Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

romneypicture2.jpgIn his recent sit-down with National Review’s Byron York, Mitt Romney says it again: for now, he has no plans to deliver a so-called Mormon speech. God-o-Meter thinks we in the media who want the speech so badly might try a little reverse psychology and stop asking for a full day or two. Here’s the latest hedge from Romney:

He has no plans to do anything, at least not yet. “Maybe a speech would be helpful at some point in some setting, but at this stage I don’t see a particular requirement or need or value to that,” he told me. Pausing for a moment, he added, “But that could change.” I asked whether, as some rumors have it, the speech is already written and is just waiting for the right time. “No, no,” Romney said. “If it’s going to be written, it will be written by me.” (Romney aides say a recent report that his advisers are dictating his decision was inaccurate; Romney has consistently said the decision will be made by him.)

The helpful service that York provides is surmising what such a speech were to sound like–if it in fact happens–based on Romney’s comments on the subject so far. The highlights:

“You know, the term ‘Christian’ means different things to different people,” Romney told me. “Jews aren’t Christian. That doesn’t preclude a Jew from being able to run for office and become president. I believe that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world and is the son of God. Now, some people say, well, that doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian because Christian refers to a certain group of evangelical Christian faiths. That’s fine. That’s their view. Others say, no, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ as the son of God and the Savior should be called Christian. That’s fine, too. I’ll just describe what I believe and not try to distinguish my faith from others. That’s really something for my faith to do and for the churches amongst themselves to consider.”
It seems likely that if Romney decides to give the speech, he might include words like that. What else would he put in? There would almost certainly be a strong general reaffirmation of his faith. “I know there are some people hoping that I will simply declare in some way that my church is all well and good but that I don’t really believe it and I don’t try to follow it,” Romney told me. “That’s not going to happen. I’m proud of my faith. I love my faith. It is the faith of my fathers and mothers. I do my best to live by its teachings. And it in every way would teach me to follow the Constitution and follow the rule of law and recognize that my duty is to my country.” (In the 1960 speech, JFK said he would not apologize for his faith, “nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election.”)
But a Romney speech would likely include no discussion about the specific doctrines of the Mormon Church. Romney often says he is happy to answer any questions about his religion. “I was just recently on Bob Schieffer’s program [CBS’s Face the Nation], and in the first ten minutes he asked questions about my faith and I answered them,” Romney told me. “I didn’t duck any of them.” It’s true that he doesn’t duck questions, but he doesn’t always answer them, either. For example, in that CBS interview, Schieffer asked him, “I’m told that the Mormons teach that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. Is that correct?” Romney answered: “You know, they’re probably the right folks to give you the answers to questions related to a bunch of Mormon teachings. So I’ll probably let them respond to questions about specific doctrines.” From there, Romney went on to explain that the values of Mormonism are “founded on Judeo-Christian principles.”
That answer, and dozens of others Romney has given in the last several months, suggest that any speech he might give would be based on the strategy of stressing the general similarities between his religion and others while not discussing discuss any doctrinal details.

To God-o-Meter, this all suggests that if Romney gets around to giving a Mormon speech, it’ll be pretty anticlimactic.

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