Romney addresses concerns about his faith

December 7, 2007 7:57:37 PM PST
Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, delivered what he hopes will be a pivotal speech Thursday. He talked about his religion in the hope of repeating the success of another Massachusetts candidate nearly 50 years ago.

The Mormon religion has its own unique beliefs -- that Christ appeared in North America after he was crucified, that he's coming back to earth, but it will be in Missouri, and that the Book of Mormon, along with the Bible, is the word of God. However, Mitt Romney didn't talk about those differences today. He talked about tolerance.

Mitt Romney told the crowd in College Station that his Mormon faith is important to him, but not as important as the oath of office.

"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," said Romney.

Romney's advisors felt he had to make this speech because Christian evangelicals are flocking to former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister, Mike Huckabee.

An ABC News poll shows 39-percent of Republican evangelicals are uncomfortable with a Mormon president.

Huckabee is running ads in Iowa promoting himself as a Christian leader. When asked about that supposed difference, the Baptist minister claimed ignorance.

Reporter: "Is Mormonism Christianity?

Mike Huckabee: "I don't know enough about Mormonism to know."

However, some evangelical ministers are willing to cast out Romney.

"Mitt Romney is not a Christian. He's a Mormon and Mormonism is a cult," says Robert Jeffress with the First Baptist Church of Dallas.

That goes down pretty hard with San Francisco Mormon bishop, Tyler Caldwell.

"The beliefs of the church are known and anyone that wants to learn what all of those specific beliefs are, that information is very available," says Caldwell.

What's important, says Caldwell, are the similarities, not the differences. It's the same point another Massachusetts presidential candidate made back in 1960, when John F. Kennedy was trying to quiet voters doubts about his Catholic faith.

"I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for president who happens also to be a Catholic," said Kennedy.

Today, Romney said the country is founded on religious freedom.

"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom," said Romney.

Freedom requires religion? It's safe to say that presidential politics certainly seems to.

"The Bible is the revelation of an infinite God," said Huckabee at one of the debates.

"I accepted Jesus Christ into my life," said Barack Obama at a campaign rally.

"I strayed away from the Lord for a period of time and then came back in my adulthood," said John Edwards in a televised appearance.

In this election cycle, every one of the front-runners, Republican and Democratic, are talking about their faith in God. Is the country ready for a Mormon president? Maybe. However, you couldn't say the same about a candidate who is a non-believer.