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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Michael J. Gaynor
Bio: Michael J. Gaynor
Date:  August 29, 2007
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For Mitt Romney: A Values Speech, Not a JFK Speech

Whether a candidate is a Methodist or a Mormon, an Anglican or an agnostic, what should matter to voters is whether that candidate is sincere or hypocritical and whether he or she shares their fundamental values or not.

Thomas Burr's article, "Mitt Romney to skip the JFK Speech?," asks a critical question: should Mitt Romney give a JFK speech?

The answer to that is, NO! He should give a Mitt Romney speech.

Secular extremists were delighted to have JFK say that he did not consider himself bound by the fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith he publicly professed (while concealing from the public his annulment and his Addison's disease).

The beauty of the First Amendment, as explained by Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Joseph Story, in Commentaries on the Constitution Section 1879 (1833), is that "the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvanist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common tables of the national councils without any inquisition into their faith or mode of worship."

Justice Story: "Probably at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the amendment to it . . . , the general, if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship," and "an attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation."

Whether a candidate is a Methodist or a Mormon, an Anglican or an agnostic, what should matter to voters is whether that candidate is sincere or hypocritical and whether he or she shares their fundamental values or not.

Mr. Burr:

"Political pundits have been clamoring for Mitt Romney to give his big Iím-a-Mormon-but-itís-OK speech, like President Kennedy did about his Catholic faith in 1960.

"But if Romney decides to give such a speech - he says itís more than likely that he will - there are perils in how he delivers it and what he addresses. Political observers say it can be risky to mix religion and politics, even more so for a candidate who is rising in the polls and needs to overcome the hurdle his faith may become.

"Polls have shown a sizable number of voters are wary of supporting a Mormon - a faith viewed as a cult by some - and Romney may have to convince voters that his specific religion shouldnít be a deal-breaker. However, thereís also a danger in stifling his momentum."

The much anticipated speech will be critical to America as well as Mitt Romney's presidential hopes.

Mitt Romney does not need to read The Book of Mormon to the voters, but he should unite those who embrace constitutional fidelity and friendliness to religion generally by declaring that in 1947 the United States Supreme Court was terribly wrong when it departed from the constitutional track by declaring that government may not support religion generally and that he will appoint justices and judges who will are not hostile to religion and eager to remove "under God" from "The Pledge of Allegiance."

The secular extremist insistence that public recognition of God and support for religion generally must yield to "the right of private judgment" of a small minority surely would have been absurd to Justice Story. In his view, "the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice."

According to Justice Story, "Probably at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the amendment to it . . . , the general, if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship," and that "an attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation."

Mr. Burr:

ď'Clearly there could be a downside,' says John Green, a senior fellow in religion and American politics at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. 'To the extent that Americans disagree with the Latter-day Saints, a speech that emphasized Romneyís Mormon ties could re-enforce that skepticism.'"

All Mitt Romney needs to do is to explain that Mormons hold different political views. The fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of New Mexico, and Senator Orin Hatch, Republican of Utah, are both Mormons demonstrates that nicely.

JFK: ďI believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition of holding that office.Ē

About that, JFK was right.

But religious views inform values and values affect both public and private acts, so voters have a legitimate interest in determining what a candidate's values are and whether a candidate is a person of honor or a hypocrite.

Ironically, religion is the key to electoral success for Mitt Romney because Mitt Romney is a man of faith who shares the fundamental American values.

Mr. Burr:

"The question, says Romney spokesman Kevin Madden, is whatís the goal of such a speech and is that outweighed by any potential downsides. Romney doesnít want to give a speech that introduces him to potential voters as a Mormon instead of showcasing his strengths 'across a spectrum of all the issues,' Madden says.

ď'The challenge we face is, do you become singularly defined by only one issue and thatís something that no candidate wants,' Madden said."

When the issue is whether or not a candidate is faithful to both the Constitution and his or her personal faith, hesitancy hurts instead of helps.

Mr. Burr:

"Thereís a reason why people see this stuff as a risk,' Gerstein says. 'There is always a danger that by elevating it and making it a big deal, you call more attention to it.'

"More often, he adds, the default strategy, and the safest, is to ignore the below-the-surface concerns."

But virtually no voter will be unaware that Mitt Romney is a Mormon.

The questions are whether Mitt Romney deals with the situation frankly or tries to finesse it and whether he leads or hides in the weeds.

Frankness and leadership are indispensable in a President and a presidential hopeful.

Mr. Burr:

"Romney sought advice last year from Richard Land, the president of The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"Land says itís important Romney carefully craft any speech on his faith to address his presidential campaign, not get tangled in the debate over whether Mormonism is an orthodox Christian faith.

"'He needs to say, "Iím a person of deep, personal faith and my faithís important to me, and my faith will certainly guide and direct me if Iím elected president in the same way it did when I was governor,"' Land says.

"He should stay clear of defending or explaining the faithís doctrines, similar to how Kennedy said he did not speak for his church and his church did not speak for him.

ď'Jack Kennedy was the only one who could make millions of Americans feel comfortable voting for a Catholic,' Land says. 'Only Mitt Romney can make millions of people feel comfortable voting for a Mormon.'"

Amen!

Mr. Burr: "Many political observers say Romney may have to do that if there are still questions lingering as the primary season starts drawing near. But, as Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway says, if voters want to know about Mormonism, they should use an Internet search engine, not depend on Romney to explain the 'ABCs of Mormonism.'"

Voters need to know about Mitt Romney, and his beliefs in constitutiuonal fidelity and the appropriateness of governmental support for religion generally, not the details of Mormonism.

Doing a speech about that is Mitt Romney's key to electoral success.

Mr. Burr: "Conway, who is neutral in the 2008 race, says the speech only works if Romney gives 'an earnest, no-notes explanation on how his religion has impacted him, his personal and professional choices, his value system, his views about government and core issues.'"

Exactly.

Mr. Burr:

"Grover Norquist, a conservative leader and head of the Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform, notes there are two ways to deliver the kind of speech Romney is being pressured to give. The first is to be on the defensive about the faith - which Norquist says could actually hurt Romney.

"The second is to explain to voters that while they may not subscribe to his religion, the country should not get into the business of screening candidates by their specific faiths. Thatís how Kennedy did it. He said that while he as a Catholic may be under fire, next could be a Jew, a Quaker, a Protestant or a Baptist.

ď'Today, I may be the victim,' Kennedy said, 'but tomorrow it may be you - until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.'"

What Mitt Romney needs to do is to let the voters know he's their kind of Mormon, not convert them to Mormonism. That, he can do. He's seeking to be President of the United States, not the head of a non-existent national religion. That, he can achieve with what Senator John McCain calls "straight talk." Most Americans love that.

Go, Mitt Romney, Go!

Michael J. Gaynor

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Biography - Michael J. Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.

Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.

The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.

Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.

Gaynor's email address is gaynormike@aol.com.


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