mark M. It’s my memory (and I looked it up) that Romney came out as much more pro-choice than you indicate. He has stated publicly, in 1994, during his debates with Kennedy, that because his brother-in-law’s fiance died in a botched illegal abortion in the early sixties that he was pro-choice. As late as 2002 he said: ”I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose. This choice is a deeply personal one. Women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not mine and not the government’s. The truth is, no candidate in the governor’s race in either party would deny women abortion rights.”

  182. djinn on December 9, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    I find the question of religion and morality quite fascinating, but I freely admit to not quite understanding the philisophical arguments; they all seem at heart mean-spiritied–the Jacobins? Leo Strauss? Hobbes? In the bluntest terms weren’t all of their ideas basically that people had to be tricked into behaving? You’re not going to tell me that Strauss was personally religious, for example–didn’t he explicitly agitate for “noble lies” and “pious frauds?” To, at least arrive at a data set for analysis, I looked up the research on the subject and found:

    A paper that finds a rather astonishingly high degree of correlation between various social ills (syphilis rates, suicide, teen pregnancy) and religiosity (taken at the national level).

    http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

    A paper from 2006 from the Journal of Religion and Society that finds a high degree of correlation between the religiosity of a nation and murder rates in the nation. The paper also makes the point that murder rates are also correlated with inequality of income and other factors.

    http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2006/2006-7.html

    The evidence, as I can see it, seems to show that attending religious services and believing in “God” makes people worse, rather than better. Why, do you suppose? I’m serious here. What gives?

  183. queuno on December 9, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    This speech was easily the best political speech of the campaign season (107)

    That’s a pretty powerful indictment of the inanity of our political process.

  184. marcus on December 9, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Did anyone else notice the subtle response to criticism that the church was/is racist? Anyone who thinks the church has a racist past is going to have a hard time reconciling it with Romney’s statement, “I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.”

  185. Adam Greenwood on December 9, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    We’ve hashed that kind of thing out befoah, Djinn. The short answer is that comparing nations is a really bad way of doing the comparison if you have any alternative. Within nation is best. Within the US, for example, you can take comfort in studies showing a high correlation between religiosity and charity, including things like giving blood and so on.

  186. djinn on December 10, 2007 at 1:05 am

    The only study I am aware of (other than charitable studies, which, when religious charities are not included comes out as a wash) concerns medical students; religiosity as reported by the students did not correlate with them actually choosing to help underserved populations; the link is below.

    http://www.forbes.com/forbeslife/health/feeds/hscout/2007/07/31/hscout606826.html

    Could you please point me to the links you have in mind? I would love to read them.

  187. Adam Greenwood on December 10, 2007 at 10:11 am

    other than charitable studies, which, when religious charities are not included comes out as a wash

    By “religious charities” I assume you mean charities whose purpose is to proselyte, because otherwise I’d see no reason to exclude them. But what about blood donation? Religious people give more blood. Surely this benefits everyone.

  188. Matt Evans on December 10, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Djinn, the best book on the subject is Who Really Cares?, by Arthur Brooks. After controlling for all demographic and financial variables, people who attend church or say they’re believers give more to secular charities, even though many of them give also to religious charities. And as Adam notes, they also give more blood.

  189. Guy C on December 10, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Thanks for posting the text of the speech and the links.
    I felt the speech was good. It was bery much in line with typical political speeches, generalized on many things. But this is as it should be – concerning religion anyway. Mitt may not be the best ever political speaker, but he is good. I’m not 100% sure he has my vote yet, but he went a long way towards earning it with this one.

  190. Paul D on December 11, 2007 at 10:02 am

    I thought Romney was evasive, like most Mormons are, when it comes to answering the questions that people really want to know about. Also I felt that he was deceptive, misleading, and did an awful lot of revising of the facts all out of expediency and a wish to feel included in the mainstream, when there is nothing mainstream about Mormonism. The whole of my comments, along with the full-text of his speech can be found in my article \”Mitt Romney\’s Sleight of Hand Speech in College Station, Texas\” (http://apologeticsonline.net/Subjects/Mormonism/7.23.htm)

  191. Adam Greenwood on December 11, 2007 at 10:23 am

    A visitor from the camp who thinks that the only acceptable Romney speech would be one in which he endorses all the allegations in anti-Mormon literature and announces his allegiance to the devil. Welcome!