Posts Tagged ‘“the speech”’

[…] “Just as surely as Obama’s campaign has surged since his Iowa speech, Romney’s has suffered since he failed to say what needed to be said in Texas a month ago,” writes the estimable and insightful Tim Rutten in an LA Times article titled A tale of two speeches

From the start, the former Massachusetts governor has had to cope with the problem of religious bigotry. One in four Americans say they’re reluctant to vote for a Mormon. That antipathy runs even higher among evangelical Protestants, who make up most of the GOP’s social-conservative wing.

In December, Romney attempted to emulate — in an attenuated fashion — John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 appearance before a group of Protestant ministers hostile to the notion of a Catholic president. Kennedy hit the issue head on, mentioning his Catholicism 14 times, forthrightly embracing separation of church and state and promising to resist any attempt by the church hierarchy to dictate his conduct as an elected official.

Instead of addressing the issue forthrightly, as Kennedy had, Romney temporized and attempted to placate the religious right by soft-pedaling his own faith — which he mentioned only once — and by attacking secular humanism and proclaiming his own belief in Jesus Christ.

It wasn’t simply pandering, it was oddly bloodless. How, for example, could a Mormon candidate for the Republican presidential nomination fail to mention that his party’s very first national platform was built on two planks — the abolition of slavery and the elimination of Mormonism, both of which those first Republicans deemed “barbarous?” How could he not take the opportunity to remind his handpicked Republican audience that, as recently as the 1890s, thousands of Mormon men were arrested and imprisoned by the United States Army or that the U.S. Senate refused to seat a lawfully elected member from Utah because he was a Mormon?

Rather than do those things, he attempted to ingratiate himself to that very sector of popular opinion in which anti-Mormon prejudice remains most intact. In the process, he helped legitimize fundamentalist preacher-turned-pol Mike Huckabee’s naked appeals to Christian voters in Iowa. It’s a pitch Romney — and America — are likely to hear a lot more of in South Carolina and beyond, where the evangelical vote is even stronger […]

We heartily concur. We argued early on that it was Romney who made Gov. Huckabee’s rise in Iowa even possible. See:

Romney’s absurd marketing strategy enables Gov. Mike Huckabee

Romney’s “speech” sealed the hapless candidate’s fate in Iowa and the South, and it never had to be that way.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“In 1978, Mitt Romney was a 31-year-old vice president at Bain & Co. and a lifelong devout Mormon,” writes Mr. Jason Riley, a member of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board in an opinionjournal.com article titled Church Separation: The Mormons still haven’t settled their race problem

Throughout his current campaign for the Republican nomination, Mr. Romney has declined to distance himself from the repugnant racial teachings of his church.

On “Meet the Press” last Sunday, the candidate was asked by Tim Russert if “it was wrong for your faith to exclude [blacks] as long as it did.” Mr. Romney dodged the question, instead stating: “I told you where I stand. My view is that there–there’s, there’s no discrimination in the eyes of God, and I could not have been more pleased to see the change that occurred.”

In his ballyhooed speech earlier this month, Mr. Romney said he wouldn’t renounce any of Mormonism’s precepts. He also implied that questions like Mr. Russert’s come too close to a “religious test” for public office that the Constitution explicitly forbids. But in a country with America’s racial past, Mr. Russert’s question isn’t a religious test. It’s due diligence. And for all his claims to the contrary, Mr. Romney has, in fact, been willing to distance himself from past teachings of the church–just not those having to do with its treatment of black people.

“Look, the polygamy, which was outlawed in our church in the 1800s, that’s troubling to me,” he told “60 Minutes” in May. “I must admit, I can’t imagine anything more awful than polygamy.”

Gee, I can … etc.

We can too. And we concur. See:

Romney refuses to acknowledge that his church was wrong to exclude blacks; instead, Romney offers his father’s march with MLK as proof of his progressive values, yet there is no evidence that Romney’s father ever marched with MLK

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Locked in a potentially fateful battle for evangelical Iowa caucus goers with Mike Huckabee, God-o-Meter has learned that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has enlisted prominent evangelical publicist Mark DeMoss to tape ads on his behalf for broadcast on Iowa Christian radio,” writes preposterously monikered G-d-o-Meter in a belief.net G-d-o-Meter post titled Romney Taps Top Evangelicals for New Ads

DeMoss tells God-o-Meter that he taped roughly a half-dozen such spots after landing in Iowa on Monday evening and that well-know evangelical legal advocate Jay Sekulow and pro-life activist James Bopp. Jr. have been tapped to record similar spots.

“I spoke as an evangelical southern Baptist as to why I had chosen to support Mitt Romney,” DeMoss said in an interview Monday night, noting that he penned three of the spots himself and also worked from three or four other scripts that the Romney campaign had developed. “[The ads] speak to both his values and his competence.”

DeMoss did not know which of his spots would be aired or when, but he expected Iowa Christian radio stations to begin carrying some this week. A Romney spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A former chief of staff to the Moral Majority’s Jerry Falwell, DeMoss is founder of The DeMoss Group, a top Christian PR firm. His clients have included Billy Graham, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Promise Keepers. He has never previously appeared in an ad for a candidate for office, even for Romney. DeMoss said he’ll remain in Iowa through this Wednesday, spending time addressing pastors on Romney’s behalf.

“I’m trying to persuade pastors that it’s important that candidates share our values and that if there is more than one than one that shares our values, then I want to pick the most competent and most experienced,” DeMoss said.

“I believe there are lots of people who are supporting Governor Huckabee merely because of his faith, without regard for anything else. I’ll ask them what they know about [Huckabee] and the answer I get is that he stands up for Christ.”

“We don’t apply that standard in selecting a doctor or somebody to build our house,” DeMoss continued, “So why would we apply it to picking a president?”

DeMoss began helping Romney last year, when he suspected that a Mormon presidential candidate would meet resistance in the evangelical community. Describing one of the radio spots he taped on Monday, he said, “As a conservative evangelical Southern Baptist, I’m supporting Mitt Romney because while we worship differently on Sundays, we share common values” … etc.

Remarks:

(1) Are the Romneys obsessed with religion?—i.e. other peoples’ religions?—or: is this Romney raging against the limit of Romney’s method of co-opting the support of rivals, opponents, or adversaries, i.e. to transform himself into the person of his rival, opponent, or adversary. Examples:

Romney transformed himself into a conservative to identify himself with the same wing of his party that doomed his father’s chances at the presidency.

Romney the self-described pro-choice, social progressive transforming himself into a conservative in advance of a national election.

And: Romney has largely gotten away with it. He always has. How can you argue against someone who suddenly agrees with you, and further claims to have always agreed with you? Answer: you can’t. OTOH, you tend to regard that person with deep suspicion.

But the Evangelical movement confronts Romney with a social and political formation that—at least at the ground level, if not among the more easily suborned elites—flatly refuses to accept Romney’s attempts to identify himself as one of their own without paying in full the price for admission that they would demand of anyone who claimed to be an Evangelical: a conversion, complete with a testimony—a real conversion this time.

(2) In Romney’s “speech” Romney identified the Mormon confession with Protestant and Catholic confessions on grounds of the name and person of Jesu Christo—the testimony of the Apostles, the creeds and canons etc., got omitted, and rightly so, but even with the omission Romney had issued a theological claim as David Kuo argues:

… But it was also a profoundly spiritual speech. He said he was going to stand up for his faith and that he wasn’t going to get into the business of theology. Then he did just that. In the middle of the speech was this:

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.

In that single paragraph he blew his chance to slam the door on the pastor-in-chief idea because he was, consciously or not, making the theological argument that Mormonism was basically a part of historic Christianity. And it is, in the judgment of most liberal and conservative Christian theologians, not a part of historic Christianity. The fact that we will now be debating this is evidence of the one paragraph gaffe … etc.

This we argue is—or, at least was—the “larger project” of Romney’s “speech”. Now apparently the Romneys want to forget “the speech” and move on.

(3) Romney has wisely abandoned (2) and reverted to a far less controversial and ambitious different faiths, same values line. It issues into arguments as bland, bloodless, and non-compelling as these:

“We don’t apply [the] standard [of faith] in selecting a doctor or somebody to build our house,” DeMoss continued, “So why would we apply it to picking a president?”

Romney as a “competent” mechanic? Is this the expansive vision that an aspirant to our highest office should retail? Answer: probably not.

Question: What if your mechanic represented himself or herself to you as someone, or some thing, that they were not?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

” … many observers still don’t fully understand why evangelical Christian voters are having a problem with Romney’s Mormon religion,” writes Stuart Rothenberg in a realclearpolitics article titled Why Mitt Romney Can’t ‘Solve’ His Mormon Problem

It’s not merely that they disagree with his church on matters of theology or, as some may believe, that they are intolerant. The issue is far more fundamental than that.Many evangelicals won’t vote for a Mormon for president of the United States for the same reason that almost all Jews would not vote for a candidate (for any office, I expect) who is a member of Jews for Jesus. For Jews, the Jews for Jesus movement is a deceptive attempt to woo Jews to Christianity under the guise of remaining true to Judaism.

Interesting. We developed the same example to support the same point several weeks ago. Regard:

… We have no problem with Christians [We’re Jews, BTW]. We will happily vote for Christians, Hindus, or even, hypothetically, Muslims, depending on their views, opinions, positions, policies etc. But: When e.g. so-called Jews for Jesus claim that they are Jews, or that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, or when Christians lecture us about how Jesus is the fulfillment of our law and our prophets, or when millennialists (or pre- or post-millennialists) lecture us about how Jews must return to Israel for Jesus to return, then we take exception—then we insist on drawing distinctions, explaining the differences etc.

Omnis determinatio est negatio—all determination is negation—is a fact of social life—we define ourselves not so much by what we are as by what we are not, and we guard our sense of identity jealously. You do not threaten us to the degree that you are different from us, or that you tell us that we are different from you—we are respecters of difference and appreciators of diversity; rather: you threaten us to the degree that you tell us that we are the same … etc.

Back to Rothenberg:

Likewise, for evangelicals, Mormons are not “Christians” in the sense that evangelicals understand the term, and by portraying themselves as “Christians,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deceptively wooing evangelicals or potential adherents away from Christianity.

Evangelicals see Mormons as trying to blur the line between Christianity and Mormonism, just as Jews see Jews for Jesus as trying to blur the lines between Judaism and Christianity.

In each case, Mormons and Jews would not want to elevate to high office someone who might give legitimacy to a group that passes itself off as something that it is not, and that threatens their own group.

Any president’s religious views are likely to receive attention in the national media, and the authority of the office is likely to translate to added authority and respectability for the president’s religion.

Given this fundamental belief (which is hardly irrational), when Romney said, midway in his speech at the Bush Library, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind,” he was actually reminding evangelicals who are uncomfortable with Mormonism that his election would help erase the lines between what they view as the two very different religions.

To people who have been taught as children that Mormonism is a cult and who regard some of the more unusual Mormon beliefs as heresy, one speech from Mitt Romney is not going to allay all of their fears.

For many Catholics and Jews, the idea that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is somehow a threat to evangelical Christianity probably seems absurd. But that is what many believe, and that view makes Romney’s religion a grave concern to evangelicals, no matter how much they agree with the former governor’s views or admire his values.

Anyone who has followed the internal fights of Judaism, with Orthodox Jewish authorities refusing to accept the practices of the Reform, the Reconstructionist or even the Conservative movements, should begin to understand the fundamental problem that many evangelicals have with the Mormon Church.

Many in the media portray evangelical attitudes toward Mormonism as a form of bigotry and religious intolerance akin to the anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic sentiment that was once so prevalent in this country and is much rarer these days.

But it is a very different kind of concern, a concern about the meaning of Christianity.

Few in this country would disagree with Mitt Romney’s assertion at the Bush Library that, “A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should be rejected because of his faith.” And just as few would doubt his promise that, if he is elected president, “no authorities of my church … will ever exert influence on presidential decisions.”

But Romney’s “Mormon problem” bears little resemblance to John F. Kennedy’s “Catholic problem” in 1960. Few evangelicals worry that the former Massachusetts governor will call Salt Lake City for instructions on how to proceed as president.

And Romney’s problem isn’t merely that evangelicals won’t vote for nonevangelicals. They will and they have voted for Protestants, Catholics and Jews. Some have even voted for Mormons for lower office.

Given that evangelicals see Mormonism as deceptive and an attempt to pass itself off as a form of Christianity, one speech about tolerance and the importance of faith is not likely to convince evangelicals to support Romney. I’m willing to bet that American Jews would overwhelmingly feel the same about voting for someone who is a “messianic Jew.”

The emphases are ours, all ours.

We concur. Others have developed empirical evidence to support Rothenberg’s claims—claims that we have advanced ourselves in our own analysis of “the speech.” See:

Geer, Benson, and Merolla develop empirical evidence suggesting that Romney’s “speech” was misguided, wrongheaded, and counter-productive

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Vanderbilt’s John Geer and Brett Benson and Claremont Graduate University’s Jennifer Merolla have released a new study on the extent of anti-Mormon bias among the public and the best ways to counter it,” writes Brendan Nyhan in a post titled How to counter anti-Mormon bias

… Unfortunately, as Geer pointed out in an interview about the study with Newsweek.com, Romney’s speech on faith in America took exactly the wrong approach:

NEWSWEEK: Let’s talk about the address specifically. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Romney said Monday that he would not focus on his Mormon beliefs in a major speech on religion this week and instead would discuss his concern that “faith has disappeared from the public square.” Based on your data, is this the right approach?

GEER: The data we have suggests it’s probably not a good idea. How much he wants to talk about his faith and the Mormon religion is not entirely clear based on our evidence. But we have pretty compelling results that suggest that if people learn more about the Mormon religion–in a sense checking the kind of bias that exists out there, that Mormons believe in polygamy, that Mormons represent a cult, etc.–that if you check that information with counter-information, such as letting people know that the Mormon church banned polygamy a hundred years ago, and you provide that kind of context, that people become a little bit more tolerant and show less bias. Our data are pretty clear. There is bias against Mormons–but it dwindles once people learn more.

NEWSWEEK: What about a plea for tolerance, like Kennedy made in 1960?

GEER: We gave people the biased information against Mormons and try to counter it with various scenarios, information being one of them–like “the LDS church is big on family and traditional values.” Then we just did a plea for tolerance, literally clipping from Kennedy’s Houston ministers speech one of the passages where he talks about the need to have tolerance. The tolerance doesn’t work. It’s the information that checks the bias. When people who are not aware that Romney is Mormon are given the classic caricature of Mormons, that drives down Romney’s ratings. But the thing is, you can only bring back the ratings of Romney with new information. A plea to tolerance does not work. Sure, it’s a good thing. But you first have to let people know what you’re asking people to be tolerant of. That’s the key takeaway.

The emphases are ours, all ours.

Of course Romney knew all this in advance. Rep. Inglis, David Brody et al. almost begged his imperious majesty to not try to blur distinctions—but rather to admit them, own them, and thereby draw them more plainly. Romney’s response? To do precisely the opposite. Examples:

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“WASHINGTON – Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee appears to be using Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith as a wedge issue to attract evangelical voters in the early states, political scientists say, a move that in part seems to be helping Huckabee stay ahead in Iowa polls,” writes Thomas Burr for the Salt Lake Tribune in an article titled Huckabee winning support by highlighting Romney’s Mormonism

Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, aired a TV commercial in Iowa recently telling voters he is a “Christian leader,” a move that could be seen as a veiled hit on Romney, whose faith is viewed as heretical by some Protestant evangelicals. And Huckabee has so far refused to say whether he believes the LDS Church is a cult, as his Southern Baptist religion labels the church.

In Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, Huckabee goes even further when asked if he believes Mormons are cultists. While first saying he didn’t know much about Mormonism, Huckabee then asks the reporter in an “innocent voice”: “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”

Some political observers say Huckabee, now the leading GOP candidate in Iowa polls, is raising the issues of Romney’s faith as a campaign tactic …

Gov. Huckabee’s line of reasoning is blowback, Romney’s blowback: a hard and furious negation in the form of a necessary complement to Romney’s line of reasoning. Shall we clarify our claim? Indeed we shall. Follow us, step by step …

(1) Consider Bernstein’s account of Romney’s line as delivered in The Phoenix:

… Romney’s similar [to Gibson’s] marketing challenge emerged this past year, when he and his advisors made the strategic decision to campaign as the conservative alternative option to Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, the perceived front-runners for the Republican nomination. That strategy would require Romney to win large numbers of votes from religious conservatives. Unfortunately for him, Romney had a long, well-established record of moderate and even liberal stands on a number of issues, including abortion.

So, like Gibson, Romney began spreading word of the anti-Mormon plots against him long before anyone knew who he was, let alone what religion he practiced. By late 2006, he was sitting for interviews with almost anyone willing to write about the “Mormon question” — landing him on the cover of almost every conservative publication in the country.

Romney also mimics Gibson’s strategy by de-emphasizing his own religious beliefs, even while speaking of the importance of evangelicals’ beliefs. Gibson, while avidly recounting his own “born-again” religious awakening and its importance on the movie, rarely answered questions about his pre–Vatican II Catholic beliefs. Romney professes the importance of his faith in Jesus Christ, while saying that the rest of his Mormon beliefs are out-of-bounds …

(2) According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Gov. Huckabee’s line with respect to Romney is to

(a) Follow Romney’s own line of reasoning by emphasizing what Romney himself tried to de-emphasized—to draw out distinctions where Romney has tried to blur them. As Romney himself argues with respect to Gov. Huckabee, “[Huckabee]’s obviously appealing to people of his faith, and that’s something that clearly opens the door to that inquiry.”

So too Romney: Romney opened the door.

(b) Call Romney’s bluff by enacting Romney’s own persecution narrative—a Parker and Stone (creators of South Park) gesture where the speaker or writer inoculates himself or herself against a charge of e.g. insensitivity by behaving so outrageously insensitively that the behavior can only be interpreted as ironic and satirical. For example, Gov. Huckabee asking “in an innocent voice”: “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” Painfully literal whimperers like Michael Novak took Huckabee’s bait and preened themselves on their sensitivity and correctness, little realizing that they had been mercilessly spoofed in advance.

Put differently: Imagine getting angry at a South Park episode because of how Parker and Stone depict e.g. the differently abled—well, you, the viewer, getting outraged is precisely the point because this is how Parker and Stone make their point!—and all the Michael Novaks in the world can fein righteous indignation little realizing that they have become a part of the joke, little realizing that the whimpering Novaks themselves are enacting the very point of the joke.

Our conclusion: as we argued elsewhere, Gov. Huckabee’s rise is an artifact of Romney’s own practices, policies, and lines of argument.

Romney campaign a victim of the “sunk cost effect”—also: how Gov. Huckabee’s sudden ascendancy is an artifact of the Romney campaign’s misguided activities

To be honest we always regarded Gov. Huckabee as a likable rube. Forced by rising poll numbers to take the former governor seriously, we have upgraded our assessment. The man is more subtle, attentive, and articulate than his rivals, especially Romney. Were he to win the nomination we would support him in the general election.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. … to negate is to indicate an alternative, a neglected complement; it is to delineate a determination and to fix a definitive character.—Errol Harris.

“Pity Mitt Romney, the object of religious persecution, forced to make a public speech confronting the antagonistic forces that have kept his candidacy down by attacking his faith,” writes David Bernstein in an article titled The passion of the candidate; Romney’s religion speech was aimed at Christian conservatives, but his model wasn’t JFK — it was Mel Gibson carried by The Phoenix

As many commentators opined this past week, it’s sad to realize that, almost 50 years after John F. Kennedy’s “Catholic speech,” our nation still hasn’t gotten beyond these biases.

Haven’t we? Actually, there is scant evidence that anti-Mormon bias has held back Romney, who until very recently led the polling in both of the critical early-voting states, Iowa and New Hampshire. Although polls show that, in the abstract, people are less likely to support a Mormon candidate than one of most other religions, those same polls — including one from Vanderbilt University released this past week — show that most of that resistance evaporates when respondents learn that Romney is Mormon.

In fact, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll taken just before Romney’s speech showed that his Mormonism makes nearly as many people more likely to vote for him as less.

What hurts Romney, according to that poll, are his changing positions on important issues. Asked which candidate says what he believes, rather than what people want to hear, Romney ranked last of the major GOP presidential candidates, by a wide margin.

And yet the same media — and more important, the same evangelical Christians — who previously discarded Romney’s words as phony political calculation, greeted his “Mormon speech” as heartfelt and authentic.

“His speech was directed at mainstream evangelical churchgoers,” says David Woodard, a political-science professor at Clemson University. “They were reassured that they can vote for him as president.”

David Caton, founder of the Florida Family Association, called the speech “a grand slam.” Similar positive reactions came in from prominent Christian conservatives on the cable news networks immediately following the speech, and, according to Woodard, in churches the following Sunday.

How did Romney do it? By tapping into a deep-running sense of persecution among American evangelicals.

Whereas Kennedy asked Protestants to vote for him despite the bias against his faith, Romney, with a keen ear for the contemporary Christian right, asked them to vote for him because of that bias.

No, Romney was not taking from JFK’s playbook — he was taking from Mel Gibson’s.

Gibson turned his 2004 film The Passion of the Christ into a mega-blockbuster by convincing evangelical Christians that this was a movie that “they,” the secular New York and Hollywood anti-God elites, didn’t want you to see.

Romney now claims to be the candidate “they” don’t want you to vote for. If evangelicals rose to the bait for Gibson’s film, what’s to say they won’t similarly rally to Romney’s cause?

The parallels are striking. Gibson’s film grossed more than a half-billion dollars. Will the strategy work as well for Mitt as it did for Mel? …

… Romney’s similar [to Gibson’s] marketing challenge emerged this past year, when he and his advisors made the strategic decision to campaign as the conservative alternative option to Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, the perceived front-runners for the Republican nomination. That strategy would require Romney to win large numbers of votes from religious conservatives. Unfortunately for him, Romney had a long, well-established record of moderate and even liberal stands on a number of issues, including abortion.

So, like Gibson, Romney began spreading word of the anti-Mormon plots against him long before anyone knew who he was, let alone what religion he practiced. By late 2006, he was sitting for interviews with almost anyone willing to write about the “Mormon question” — landing him on the cover of almost every conservative publication in the country.

Romney also mimics Gibson’s strategy by de-emphasizing his own religious beliefs, even while speaking of the importance of evangelicals’ beliefs. Gibson, while avidly recounting his own “born-again” religious awakening and its importance on the movie, rarely answered questions about his pre–Vatican II Catholic beliefs. Romney professes the importance of his faith in Jesus Christ, while saying that the rest of his Mormon beliefs are out-of-bounds.

The secrecy is no surprise. Not only are both men’s beliefs heretical to the evangelicals they courted, but both the traditionalist Catholic and Mormon faiths consider those evangelicals to be apostates themselves. Hardly a match made in heaven, you would think … etc.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

… “I’m afraid today’s speech will go down in history as Mitt Romney’s last hurrah,” writes Frater J. Morris in a FOXNews.com editorial titled Mitt Romney, the Mormon (What’s That?!)

I wish it wouldn’t, because I don’t think there is anything in Mormon belief that, per se, should eliminate someone from the office of president. And, I happen to think Mitt Romney is a man of character.

But, if today becomes the unraveling point of his candidacy, it will be because Mitt Romney did not have the courage or wisdom to say what he, as a Mormon, actually believes — all of it, without pretending his creed is no different than the Christian creed.

Don’t get me wrong. His speech would have been excellent had it been given by any other candidate. It was deep, passionate and presidential. He even ended with, “God bless America.”

The problem is that the much-hyped speech did nothing to achieve his goal of convincing doubting Evangelicals and Catholics that his Mormon beliefs will not hinder him from being a good president. Instead, for the most part, he pretended he wasn’t Mormon, or that being Mormon was so strange it is in his interest to keep it secret. In this speech about Mormonism, he uttered the word “Mormon” just once, while saying “Jews” and “Muslims” two times each and “Catholic” three times. Still more abrasive to Christian sensibilities was the attempt to pass off Mormon doctrine about Jesus Christ as equal to that of Christianity. He said, “What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the savior of mankind.”

OK, Mitt. But do you really want to get into what that means for you?

I admit explaining the peculiarities of Mormonism to his southern audience would have been a daunting task. There would have been a lot of nodding of heads—all side to side … etc.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“In a much-anticipated speech about his Mormon faith, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney avoided discussing theology — except for this: ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind.'”—writes Stephanie Simon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, in an article titled Mormon theology is striking in its differences; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has elements in common with other Christian traditions, but outsiders often find founder Joseph Smith’s testimony hard to accept

That is an accurate statement of Mormon belief, and with it, Romney could claim common ground with evangelical Christian voters. But as he noted in the very next sentence: “My church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths.”

Indeed, the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded on the premise that all other Christian traditions are false. A teenager named Joseph Smith said he received that revelation in a vision in 1820.

Over the next seven years, Smith said, he was visited several times by an angel named Moroni, son of Mormon, who guided him to gold plates buried in upstate New York.

With the help of “seer stones” given to him by Moroni, Smith said he translated the plates into English. The nearly 6 million Mormons in the United States consider that translation, the Book of Mormon, a holy text, on par with the Bible. Its theology has some striking elements … etc., etc.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“DES MOINES, Iowa — Romney got aggressive with reporters after a military-focused event early this afternoon,” writes NBC/NJ’s Erin McPike in a FirstRead post titled Testy Romney Press Conference

Several times Romney tried to move on from reporters trying to ask follow-ups or not take certain questions in one of the largest and testiest gaggles he’s had on the trail. He was deluged with questions about his speech, and specifically about the line, “freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom.”

“It was a speech on faith in America, first of all,” Romney said. He said he was paraphrasing what John Adams and George Washington have said and added that “For a nation like ours to be great and to thrive, that our constitution was written for people of faith, and religion is a very extraordinary element and very necessary foundation for our nation. I believe that’s the case.”
 
Near the end of press conference here after an Ask Mitt Anything town hall, he was asked if he thought a non-spiritual person could be a free person, and he returned with: “Of course not, that’s not what I said.” Pressed again about the freedom requiring religion line, he said, “I was talking about the nation.”
 
He was also pressed about the politics of his speech and reiterated, “You know, that’s not what the speech was about,” and then again said it was about the role of faith in America …

Marc Ambinder describes Romney’s meltdown a little differently:

DES MOINES — Maybe it was a way of saying, “Welcome to the Big Time.” Mitt Romney held his first media avail — we like to shorten words like “availability,” which itself is a fancy word for “press conference” shortly after a stop at Ft. Des Moines, where Ronald Reagan became a 2nd lieutenant. The questions came fast and none were softballs.

Matt Stuart of ABC News wanted to know why Romney excluded people of no faith from his “freedom requires religion” formulation. Romney was a little testy, explaining that he meant that religion seeded the value of freedom for the country.

Jonathan Martin asked Romney whether he thought his speech would help calm evangelical concerns in Iowa. Romney wouldn’t bite …

yours &c.
dr. g.d.





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