December 7, 2007
Are You Ready for a Mormon President?
What evangelicals heard in Romney’s ‘Faith in America' speech.
From time to time this blog has addressed issues of faith and politics. In September, Isaac Canales shared his views about the church's response to illegal immigration. Brian McLaren has spoken here about the demise of the Religious Right. And we've debated Greg Boyd's belief that America's status as a "Christian nation" is a myth.
Yesterday, a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination gave a speech concerning "faith in America." Mitt Romney's Mormon religion has increasingly become an issue in the campaign - particularly as his sizable lead in Iowa has been lost to Baptist pastor turned politician, Mike Huckabee. But what impact will Romney's speech have on the crucial conservative evangelical voters that populate the base of the Republican Party? Will they overlook his Mormon faith and focus on common ground values? Or will theological differences trump political ideology?
Our colleague at Christianity Today, David Neff, has analyzed Romney's speech. We encouraged you to read his article on the CT website and then share your impressions here. Below are a few excerpts from the article:
After promising, "I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law," Romney resisted those who would want him to put distance between himself and his faith. "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."
Evangelicals will welcome Romney's appeal to common values in the political sphere. "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." He spoke of a common human dignity and the principles of freedom.
Romney offered a strong endorsement of the place of religion in American public life. "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." Romney went on to allude to the ceremonial expressions of religion in our public life, including the references to God on our currency and in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Read David Neff's entire piece at ChristianityToday.com.
David Neff is editor-in-chief of the Christianity Today Media Group of Christianity Today International