Since Grudem is in the tank for Romney, it’s not surprising that he liked his speech:
In some ways, this election is shaping up to be a referendum on the state of Evangelical leadership as much as political leadership. I’ll venture a few comments on Grudem’s analysis:
“But he also said that he thought questions about different doctrines of his or anybody else's faith were out of bounds, they are inappropriate for someone to ask someone as a candidate for president because that's not relevant for his suitability for office. I thought that was a good distinction.”
i) The first problem with this distinction is that it’s clearly overstated. Sometimes doctrinal differences are politically irrelevant, and sometimes they're not. Would Grudem support a Scientologist for high office? Or would that say something important about the candidate’s intellectual discernment? Belonging to a religious cult is a reflection on your powers of judgment.
Would Grudem support a jihadist for high office? Is it "out of bounds” to oppose a jihadist simply because he’s a jihadist?
ii) And why is Romney drawing this distinction in the first place? Because he has to. This is a statement of expediency rather than principle. He doesn’t want his Mormon faith to be held against him. So the whole point of his whole speech was to preempt that objection.
That’s political pragmatism. And pragmatism isn’t always out of place on politics. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that Romney’s speech was an exercise in high-minded statesmanship.
“I was very thankful to see his courage in saying that he wouldn't back down or jettison his personal religious faith just for political convenience. It was important to him, and if people reject him then so be it—that took courage.”
Aside from the wimpy definition of “courage,” this exposes Grudem’s pitiful naïveté. Does he really think, on the eve of the primaries, that Romney could publicly recant his Mormonism?
Everyone knows that he is a Mormon. As such, he has to play the card he dealt himself. It may be a losing hand, but he has to play it as though it were a winning hand. He said this to make himself look like a man of unyielding integrity, and Grudem fell for it.
BTW, don’t you suppose a lot of Mormon businessmen are making contributions to his presidential bid? What would be the financial impact on his campaign chest if he suddenly recanted the Mormon faith? Wouldn’t the donor-pool dry up overnight?
“I thought he was courageous also to say that the state-sponsored religions in Europe did no favor to Europe's churches. He saw the danger of state religion and talked about the empty cathedrals in Europe.”
This is calculating, not courageous. It’s all part of Romney’s endeavor to marginalize the “religious test.” This is just another transparently self-serving attempt to tell us that we’re not supposed to judge him by his religious resumé. He has to say that because he’s a Mormon, and everyone knows he’s a Mormon. From start to finish, Romney is trying to make a virtue out of an onerous necessity.
“If as evangelicals we are going to support the principles on which our nation was founded, then we need to defend the principles of religious liberty. That means that non-evangelicals are not only full citizens but eligible for office as well. I would hate to see us come to the point where we would essentially be saying non-evangelicals are welcome to be citizens but we will never ever allow them to become president.”
i) Of course, that’s the very same argument that Andrew Sullivan uses to justify homosexual marriage. Yet Grudem is a stalwart in the defense of traditional marriage.
ii) Anyone over the age of 34 who’s not a foreigner is “eligible” to run for president. That’s not the issue.
iii) Our nation was never founded on unconditional religious liberty. Not every religious option was a live option at the time the Constitution was ratified.
iv) Opposing a Mormon for office in no way implies that you oppose a non-evangelical for office. You could support a conservative Jew or conservative Catholic for president.