Romney discussed his candidacy and religion today,…. sort of. He mostly made numerous vague statements and managed to brush off comparisons of Mormonism to other Christian groups.
The most rhetorically shrewd part of his address was his mention of freedom:
“Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.”
In other words, you cannot be truly free without religion.
Mormonism prescribes many of these “cannot without religion”–you cannot be truly happy, you cannot be truly free, etc.
Here’s how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views freedom, in the words of LDS General Authority, Elder Enzio Busche:
My dear brothers and sisters, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many new members, specifically when they come from countries other than the United States, learn for the first time the true dimension of the word freedom. Freedom for most people of the world means “freedom from” the absence of malice or pain or suppression. But the freedom that God means when He deals with us goes one step further. He means “freedom to”—the freedom to act in the dignity of our own choice.
Let me summarize this point. Non-Mormons, new Mormons and especially foreigners who are new to the church don’t get the whole truth about freedom. These folk know what they may be free from but not what they’re “free to.” The probability is that American Mormons who are not new to the church know about freedom best.
It’s this concept of “free to” that appears in Romney’s quote as well when he says, “Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God.” But do not be led to think that by “act in the dignity of our own choice,” they mean that we can do whatever we choose. The word dignity is there for a good purpose, and it’s tied in with Jesus Christ (as you will see below).
Also don’t be fooled into thinking that the mighty genius of Romney come up with this concept. The Mormon church has numerous writings on this topic. Here is how freedom to and freedom of choice are defined by Mormons, in the words of the same LDS General Authority, Elder Enzio Busche:
As we open our hearts to the message of God’s truth, as it was restored in our time, we begin to understand why there was, and still is, so much misery, pain, suffering, and even starvation. In the same dimension as we are learning to accept the revealed truth in our own life, our faith in the living Son of God will grow, and therefore we will receive spiritual gifts of heretofore unknown capacity. We will learn that nothing is impossible for those who believe in Jesus Christ. False bondages will be loosened. Narrow thinking born in tragedies of false traditions will disappear.
In conclusion, Romney’s words are almost perfectly in line with his church’s teachings that one cannot be truly free without Jesus Christ, because only religion can open one’s soul to allow communion with God, and release the bondages false traditions keep us under.
For example, if you have a glass of wine with your meal you are not truly free because you allow a false tradition to bond you. If you choose to express your love for someone of the same sex you are not truly free because you chose to bond yourself in something ungodly.
If Romney replaced Jesus Christ in his speech with a generic term of “religion” he did it for political reasons only.
He said, “I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers — I will be true to them and to my beliefs.”
So, if he is to be true to his beliefs he would have to say that Jesus Christ brings freedom (to) , however, that would exclude all other non-Jesus religions from being able to bring freedom (to).
My final conclusion is that Romney is throwing empty, yet Mormon-influenced rhetorical language hoping to create some “ethos of Romney” and convince the religious folk of America that he’s a freedom and religion loving guy, and he’s non-threatening and he just only sees the similarities in people, not the differences.
The notion that freedom and religion can’t exist one without the other is a fabrication stemming from his church’s moral teachings. And his church’s teachings are nothing but an attempt to manipulate the concept of freedom of choice, by saying that Jesus gives one the freedom to choose what Jesus says is right, and that’s the only true freedom.