Romney (Finally) Talks Religion

1196697575Mitt Romney announced he will give his long-awaited speech on his Mormon faith on Thursday. Despite the apparent objections of his advisers, Romney will take the stage in Texas to explain how his religion will influence him if he becomes president. Will it be as successful as John F. Kennedy’s Catholic speech, or will this be the end of candidate Romney?

Throughout his campaign, Romney has been careful to avoid calling attention to his Mormon background, while simultaneously painting himself as a man of faith. Several polls have shown that many voters say they won’t get behind a Mormon, but until Mike Huckabee recently threatened Romney’s lead it seemed voters were willing to ignore his religious affiliation.

The Globe points out that the political climate has changed drastically since JFK gave his religious speech 47 years ago.

“Kennedy’s speech was actually an antireligion speech; it was a don’t pay-any-attention-to-my-Catholicism speech,” [Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College director Alan] Wolfe said. “In the 2007 Republican Party you can’t do that, because it’s a party that essentially has a religious test for the nomination.”

Which Romney has done well, amassing endorsements from several notable televangelists and evangelical leaders. No matter how adept a flip-flopper the man may be, he can’t turn his back on faith when he’s come this far by embracing it.

Instead of going full-bore into divorcing his public self from his private faith like Kennedy did in 1960, we think Romney’s speech will be fairly impersonal. Expect Romney to give us the Wikipedia rundown of what his religion is all about, complete with barely-concealed eye-rolling about how he doesn’t have a harem of wives in Utah. After the brief explanation, there will be talk about how Mormons are just like the rest of the family-loving, gay-hating religious conservative voters are familiar with. No matter what happens, we can’t wait to watch.