….no one running is more impressive than Mitt Romney. It was his speech on religion in American life that caused me to take another look at him. Until then, I confess that I saw him as a sort of robo-candidate: smooth, articulate, but perhaps a little opportunistic and possibly even insincere. The religion speech cast a new light on him.
What Romney’s religion speech demonstrated was not so much his devotion to his own faith (though he declined to run away from it) as his understanding and embrace of America’s civic religion. In his telling, that civic religion amounts to a commitment to religious liberty as well as to broadly shared religious values. “It is important to recognize,” he said, “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.” Romney went on to paint America as the golden mean between the empty cathedrals of Europe and the violent jihadists of the Islamic world. It was a masterful performance.
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