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May 4, 2012

Why Mitt Romney’s Upcoming Liberty Commencement Address Fits the University’s Past Speakers

Romney will continue a long line of speakers who find common ground with Liberty on political issues.

Mitt Romney will speak at next week’s commencement at Liberty University, an addresss that follows the university’s history of politically conservative speakers. For Romney, the speech is an outreach to conservative Christians who have been wary of him, both for his political positions and his Mormon faith. For Liberty, Romney will continue a long line of speakers who find common ground with Liberty on conservative politics, not religious affiliation.

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The Liberty speech is one of many events Romney has planned that will allow him to shore up support with conservatives while beginning to sound themes for the general election. Two weeks ago, Romney spoke at the National Rifle Association meeting. While Romney tipped his hat to second amendment rights activists, he spent most of the speech on taxes and the economy.

Romney is likely to follow a similar strategy at Liberty, one that commencement speakers John McCain (2006) and George Bush (1990) used to avoid hot button social issues to focus on foreign policy and other issues.

Mark DeMoss, a senior advisor to the Romney campaign who often comments on the relationship between Romney and evangelicals is also a Liberty alumnus and a member of the university's board of trustees. DeMoss defended the choice of Romney after some students used Facebook to protest having a Mormon speak at commencement.

“We have had a Jewish commencement speaker [Ben Stein], we have had a Catholic commencement speaker [Newt Gingrich], and so, I think people are certainly entitled to their opinion. Social Media certainly provides an outlet for people’s opinions, but I think it is a great thing for the university,” DeMoss told CNN.

Romney is not even the first Mormon to speak at commencement. Two years ago, Glenn Beck gave the address to Liberty's graduates.

Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty's chancellor, said, “This will be a historic event for Liberty University reminiscent of the visits of Governor, and then presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan to Liberty’s campus in 1980 and of President George H.W. Bush who spoke at Liberty’s 1990 Commencement ceremony.”

In 2000, McCain publicly distanced himself from Jerry Falwell Sr., calling him one of the “agents of intolerance.” Six years later, McCain spoke at Liberty University's commencement as he prepared for another run for the presidency.

Over the past decade, the Liberty University commencement speakers have been a who's who of conservative politics: Karl Rove, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, Ben Stein, and Glenn Beck. Chuck Norris, who received attention for his active support of Mike Huckabee's presidential run, spoke in 2008.

In addition to Romney, evangelist Luis Palau will also speak during at the university's baccalaureate service Friday.

Comments

I wonder if Liberty has ever seriously considered allowing a voice outside the fundamentalist-conservative echo chamber to address the graduates on commencement day. I'm thinking of Notre Dame inviting President Obama to speak, despite the President's ongoing disagreements with the Catholic Church.

Of course, universities are supposed to be places where questions and ideas can be freely debated within the context of a marketplace of ideas.

That is, that's what real universities are supposed to be.

JRC

When you include in your who's who of conservative politics the likes of Karl Rove and Glenn Beck, two of the worst liars ever seen in the political arena in America, it doesn't reflect well at all on conservative politics - or, for that matter, on the author of this "article".

@Dave: When you include in your who's who of conservative politics the likes of Karl Rove and Glenn Beck, two of the worst liars ever seen in the political arena in America, it doesn't reflect well at all on conservative politics - or, for that matter, on the author of this "article".

Maybe conservatives, conservative Christians, in particular, have been too busy lately indulging their voyeuristic interest in other people's sex lives to fully appriase the backgrounds of Rove, Beck, and similar individuals.

Seems oftentimes like if someone is against abortion, in favor of the 2nd Amendment, opposed to gay marriage, and a proponent of tax cuts, they get the conservative stamp of approval, however ethically toxic they may be in other respects.

JRC

I'm lost my interest in voting 2012. Let Americans choose whomever they like - and get rewarded-punished with the result. Either with the President of Democrats or President from Mormons.

I continue to pray that the church in North America will repent of its adulterous relationship with power politics. The One we follow lived as a servant, following faithfully all the way to the cross. Jesus life WAS both exemplary and salvific. Following Jesus will look more like servanthood and less like worldly power.

Without knowing much about then Senator Barack Obama's political ideology as a Christian I opposed his presidential candidacy in 2007 because of his membership of Rev Jerimiah Wright's church. Even as an African, I found the church's theology narrow and highly devisive. I think its great for Liberty to invite people of other faith like Mormons, they should extend their tolerance to people of different ideology. Was Jesus not often found among sinners? How do we minister to them without engaging them?

It seems strange to me that someone who has been a Bishop in what up until now has been considered a cult by evangelical Christians would be given the opportunity to speak at an evangelical Christian University. Whatever Romney's politics, it is known here in my state of Massachusetts that he eagerly seeks recognition of Mormonism as a valid form of Christianity. This was stated by one of his advisors in his run for Governor. It is my understanding that Mormons do not consider Jesus the only begotten Son of God, but one of God's many sons by multiple spirit wives, as is Lucifier, giving him equality with Satan. If President Obama had been Bishop in a cult with these beliefs would he have been treated with the same deference and courtesy as Governor Romney? I fear that many Evangelicals in their desperate efforts to unseat President Obama may be compromising some seriously core beliefs. And, in giving Romney such recognition, may lead many to believe that Mormonism is indeed a form of Christianity. Perhaps Liberty is OK with this, as indeed are those evangelicals that will support Romney.

It seems strange to me that our president, a supposed "Christian" does not celebrate Christmas, and of course, neither does his family. They do not exchange gifts. When asked why the barack hussein obama family does not celebrate Christmas, the answer told me everything-it's because he wants to "set some limits" for his kids. Muslims cannot celebrate Christmas, so he can't fake this one. Have you seen them "setting any limits" regarding their 14 vacations so far, or the clothes they wear or anything else at all? His answer had nothing to do with the birth of our Savior. The answer is obvious, he is a muslim. And if you want a great big list of pro-muslim and anti-Jewish things obama has done, it would take a couple of posts, so you might want to research it sometime.

I will vote for a mormon any day of the week over a muslim who is doing his best to destroy our country. If people choose to stay blind instead of simply researching and watching his actions, you would see that this presidential race does not place a Christian vs a mormon, but a muslim vs a mormon. The mormon will REALLY do things, such as create jobs and will get us out of a predicted 50% unemployment rate by this summer. If you haven't guessed by now, we're not told the truth on the real percentage of unemployed. They don't count the people who have just given up or the 85% of college graduates who are still living at home, etc, etc. I want our country back, I don't want a marxist tyranny, which we are fast becoming. If you haven't read about it, obama gave himself the power to declare any US citizen a terrorist, he can have them arrested, take away their citizenship, and send them anywhere in the world to be detained indefinitely, without ever having a trial. Did the liberals think Bush went overboard with power? If you were complaining back then, why are you SILENT now? It's called the NDAA in case you haven't checked it out. There is much, much more to be checked out. He has given the Palestinian Liberation Organization almost 200 million dollars of OUR money-a terrorist organization. That is treason, he needs to be out of office for the best for our country, and the sooner the better. And as a sidenote, does it bother anyone that we will all be REQUIRED to have an RFID chip implanted by the year 2014 in the obama "healthcare" plan? Are you ready to accept a chip in yourself and your children? If you don't know about it, check it out. You can be sure that the obama administration will use it for much more than your healthcare too. Please research his actions, or there will be serious consequences you can't even imagine right now. There are a LOT of things that take place after the election so that the public doesn't know what's coming. Do some research so you can be well informed before you vote. please!

What is the commotion & murmuring all about among Evangelical Christians... Polls have shown only about 50% of Christians in America are registered to vote. Of those registered, only 50% show up at the polls, meaning 75% of all Evangelical Christians are not even taking advantage of one of their greatest privileges. So if we are going to argue how about getting our fellow brethren to aleast register to vote...

Regardless by abstaining to vote we are voting for the other man by default! We are at a crossroads and a decision must be made by chossing the lesser of 2 evils!

Oh by the way, on another note... Mitt Romney is running for the Office of Presidency NOT the Office of Clergy, he wouldnt qualify to be an Usher at my church, much less a Pastor, Elder or Deacon!

I think it is great Mitt is meetng with the Evangelist. We need a President that will keep the safety of Israel, above all else. America 2nd and what is few young American deaths, when it all about Israel. Toss out the Pro Life once you reach 18 years old.

Which of the following is not like the others?
Newt Gingrich
Mitt Romney
Rick Santorum
Barrack Obama

Answer: Mitt Romey - he the only one in the group who cannot affirm the Trinity.

The gut reaction of Liberty's student body is correct.

obama does not affirm the trinity either, he is a muslim. Research why he does not exchange Christmas presents with his family. Research why he deals with Israel with contempt but honors muslims. Research why he calls the qaran "holy" yet mocks the Bible. Take the blinders off before you vote please-for the good of our country!

I will vote for someone who loves our country and does not hate it. I will vote for someone who is not trying to purposefully destroy our country, but will turn it around and once again make the US a country we can be proud of, and not be apologizing for it. I will vote for someone who will be a heck of a lot more honest than obama has been. I will vote for someone who will follow the Constitution, not someone who is constantly trying to work around it and considers the Constitution a hindrance to the marxist plans he has for our country. I will vote for someone who does not consider Christians, conservatives, veterans, people with a missing finger, and gun owners as "terrorists". I will NOT vote for obama who calls it "workplace violence" when someone who is a muslim terrorist, who is in contact with other muslim terrorists, and shouts "glory to allah" in arabic, while killing several other soldiers. As you may have noticed, that muslim extremist has not yet gone to trial, he is in no hurry to bring any muslims to trial, no matter what they have done. In the meantime, he is trying to rush other cases to trial to look good before the election. I will vote for someone who is not extremely divisive like obama has been. Never before have we had such a divisive president. Never before has there been such a closed, secretive presidency, the opposite of the promised "open and transparent" presidency. Everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie, so many, that books are being written just listing them. The reason the US didn't help the blind Chinese man who walked barefooted to the US Embassy is because obama has made this a country where he can treat US citizens in the same manner as the Chinese are treated or how Soviet citizens were treated under Stalin. I will not vote for obama who is quickly and quietly doing whatever he can to put the US under the UN Rules and Regulations instead of our own Constitution and Bill of Rights, which have been trampled upon by this president. Romney is a lot more MORAL than obama. Obama should be tried for treason for giving tax money to terrorist groups like the PLO.

Troy.. If you disagree with President Obama do so because of his policy stances not on right wing website conspiracy theories. President Obama and his family are Christian...so enough with these lies.

It's fine for liberals to attack Romney and his religion, and say absolutely nothing about his policies, then it's fine to tell the truth on obama and his muslim religion. I'm sure you agree that that is only fair. Why doesn't obama exchange Christmas presents? He said it's because he "wants to set limits". Almost all Christians exchange presents, and if they do not, it's for an entirely different reason. He has a list full of pro-muslim things he has done, even encouraging NASA to reach out to muslims, like that make sense, and he has been extremely rude to Israel, and hasn't even gone there as president. Why are you afraid to check out his muslim beliefs and his actions which have only supported the muslims and not Christians or Jews?

This is just another sad example of Liberty univerty's actual bottom line. They serve conservative politics first, not the message of Christ. This is some serious pharisee-level hypocrisy.

First of all the Jews are Gods chosen people, Catholics ARE Christians!! And justifying this by saying we've done it before is like getting caught cheating on your wife and saying, "well, I've done it several times before." Complete garbage!!!

It is sad that CT has become the conduit for the most vile conspiracy theories regarding our president. The story about him not exchanging Christmas gifts is highly questionable. Still, since when is the exchange of gifts at Christmas, for whatever reason, a test of one's Christianity? And for those who revere the constitution, I'm surprised that so many ignore Article VI Par 3: "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." It goes for the Mormon, Mr Romney as well as the Christian, Mr Obama (of whatever stripe one might consider him to be, he is a self-confessed Christian).

I removed two posts that cast doubt on Liberty's status as a university. From Liberty's website:

Liberty University is the largest private non-profit university in the nation, the largest university in Virginia, and the largest Christian university in the world.

@ACA ... I quite agree.

The same is true of the perennial allegation that the President is a "crypto-Mualim", i.e., a Muslim in secret who hid his devotion to Islam for the sake of getting elected. Concerning which ...

+ There is not the slightest shred of evidence that the President himself is Muslim

+ The people who perpetuate the "crypto-Muslim" allegation don't have the intellectual courage to present whatever evidence they have, nor do they tell us how the mere fact that someone is Muslim would disqualify them for the presidency. You quotation from the Constitution is apt, but it is a quotation to which their ignorance renders them invulnerable.

But in another sense, we should expect these kinds of things to said of the President. Mr. Obama is the first African-American president the Nation has ever elected. As such, he has broken through the "glass ceiling" that had, up until 2008, made the White House the White House, i.e., one more preserve of white entitlement. Barack Obama was the first person to break through that barrier.

As such, he is now suffering the same fate of all other African-American folks who broke through similar barriers. Think what Rosa Parks had to endure when she was the first black person to sit at the front of the bus. Think what the civil-rights protesters of the 50s had to endure by being the first black people to sit at a white lunch counter. Think what those little African-American kids had to endure who entered a whites-only school for the first time. Think what Jackie Robinson went through by becoming the first African-American professional baseball player.

Every black American to break through a racial barrier into an area of our national life previously reserved for whites has had to endure humiliation, vilification, slander, and defamation. Every one. Without exception.

Barack Obama is no different.

That's the bad news. The good news is that, from here on, if previous experience holds, it will get better. The next African-American president the Nation elects will probably have to endure some of what the President has gone through ... though less. Same with the 3rd black President. But -- this is my estimate -- by the time the US elects its 5th or 6th African-American president, it will matter no more than race matters now in terms of who sits where on public transportation or who plays what position in baseball. It simply won't matter.

The process of getting to the point where "content of character" matters more than "color of skin" is a process that will take generations, perhaps even centuries.

JRC

@Moderator: I removed two posts that cast doubt on Liberty's status as a university. From Liberty's website:

Liberty University is the largest private non-profit university in the nation, the largest university in Virginia, and the largest Christian university in the world.

Then it should act like one and be the marketplace of competing ideas that real universities always are.

And BTW,don't believe everything you read.

JRC

This doesn't surprise me in the least. In 1995 Falwell accepted $3.5 million from the Rev Sun Myung Moon. Why not have a Mormon speak at the commencement ceremonies. Politics and power trumps everything else.

I have long been wondering how evangelical christians have fallen for the idolatry of the term "conservative" when it does not describe anything distinctively. One would think, reading the writing of christians, that the bible must have contained lots of injunctions about ensuring that followers of Jesus Christ be "Conservative". Will someone explain what give the word conservative the sanctity that so many christians seem to treat it with?

Jesus is the way, the Truth and the Life. We are enjoined to SPEAK THE TRUTH". The article mentioned a long list of people as commencement speakers at Liberty who have distinguished themselves in the political arena for what one writer has called, in reference to Mr. Romney, his "serial mendacity". The writer of the post mentions Mr. Romney's positions, but after hearing one TV commentator document four different positions taken by Mr. Romney on one issue in 2012 alone, I began to wonder which position had the evangelical community so enchanted. If you study the political and economic history of this country, you will discover that one of the outstanding characteristics at this time is the enormous income inequality that exists, and how in this context a political party's allegiance can be effectively bought by a rich minority to maintain the status quo. Further going back in history, you will note that continued existence of this condition is a prescription for widespread social and political unrest. Consider what is happening in some European countries today. It is as though some evangelical christians have been living in a cave somewhere, out of touch with the real world that exosts out there, forgetting that the commission of the church is to go into the world and preach and teach the gospel.

@JRC "I wonder if Liberty has ever seriously considered allowing a voice outside the fundamentalist-conservative echo chamber to address the graduates on commencement day. I'm thinking of Notre Dame inviting President Obama to speak, despite the President's ongoing disagreements with the Catholic Church."

President Obama was actually invited to speak at one of Liberty's tri-weekly convocations for the entire student body during the 2011-2012 school year but declined the invitation. In addition many liberal public figures have spoken at Liberty in the past.

JRC in the same regard then, the liberal universities should have Christian, conservative speakers at their graduation ceremonies, don't you think? Well, try to find where this has happened. The liberals are more closed minded than the conservatives and don't even bother to deny this. The eastern liberal universities of today started out as seminaries long ago, and have completely turned around 180 degrees. And if you want to leave out the Christian part, find which liberal universities had conservative speakers.

@Jake and @Kelly ... I was not aware that LU had invited the President to speak at a convocation. Thanks ... I also agree that liberal universities should invite conservative speakers to speak. With regard to the specific issue of contraception, ND and the President are at diametric disagreement, yet the President was invited to speak there. I do believe President Bush (the younger) spoke at several (secular) university commencements / convocations, and I would be astoniehed if they were not a liberal institution in the bunch.

JRC

@Welby Warner ... Excellent post. You touch on an issue that causes me increasing concern.

Several years ago, I read William L. Shirer's massive doorstop of a book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Despite the size of the book, I couldn't put it down. I was on a non-stop flight from Seattle to Sydney, Australia, and by the time we landed in Sydney, I had finished the book.

Shirer's book set me to thinking about what happened in Germany prior to the early 1930s that accounted for the events Shirer writes about so rivetingly. So I went through a period of about 2 years when I read everything I could get my hands on about German unification, Kaiser Wilhelm, WW 1, Weimar Germany, etc., etc.

In retrospect, I regret doing that, because so much of what is happening in the US is so reminiscent of Germany in the Weimar period:

+ political instability

+ economic disparity

+ soldiers coming home from war to no jobs

+ widening income gap and the disappearance of the middle class

+ political paralysis

+ increasing stridency of political rhetoric and a reluctance to compromise

+ a tendency to blame the more marginalized and defenseless / vulnerable groups, e.g., gays and Muslim Americans, in the society for a disproportionate amount of the above problems

+ an increasing willingness to sacrifice liberty on the altar of "security"

The US is not in as bad a shape as Germany was in the 1920s, but it is increasingly evident to me we are on the same curve. I hesitate to contemplate what lies at the end of that trajectory.

JRC

@JRC Thanks for your post also.

In previous posts I have been referring to ideas from Francis Schaeffer's book "The Church At The End of The 20th Centure" and "The Church Before The Watching World". Many today are only familiar with "A Christian Manifesto" which seemed to me out of character with the original work Schaeffer did in starting L'Abri. Only recently I learned that for the Christian Manifesto Schaeffer enlisted the help of John Whitehead for that book, so now I understand why it was so different from the early books he wrote. He got hooked up with the Moral Majority movement and we all know where that led to, with Liberty University smack in the middle of it. What you said about Germany is appripriate and links directly to recent columns written by Paul Krugman, a Nobel prize-winning economist who is just publishing his new book "End This Depression Now". The Huffington Post has made available the first chapter of that book for anyone to download. This is entitled "How Bad Things Are", in which Krugman points out the reality behind the unemployment figures. He says the real picture is so much worse than the bare figures, and this spells economic pain for a huge segment of the american population. Unfortunately many evangelicals are mesmerized by the fear of people having abortions, or the rise in the size of the gay community, or the bogus threat of losing "religious freedom" that they are unable to see the pain caused to our society by the extreme income inequality and its results, some of them similar to the conditions described in the book about the third reich you referred to. An awakening is needed to christians to remember the numerous times Jesus referred to the needs of the poor, but they are all obsessed over someone who is reported to have said "I don't worry about the poor" because according to him, the poor had their needs taken care of by the safety of social security and medicare which his policies would dismantle. How ironic.

@Welby Warner ... The case of Francis Schaeffer is an extreme, though representative, case of why I am often pessimistic about the future of republican government in a constitutional republic like the United States.

Our Nation and our Constitution were founded on the principles of the European, specifically British, Enlightenment. One such principle involved the disciplining of the passions, all the passions -- religious, political, economic / financial, etc., etc. -- and the subjection of all the passions, without exception, to the tutelage of Reason.

I see very little of that these days. I see no tempering of political passion in the competing zealotries of Congress. I see no tempering of economic / financial passion in the rapacity and the naked, Devil-take-the-hindmost greed of Wall Street and Big Money. I see no tempering of religious passion in the willingness of many conservative Christians to replace the Constitution with the Bible -- including the superlaively wrong-headed belief that the US either was founded as, or should become, a "Christian nation".

The values, priorities, and principles of the Enlightenment -- which form the real basis of the Constitution and Bill of Rights -- are fraying at the edges under the stress of clashing fanaticisms.

The first time I traveled to Washington, DC, in the summer of 1976, one of my first stops was the National Archives building at 7th and Constitution, where I saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. But, as impressive as those were, the most impressive document I saw, the document that stopped me cold in my tracks, was none of those. Rather, the most impressive document was a little 3x5 notecard, the likes of which you could buy at any Office Depot, on which someone, presumably some faceless member of the Archives staff, had typed a quotation from the 1821 Supreme Court decision Cohens v. Virginia, written by Chief Justice John Marshall:

"The People made the Constitution and the People can unmake it. It is a creature of their will and lives only by their will".

These days, that quote sometimes keeps me awake at night.

JRC

I've searched every link I can access and see no reference concerning President Obama being invited to speak at Liberty University during any time period.

@JRC
I understand your concerns, and they are appropriate. The quote you mentioned is the reason why the obsession of christians with first amendment rights and the constitution is misplaced. What you say is correct, the principles of the enlightenment affected the framing of the constitution and so there continues to be endless debate over whether the constitution was actually based on christian principles. It would be more appropriate for christians to look at the way that ideas emanating from the bible have influenced not just America, but civilization as a whole. Change will come, but the final standard for christians should not be the constitution, but the revelation that we get from the scriptures. It is God who at sundry times and in divers places made himslef known to the prohets of old, disclosed even greater details of Himself through His Son, and building upon this, generations later can continue to learn and transcend the temporal cultural ideas of the recent past and progress to concepts and understandings not attained before. This makes the case for evangelism even more urgent. The church will not be protected by fighting simply for a constitution that may change, but for principles that transcend the constitution, based upon the revelation of God.

@Welby Warner: whether the constitution was actually based on christian principles.

What bothers me about even asking this question is that it begs a previous question about what "Christian principles" are. I think that when most conservative evangelicals, present company excepted, talk about "Christian principles", they blithely assume that the "Christian principles" as conceived by the Founders and Framers are identical to "Christian principles" as conceived by contemporary conservative evangelicals. This is demonstrably not the case, and the reason it is not the case is because, even among those Founders and Framers who were orthodox Christians -- which was by no means all, BTW -- their concept / definition of what counts as "Christian principles" was deeply and profoundly shaped by the Enlightenment.

Under an Enlightenment understanding, even religious passions were to be under the strict tutelage of Reason. This belief culminated in 1793 -- 10 years after the Treaty of Paris officially ending the Revolutionary War, 4 years after the Constitution was ratified, 2 years after the Bill of Rights was ratified -- this belief in the primacy of Reason was elegantly summed up by Immanuel Kant in his Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone.

If there were such a thing as a "constitution" governing the Enlightenment conception of the relationship between Reason and Religion, Kant's Limits would be it. Even those Founders and Framers who were orthodox Christians, Kant would have said little, probably nothing, they would object to. But I can guarantee you, based on my experience as a former conservative evangelical and more recently as a CT reader, there is very little that a contemporary orthodox conservative evangelical would not object to.

The Founders and the Framers, both Christian and non-, believed devoutly and passionately in a principle that most of us, religious and non-, have long since lost sight of: if the United States is to remain a latitudinarian, constitutionally governed republic, we must allow people the freedom to be "privately immoral", to make their own (what some would regard as) mistakes, and to accommiodate a broad spectrum of both conduct and opinions that some would consider wrong or even degenerate. Constitutional government was never intended to protect people from themselves -- and least of all to empower some to protect others from themselves, however compelling the religiously derived passion may be for the "protectors" to protect the "protectees".

You speak of the "revelation [Christians] get from the Scriptures" superseding the Constitution. That begs a giant question: whose interpretation of the Scriptures? At last count, there were ... I forget how many, but in the high triple digits ... of Protestant denominations, each with its own ostensibly Spirit-derived interpretation of the Bible, often at diametric variance with others' interpretations.

In this kind of situation, who would be empowered to decide which version, which interpretation of the Bible to use in governing the society if the Constitution were superseded? Without some supervening authority to settle that interpretation issue, the only recourse would be brute, naked force.

We "Euro-centric" folks have seen that movie before. I mean the movie where there is a multiplicity of interpretations of the Bible, each with its own claim to be the governing paradigm of society, but with no authority to decide among them. That particular movie is called "the 16th and 17th centuries", and the result was bodies piled high enough to blot out the sun (think, e.g., "Thirty Years War"). The abbatoir didn't even begin to close until the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.

That is what frightens me when people begin to talk about the Bible being a higher authority than the Constitution. Implicit in that belief is both an ignorance of, and a return to, a bloody past we are well rid of, where there were no constraining or moderating influences on religious passion. We (Americans and Europeans) got out of that situation, repudiated it, and founded systems of constitutional, secular, religion-neutral government based on that very renunciation. Yet these days, it seems that conservative evangelical Christians apparently want to turn the clock back to that state of affairs. They should have taken better notes in the lecture sections of Western Civilization 101.

How we govern our passions -- economic, political, religious, even sexual -- how we govern our passions determines whether, as Chief Justice Marshall says, we "make" or "unmake" the Constituion. If we, willy-nilly and even with the best of intentions, choose the latter, we will all lose, even Christians.

JRC

@gayle

Regarding President Obama being invited to speak at Liberty, try http://www.liberty.edu/index.cfm?PID=18495&mid=37253

It is amusing reading these comments aftert Romney's speech at Liberty University has been widely commended, and polls show that about 80% of Evangelical Christians support him for President.

The graduates of LU are still just as Christian as they ever were, but they have also learned that a person who has a distinctive religious faith can also say things that they agree with. Welcome to the real world, where we must learn to work and serve with people that we disagree with on all sorts of matters. We must make communities with people of all religions.

Mitt Romney served four years as governor of Massachusetts, but he did not make Mormonism the official religion of that state, or restrict the religious liberties of any Catholic or Protestant. No doubt he would be gratified if people would harbor less animosity toward his own religious affiliation, which has taught him to be an upstanding contributor to the nation and a faithful husband and father. He works well with people of all religious faiths, and asks only that his own choice be respected as he respects theirs. Those who want to have a nation that is of, by and for Evangelicals only do not want the United States of America.

And by the way, if you want to pronounce on what Mormons believe, you should put in some time actually studying from someone who is a Mormon, not from people who get paid for spreading distorted gossip. If you ever read the Mormon "Articles of Faith" you would learn that (1) Mormons "believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost." Mormons are social trinitarians, like many Protestants, since they recognize that the mind-bending logical impossibilities of certain versions of the Nicene Creed are not in fact either remembered or understood correctly by most people of any church, and when they are asked to explain what it means they often fall back into various interpretations that were long ago condemned as heresies, such as Docetism or Modalism. Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God incarnate through the unique process of his birth to the virgin, Mary. Mormons believe that Christ is the Jehovah who pronounced the Ten Commandments form the summit of Mount Sinai and gave visions to Isaiah and Daniel.