Seeking to appeal to Religious Right voters and quell concerns about his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Republican candidate Mitt Romney delivered a major address on religion and public life Dec. 6.
Romney said he supports religious liberty but separation of church and state has been taken too far.
"We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason," Romney said. "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."
He continued, "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," he continued. "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.'"
Elsewhere in the speech, Romney affirmed his belief in Jesus Christ as "the Son of God and the Savior of mankind." He added, "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."
Some of Romney's supporters had been urging him to deliver an address about his Mormon faith for months. Reportedly, some of his advisers opposed it, but Romney decided to go ahead as he started slipping in the polls. Although Romney had been a strong GOP contender throughout much of 2007, he started to lose ground to Mike Huckabee, the former governor of...