Romney: "A symphony of faith"

Pre-released excerpts of Romney's speech show that he will do the JFK religion thing, and he won't.

By Michael Scherer

Published December 6, 2007 2:34PM (EST)

The campaign of Mitt Romney has sent out preview text of his religion speech, which is set to begin in Texas at 10:30 a.m. EST. The text shows, as expected, that Romney will dance a tightrope, arguing that John F. Kennedy was at once right and wrong. Romney will argue that there should be no religious test in public life, and that there should be more religion in public life.

In the spirit of JFK, Romney will say:

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.

Unlike JFK, Romney will say:

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."

Here are two videos from Big Think in which Romney shares his thoughts on the role of women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his personal religious beliefs.

Michael Scherer

Michael Scherer is Salon's Washington correspondent. Read his other articles here.

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2008 Elections