Mitt Romney Mentioned the Non-Religious in His Liberty University Address

When Mitt Romney gave the commencement address at Liberty University, he made a not-totally-evil reference to people without religious faith:

Someone once observed that the great drama of Christianity is not a crowd shot, following the movements of collectives or even nations. The drama is always personal, individual, unfolding in one’s own life. We’re not alone in sensing this. Men and women of every faith, and good people with none at all, sincerely strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life.

Ok, so it’s not glowing praise, only the idea that non-religious people, too, can be good. But that’s so abnormal to hear in conservative circles that it qualifies as something worth noting.

Then again, it’s followed by a reference to Rick Warren‘s book… What’s that supposed to suggest? That atheists have a god-given purpose in life?

Anyway, GodVlogger puts this in some context:



About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • @TheGodless

    The fact that Romney thinks enough of Liberty University to give a speech there kind of takes away from any positives in his speech. Liberty University should not be legitimized by the presence of politicians, particularly ones wishing to represent all of America. It shouldnt be overlooked that Romney chose to give speech at a University that preaches denial of evolution, hatred of LGBTs, and pseudo-science.

    • Stev84

       He also made anti-gay remarks in the speech itself

    • JD929

      Speaking at LU seems to be a rite of passage for conservative politicians.  I think Romney is desperate for the support of the fundamentalists, and I suspect that LU didn’t want their standards get in the way of hosting a possible future conservative president.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    The thing that struck me was just that 
    #1) A  Republican presidential candidate even MENTIONS nonbelievers, and 
    #2) that he does so in a FAVORABLE way “… GOOD people with none (no faith) at all sincerely strive to do what is right…”.  
    #3) This is especially notable when you consider all the heat that Obama took for even mentioning nonbelievers a few years ago in his inaugural address. 

    Has the tide started to shift where even Republicans must give at least some ‘lip service’ to nonbelievers? 

    Does he think that ANYONE who wants a secular government would be tempted to vote for HIM just because he makes a non-demonizing reference like this? 

    Lastly, THANKS, Hemant, for posting my video! 

  • Marguerite

    Color me unimpressed. It sounds to me like he’s saying that those of us of no faith at all are striving to do right only because somewhere deep down, we sense the truth of Christianity. Hence the reference to the “great drama of Christianity.” So this seems to be just another way of saying you can’t be good without God– even if you don’t believe in him, people only really do good in the context of “the great drama.” At least that’s apparently Romney’s take on it. I think most of us would disagree.

  • RobMcCune

    Romney is talking up religious tolerance at Liberty University for one reason, he wants evangelical voters to tolerate his religion at the polls. It’s only seven words in a speech where he also said this:

     …there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.

    We’re all equally good, just some are more equal than others.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    That pandering, demagogic chameleon flip-flops more frequently than a toilet valve in a public bathroom. He asks for a show of hands on an issue before he answers any question.  Two miles down the road at another town hall, he’ll say the exact opposite.

    I watched his 2007 Republican Primary speech live, and was chilled when he singled out nonbelievers as the common enemy that he hoped would rally the evangelicals around him, forgiving him for his Mormonism. http://secular.org/blogs/mike-meno/mitt-romney%E2%80%99s-troubling-views-religion-government   The classic demagogue tactic. He’s been waving the flag of his war on the “religion of secularism” ever since.

    I will never EVER trust him.

    • RobMcCune

      His “I’m a theocrat too” speech was for the republican primary, so he totally didn’t mean it now that its the general election.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ northierthanthou

    It’s certainly more than I would have expected from anyone speaking at Liberty university, …but why does non-religion need to be qualified with reassurance that some of us at least are good people?

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger GodVlogger (on YouTube)

      Yeah, I was wondering WHY would he mention non-believers (let alone favorably) when his main audience there is Evangelical Christians. 
      All I could think of is that maybe he was trying to make the Fundies feel like at least he (Romney) is far more ‘Christian’ than the nonbelievers are, and even some 
      nonbelievers are ‘good’, so I must not be so evil (despite my Mormonism, which I will not explicitly mention)… Yeah, it seems like a real stretch to get any benefit for him. 

  • Persephone

    He also stated emphatically that marriage is solely for one man and one woman, so he can just fuck right off.

  • Graeme Taylor

    Romney is a man who will say anything to be elected President of  the U.S.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    now someone needs to ask him if he thinks a purpose-driven life is inherently divine.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    Perhaps he was speaking to all the kids whose parents told them they had to go to a Christian school or get zero help with the cost of their education.  There are many  – you can spot them by their cloak of ineffable sadness. 

  • B-girl

    To me, he was giving a qualifier on the people of no faith, but not qualifying the people of faith;  “Men and Women of every faith…” vs. “…good people with none at all…”.  If you look at the prison population and compare the % of religious to non-religious in comparison to the percentages in the general population, it appears that the religious folks are the ones who should be spoken of with a qualifier of “good” since religious folks make up a larger % of the prison population than they do of the general population.

    • B-girl

       Oh, and an additional note.  Liberty was recently in the running to be given property in a town near me and the local people were pissed.  The did not want that breeding ground for hatred in their peaceful community.


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