With all the talk today of Mitt Romney’s "Faith and America" speech and the reference to JFK’s speech I decided to actually read the JFK speech
to the Southern Baptist Leaders in 1960. Wow what an overrated speech that was and it is quite horrid in parts with it’s modern view of Church/State separation that is quite rigid. It was interesting to read that JFK was opposed to having an ambassador to the Vatican and in fact it wasn’t till President Reagan that we had an ambassador to the Holy See. It is certainly not a speech that religious conservatives today would much like, but maybe it had helped him with borderline anti-Catholics. Though I think the funniest thing in hindsight is the idea of JFK being beholden to the Catholic Church in any way in the first place.
Mitt Romney’s speech on the other hand concentrates mostly on faith in public life and not his own faith for the most part and in fact he only mentions Mormons once. His view of church and state separation is much better than JFK’s and closer to what the founders actually intended.
…”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.
…”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.
Interesting remarks about the Catholic Mass. He must not have been to Mass at the Church John Kerry attends in Boston. Though if I were a Lutheran I think I would be miffed at Mitt. I don’t think "confident independence" is going to be a advertising motto for Lutheran churches anytime soon. "You look confidently independent. Are you a Lutheran per chance?"
…"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.
With Mormonism such a statement is more important considering that their current "prophet" can receive new revelation as has happened in the past. Maybe one day they will have one on caffeine to help out Starbucks in Utah. But if you believe in this Mormon doctrine where new revelation can contradict older ones than saying that this could have no influence on presidential decisions is to say he is not a faithful Mormon. JFK’s at least said he would step down in some theoretical case his faith conflicted with his presidency. But the purpose of this speech in the first place is to satisfy those who are concerned about his being a Mormon and it is not surprising he takes this tack, but I don’t think it helps his credibility by saying so and his credibility is already his major liability.
Jimmy Akin is not impressed with the speech and mentions how Romney wants to have it both ways. I agree with Jimmy on how the "Religious test" was misrepresented from the Constitution. Voters certainly can have a religious test in making their decisions. If a candidate was part of some doomsday cult than surely you can knock him out of contention just for that.
His speech is just too generic on faith in public life and has little to do with him as a Mormon. He obviously perceived his Mormonism as a problem to be addressed, but this speech doesn’t do it. For me there are a lot more issues I am concerned about with Mitt Romney than his Mormonism.
I heard Donny Osmond the other day in a interview he did that included a defense of Mormonism where he talked about believing what the Council of Nicea said which he thought took place sometime in the 900’s. And here I thought Mormons held that the Church became corrupted pretty much right away. Though you always do have to wonder just how much Mormons really know about their faith and its distinctive from Christianity. Those Latter Day Saint commercials constantly on TV never seem to mention Polytheism or the name of the planet God the Father came from.