This was such a big hit yesterday that I thought I’d provide the conclusion. (Actually, I’m travelling to Kauai all day today, so I don’t have time to write anything else.)
Mitt’s speech, continued:
With that said, let me share the Twelfth Article of Faith with you.
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
This is a principle of far-reaching significance. When my father ran for president, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had fewer than three million members in total. Today, there are more than twelve million members all across the world, and, in the past decade, the Church reached a significant milestone: the majority of Latter-day Saints now live outside of the United States. As the Church expands, it finds itself in the enviable position of having to deal with the challenges associated with its phenomenal growth. That means adapting to whole host of different cultures, governments, and societal mores. In every instance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages its members to be good citizens and work within the boundaries of the law.
As the church has grown here in the United States, more and more people find themselves with friends, neighbors, business associates, or acquaintances that are Mormons. No matter what they may or may not know about specific church doctrines, they do know that Mormons, on the whole, are decent, law-abiding patriots who love their country. This isn’t a coincidence. From a very early age, members of my faith are taught to respect and uphold the law of the land.
I should also note that the Church maintains a strict policy of political neutrality. Church leaders do not endorse political candidates, and church buildings are not permitted to be used for any political purpose. However, the Church does encourage its members to be involved in the political process and elect people who best represent their ideas of good government. What those ideas are can vary widely from Mormon to Mormon.
If you doubt that, you need only look to the current reality in Washington DC. Arguably the most powerful elected Mormon official currently in office is Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader. He is an active, committed Latter-day Saint. We are members of the same church. Yet we are not members of the same political party, and we most assuredly do not have the same ideas of what constitutes good government. Senator Reid is a living example of the fact that Latter-day Saints do not adhere to a single political ideology.
The Thirteenth Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is fairly lengthy when compared to the previous twelve, but it summarizes the practical aspects of my faith in relatively few words. It says:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Whatever your religious doctrines may be, I think the Thirteenth Article of Faith encompasses the efforts of all people of goodwill. The United States of America respects those who are honest and benevolent. This is a country that believes in doing good to all of its citizens, and in seeking after that which is virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy. If you look to find what aspects of my faith will influence how I will govern, you need look no further than the 13th Article of Faith.
There may be some within the sound of my voice who remain skeptical. After all, there is still much about the Mormons you don’t know, and there may be something about the Mormons that you do know that makes you skittish about casting your vote for me to serve as your president.
If that describes you, I would submit that you are not unlike the early Latter-day Saints, who were so distrustful of those outside of their faith that they wouldn’t be willing to vote for anyone but one of their own. After what those early Mormons suffered, I cannot say that their distrust was unjustified. Joseph Smith’s presidential candidacy allowed them to have a voice in the process. Yet both the candidate and his supporters recognized that defeat was inevitable.
Well, that was over 150 years ago. Both the church and the country as a whole have a come a long way since then. And even as our population has grown exponentially, the country has gotten smaller in practical terms. We now recognize how foolish it is to live in isolation from those who may look or think differently than we do. I’m not running for president to represent my church. I’m running to represent my country, and if my faith has done anything, it has reinforced the idea that what we have in common is far more powerful than those matters where we may disagree.
There’s something else my faith has taught me. After Joseph Smith died, many assumed that his church would die with him. A prominent newspaper led with the headline “Thus Endeth Mormonism.” Well, it hasn’t ended. But it might have, if Latter-day Saints had decided to give in to despair.
I began this speech with stories of atrocities committed against the early Mormons. There are far more of them that I could cite, and some early Latter-day Saints weren’t willing to let go of them. Smith’s assassination brought the Church to a crossroads. There were cries for revenge and retribution. Some wanted open war. I believe that all of them wanted justice.
Smith’s successor was a very practical man by the name of Brigham Young. And Brigham Young made a decision that essentially ensured that the headline of that newspaper would never come true. He decided to look forward instead of backward. He led his people West, and he left the vengeance to God. As the early Mormon pioneers set out to find a new land where they could rebuild and renew their faith, they penned a hymn that is still sung in Latter-day Saint churches today.
“Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy, wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day. ’
Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell
All is well! All is well!”
They had every reason to mourn. So they rejoiced. They should have had heavy hearts. So their hearts were glad. They looked to the future, and not to the past. And the prospects for the future were eternally bright.
I believe that same spirit can help to renew our country as we go forward together. We face tremendous challenges, but like the pioneers before us, we can wend our way with joy. No matter what your faith, I invite you to join me on this journey. Thank you.