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Romney: Freedom Requires Religion 08 Dec 2007

Posted by Jessa in Politics, Religion.
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Poor Mitt Romney. He has a bit of a problem. He needs the support of evangelical Christians in order to win the republican nomination, but most evangelicals view his brand of religion, Mormonism, with somewhere between distrust and outright hostility.

So what can he do? Why, give a speech, a la Kennedy in 1960, where he assuages the fears of those who are dubious about Mormonism and how it will affect his policies. However, he couldn’t exactly take the tack that Kennedy did and say that it is important that church and state be separate – that wouldn’t play well to the intended audience. So here’s what we get instead:

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.

I haven’t read the Constitution in a while, but I’m pretty sure there’s not a footnote somewhere that says, “By the way, all of those Rights we mentioned? They only apply if you believe in a supernatural deity.” But let’s move on.

We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. 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.

Oh noes! Some people really truly believe in separation of church and state! The horror!

And could we please stop with calling every set of beliefs a “religion”? “Religion” is defined as the worship of a god or gods. There is no “god of secularism” and nobody believes there is, so please desist with this line of thinking. As an aside, I do think it’s amusing that when people use the word “religion” in this manner, they clearly mean it to be pejorative. Don’t they realize how strange they sound?

To top it off, his speech was actually self-contradictory:

I’m not sure that we fully appreciate the profound implications of our tradition of religious liberty. I have visited many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired … so grand … so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just too busy or too ‘enlightened’ to venture inside and kneel in prayer. The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to Europe’s churches. And though you will find many people of strong faith there, the churches themselves seem to be withering away.

But earlier he said that freedom requires religion. It’s true that religions are “withering away” in Europe, but the nations of Europe have free democratic societies that are flourishing. Doesn’t your example refute your basic thesis?

I’m sure that Romney’s speech played well to its intended audience, but he might want to consider that if he wins the nomination, he’ll have to answer to a population in the general election that isn’t impressed by his views on religion in government.

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