Friday, December 7, 2007

A Different Speech Explaining Faith and Politics

"It is an honor to be here today...."

"Given our grand tradition of religious tolerance and liberty, some wonder whether there are any questions regarding an aspiring candidate's religion that are appropriate. I believe there are. And I will answer them today....

"Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for President, not a Catholic running for President. Like him, I am an American running for President.... A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith....

"As a young man, Lincoln described what he called America's 'political religion'.... When I place my hand on the Koran and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to Allah....

"There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Muslim faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers – I will be true to them and to my beliefs.

"Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it. But I think they underestimate the American people. Americans do not respect believers of convenience. Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.

"There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Muhammad? I believe that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah and the Savior of mankind. My beliefs about Islam 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.

"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....

"I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to Allah...

"It is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the religions 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. Thinking of such bans on immorality as Prohibition, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people.

"We separate church and state affairs in this country.... 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 Allah. 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 ... did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under Allah' and in Allah, we do indeed trust.


"Thank you."

OK, it took a lot of snipping to cut all Mitt's language about the separation of Church and State, religion and politics. It turns out that it's not "religion" we're talking about - it's about theology and whether one's theology is premised upon a separation - or identity - between the Two Cities. Lest we forget in the midst of campaigning...

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