Read all the excerpts made available to the public here. Here's a few quotes from Romney's speech and my thoughts on them.
"When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, 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."
This is the money quote of the whole speech, in my opinion, and the one that is most often quoted on the morning shows I listened to while making a drive from Strasburg to Woodstock to Winchester (don't ask, I do this once a week). He's telling the us all that as President, he would be beholden to the people of the United States, and not any one religion, including his own.
"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. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths."
Yes sir...this is correct. Romney is right on with his statement here.
"It is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches 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. Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people."
I've been preaching this for years, that despite our differences in religion, religious beliefs, place of religion in society...the vast majority of Americans share a common base of morality and moral beliefs. Romney is right in stating that our nation should focus on abiding by the common moral principles we share as Americans...not necessarily by religious principles. However, religious people share those moral principles with most non-religious people.
"We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. 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 God. 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."
Again...another money quote. While we separate church and state, this nation was founded by people seeking religious freedom, and with deep religious conviction. To remove God from recognition by society would be to go against the beliefs of the founding fathers of our nation.
"These American values, this great moral heritage, is shared and lived in my religion as it is in yours. I was taught in my home to honor God and love my neighbor. I saw my father march with Martin Luther King. I saw my parents provide compassionate care to others, in personal ways to people nearby, and in just as consequential ways in leading national volunteer movements."
Again, we should focus on our shared morals as Americans, not our religious agreements and disagreements. We, as Americans, are not perfect...but we're generally good people.
"Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin."
There you have it. Romney's separation of church and state. No questions about it.
"The diversity of our cultural expression, and the vibrancy of our religious dialogue, has kept America in the forefront of civilized nations even as others regard religious freedom as something to be destroyed."
Freedom of religion, and our ability to speak about our different beliefs in public without fear of imprisonment or punishment, is part of what makes this nation so great.
"In such a world, we can be deeply thankful that we live in a land where reason and religion are friends and allies in the cause of liberty, joined against the evils and dangers of the day. And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion — rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith."
Embrace religous diversity and common morality. This is what Romney intends to do.
I think that, from these quotes and others, Romney really makes a positive leap forward. He acknowledges both the deep religious conviction that many have, and the near-universal sense of common morality amongst Americans. In fact, Romney also makes a leap forward in my own opinion of him. He's stating his beliefs, and he does it without making a plea to social and religious conservatives. In fact, he's making more of a case as to why religion is a base of his decision making, and not the sole source.
I can really respect that.