Mitt Romney: Mormon Candidate at Baptist Liberty University Moves Catholic Editor
This was a well delivered speech filled with excellent content which the Romney campaign should use more frequently in the campaign ahead
Governor Romney did not attempt to argue the compatibility of his own religious faith and that of most of the graduates. I was relieved. He told the graduates and their guests, "People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology. Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview." He is right.
A crowd of over thirty thousand heard Governor Romney's commencement speech at Liberty University
LYNCHBURG,VA (Catholic Online) - On Saturday May 12, 2012, Mitt Romney, the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party who will contend with President Barack Obama in one of the most important Presidential elections in the history of the United States, surprised many, including me.
The fact that a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, would be the commencement speaker at the Baptist University founded by Dr Jerry Falwell speaks to the urgency of the hour. Add to this the fact that this Catholic Editor in Chief of Catholic Online would consider the speech important enough to make it the lead article, and the point is made even clearer.
Governor Romney addressed a graduating class of 14,012 and a crowd estimated at over 30,000 people. That made it the largest crowd of the 2012 campaign. His speech was deeply respectful. He affirmed the founder of the University, the late Dr Jerry Falwell:
"The calling Jerry answered was not an easy one. Today we remember him as a courageous and big-hearted minister of the Gospel who never feared an argument, and never hated an adversary. Jerry deserves the tribute he would have treasured most, as a cheerful, confident champion for Christ.I will always remember his cheerful good humor and selflessness"
He affirmed the Liberty graduates noting, "You know what you believe. You know who you are. And you know Whom you will serve. Not all colleges instill that kind of confidence, but it will be among the most prized qualities from your education here. Moral certainty, clear standards, and a commitment to spiritual ideals will set you apart in a world that searches for meaning."
"That said, your values will not always be the object of public admiration. In fact, the more you live by your beliefs, the more you will endure the censure of the world. Christianity is not the faith of the complacent, the comfortable or of the timid. It demands and creates heroic souls like Wesley, Wilberforce, Bonheoffer, John Paul the Second, and Billy Graham. Each showed, in their own way, the relentless and powerful influence of the message of Jesus Christ. May that be your guide."
Mitt Romney even managed to weave in an affirmation of his former rival, my friend and preferred candidate, former Senator Rick Santorum. In his emphasis on the importance of the culture, he told the graduates, "You enter a world with civilizations and economies that are far from equal. Harvard historian David Landes devoted his lifelong study to understanding why some civilizations rise, and why others falter. His conclusion: Culture makes all the difference. Not natural resources, not geography, but what people believe and value. Central to America's rise to global leadership is our Judeo-Christian tradition, with its vision of the goodness and possibilities of every life."
"The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the pre-eminence of the family. The power of these values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study that Sen. Rick Santorum brought to my attention. For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%. But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor. Culture matters."
Then, in the line quoted most from the speech by the media, Romney stood firmly and squarely for marriage and the family and free society founded upon it noting, "As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman."
He was equally firm on the vital issue of religious freedom noting, "The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of debate. It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with. Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government."
"But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man. Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action."
"Religious freedom opens a door for Americans that is closed to too many others around the world. But whether we walk through that door, and what we do with our lives after we do, is up to us. Someone once observed that the great drama of Christianity is not a crowd shot, following the movements of collectives ...
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