In response to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s speech on religion, People For the American Way Vice President Peter Montgomery issued the following the statement:
Mitt Romney’s speech on religion included some Kennedy-esque rhetoric about the fundamental importance of religious liberty, but it was a far cry from JFK’s ringing endorsement of church-state separation – no surprise, given the box Romney is in. Romney was clearly targeting the conservative evangelicals who have boosted Mike Huckabee to the top in Iowa. But many of those voters have expressed reluctance to vote for a Mormon and have little patience for church-state separation.
Romney argued that asking him about Mormon theology would be an impermissible religious test for public office, but he signaled today that he accepts and meets the Religious Right’s de facto Christians-only religious test.
Romney reached out to conservative evangelical voters by hitting their favorite talking points about abortion, judges, and the supposed threat from those out to establish “a religion of secularism.”
While it’s good for Americans to hear a Republican candidate talk about the value of religious diversity, and the ways that church-state separation supports America’s vibrant religious life, Romney undermined that message with his appeals to the Religious Right. One thing is for sure, Romney is no Jack Kennedy.
Also see Montgomery’s analysis of the speech on Right Wing Watch.