- (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)
Mitt Romney, who has been charged with jeopardizing religious freedom by pushing a secular government has changed his tune, announcing Monday night that America's first right was to worship God.
Romney has been criticized by some, who say that he has not been an advocate of religious freedom. Last month Gingrich paired Romney and Obama in a similar, secular category. "I think Gov. Romney is extraordinarily insensitive to religious freedom in America and the Obama Administration is clearly engaged in a war on religion," Gingrich said.
Monday night however, Romney attempted to set a clear distinction between his stance on religious freedom and Obama's. "I'm just distressed as I watch our president try and infringe upon our rights, the First Amendment of the Constitution provides the right to worship in the way of our own choice," Romney said to nearly 3,000 people gathered in the gymnasium of Arapahoe High School, in Arapahoe County.
Romney's decision to adopt a stronger tone geared toward protecting religious freedom might have developed in order to gain support from voters who have thus far sided with Rick Santorum. A former Pennsylvania senator, Santorum has taken a good majority of conservative votes, with strong positions on abortion and same-sex marriage.
"We must have a president who is willing to protect America's first right, our right to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience," Romney said Monday night, opposing Obama's healthcare plan that requires church affiliated employers to include insurance coverage for birth control.
He enforced the idea that obligating religious organizations to offer medication such as the "abortion pill" was unconscionable when it directly conflicted with the values of that organization. "Think what that does to people in faiths that do not share those views. This is a violation of conscience," Romney said.
The Christian Evangelical vote has gained more power and attention since Santorum's surprising second place finish, fueling the discussion over which conservative candidate Christian Evangelicals will unite under.
Dr. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Executive Editor of The Christian Post has called Santorum the "truest of true social conservatives."
In an interview with MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," he supported the idea that if evangelicals united under Santorum, that the Pennsylvania senator may have the opportunity to beat out Romney. "If you combine the votes that Santorum, Gingrich, Perry, and Bachmann got, you outvote Romney 2-to-1," Land said.
However many still remain unconvinced that Santorum will be the better candidate over Romney. "Romney will win....with the evangelical vote," said Sergio Roa Prado on the Christian Post blog.