The Republican National Convention came to a close Thursday night, featuring a Mormon invocation and Catholic benediction, an acceptance speech from nominee Mitt Romney, musical entertainment, and numerous speeches from politicians, Olympic stars and celebrities across America.
In the evening, the invocation was delivered by former Massachusetts Mormon stake president Kenneth Hutchins as per Romney’s request. Senate Majority Leader John Boehner simply introduced Hutchins by name without mentioning his religious affiliation.
As Hutchins prayed, the room filled with thousands of attendees bowed their heads to join in the brief prayer that spoke mostly of charity to the needy.
“Bless us to have compassionate eyes and to have our hearts filled with the desire to reach out and provide of our substance,” he said. “Help us to have a joyous heart in our home and in our families…”
Most may not have noticed an allusion to Mormon belief, however, in the prayer. As Hutchins mentioned the death of Jesus Christ, he stated, “We know it is by and through thy sacred offerings that we thy children can be cleansed and made worthy to return to thee.”
Mormons believe that all men, as spirit beings, have always existed, and that each one is a spirit brother or sister to Jesus and Satan. When a person dies, Mormons believe that their spirit will return to God.
“Mormons do believe we lived with God before we were born,” El Santo Gringo, a Mormon, explained on an LDS belief site. “The Old Testament teaches that upon our death our spirits return to God. … If we return to God, we must have existed with God before we came to earth.”
Hutchins and Romney have been long-time acquaintances as Hutchins provided counsel to Romney when he served as an LDS bishop. Romney served in the 1990’s through counseling, service organization and preparation, and charity work.
Hutchins, 71, worked as a police chief for a number of years before serving as a leader in the Mormon “Church” as an overseer to a conglomerate of LDS facilities. He later moved to Tampa, Florida where he began to head up Mormon proselytism efforts.
As a surprise guest for the evening, actor Clint Eastwood took the stage. The crowd chuckled as he played out an imaginary dialogue with Barack Obama, often speaking to an empty chair. However, when Eastwood made crass inferences that Obama was stating for Romney and Eastwood to “Go f— themself,” stating, “I can’t tell him to do that; he can’t do that to himself,” the room broke out in applause and laughter.
One reporter Tweeted about the incident, writing, “In the Mississippi delegation, even the ladies laughed at Clint’s f-word jokes, while the men roared. Loudest applause of the convention.”
Following Eastwood was Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who introduced Romney. Rubio, in addition to expressing patriotic sentiment, made references to Scripture, stating, “Everyone to whom much is given, much will be required.”
“Almighty God is the source of all we have,” said Rubio. “Faith in our Creator is the most important American value of them all.”
Rubio then spoke of his father, a former bartender, in making a point about hard work and success.
During his acceptance speech, Romney made a number of references to his Mormon faith, although mostly indirectly. In providing background on his childhood, after he noted that he grew up in Michigan as a Mormon, he stated, “My friends cared more about what sports teams I followed than what church I went to.”
He again referred to his religion when talking about his investment company Bain Capital, which he thought at first would not stay afloat.
“I thought about asking my church’s pension fund to invest,” Romney said, adding a few sentences later, “But I didn’t want to go to Hell.”
He also boasted of all of the women elected or appointed to government offices, asserting his view that women should be in leadership positions.
At one point Romney appealed to religious voters, stating, “As president, I’ll protect the sanctity of life; I’ll honor the institution of marriage and I’ll guarantee the freedom of religion.”
However, as previously reported, following remarks regarding abortion made by Missouri Senatorial candidate Todd Akin, who stated that in instances of rape, the rapist should be punished instead of the baby, Romney swiftly came out against Akin’s sentiment.
“Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement,” Romney campaign spokesperson Amanda Henneberg wrote on behalf of the Republican ticket. “A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”
Brendan Buck, press secretary for the Romney-Ryan campaign, also told Christian News Network that while Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan disagree on which exceptions to abortion are permissible, they have come to a compromise under the heading of the campaign.
“[T]he position of the campaign is not to oppose abortion in the cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life of the mother,” he advised. “Congressman Ryan’s personal beliefs provide only a life of the mother exception, but the position of the Romney-Ryan campaign also allows exceptions in the case of race or incest.”
Additionally, Romney had explained earlier this year that while he does not believe in homosexual “marriage,” he does support homosexual adoption.
He explained in May to Neil Cavuto of Fox News, “[I]f two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, or even to adopt a child, in my state, individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view, that’s something that people have a right to do. But, to call that ‘marriage’ is something that in my view is a departure from the real meaning of that word.”
Romney also came out in support of homosexual Boy Scout leaders and members earlier this month.
According to The Associated Press, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the news outlet in an email that Romney still stands by his beliefs that homosexual men should be able to serve in the organization. She specifically noted that Romney had outlined his views in 1994 during a political debate, and that his stance has not changed.
“I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue,” Romney stated during the debate. “I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Following Romney’s speech at the convention, prominent Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, gave the benediction. He was introduced by House Majority Leader John Boehner as “America’s shepherd” and “His Eminence.”
“Make [our nation's politicians] worthy to serve You by serving our country,” Dolan said, adding a request that the nation would pursue “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,” and to “not seek to replace it with idols of our own making.”
He called upon God to bless America, as did a number of other speakers that night, including Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush.
At least twice during the evening, singer BeBe Winans, a professing Christian and part of the reknown Winans family, delivered patriotic songs to the crowd. Winans is a registered Democrat and supported Barack Obama during the last election.