The Romney campaign released the following excerpts this morning to wet our whistles in preparation for Mitt’s anticipated religion speech this morning. (Note: the speech is at 1030 EST, it should be streamed live on mittromney.com if you want to listen to it.)
“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 Adam’s 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.”
Focusing on the founding of our country is an extremely smart path to take. If there is one things conservatives and most Americans are passionate about, it is the Constitution and our nation’s founding; what better authority to quote than John Adams!
Also, it is also wise to stress that religion is an essential component to America and freedom. This may, however, be a bit risky when facing a Democrat in the general. Could it be used against him?
“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.”
Obviously addressing the concerns regarding Mormonism. This is his Kennedyesque statement, so to speak.
“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.’”
A couple of thoughts from these quotes. First, Mitt is being very careful here to not equate Mormonism with Christianity; this is smart, as many evangelicals would be quite upset if he were to equate them. He then wisely builds from that into the moral standards that religious community shares.
Diving into the constitution and the interpretation of ‘separation of church and state’ is risky water in the general election. However, for the GOP he nailed it. He is being very shrewd by talking about the removal of God from our public sphere. If there is anytime of year that this will resonate, it is Christmas time. Every year controversies about Christmas trees or even saying “Merry Christmas” stir up the passions of conservatives like me. This should prove to be an emotional string that he can use to build support.
“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.”
Wow, tieing in race. I think this is an obvious semi-preemptive defense regarding race and Mormonism. However, bringing this up may just create more questions and controversy for him to deal with.
“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.”
His family is one of his greatest strengths in this race. Highliting them and the way that they have consistently lived their faith should prove valuable. He is also stressing the similarities between the values and morals of Mormonism and the rest of Christianity.
“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.”
Optimism, the word that is resonating from all of this. He is using national pride and the core principles of the conservative movement as the tools from which to base this speech. From the excerpts here, it looks like he will knock it out of the park.
However an important factor is how it is delivered. If he can avoid looking fake and scripted, but instead look genuine and heartfelt, it will go over well. If not, it will not matter what he says.
It will also be interesting to see what kind of coverage this gets from the media. Is it highly or sparcely covered? Is that coverage positive or negative? The post-speech spin will likely be more important than the speech itself. Look for supporters of all the candidates (including Mitt) to be actively supporting or criticizing the speech for the next couple of days.
Well, I know that I am biased. I am reading these excerpts as both a Mormon and Mitt supporter. I am very interested in what all of you think about them. Leave comments below!