Mitt Romney continues to warm evangelical voters to the idea of a Mormon President, as evidenced by his well-received commencement speech Saturday at Liberty University. But the presumptive GOP nominee has yet to robustly address a key issue of shared passion for evangelicals and Mormons alike: the promotion of international religious freedom.
At Liberty Romney touched on domestic religious freedom concerns, as he has several times during the campaign in response to the Obama administration's new birth control insurance mandate. "It strikes me as odd," Romney told Liberty graduates, "that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with."
Briefly alluding to the grim realities of persecution overseas, Romney reminded his audience that, "Religious freedom opens a door for Americans that is closed to too many others around the world."
At this point in his remarks Romney could have articulated a commitment to helping push that door open beyond America's shores. After all, those "too many others" include the majority of humanity. Under some authoritarian regimes, such as North Korea's, that door is completely and brutally closed. In dozens of countries with weak rule of law, the door opens and closes at the whims of local officials. And in many countries, particularly in the broader Middle East, governments may leave the door at least ajar, but extremist groups and pervasive intolerance effectively block the door to minority faith communities.
Romney comes from one of those minority communities and thus has unique credibility on questions of conscience. Mormonism emerged amidst severe social hostility and still faces more than its fair share of it around ...1
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