Unlike some other late in life conversions of beliefs, Mitt Romney today made clear that he's still a Mormon and still running for president as a Republican candidate, not as Mormon- in- chief. If that kind of speech on religion could work for JFK, given here in Houston before religious leaders some 50 years ago, then maybe it'll work for Mitt, given in College Station, Tx at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. I did not see the speech given but I have read the transcript.
I'll begin by saying that I am appalled that a presidential candidate in the year of 2007 has to give a speech to promise not to lead as a member of his faith but as a political leader. I am fed up to here with who can out-faith the other and prove worthy of voters who put faith above all else. It is getting to the point that the far right, the 'prove to me how religious you are' crowd is just as fanatic as the loons on the left demanding defeat at the expense of national security. Neither extreme is productive to us as a nation.
How do you prove religious faithfulness anyway? Some criticize Thompson as not religious enough. One of the head honcho Evangelicals said Thompson wasn't a regular church goer. So? Does going to church every Sunday make a person more religious? If so, Bill Clinton wouldn't have been openly unfaithful to his wedding vows to Hillary. They were filmed going to church on Sunday. He even carried his own Bible. That didn't prove anything. He was re-elected to the office.
Some think Huckabee is the candidate of faith. He's a Southern Baptist Evangelical minister. That's nice but many areas of his political actions from his days as governor of Arkansas are seeing light and not in a favorable way. He pardoned more prisoners than the last three governors combined. He is an open borders guy. He's cool with illegal immigrants children having in -state or better yet, free, college tuition. He opposed the Bush tax breaks. He says his faith is who he is. Ok. But what does that mean and how does that make you a better candidate?
I learned a long time ago that those shouting something from the rooftops are hiding something. Those proclaiming they have the best marriage ever? Divorced in the near future. Those that proclaim they have no substance abuse problem? In rehab in no time. I'm leary of those telling me how religious they are and what a great leader it will make them. Just like I cringed when George W. Bush proclaimed Jesus Christ was his favorite philosopher. Come on. Just don't go there. Jimma Carter was supposed to be a born again Christian. He was the worst president of my lifetime and has proven to be anti-Semitic.
We are a nation founded on the principle of freedom of religion. We are a nation who celebrates the separation of church and state. We aren't electing a minister. We are electing a President. A President who is the leader of the free world. Personal values and beliefs are important. They are what make a person who he/she is and guides him/her in life. I understand that completely. Yet, this whole atmosphere of 'prove it' has got to stop.
Romney's Mormonism means nothing to me. Romney's leadership qualifications mean everything to me. He is not my first choice as a Republican candidate but it has nothing to do with his religious affiliation. There are religious bigots among our population. It's a fact that needs to be faced. Just as there is racial bigotry and sexism. None of these moral failures should be encouraged.
Romney's speech was good. He didn't stoop to going through the beliefs of his religion. Good for him. The information is out there. JFK didn't elaborate on the teachings of the Catholic church either. Romney said today,"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 this faith. For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths."
"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 religious people."
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."
There are at least 17 Mormons currently serving in the U.S. House and Senate. Mitt Romney's father, George, was the governor of Michigan and ran for President,as well as marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. His religion was not questioned back in the 70's when he was a presidential candidate. Mo Udall, a Dem politician, ran for President, too, as a Mormon. I dare say most have forgotten he is a Mormon at all. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader is Mormon. I didn't see him have to prove his leadership feasibility before he ascended into that position. He's a complete failure, sure, but it's not because of his religion.
Romney has been a successful businessman, saved the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, been a Republican governor of the most liberal state in the union, and has been married to the same woman for over 30 years and father of 5 sons who are all now married and fathers themselves.
Romney doesn't have to prove his religion.