| Romney's Mormonism was the obvious context of this speech. I think it was another kiss-up to Evangelicals that at least he is a person of faith. The only reason this speech happened was to attempt to win the vote of very conservative Evangelicals that are biased against Mormonism. This is why he said in response to the question about Jesus Christ, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind." Then he rallied all religious believers by slamming secularism.
I think one's particular religion is a legitimate voting consideration for a good number of Americans. It may not be the whole thing (for some it is), but it certainly should be part of a consideration at least. For Romney though, "A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith." Romney was attempting to say that one's particular religion does not matter, and that it even goes against the Constitution if it does. He said, "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." This is quite a stretch. The Constitution allows for anyone to run for office; it does not bar believers from a particular faith exercising their judgment and voting for someone who holds or does not hold their particular faith.
I also think there are some problems with Romney saying, "When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God." This is problematic since I know Romney took an oath called the law of consecration in his temple. "[T]he Law of Consecration as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, in that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion." For LDS, this means the organization based in Salt Lake City, and it has said, "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy" (Improvement Era, June 1945, p. 354). So it seems reasonable that the LDS Church could in fact go back on its suspension of polygamy, for example, to uphold God's "new and everlasting covenant," and Romney would not be able to fight against it. What really is his "highest promise to God"?
We do have some encouragement from Romney that he would not enforce the LDS position all the time. For example, he was a pro-choice governor, and there is at least some controversy that he bowed to state law and approved gay marriages. This obviously is not something the LDS Church would promote, but in Romney's mind, he was not working against the LDS Church so much as upholding the laws of his state.
Given how the LDS Church attempts to be so mainstream today, I do not think we have much to worry about in the polygamy situation just mentioned. Things would have been quite different when the polygamist Joseph Smith ran for president.
R. M. S.
President, Courageous Christians United