He shows a Wikipedia-level appreciation of other religions, admiring “the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims” and “the ancient traditions of the Jews.” These vapid nostrums suggest his innermost conviction of America’s true faith. A devout Christian vision emerges of a U.S. society that is in fact increasingly diverse. ~Roger Cohen
I don’t think the speech presented a “devout Christian vision,” and indeed he was at pains to present anything but that. The entire speech was premised on arguing for pluralism and against religious homogeneity or the cultural hegemony of any particular religion, boiling down the many religions to our “great moral inheritance” and a vague and minimally demanding theism. It was a typical expression of the sort of superficial, smorgasbord approach to diversity that we have all grown up with in America. For some reason, paeans to diversity seem to require “vapid nostrums,” because we must find something about every group that is distinctive yet not the cause of some offense among another group, which usually ends up leaving us with not much to say about them. Had a non-Mormon given the speech, you could imagine him saying, “I admire the impeccable politeness of the Mormons.” After all, to say anything in greater detail would be, by the standards of the speech, to establish a “religious test”!
Romney could hardly have said, “I admire the spiritual journey of the Muslim who struggles in the path of God,” since this would mean that he is also admiring the mujahideen, so he was reduced to saying something meaningless. Even Wikipedia-level appreciation would have offered more depth of understanding of other religions. What was most disingenuous about this part of the speech was that Romney claimed to admire these elements so much that he wished they were part of his religion! When he hears this speech, Cohen encounters the drippy multiculturalism of a religious studies seminar and mistakes it for religious militancy.