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December 6, 2007
Romney Cites 'Common Creed' in Major Address
It's the speech pundits, opponents, and even his own advisors has been telling him for months he must give. As the first Mormon to run seriously for president, many believed Romney must "do a JFK" and put the religious issue to bed once and for all.
Kennedy spoke before the Greater Houston Ministers Association - a very conservative Baptist organization - to challenge people not to let their bigotry deny Catholics the opportunity to be president. But Romney took a different tack. He evoked tenets of Christianity to show that they all shared a "common creed" that united them in faith:
"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." Romney did indeed directly addresses the concerns of some evangelicals regarding his Mormonism. But he placed his religion in context of religious freedom shared by all Americans:
He said that bond -— faith — draws all believers together. "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."
Mr. Romney also said that "it is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions." "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?" he said.
"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," he said. I must confess to a profound sadness that in this, the 21st century and nearly 50 years after John Kennedy challenged America to bury religious bigotry, that Romney felt it politically necessary to give this speech. In a way, it shows that ignorance and fear regarding how someone sees or talks to God is still alive and well in America.
Speaking just 90 miles from where President Kennedy delivered a 1960 address two months before he became the nation's first Catholic president, the former Massachusetts governor said that he, like JFK, will not be beholden to church elders if he becomes president.
"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. ...