Joe Lieberman gave an speech at Brigham Young University in Provo Utah in which he spoke about religious liberty in America. You can watch a short clip of his speech below:
Here's my favorite quote from Lieberman's speech:
"Governor Romney must be judged not on the basis of his faith…but on his personal qualities, leadership experience and his ideas for America's future," Lieberman said. "My personal experience from 2000 gives me great confidence that the voter will again reject a (religious) test and show their strong character, their instinctive fairness and steadfast belief in the ideals of the Declaration and the Constitution. And when they do, another barrier may well be broken for another group in America, and the doors of opportunity will thereby open wider for every American."
In another part of his speech, Senator Lieberman explained that the imposing a religious test on a candidate is wrong because it is religious discrimination:
"But … assuming the polls are correct that a minority of people continue to have unease about the Mormon faith, this will also be a Mormon moment of testing," he said. "Hopefully more people … think about how wrong it is to apply a religious test to public office in American and give Gov. Romney a chance."It sounds like I'm endorsing him," Lieberman added. "But I'm just endorsing his right to be judged on his personal qualities and experience and ideals, and not to be discriminated against based on his religion, which is unacceptable in this country."
He also told the students of Brigham Young University, who are mostly members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, that people impose religious tests due to unfamiliarity with that religion and it is up to members of the LDS Church to speak out against religious bigotry and educate people about their faith:
"I would bet you, that whatever that percent of people who said (in public opinion polls) they'd be reluctant to vote for a Mormon candidate for president, I bet they have had little or no real contact with members of the LDS church," the Independent Democrat from Connecticut told the crowd of more than 5,000 at the Marriott Center. "When I hear expressions of bigotry, and you should do the same, don't hesitate to speak up in your own defense, you've got a lot to defend."
Senator Lieberman also explained that Mitt Romney will have to also educate the public about his faith:
"If Governor Romney is nominated, he's going to have to, he's done it a little bit, but he's going to have to educate people about the Mormon faith, and confront it directly and appeal to people's better nature, which is what Kennedy did in 1960," Lieberman said. "(Kennedy) appealed to people to be fair, which is what the country's supposed to be about."
Although Romney and other members of the Church must do more to help the public understand our religion, the American people should not let their unfamiliarity or their theological differences with a religion be the basis of supporting or opposing a candidate. A candidate should be judged on their character, leadership experience and his plans for America's future.
Of course, a candidate's religion can be considered in selecting a President but it cannot be done only on the basis that candidate is a member of that religion or that he holds certain theological beliefs. One can judge a candidate on how his membership and theological beliefs influences his political, social and moral beliefs which is the more important factor in deciding who to support for President.
Its worth pointing out that just because a candidate is a member of a certain religion or is a member of your very own faith doesn't mean he holds the same values and beliefs as you do. A perfect example is Mitt Romney and Harry Reid. Both men are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. However, they do not hold the same values and beliefs about important issues of our day. They do not agree on the size of government, abortion, taxes, war and other important issues.
You will find this to be true in every religion. There are liberal evangelical Christians and conservative ones. There are liberal Jews and conservative Jews. There are liberal Buddhists and conservative Buddhists. There are liberal Catholics and conservative Catholics.
As a result, that is why a candidate cannot be judged on his religion since people of the same faith do not hold the same views and values. That is why a candidate's political experience, character and values are the important factors in supporting a president.