Text of Mitt Romney's commencement address at Liberty University
May 12th, 2012
02:29 PM ET

Text of Mitt Romney's commencement address at Liberty University

Mitt Romney used the platform the commencement address at Liberty University to reach out to the evangelical community and discuss the importance he puts on faith. Per the Romney campaign, here are Romney's prepared remarks:

For the graduates, this moment marks a clear ending and a clear beginning. The task set before you four years ago is now completed in full. To the class of 2012: Well done, and congratulations.

Some of you may have taken a little longer than four years to complete your studies. One graduate has said that he completed his degree in only two terms: Clinton’s and Bush’s.

In some ways, it is fitting that I share this distinction with Truett Cathy. The Romney campaign comes to a sudden stop when we spot a Chick-fil-A. Your chicken sandwiches were our comfort food through the primary season, and there were days that we needed a lot of comforting. So, Truett, thank you and congratulations on your well-deserved honor today.

There are some people here who are even more pleased than the graduates. Those would be the parents. Their years of prayers, devotion, and investment have added up to this joyful achievement. And with credit to Congressman Dick Armey: The American Dream is not owning your own home, it is getting your kids out of the home you own.

Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about life in four-year stretches. And let’s just say that not everybody has achieved as much in these last four years as you have.

That’s a theme for another day. But two observations. First, even though job opportunities are scarce in this economy, it is not for nothing that you have spent this time preparing. Jerry Falwell, Senior, long ago observed that “You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.” America needs your skill and talent. If we take the right course, we will see a resurgence in the American economy that will surprise the world, and that will open new doors of opportunity for those who are prepared as you are.

Of course, what the next four years might hold for me is yet to be determined. But I will say that things are looking up, and I take your kind hospitality today as a sign of good things to come.

I consider it a great life honor to address you today. Your generosity of spirit humbles me. The welcoming spirit of Liberty is a tribute to the gracious Christian example of your founder.

In his 73 years of life, Dr. Falwell left a big mark. For nearly five decades he shared that walk with his good wife Macel. It’s wonderful to see her today. The calling Jerry answered was not an easy one. Today we remember him as a courageous and big-hearted minister of the Gospel who never feared an argument, and never hated an adversary. Jerry deserves the tribute he would have treasured most, as a cheerful, confident champion for Christ.

I will always remember his cheerful good humor and selflessness. Several years ago, in my home, my wife and I were posing for a picture together with him. We wanted him to be in the center of the photo, but he insisted that Ann be in the middle, with he and I on the sides. He explained, by pointing to me and himself, “You see, Christ died between two thieves.”

Maybe the most confident step Jerry ever took was to open the doors of this school 41 years ago.

He believed that Liberty might become one of the most respected Christian universities anywhere on earth. And so it is today.

He believed, even when the first graduating class consisted of 13 students, that year after year young Christians would be drawn to such a university in ever-greater numbers. And here you are.

Today, thanks to what you have gained here, you leave Liberty with conviction and confidence as your armor. You know what you believe. You know who you are. And you know Whom you will serve. Not all colleges instill that kind of confidence, but it will be among the most prized qualities from your education here. Moral certainty, clear standards, and a commitment to spiritual ideals will set you apart in a world that searches for meaning.

That said, your values will not always be the object of public admiration. In fact, the more you live by your beliefs, the more you will endure the censure of the world. Christianity is not the faith of the complacent, the comfortable or of the timid. It demands and creates heroic souls like Wesley, Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, John Paul the Second, and Billy Graham. Each showed, in their own way, the relentless and powerful influence of the message of Jesus Christ. May that be your guide.

You enter a world with civilizations and economies that are far from equal. Harvard historian David Landes devoted his lifelong study to understanding why some civilizations rise, and why others falter. His conclusion: Culture makes all the difference. Not natural resources, not geography, but what people believe and value. Central to America’s rise to global leadership is our Judeo-Christian tradition, with its vision of the goodness and possibilities of every life.

The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the pre-eminence of the family.

The power of these values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study that Senator Rick Santorum brought to my attention. For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%. But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor. Culture matters.

As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.

The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of debate. It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with. Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government.

But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man. Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.

Religious freedom opens a door for Americans that is closed to too many others around the world. But whether we walk through that door, and what we do with our lives after we do, is up to us.

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.

And, in the way of lessons learned, by hitting the mark or by falling short, I can tell you this much for sure.

All that you have heard here at Liberty University – about trusting in God and in His purpose for each of us–makes for more than a good sermon. It makes for a good life. So many things compete for our attention and devotion. That doesn’t stop as you get older. We are all prone, at various turns, to treat the trivial things as all-important, the all-important things as trivial, and little by little lose sight of the one thing that endures forever.

No person I have ever met, not even the most righteous or pure of heart, has gone without those times when faith recedes in the busy-ness of life. It’s normal, and sometimes even the smallest glimpses of the Lord’s work in our lives can reawaken our hearts. They bring us back to ourselves – and, better still, to something far greater than ourselves.

What we have, what we wish we had – ambitions fulfilled, ambitions disappointed … investments won, investments lost … elections won, elections lost – these things may occupy our attention, but they do not define us. And each of them is subject to the vagaries and serendipities of life. Our relationship with our Maker, however, depends on none of this. It is entirely in our control, for He is always at the door, and knocks for us. Our worldly successes cannot be guaranteed, but our ability to achieve spiritual success is entirely up to us, thanks to the grace of God. The best advice I know is to give those worldly things your best but never your all, reserving the ultimate hope for the only one who can grant it.

Many a preacher has advised the same, but few as memorably as Martin Luther King, Jr. “As a young man,” he said, “with most of my life ahead of me, I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow. But to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

In this life, the commitments that come closest to forever are those of family.

My Dad, George Romney, was a CEO, a governor, and a member of the President’s Cabinet. My wife Ann asked him once, “What was your greatest accomplishment?” Without a moment’s pause, he said, “Raising our four kids.”

Ann and I feel the same way about our family. I have never once regretted missing a business opportunity so that I could be with my children and grandchildren. Among the things in life that can be put off, being there when it matters most isn’t one of them.

As C.S. Lewis is said to have remarked, “The home is the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose, and that is to support the ultimate career.”

Promotions often mark the high points in a career, and I hope I haven’t seen my last. But sometimes the high points come in unexpected ways. I was asked to help rescue the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

I’m embarrassed now to recall that when this opportunity was first presented to me, I dismissed it out of hand. I was busy, I was doing well, and, by the way, my lack of athletic prowess did not make the Olympics a logical step. In fact, after I had accepted the position, my oldest son called me and said, “Dad, I’ve spoken to the brothers. We saw the paper this morning. We want you to know there’s not a circumstance we could have conceived of that would put you on the front page of the sports section.”

The Olympics were not a logical choice, but it was one of the best and most fulfilling choices of my life. Opportunities for you to serve in meaningful ways may come at inconvenient times, but that will make them all the more precious.

People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology. Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview. The best case for this is always the example of Christian men and women working and witnessing to carry God’s love into every life – people like the late Chuck Colson.

Not long ago, Chuck recounted a story from his days just after leaving prison. He was assured by people of influence that, even with a prison record, a man with his connections and experience could still live very comfortably. They would make some calls, get Chuck situated, and set him up once again as an important man. His choice at that crossroads would make him, instead, a great man.

The call to service is one of the fundamental elements of our national character. It has motivated every great movement of conscience that this hopeful, fair-minded country of ours has ever seen. Sometimes, as Dr. Viktor Frankl observed in a book for the ages, it is not a matter of what we are asking of life, but rather what life is asking of us. How often the answer to our own troubles is to help others with theirs.

In all of these things – faith, family, work, and service –the choices we make as Americans are, in other places, not choices at all. For so many on this earth, life is filled with orders, not options, right down to where they live, the work they do, and how many children the state will permit them to have. All the more reason to be grateful, this and every day, that we live in America, where the talents God gave us may be used in freedom.

At this great Christian institution, you have all learned a thing or two about these gifts and the good purposes they can serve. They are yours to have and yours to share. Sometimes, your Liberty education will set you apart, and always it will help direct your path. And as you now leave, and make for new places near and far, I hope for each one of you that your path will be long and life will be kind.

The ideals that brought you here … the wisdom you gained here … and the friends you found here – may these blessings be with you always, wherever you go.

Thank you all, and God bless you.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Vicki

    Does no one else see the irony in the fact that Romney made this announcment at a place called LIBERTY university? C'mon – true liberty would be the absense of judgement...

    May 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  2. Holly in CA

    I found it quite impressive that Romney would restate his position on marriage in a graduation speech. He deserved that standing ovation.

    May 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  3. Hypatia

    What an trite pedestrian form of evil that man is!

    May 13, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  4. Grammy

    I am ashamed of the people that write this hate here. This is not American. Who taught you this hate? Why do you hate so deep?
    If you dont want to vote for him dont, You posting hate wont change anything but run people like me off. People that are looking for answers. This is just wrong.

    May 13, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  5. AtreayuJah

    I am NO part of this world, and neither should you." Those are the words of Yeshua. And yet, followers of Christendom are arguing over the decisions of this government. Why? If you are a lover of Yahweh God, why are you even delving into worldly politics? If it doesn't affect you, and it shouldn't, then why worry? Here's what irks me. You call yourself a "Christian", and yet your actions and doctrines refute it. Yeshua (Jesus) was not affiliated with any part of politics when he was around. When asked to be King, he turned it down saying that his kingdom was NOT a part of this world. Neither should his followers who claim to love him. True Christian's don't vote because you know that this system and government is overseen by Satan. Christendom holds to Pagan traditions enacted by Constantine and Babylonian gods! Here's a hint..if you want to judge others on their decisions in life, start with yourself and your so-called faith. Stop listening to these money-hungry pastors that go to school to learn the Bible when if you are truly called by Yahweh, then you don't need a theology based college that all preachers and pastors go to. Here's a hint...research! Christmas...pagan, Easter...pagan..the cross...pagan! Yeshua died on a stake NOT a cross. So before you whine about decisions Satan's government makes and you claim yourself as a follower of Yeshua, you need to do your research. You are to be NO PART OF THIS WORLD. You pay back to Ceaser what is Ceaser's (Pay your taxes) and follow the laws of your government, because many laws are guidelines of the ten commandments. Other than that, politics are not of Yahweh. Jesus wouldn't touch politics. PERIOD! Learn your history. Christendom is bloody! The Catholic church, Catholicism, which every other denomination stems from (Reformation) ,are child-molesting cover-ups! You call yourself followers of God? True followers of Yahweh stay out of worldly churches that teach lies. Churches will be destroyed and those inside of her will be destroyed too. The Vatican and the Pope are already under attack because of the secrets coming out about abuse, child-molesting and abortions of pregnant nuns and what they did to the Native Americans. Mormons are a cult as well as Jehovah's Witnesses. Baptists and Protestants are "Sunday" Christians,and these feel-good churches are just that..feel-good. Get out of the churches, study for yourself what the scriptures say. Stop putting money in preachers hands cause they are all businessmen.

    May 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  6. Lol

    The actual translation:
    Blah blah blah blah blah.
    Blah blah blah blah blah.
    Blah blah blah.
    Blah blah.
    Where's my check?

    May 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  7. kevgood

    Romney – "Jesus would have hidden his money in the Cayman Islands. In fact, that is precisely what he did when he landed his spaceship in America."

    May 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    May 13, 2012 at 6:50 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 9:10 am |
  9. Translated text of Romney's speech

    Yes, you distrust me and my religion, you visibly supported anybody but me while the primaries actually had other candidates. You would have voted for a pine tree instead of me if you could have.

    But come November, just remember this: despite how little we like each other, you like the not-white guy even less. And remember: we both hate gays.

    We are united in our hatreds. Vote for me.

    May 13, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • fred

      Well said.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Newsie

      Romney's a fool.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • DoNotWorry

      Very accurate. Goodness, how did you actually remember history as it was being created? The Republicans are rewriting this history as we write. Remember the truth, folks.

      May 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Charlie SheenBoosters

      that was beautiful... Now all we gotta do is pick up that twerp Rubion so we can sweep the mexicans or whatever the hell they are. Then all they have left is the n-n-n-blacks and the socailasts.

      May 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      Actually, the last bit should be: "And remember, you hate gays. I don't, but will happily suppress them if that'll get me your vote. There's very little I wouldn't do to get someone's vote. I have no convictions, but am infinitely ambitious and seek power and wealth for their own sake."

      May 13, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  10. Bible Bob, Knight of Infallibillibabbity

    Well that should win the election for him. As Liberty University goes, so goes the nation. Liberty is America in microcosm.

    By the way, do those vultures circle over Roment everywhere?

    May 13, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  11. intel

    Here's what Jerry Falwell did preach. Mormons aren't Christians. Period. Do a wiki search on the Book of Mormon. You'll see why Jerry was right.

    May 12, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • AGuest9

      It's all BS, so NONE of it really matters.

      May 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • ray

      Instead of reading ABOUT the Book of Mormon, why don't you get a Book of Mormon and read it yourself?

      May 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  12. Reality

    What should have been said but was not:

    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 8:11 pm |
    • DoNotWorry

      Nice information.

      May 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      Once again, Realty feeds the lie that abstinence has a 0% failure rate. SUCCESSFUL abstinence is 100% successful. But successful ANYTHING is 100% successful. It's a flaming tautology. The point is that abstinence programs seem to think that abstinence vows with no back up will be successful in preventing unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STDs. But those vows get broken a lot more often then condoms pop.

      May 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Reality

      From Guttmacher:

      Percentage of women experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)


      Pill (combined)……… 8.7
      Tubal sterilization ……0.7
      Male condom ……….17.4
      Vasectomy…………… 0.2
      IUD (Copper-T)……….1.0

      (Masturbation mono or dual)………. 0

      No method 85.0" (useful for those trying to get pregnant)

      ((Abstinence) 0

      May 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  13. RudyardK

    Romney actually said that Falwell never hated anyone... Except, of course, gays, lesbians, atheists, Catholics, Muslims......

    May 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  14. Voice of Reason

    Garbage in, garbage out, period.

    May 12, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  15. mikstov33

    Election 2012: Obama embraces gay marraige......Romney panders to evangelicals.If it were the other way around, then we would have something to talk about!!!!

    May 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  16. Dawkins


    May 12, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • momoya


      May 12, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      2 Timothy 4:3-4

      3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
      4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.


      May 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • momoya


      May 12, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  17. *frank*

    What an asshole he is.

    May 12, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  18. God's Old Dreamer

    Just another flock of ,,,,, welll,,,,,,,,,,, ahhhhh,,,, parrots just mimicking that which is burrowed into the mindfields brainyards!

    May 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Jill

      Don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent.

      May 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • camp

      hmmm Jill it seems you and a certain tom tom like to use the same verbs...........

      May 12, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Jill

      Verbs are for beans and cameras. Are the focal moon. Don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent.

      May 13, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  19. Gus

    The text of Romney's speech summarized:

    May 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    May 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Anglican

      Yes, prayer, and working to make sure he is not elected.

      May 12, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Hitchens

      Poor leadership is Gods curse on a nation.

      May 13, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • satan

      Poor leadership is the results of voting, not a non existent made up diety. There is no god controlling anything. Your god is a farce. Your god has no power over anyone, it is a complete joke.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:24 am |
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About this blog

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.