Thursday, December 06, 2007

Text of Mitt Romney's Faith in America speech

The text of Mitt Romney's much anticipated speech on religion has been released:,5223,695233772,00.html

Thank you, Mr. President, for your kind introduction.

It is an honor to be here today. This is an inspiring place because of
you and the First Lady and because of the film exhibited across the
way in the Presidential library.

For those who have not seen it, it shows the President as a young
pilot, shot down during the Second World War, being rescued from his
life-raft by the crew of an American submarine. It is a moving
reminder that when America has faced challenge and peril, Americans
rise to the occasion, willing to risk their very lives to defend
freedom and preserve our nation. We are in your debt. Thank you, Mr.
President. Mr. President, your generation rose to the occasion, first
to defeat Fascism and then to vanquish the Soviet Union. You left us,
your children, a free and strong America. It is why we call yours the
greatest generation. It is now my generation's turn. How we respond to
today's challenges will define our generation. And it will determine
what kind of America we will leave our children, and theirs.

America faces a new generation of challenges. Radical violent Islam
seeks to destroy us. An emerging China endeavors to surpass our
economic leadership. And we are troubled at home by government
overspending, overuse of foreign oil, and the breakdown of the family.

Over the last year, we have embarked on a national debate on how best
to preserve American leadership. Today, I wish to address a topic
which I believe is fundamental to America's greatness: our religious
liberty. I will also offer perspectives on how my own faith would
inform my Presidency, if I were elected. 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 Adams' 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. Given
our grand tradition of religious tolerance and liberty, some wonder
whether there are any questions regarding an aspiring candidate's
religion that are appropriate. I believe there are.

And I will answer them today. Almost 50 years ago another candidate
from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for
president, not a Catholic running for president. Like him, I am an
American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my
religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor
should he be rejected because of his faith.

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. As
governor, I tried to do the right as best I knew it, serving the law
and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular
teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the
Constitution — and of course, I would not do so as President. I will
put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and
the sovereign authority of the law.

As a young man, Lincoln described what he called America's 'political
religion' — the commitment to defend the rule of law and the
Constitution. 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.

There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would
prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that
it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or
another of its precepts. 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. Americans tire of
those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world. 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.

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 his faith. For if he becomes
President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths. I
believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer
to God. 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. As I travel across the country and see our towns and
cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their
steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life's

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.'

Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage. 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? They are not unique to any one denomination.
They belong to the great moral inheritance we hold in common. They are
the firm ground on which Americans of different faiths meet and stand
as a nation, united.

We believe that every single human being is a child of God — we are
all part of the human family. The conviction of the inherent and
inalienable worth of every life is still the most revolutionary
political proposition ever advanced. John Adams put it that we are
'thrown into the world all equal and alike.'

The consequence of our common humanity is our responsibility to one
another, to our fellow Americans foremost, but also to every child of
God. It is an obligation which is fulfilled by Americans every day,
here and across the globe, without regard to creed or race or
nationality. Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not
an indulgence of government. No people in the history of the world
have sacrificed as much for liberty. The lives of hundreds of
thousands of America's sons and daughters were laid down during the
last century to preserve freedom, for us and for freedom loving people
throughout the world. America took nothing from that Century's
terrible wars — no land from Germany or Japan or Korea; no treasure;
no oath of fealty. America's resolve in the defense of liberty has
been tested time and again. It has not been found wanting, nor must it
ever be. America must never falter in holding high the banner of

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. I am moved by the Lord's words: 'For I
was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me
drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me
... '

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

Today's generations of Americans have always known religious liberty.
Perhaps we forget the long and arduous path our nation's forbearers
took to achieve it. They came here from England to seek freedom of
religion. But upon finding it for themselves, they at first denied it
to others. Because of their diverse beliefs, Ann Hutchinson was exiled
from Massachusetts Bay, a banished Roger Williams founded Rhode
Island, and two centuries later, Brigham Young set out for the West.
Americans were unable to accommodate their commitment to their own
faith with an appreciation for the convictions of others to different
faiths. In this, they were very much like those of the European
nations they had left.

It was in Philadelphia that our founding fathers defined a
revolutionary vision of liberty, grounded on self evident truths about
the equality of all, and the inalienable rights with which each is
endowed by his Creator. We cherish these sacred rights, and secure
them in our Constitutional order. Foremost do we protect religious
liberty, not as a matter of policy but as a matter of right. There
will be no established church, and we are guaranteed the free exercise
of our religion. I'm not sure that we fully appreciate the profound
implications of our tradition of religious liberty. I have visited
many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired ...
so grand ... so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many
of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just
too busy or too 'enlightened' to venture inside and kneel in prayer.

The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to
Europe's churches. And though you will find many people of strong
faith there, the churches themselves seem to be withering away.
Infinitely worse is the other extreme, the creed of conversion by
conquest: violent Jihad, murder as martyrdom ... killing Christians,
Jews, and Muslims with equal indifference. These radical Islamists do
their preaching not by reason or example, but in the coercion of minds
and the shedding of blood. We face no greater danger today than
theocratic tyranny, and the boundless suffering these states and
groups could inflict if given the chance.

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.

Recall the early days of the First Continental Congress in
Philadelphia, during the fall of 1774. With Boston occupied by British
troops, there were rumors of imminent hostilities and fears of an
impending war. In this time of peril, someone suggested that they
pray. But there were objections. 'They were too divided in religious
sentiments', what with Episcopalians and Quakers, Anabaptists and
Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Catholics.

Then Sam Adams rose, and said he would hear a prayer from anyone of
piety and good character, as long as they were a patriot. And so
together they prayed, and together they fought, and together, by the
grace of God ... they founded this great nation. In that spirit, let
us give thanks to the divine 'author of liberty.' And together, let us
pray that this land may always be blessed, 'with freedom's holy

God bless the United States of America.

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