Romney Addresses Values Voter Summit After Bill Bennet Defends Him Against Bigotry

Bookmark and Share  Today Mitt Romney took to the podium at the Values Voters Summit and delivered a speech that gave all whom call themselves Christians plenty of reasons to vote for him.  Romney’s speech came a day after Southern Baptist Convention leader Robert Jeffress, introduced Texas Governor Rick Perry at the Values Voters Summit and then proceeded to unleash extraordinarily unchristian-like conduct through bigoted statements that condemned Mormonism and disqualified Mitt Romney as a legitimate presidential candidate because he is a Mormon.

Upon hearing these statements, White House 2012 posted a scathing editorial which among other things, denounced Jeffress, suggesting he was anything but Christian in his conduct and attitude and called him a bigot.  The editorial also questioned the sincerity of Governor Rick Perry’s attempt to disassociate himself from Jeffress, who his campaign agreed to let introduce him at the Value Voters Summit.  In that post White House 2012 also called upon Governor Perry to not just distance himself from Jeffress, but to repudiate him for his bigotry.

I continue to stand behind this position.  It is a position that I have seen few other forums covering the Republican presidential nomination contest take.  For a while I was beginning to think that I was alone in  my harsh judgment of Jeffress.  Such loneliness left me with a feeling of great disappointment in my Party.  As I stated in the original post;

“In this day and age, for Americans to hold prejudices against a political leader because of their faith, is nothing other than an example of backwards thinking and a contradiction to the very constitutional principles that the G.O.P. is trying to stress the need for our nation to return to.”

To think that I was alone in that belief within the G.O.P., left me angry.

That is until today.

Prior to Jay Sekulow’s introduction of Mitt Romney, the events emcee, former Reagan Education Secretary and  George H. W. Bush Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Bill Bennett , addressed the remarks made a day earlier by Pastor Jeffress after Rick Perry addressed the gathering the day before [see the video below] .  Bennett called the pastor’s comments “bigotry” and added

“Do not give voice to bigotry,” …… “You stepped on and obscured the words of Perry and Santorum and Cain and Bachmann and everyone else who has spoken here. You did Rick Perry no good sir, in what you had to say.”

Can I hear a hallelujah, praise the Lord, and Amen to that!

I felt redeemed in my disgust with Pastor Jeffress and his anti-Christian remarks and at the same time, Bill Bennett helped redeem my Party.  I applaud him for stepping up to the plate and correcting the record for us all.  And at the same time, I must pat myself on the back  among the first to take the position which I did, a position that Bill Bennett happened to echo when he stated that the words which Pastor Jeffress spoke, did nothing to help his Rick Perry, his chosen candidate for President.

I presented the same argument when I wrote;

 “Jeffress did little to win over any converts to Perry.”

 Soon after Bennett spoke, Mitt Romney followed, and  stated;

“And how ’bout that Bill Bennett?  He really hit that out of the ballpark.”

After that, Romney proceeded to present a case which did not allow for any Christian to legitimately question Romney’s committment to faith, values, morals, and Christian principles.  He called for everything from the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and defunding planned parenthood, to reaffirming marriage as that of a union strictly between a man and a woman, and for our government’s need to respect religious values.  And he did so in a presentation that was relaxed, laced with mild injections of appropriate humor, and also outlined his presidential agenda beyond social issues.  In it’s entireity, Romney’s speech was articulate, convincing and a presentation of a strong case for his being our next Commander-in -Chief  [see the complete speech below this post].

Unfortunately though, the religious intolerance and bigotry of people like Pastor Jeffress was something which existed and among far too many of those attending this celebration of Christian values.  While those who possess the ugly prejudices which use religion to divide people rather than unite them were in the minority, the few that do subscribe to such intolerable conduct had often received levels of visibility that were distasteful representations of the Family Research Council which holds the annual Values Voters Summit.   For that reason, Romney found a legitimate need to allude to his opening references to bigotry, towards the end of his speech.

Scheduled to speak after Romney, was Bryan Fischer, a director at the American Family Association.  In the past, Fischer claimed that Mormons and Muslims have “a completely different definition of who Christ is” than the founding fathers did, and therefore, as a result,  do not deserve First Amendment protections.    That prompted Romney to note

“Now one more thing.  Our values are noble as citizens. And they strengthen the nation.  We should remember that decency and civility are values too.  One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line I think.”

And in a direct reference to Fischer’s call to deny Mormons and Muslims their rights, Romney stated;

“Poisonous language does not advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind. The blessings of faith carry the responsibility of civil and respectful debate.”

He added;

“The task before us is to focus on the conservative beliefs and the values that unite us – let no agenda  narrow our vision or drive us apart.”

It is both ironic and a shame that Mitt Romney, a Mormon, had to waste time pointing these things out to Christians. The shame is that Christians should be well aware of the point he made.  The irony is that a man of the very religion Christians are claiming is not Christian, is espousing the Christian values that some of them are not.    The whole incident helped to demonstrate to me that while Romney has changed his position on about three issues throughout his adult life, unlike some Christians who are inconsistent with their own values, Mitt Romney at least practices what he preaches.  For that reason, I am more than proud to disclose that I am moving closer to endorsing Mitt Romney for President.

With Daniels, Ryan, Pence, and Palin out, I am slowly returning to the confidence I had when I endorsed Mitt Romney over the false prophet Huckabee and the false Republican McCain in 2008.   I am close but I am not there yet.  I want to be sure that Republican nominee earns my vote.  As such, I am inclined to still give Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum the chance to do that.  All three of these candidates have served the conservative and/or represent the conservative admirably and have already earned my respect.  If any of them can prove to me that they would be a better candidate and conservative Commander-in-Chief than Mitt Romney, than  I will accept as the better candidate and support them until the end.

For now though, I will await for Governor Perry to do the right thing and like Bill Bennett, denounce his friend and political supporter Pastor Robert Jeffress for his bigotry and injection of hate in to the Republican presidential contest.  As I have indicated on a previous occasion.  This is Rick Perry’s Jeremiah Wright moment.

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Rick Perry’s Jeremiah Wright Moment

Bookmark and Share On Friday afternoon, at a meeting of the annual Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C.,  Texas Governor Rick Perry found himself involved in a controversy not of his own doing.  Instead it was the man who introduced him to the evangelical audience that brought the controversy on  to Rick Perry.

At around 2:30 in the afternoon, in his introduction of Perry, Southern Baptist Convention leader Robert Jeffress, who recently endorsed the Governor, described Perry as “the most pro-life governor in the United States of America.” He also touched upon the gaffes made by Perry in the last debate by saying, “do we want a candidate whois skilled in rhetoric, or one who is skilled in leadership?”.  He went on to call him “a committed follower of Christ.”

But 45 minutes later, when speaking to reporters, Jeffress told reporters that Mormonism is a “cult” and that voting for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney would “give credibility to a cult”.  He also stated that he endorsed Perry only as an individual, and that he would not tell his church members how to vote. But he further stated that he is planning to give a sermon this Sunday in which he talks about “how a  Christian should vote.” Jeffress added that among the criteria is that the person they vote for be a Christian.

According to a live blogger at the summit reporting for the Washington Post, Jeffress also told reporters that many evangelicals were afraid to talk about Mormonism but would have a hard time voting for a Mormon candidate.

At the same time Jeffress also confessed that as a pastor he was “not nearly as concerned about a candidate’s record on fiscal issues or immigration issues” as he is with their social conservative bona fides.

That however is a view which contradicts the political realities of the 2012 election. And as demonstrated by the highly motivated TEA movement, is not the most important aspect that they are seeking in a candidate.  In fact for many of them, it is just the opposite.  They are looking more for a Republican candidate who while having moral values, will stay out of people’s personal lives.

That fact was not missed by Governor Perry.  For he delivered a speech that focused less on faith and more on his record of job creation.

Despite the fact that the group he was addressing was gathered together to celebrate the fundamentals of the Christian faith and socially conservative values, Perry chose to make the point that he was running on a message of economic recovery.  Such was most likely a tactical campaign decision based on an attempt to not allow rivals to paint him as a religious fanatic who would take the same priorities as Jeffress, to
Washington in 2013.

Ironically though, the remarks made by Jeffress did little to help his endorsed presidential candidate.  In fact, Jeffress only did more to hurt Perry.

Evangelicals have no problem with Rick Perry.  They know all that Jeffress tried to convey to them about Perry at the Values Voters Summit.  However, Perry will have a problem with voters who are leery of having a President focused more on social issues than the economic and foreign affairs issues that the office of President was designed to addressed and which are in desperate need of being addressed properly.  For those people, Jeffress did little to win over any converts to Perry.   And at the same time, he pushed a very sensitive button regarding religious tolerance and bigotry.

But Jeffress is probably less concerned with getting Rick Perry elected than he is with selling a new book that he has coming out.

For his part, after Jeffress made his off the cuff remarks, Rick Perry had his campaign distanced the him from Jeffress.  They noted that it was the organizers of Values Voters Summit that chose Jeffress to introduce the Texas governor, not the campaign. However it was later confirmed that Perry approved of having Jeffress introduce him.  Based upon Jeffress’ longstanding and well publicized history of religious intolerance, Rick Perry should never have allowed Jeffress to have the opportunity to be an representative of Perry’s supporters.  Allowing Jeffress to introdcue him was indeed a big mistake.  Either that or Perry does not see much wrong with Jeffress’ intolernace and bigotry.

Perry spokesman Robert Black did released a statement that read “The governor does not believe Mormonism is a cult. He is not in the business of judging people. That’s God’s job.”

Whether that is true or not, no one can’t know for sure.  All we can do is take Perry at his word.  But interestingly enough the words that Jeffress speak do happen to be suspiciously scripted.

According to CBS, during Jeffress’ post Perry speech comments, he claimed “I did not talk about my Mormon views” with Perry, and added, “I’m not insinuating that the governor shares those at all — he may not.” described himself as only an acquaintance of Perry’s.  “I did not talk about my Mormon views” with Perry.   He continued, “I’m not insinuating that the governor shares those at all — he may not.”

Jeffress then said the following words which rang some alarm bells with me;

 “I haven’t gone coyote hunting with him,”.

They were the very same seemingly unrehearsed words he spoke in an MSNBC interview  on August 14th  [see the interview below] .  Personally, it sounds to me as though there is a lot more coordination between Jeffress and Perry’s campaign than some are willing to admit.

In another interview, this one on Fox News Live, back in June of this year, Jeffress expressed his disappointment in Mike Huckabee’s decision not to run for President.  He also stated that without Huckabee in the race, Chrsitians may be faced with having to hold their noses and vote for the lesser of two evils.  Jeffress then claimed  to being non-partisan and then professed that he is  only concerned with “the next President being committed to eliminating the tide of un-Godliness and evil that is sweeping our country”.  He even admits  “while Romney may make a good President”,  but adds, “we better understand that if we vote for Mitt Romney we are not voting for a Christian”. 

Observe the video for yourself.  I believe you will find this religious leader to be preaching a level bigotry that is so obvious, that is actually offensive.  I can only say that thank God most true Chrsitians are not as ignorant, bigotted, and intolerant as Robert Jeffress is.  And when I write “intolerant”, I do not mean it in the politically correct sense which is to deny the truth.  I mean it in the sense of trying to defy logic and closing doors based upon perceptions, not actual facts.

 The only way for Rick Perry to really nip this in the bud is to do more than distance himself from Jefresss.  In many ways this could be Rick Perry’s Jeremiah Wright moment.  That is why Perry needs to denounce Jeffress for his prejudices and defend Mitt Romney for having what may be religious differences but are most certainly Christian values.  If he does do not do so, Mitt Romney could turn what initially seems to be a relatively minor verbal hiccups, into a major issue that he could turn around to his advantage.

In this day and age, for Americans to hold prejudices against a political leader because of their faith, is nothing other than an example of backwards thinking and a contradiction to the very constitutional principles that the G.O.P. is trying to stress the need for our nation to return to.

As for Robert Jeffress, I am sorry to say this, but he is an ass.

I say so not neccessarily because of his beliefs but because of his obvious insincerity and the mixed messages that he as a religious leader, sends.  Personally, I think he is more concerned with selling his new book than he is with either whom our next President is, or Jesus.

But how does Mitt Romney feel about it all?  We may get the chance to find that out on Saturday, when Mitt is scheduled to address the Values Voters Summit himself.  His approach to the evangelicals gathered there will be quite interesting, especially in light of the assault made upon him and his faith by Perry supporter Robert Jeffries.

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