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Old 12-06-2007, 09:50 AM   #1
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Excerpts from Romney's speech about his religion

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."

___

"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 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."

___

"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.'"

___

"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."

___

"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 selfsame as those from the other faiths that stand upon this common foundation. And these convictions will indeed inform my presidency."

___

"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."
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:11 PM   #2
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Would he even have made that speech if it weren't for certain conservative Christians and his need to placate them somehow-given the polls and such? I don't care one iota about his religious beliefs, I respect them but they are irrelevant to me in the job of President. No one should not vote for him just because he is a Mormon (or vote for him merely for that reason). Isn't he only calling more attention to that than it deserves?
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:20 PM   #3
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Re: Excerpts from Romney's speech about his religion

Quote:
Originally posted by MaxFisher

"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.

Diversity? I always have to laugh when someone uses religion and deversity in the same sentence.
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:45 PM   #4
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I caught the Jihadist reference. Well after all he was in favor of wiretapping mosques, but maybe he has changed his position on that too.


msnbc.com

From NBC's Mark Murray
So far, it's mostly positive...
National Review's Kate O'Beirne: "I predict it will get rave reviews. Mitt Romney, who sure looked presidential, explained effectively that he is a man of faith who is committed to America's values. He was sure-footed and polished as usual but appeared today to be fighting back strong emotions when he talked about American exceptionalism."

Ed Morrissey: "Interesting, and somewhat better than I thought. I still think that he won’t have convinced people disinclined to vote for Mormons to support him, but at least he may have made some evangelicals more comfortable with his candidacy."

National Review's Mona Charen: "That was perhaps the best political speech of the year. It was well-crafted and delivered with conviction and — this is unusual for Romney — considerable emotion. I thought his contrast of the empty cathedrals of Europe with the violent jihadis was particularly adroit. He managed to make this a speech about patriotism as much as about religion. Brilliant."

National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru: "It would have been nice if Romney, while making room for people of all faiths in this country, could have also made some room for people with none."

National Review's Jonah Goldberg: "I thought it was a very good speech too. I agree with Ramesh that the failure to mention agnostics and atheists was an oversight... The thrust of the speech was that all believers are good, all believers are Americans. That's a nice sentiment and its message of inclusion would encompass Hindus. But would it encompass non-believers? I'm sure Romney himself would say it would if asked. But he didn't say it in the speech."

The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan (although many Republicans would not label him a conservative): "Romney flip-flopping on faith?"
"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," - Mitt Romney, at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum today.
"We need to have a person of faith lead the country," - Mitt Romney, February 17, 2007.
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Would he even have made that speech if it weren't for certain conservative Christians and his need to placate them somehow-given the polls and such? I don't care one iota about his religious beliefs, I respect them but they are irrelevant to me in the job of President. No one should not vote for him just because he is a Mormon (or vote for him merely for that reason). Isn't he only calling more attention to that than it deserves?
http://www.vanderbilt.edu/news/relea...o-gain-support

Mormons suffer more prejudice than most other segments of our population. As a Mormon presidential candidate, Romney has to address his religous views. I agree it's too bad that he has to. His religion shouldn't matter.
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Old 12-06-2007, 12:56 PM   #6
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But who is the most prejudiced against them? Which voters actually care about his Mormonism?
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
But who is the most prejudiced against them? Which voters actually care about his Mormonism?
The general public--the polling was done on a national level.
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
I don't care one iota about his religious beliefs, I respect them but they are irrelevant to me in the job of President.
That's because you are at ODDS with the founders of your nation, duh!
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by MaxFisher

Mormons suffer more prejudice than most other segments of our population.
I think this is pretty silly.
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram


I think this is pretty silly.
Silly because you don't think it's true?
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:28 PM   #11
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I doubt that it is true as I've never seen any kind of study indicate that Mormons are prejudiced from finding employment, advancement to upper management positions, enrollment in top universities, ability to run their own businesses, freedom to practice their religion (insofar as it accords with local laws - applicable to FLDS), and so on. The idea that some (religious?) voters would not vote for a Mormon president doesn't prejudice them in ways that Muslims, atheists, Hindus, gays and lesbians, the transgendered, single mothers of 3, the uneducated, blacks, Mexicans and other "visible minorities," maybe Jews, maybe women are also not prejudiced. If you are comparing them to straight, white, (relatively) affluent Christian men, sure they're prejudiced, but frankly no more so or little more so than most of the rest of us.
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by MaxFisher


Silly because you don't think it's true?
I can think of groups that receive MUCH MORE prejudice.
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru: "It would have been nice if Romney, while making room for people of all faiths in this country, could have also made some room for people with none."

National Review's Jonah Goldberg: "I thought it was a very good speech too. I agree with Ramesh that the failure to mention agnostics and atheists was an oversight... The thrust of the speech was that all believers are good, all believers are Americans. That's a nice sentiment and its message of inclusion would encompass Hindus. But would it encompass non-believers? I'm sure Romney himself would say it would if asked. But he didn't say it in the speech."
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:42 PM   #14
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I don't care that Romney is a Mormon. I wouldn't vote for or against anyone just because of their religion. Maybe some are concerned because Mormons tend to be conservative. Bill Clinton finished third in Utah in 1992. Ross Perot got more votes there than he did! But I know a liberal Mormon, one who claims she must be the only Democratic Mormon on the planet.
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:04 PM   #15
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Simply a superb speech. A couple of my favorite lines from the complete text.
Quote:
"It is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions.
Quote:
...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.
Exactly the point I've attempted to make in various FYM threads.
Quote:
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.
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:18 PM   #16
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yup. align yourself, the Mormon, with the white protestant Evangelicals, against those secularists. the assumption of the need of religiosity to be a real American, or even just a real human being, is profoundly offensive, no matter how eloquently stated. change around a few words, and it's an Al-Qaedian call to the fundamental overthrow of secularism for a new and divinely inspired Christ-centered government.

so, i'm terrified.

gotta love the subtle Euro-bashing, too.

it's amazing to me how the European left and the American right vilify each other.
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:27 PM   #17
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It's a great architecture, but I don't really get what he's trying to say.

And he really seems to exclude agnostics and atheists, e.g. here: Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people.' ", in stressing the "religious people" "of all faiths" so much. But I don't want to actually accuse him of that.

"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."

If I cared, I would take offense.
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:44 PM   #18
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There's more religion in this speech than I get in Mass every week. I guess I can skip this weekend now Bonus points for the Sam Adams and Kennedy references.

Text of Romney address on religion

December 6, 2007

COLLEGE STATION, Texas --Here is the text of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's "Faith in America" address on religion at The George Bush Presidential Library, as prepared for delivery:

"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 blessings.

"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 freedom.

"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 presidency.

"Today's generations of Americans have always known religious liberty. Perhaps we forget the long and arduous path our nation's forebearers 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 light.'

"God bless the United States of America."
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:52 PM   #19
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What an unnecessary speech.

What a horrible speech. I cannot really agree with anything he said.

I love how any disagreement with the founding fathers makes you un-American. I can think they were noble people who really did a lot of good, but if I disagree that religion should be part of politics, I must hate democracy.

A huge leap, that, quite frankly, happens too often here too.
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:55 PM   #20
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At least he said his family is a long way from perfect

abc.com

The First Mormon Presidential Candidate
Church Founder Joseph Smith Jr. Called Himself Both a Prophet and a White House Hopeful
By JAKE TAPPER

Dec. 6, 2007 —

Mitt Romney is the most recent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to seek the office of president.

But the first Mormon to seek the White House was also the first Mormon -- Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Mormon Church, whose 1844 presidential campaign is historically notable not only because it was the first one in which the candidate was assassinated.

Smith's campaign 163 years ago was quite a bit different than Romney's, of course. In Romney's highly anticipated address Thursday about the role of faith in America, he only mentioned Mormonism by name once, and he invoked Abraham Lincoln's concept of "America's 'political religion' -- the commitment to defend the rule of law and the Constitution."

First Mormon to Seek White House

Smith directly pushed what he called "theodemocracy," the blending of religious belief and democracy. And his campaign was rooted entirely within the church that he founded; at the April 1844 LDS general conference, 244 church elders heeded the call to volunteer for Smith's campaign.

Hundreds of Mormons traveled the United States to spread the word not just of Smith's prophesies but his candidacy; many of them met with angry mobs and violence.

"There is not a nation or a dynasty now occupying the Earth which acknowledges almighty God as their lawgiver," Smith told the Neighbor newspaper in Nauvoo, Ill., where he and his church brethren were then headquartered.

"I go emphatically, virtuously, and humanely, for a theodemocracy, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness."

Announcing his candidacy Jan. 29, 1844, Smith told his supporters, "Tell the people we have had Whig and Democrat presidents long enough. We want a president of the United States."

Megalomaniacal Madness

To Smith's detractors, his presidential run could only be seen within the context of his megalomaniacal madness. Mormon historians, however, argue that Smith was trying to stand for his principles, argue publicly for civil liberties for Mormons and publicize the church.

According to "The Prophet and the Presidency: Mormonism and Politics in Joseph Smith's 1844 Presidential campaign," a 2000 study of Smith's campaign by Timothy Wood in the Illinois State Historical Society, Smith's supporters even had their own catchy cheer:

"Kinderhook, Kass, Kalhoun, nor Klay/Kan never surely win the day./But if you want to know who Kan/You'll find in General Smith the man."

Claimed to See God and Jesus

Smith's presidential run came approximately 25 years after he claimed to have first seen God and Jesus in Palmyra, N.Y., 21 years after he said he was visited by the resurrected prophet Moroni, and 17 years after he announced his discovery of a long-buried book about the Lord's dealings with early Israelite inhabitants of the Americas.

Questions about Smith's teachings remain hotly contested well into the 21st century. Just this week, Romney faced questions about the role of African-Americans in the Mormon Church.

Blacks have long been derided as an inferior people in some Mormon teachings, and it wasn't until 1978 that black men were permitted to become Mormon priests. The South Carolina state co-chair of the Fred Thompson for president campaign, Cyndi Mosteller, this week told The Palmetto Scoop Web site that voters will question "the Church's history, and almost theology, on the issue of race -- particularly the black race."

In that context it's interesting to note that Smith's campaign in 1844 sought to end slavery.

Sought to End Slavery

Smith's solution was gradualist -- to purchase the freedom of slaves with funds amassed by the reduction in the size of Congress, pay for members of Congress and the sale of public lands.

He "was not an abolitionist in the strictest sense," wrote Margaret Robertson in her Brigham Young University study of Smith's campaign.

"He felt slavery was not right and saw the need to abolish slavery to preserve the nation. But he also realized the need to save the economy of the South." He "refused to take the extreme abolitionist point."

These and other views were published in Smith's campaign book.

Fourteen years after Smith translated the metal pages he said he discovered and published the Book of Mormon in 1830 came the publication of his presidential treatise, "General Smith's Views of the Power and Policy of the Government of the United States," (an image of which can be seen HERE from Brigham Young University's archives).

In his campaign book, Smith outlined a six-point platform: gradually ending slavery; reducing the size of Congress by at least two-thirds; re-establishing a national bank; annexing Texas, California and Oregon; prison reform; and a position near and dear to Mormons at the time -- empowering the federal government to protect the liberties of minorities from "mobocracy."

Referring specifically to Gov. Lilburn Boggs, who had used his state militia to evict Mormons from his home state of Missouri in 1838, Smith wanted to ensure federal civil rights protections even if a governor himself were "a mobber."

Support for Polygamy

Though Smith enjoyed support among his followers, his support for polygamy, starting in 1841, as well as other church issues, had begun to alienate some supporters.

A rival newspaper, the Nauvoo Expositor, questioned whether Smith could serve as a federal and local official at the same time. "We see that our friend the Neighbor, advocates the claims of Gen. Joseph Smith for the presidency; we also see from the records of the grand Jury of Hancock Co. at their recent term, that the general is a candidate to represent the branch of the state government at Alton [prison]. We would respectfully suggest to the Neighbor, whether the two offices are not incompatible with each other."

Smith had an interesting concept of the First Amendment, one that might make Romney's attitude towards the Boston Globe seem downright friendly. Working with the Nauvoo City Council, Smith had the Expositor's printing press seized and every copy of the newspaper he could find burned.

He wrote a letter in the Neighbor accusing the rival newspaper of plotting "the destruction of the institutions of this city, both civil and religious& to rid the city of a paper so filthy and pestilential as this become the duty of every good citizen who loves good order and morality."

The controversy, combined as it was with other questions about Smith's leadership and charges brought against him by the government, soon spiraled out of control. Smith was killed by an angry mob on June 25, 1844.

But many of his electioneers spread throughout the country to campaign for him continued on their journeys. Referring to Smith as a "martyr," they now talked up his religion, not his White House hopes.
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