December 8, 2007

Romney Reveals Bigotry Toward Non-Theistic Americans

It is high time I weigh in on the recent speech from Willard "Mitt" Romney in which he demonstrated his willingness to pander to Christian extremists, his ignorance of the Constitution, and what sounds at least a little bit like a theocratic vision for America. I've held off for this long because I was so disgusted to see how far we have fallen since JFK's famous "its okay to vote for a Catholic" speech.

Romney's speech can be viewed here or read here (be sure to add your comments as well). I should probably start by saying that I understand why he felt the speech was necessary, and I do not begrudge him that. He had an opportunity to assuage the reluctance of many Americans to vote for a Mormon by explaining his Mormon beliefs and stating clearly for the record that they will not influence how he would govern America. If you've heard anything about his speech, you'll already know that he did not do any of this. Instead, Romney chose to reassure Christian extremists that he agrees with their theocratic striving and willingness to rewrite history to justify their plans for America.
There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator.
Religion is a matter to be taken very seriously because it is one of the primary threats facing the world today. Our nation's founders recognized the problems associated with merging religion and politics, and their answer was to write a secular Constitution. In asserting otherwise, Romney is either an imbecile or a shameless panderer.
Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.
How does freedom require religion? That statement is absurd on its face, so it comes as no surprise that Romney offers no justification for it (even if it appears to be based on his Mormon beliefs). It certainly sounds like he is saying that America is great because of mass religious delusion and not in spite of it. On this point, I couldn't disagree more vehemently. A brief examination of the widespread problems plaguing more religious countries while more secular nations tend to experience fewer such problems comes to mind.
No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust.

We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders – in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'
What Willard does not seem to understand here is that we seek to remove religion from the public square because it is inherently divisive. We seek to remove acknowledgment of any gods because many of us do not believe in any of them and do not wish to be made into second class citizens for our willingness to exercise reason and utilize the scientific method to understand our environment. There is no religion of secularism any more than there is a square circle!

Spouting rhetoric about being a nation under some god does not make it so. Just because some foolish politicians sought to gain public support for the Communist scare they were perpetuating by changing our national motto and expressing religious delusion on our currency does not make us a more religious nation.

When Romney says he will "separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty,'" he is saying that atheists do not merit consideration. Many Americans do not believe in any sort of gods, and speeches like this suggest that politicians like Romney refuse to recognize our value as Americans. That, dear Willard, is called bigotry, and it is a characteristic that is not desirable in a president.

H/T to DemocratDad

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