Unsolicited Advice: What should Mitt Romney say at Liberty University?
Mitt Romney will address Liberty University students on Saturday.
May 11th, 2012
12:34 PM ET

Unsolicited Advice: What should Mitt Romney say at Liberty University?

We asked a couple of Christian college presidents to give some unsolicited advice to Mitt Romney ahead of his commencement speech at Liberty University on Saturday. The school, founded by Jerry Falwell, will offer Romney a big "evangelical moment." Here's how the leaders responded:

Philip Ryken is president of Wheaton College. 

Good leaders put other people first. So I would encourage Romney to see this commencement address more as an opportunity to serve the students of Liberty University than as a chance to advance his presidential campaign.

Today’s Christian college graduates are hopeful but uneasy. They feel more or less ready to take on the world, but they worry about finding good jobs, paying off their debts and leading lives that really make a difference.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

College students also value authenticity. What they are most likely to remember from a commencement address is not a policy statement but something personal. So I would encourage Romney to give a message that is partly drawn from his own experience of education, family, work and public service.

Evangelical students care as much about the needs of the world as they do about their own circumstances (or at least they ought to). They want to know what they can do to protect human life, reduce armed conflict, rescue orphans, feed the poor, care for creation, safeguard people of faith from religious persecution and bring an end to human trafficking.

When it comes to the needs of our own country, evangelicals have a growing concern for the protection of religious liberty. Here I would give Romney the same advice that I offered in a letter to President Obama when the White House asked for comments on the health insurance mandate: promote religious liberty as a first and fundamental freedom.

Religious institutions like Wheaton College and Liberty University have the constitutionally protected freedom to practice our Christian convictions. As president, how would Romney defend this freedom with regard to hiring practices, health care and human sexuality?

Despite our many theological differences, these are areas where Mormons and evangelicals ought to be in strong agreement: life, family and the protection of religious liberty.


R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

At Liberty University, Romney faces the opportunity to introduce himself to American evangelicals in a whole new way. He is speaking as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, and this represents a crucial moment for his campaign.

As he addresses evangelicals, Romney’s most important goal must be to speak as himself. He should speak of his faith and his convictions. He should identify himself as a Mormon whose worldview is shaped by his faith.

He should draw clear lines from his faith to his political principles, speaking of his concern for the culture, marriage, the family and the future of our nation. He should speak without hesitation, explaining how he arrived at his most important political and moral convictions.

He should not try to bridge the theological gulf that separates Mormons from evangelical Christians, but he should point directly to common concerns and shared convictions about the crucial issues facing our nation. He should acknowledge the fact that he is a Mormon and that he has taken his faith seriously as it informs his worldview. Evangelicals respect an honest statement of theological difference, for we take theology seriously.

He should remind the audience at Liberty University that he is not running to be their preacher but to be their president. He should speak to shared political and policy concerns, making clear the fact that his policies emerge from a deep reservoir of commitment.

The governor will serve himself and his campaign well by telling evangelicals his story, understanding that it is very different from their story. Like most Americans, evangelicals would choose, if possible, to elect one of their own.

Nevertheless, evangelicals have demonstrated a readiness to vote for serious candidates who represent very different theological understandings but share a common set of concerns for the nation, rooted in an overlapping of worldviews.

If Romney seizes the moment at Liberty University, he will make history for himself, for his campaign and for the nation.

The opinions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of the authors.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Christianity • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Ted

    Why not set up the "Economy" a "Tax Charity". Let the wealthy who donate to charities decide if the health of the economy is a better ROI for them than any of the other charities. Perhaps, just perhaps, they may find it more financially beneficial in the long term for them to have a stronger economy than the benefits of a tax deduction to a traditional charity (not that they traditional charities are not deserving). Those that are less than wealthy, who feel financially secure, may also want to make a donation in the names of their children/grand children. Or perhaps they want to "Will" their assets to the future of the country that gave them a life worthy of a World Leading Nation.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  2. kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    June 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

      click the report abuse link to get rid of this TROLL, hopefully soon they'll block their IP address so they can't post this garbage anymore!

      June 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    May 13, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!.*!

      May 13, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  4. Tyrone

    Go and sin no more

    May 12, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  5. Where'sAlllTheBelievers

    Preachers, ministers, etc. should not EVER use the pulpit to take up this issue. I want to hear them talking about the fruits of the spirit, the righteousness of our Lord, the glorification of the spirit and the teachings of the Angel of Light who was NOT some pansy assed wimp who went around telling everyone it was okay to live any way they chose. He wasn't sent to earth to justify vices, he was sent to teach the virtues. He was not tolerant of sinners who defiled his father's home and had no problem overturning the money changers tables in the Temple declaring in pain and anger "THIS IS MY FATHER'S HOUSE!"

    May 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  6. mswinston

    Well, it is a little late now, as he has already given his speech (I didn't get a chance to listen, however). What I would have spoken to is the responsibility of students to care for the poor, the sick, those without health insurance, the seniors whom the Republicans wish to strip of Meals on Wheels funding, the school children whom the Republicans want to deny access to the school lunch program though reducing the block grants to the state. Liberty University has no relationship to a real university however, as it is an indoctrination center where parents send their children to be "protected" from ideas that differ from their own.

    May 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  7. Tim

    Hitler was not a Christian. Holy Cow, I can't believe people are still using that argument.

    May 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • momoya

      Hitler was a christian, but there's no argument there.

      May 12, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Hitchens

      Hitler was a christian like momoya was a christian which is to say neither was ever a christian.

      May 12, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • momoya

      Nobody is a christian because there's no Holy Ghost to do any "indwelling.". People are only CONVINCED that they are christian, but they are as deluded as all other god believers who are convinced of their particular god-myth.

      May 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  8. Tim

    What amazes to me is the that people like satan, Tom Tom the pipers son, and madardax, bother trolling these stories. You make fun of some as not having the intellegence to hold down a real job but yet you demonstrate the same sense. Arguing and poking fun at those that don't believe like you do. I know, I know you don't believe anything. Truth is, you have to come to these threads again and again in attempt to give your worldview conviction some sort of validation. It's not good enough for you to just let the facts tell their story. No, you are in fact evangelists of your worldview. Which is fine, but if your belief system is in fact superior than you should have more to say. I'm mean come on, you do have intellegent well thought out reasons for your unbelief don't you? Than use those instead of name calling. Don't demonstrate that you know nothing like the bully who is nothing but needs to bully so no one ever knows. By your statements you know as much truth about Christianity as the "long pole" fisherman guy knows about unbelief. You validate your point better by at least telling people the truth. And if they are too dumb or too steeped to hear you, than so be it. What do you have to prove. Oh, and for the guy who was chidding the other guy telling him to keep religion out of politics...this is a news story about religious men talking about politics...so maybe you are commenting on the wrong thread or you never read the article and just went strait to the comment thread

    May 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • momoya

      You're confounded, Tim.. Atheists don't think the way you assume, and they don't do many of the things you claim that they do.. Perhaps you need to communicate more forthrightly with atheists you enjoy speaking with instead of just presuming about atheists you don't enjoy.

      May 12, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  9. Reality

    One more time for the Liberty students who missed this on p.1:

    Dear Liberty students:

    – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

    Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

    Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

    The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

    1a. (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
    1b. (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

    Followed by:
    One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
    Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
    The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
    Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
    IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

    Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

    May 12, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • justin opinion

      Yes, not having se-x is the most reliable way to avoid pregnancy.

      Is that the whole point of your extensive and exhaustive research? You should have just asked anyone, it would have saved you a lot of time.

      May 12, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Reality

      The commentary was a reminder to practice safe se-x if you are engaging in said activity and the brutal effects if you do not.

      May 13, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  10. TYPICAL atheist's logic

    Atheists are like a fishermen who have been competing to hit the ocean floor using their long poles but failed. They decided to connect all their long poles altogether and made the last attempt but fail yet. All of them went back to the shore frustrated, telling all people that "ocean like beer in a bar, is bottomless".

    May 12, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • AGuest9

      You haven't the slightest clue.

      May 12, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • mandarax

      Wow, you understand neither fishing nor nonbelief.

      May 12, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • justin opinion

      Theist are like children, when they don't understand something, they just make up some completely off topic and totally bizarre story.

      May 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • momoya

      What a stupid post.. It doesn't even work as an idea, much less the metaphor intended.. Typical christian logic.

      May 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  11. just sayin

    God bless

    May 12, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  12. just sayin

    What Romney should say = "I repent of my sins, and accept Jesus Christ as my Savior"

    May 12, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • mandarax

      In other words, "i'm sorry that I adhered to a set of absurd tales of magical ancestors that I was born into, I repent of my sins and accept a new set of absurd tales of magical ancestors that you were born into."

      May 12, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • just sayin

      The statement did not require your false interpretation. God bless

      May 12, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    May 12, 2012 at 6:19 am |


    May 12, 2012 at 2:11 am |
  15. Steve

    I do believe Romney should bring back slavery. All too often a certain group of people complain about reparations and how they're owed for this and that, and do they work for a living? Nope. So, bring back slavery. If they want to be paid for something, put 'em to work. It'll lower unemployment rates and fix one of our largest problems. Oh, and stop letting them breed. It's disgusting just to think about them doing it.

    May 12, 2012 at 1:31 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.