Monday, May 14, 2012
The Rev. Romney to the pulpit
Speaking honestly and without servility to one faith or another, Kennedy declared:
"I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish - where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source - where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials - and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all".
He later added: "Whatever issue may come before me as President - in birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject - I will make my decision in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise."
Romney appeared before a group that doubtless included skeptics about his Mormon faith, which evangelicals consider a cult apart from Christianity. Unlike Kennedy, who defined himself as an unbound leader in terms of a president's decisions, Romney preached to the choir, casting himself as a heartfelt Christian, particularly on same-sex marraige, abortion and other social issues. He spoke of a relationship "with our maker".
"Whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and sick or mercy for the chid waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action'', he said.
The New York Times described the event as Romney's "most extensive and direct discussion of religion since his 2007 speech about his own father."
In short, Romney, rather than declaring his independence from a system of religious tenets, let his listeners know the he was cut from the same cloth. In a pluralistic nation, he was rigidly one of them. It defined the parameters of a theocratic governing style, but hardly a profile in courage.