.- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will give a speech this week explaining his Mormon faith to voters, after much debate at his campaign headquarters about the wisdom of such a speech.
The decision to discuss his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comes as the former Massachusetts governor faces the rising challenge of Mike Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist minister and former governor of Arkansas.
Romney’s speech, reportedly titled “Faith in America,” will be delivered Thursday at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, according to the Associated Press. It will outline his religious beliefs and how he thinks they will affect his administration.
"This speech is an opportunity for Governor Romney to share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation and how the governor's own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected," said campaign spokesman Kevin Madden. “Governor Romney understands that faith is an important issue to many Americans, and he personally feels this moment is the right moment for him to share his views with the nation.”
Madden explained that the choice of venue does not reflect an endorsement from former president George H.W. Bush.
Some compare the upcoming speech to John F. Kennedy’s Houston address, which explained his faith to skeptical Protestants in the 1960 campaign. Kennedy later became the first Catholic president.
Some Romney aides have discouraged the candidate from talking about the specifics of his faith, fearing it would draw too much attention to his religion.
Polls indicate that a quarter of all Republicans, including 36 percent of white evangelical Protestants, say they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate.
Catholics and Evangelicals do not consider Mormonism Christian because of its disbelief in the divinity of Christ.