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Romney’s Stupid and Insulting Speech

"Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the … Read More

By / December 6, 2007

"Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin."

Had Mitt Romney simply left it at that, he'd have passed the biggest sniff-test on his religion by giving the public a sworn commitment to which it could hold him. This is what JFK did, greasing the wheels for his own galloping folly of an administration.

Yet I can't see how Romney's speech, taken as a whole, doesn't come off as anything other than a verbal and philosophical disaster. Take this fatuous remark:

"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.

There is no such thing as the "religion of secularism." It ranks not as even a cute form of semantic jujitsu. An atheist who goes to the Supreme Court asking that his son be excused from delivering a pledge of allegiance with the words "Under God" in it is an atheist who chooses not to be anesthetized by warm consensus and to hold the First Amendment to its own clear language. There is nothing "religious" in this. Laws exist either to be broken or upheld. Although it is refreshing to see the faithful using the term pejoratively, sneeringly for a change — if only they followed this line of thought to its logical conclusion.

"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.

 

"Under God" was a phrase used by Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. It was then added, at the bullying insistence of the Catholic Knights of Columbus, to the pledge of allegiance in 1954 as way of underscoring our providential mission in the cold war. In neither case is this meaningless preposition a gift from the founders.

But what should really set one's teeth on edge is this bit from Romney's speech:

And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me.

A fine follow-up sentence would be: "So do those Americans without belief." Alas, too bad for Mitt. I wasn't voting for him anyway, but now I count him a political enemy.

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