John F. Kennedy spoke to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on Sept. 12, 1960, and made a powerful case that his administration would be neutral on matters of faith, hoping to assuage fears that his Roman Catholicism would be a problem in the White House. This week, Mitt Romney will also travel to Texas for a very similar reason.
Mr. Romney plans to give the address, to be called Faith in America, at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Tex., 80 miles from Houston, the site of Kennedy’s speech. His campaign is calling it an opportunity for him to “share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation and how the governor’s own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected.” […]
Suspicions about Mr. Romney’s Mormon beliefs, which many conservative Christians consider to be heretical, have dogged his candidacy since it began, with many polls showing that large numbers of Americans would not vote for a Mormon candidate. The announcement comes a week after Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor whose rise in the polls in Iowa has been fueled by evangelical Christians, began running a television advertisement that describes him as a “Christian leader,” which some viewed as a jab at Mr. Romney.
A senior Romney campaign official said the address is “not going to be a lesson in Mormon doctrine” but rather “an open discussion of how important and critical faith has been and is in Romney’s life” and “how faith is what shapes our values.”
This idea is almost certainly going to fail -- for political and theological reasons.