Under the guise of “freedom of religion,” Romney takes a cheap swipe at non-believers

December 6, 2007 | By | 9 Replies More

Mitt Romney doesn’t want to be discriminated against on the basis of his personal beliefs. He wants it so bad that he decided to badmouth all people who don’t give homage to invisible supernatural sentient beings:

As expected, [Romney’s] speech itself was a delicate tightrope walk. He evoked the patriotism of the Founding Fathers, and the clear message of John F. Kennedy in 1960, when Kennedy rejected the idea of a religious test for the White House. Romney pandered to the Republican Party’s evangelical base, which wants more Nativity scenes and public references to God. And he alienated, to some extent, a vast portion of secular city dwellers by asserting that “freedom requires religion,” effectively dismissing the worldviews of those who do not source their meaning — or their morality — to a higher celestial power.

Here’s the precise quote from Romney:

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 those deist founding fathers ever managed to establish this country without believing in angels or believing that Jesus preached in Central America shortly after his resurrection is one hell of a mystery, indeed.  It’s ironic that so many of our country’s founders, many of whom rejected organized religion, must therefore be burning in hell despite risking their lives so that people like Romney could insult them as part of his own alleged exercise of freedom of religion.

At least Romney’s attempt to disenfranchise non-believers wasn’t quite as harsh as the words of George H.W. Bush (in 1987):

“Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?”
“No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

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Category: Politics, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (9)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Chris Kelly explains what Mitt is willing to tell the world about the Mormon version of Jesus: NOTHING.

    Because here's the thing that Mitt Romney can't say: The Mormon Jesus has about as much in common with Jesus of Nazareth as the Los Angeles Kings have with King Tut. They have the same name, kind of, and that's it.

    The Gospel Jesus lived in Galilee. The Mormon Jesus lived in Albany. (Where he fought the Indians. Because he wasn't just the Lamb of God, he was also the Last of the Mohicans.) Mormon Jesus? Three wives, a planetful of kids. Gospel Jesus? Living alone and loving it.

    It doesn't even have the theological weight to be heresy; it's a simple case of mistaken identity …

    Mitt Romney isn't proud of his faith. If he were, he wouldn't react to questions about it like he'd just been asked to describe his parents having sex.

    He could put this whole thing to rest by answering one question about his Jesus, just so we know we've got the right guy: Was he Satan's brother? If the answer is "yes" — and the Book of Mormon says it is — Mitt and Pat Robertson are talking about two totally different Middle Eastern drifters.


  2. Ben says:

    If you were to ask them to pray the lights on, they would say, rightly, that it is a ridiculous notion. These are not monsters or animals they are generally decent, caring people who most of the time are not off their rockers. But, when religion enters the picture it's like the reason centers of their brains shut down and the god shouter section takes over.

    Science is a way to explain the world around us in such a way that we can reliably depend on the same set of events causing the same set of outcomes. We don't have to sacrifice a chicken to Oogoo Boogoo the Sky King every time we want to drive a car just to see if we'll make it, we have “faith” in our science and technology.


  3. Dan Klarmann says:

    Ben: Excellent reference to the socyberty post warning about groups trying to frame science as a religion.

    However, I have to give a nod to responder Tony DiPonio:

    The dictionary definition of "science" doesn’t mention "atheism", and the dictionary definition of "atheism" doesn’t mention "science." But atheists (and atheists alone) have started subtly insisting the two are the same, much in the same manner you accuse theists of wanting to equate science and religion.

    If we want to keep science left out of the religion category, we do have to stop pushing the idea that science is the cornerstone of atheism. Like it or not, atheism is a matter of faith; faith in a non-mystical world. Science merely describes all non-mystical aspects of the universe (and also why so many people cling to myths). But it doesn't directly prove that all imaginable mystical things don't exist.

    Romney simply expressed the common, misguided, Church-enforced idea that faith in {name of your deity here} is the cornerstone for everything good.

  4. Erich,

    Just an observation. Since the majority of fundies and a host of others not quite so committed Christians tend to see Secularism as a religion, Romney's statement can be construed as all-inclusive. The fact that we don't see secularism as a religion is immaterial to their point of view.

  5. Tim Hogan says:

    Mark Twain was suspicious of the Mormons and wrote about them in an appendix to his western novel "Roughing It."

  6. Erich Vieth says:

    Mark, I see your point and it is possible that Romney meant to be more inclusive than he sounded. Rhetorically speaking, though his manner of expressing himself was insensitive to a rapidly growing subset of the population: non-believers.

    BTW, compare Romney's version with Obama's way of describing Americans:

    Given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

    [emphasis added] http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=1297

    Obama is truly making a concerted effort to be inclusive, whereas Romney is, at a minimum, being sloppy.

  7. grumpypilgrim says:

    Further on the subject of separating church and state, I understand the IRS has angered many telemarketers by demanding to see financial records of "church" spending. The IRS is apparently concerned that some ministries are crossing the line into activities that would void their non-taxable status. In response, the ministries have apparently declared themselves immune from IRS scrutiny, claiming that the "Constitutional separation of church and state" forbids the IRS from investigating church finances.

    While those of us with more than three working brain cells laugh at such nonsense, it is a refrain I've seen before from the telemarketing crowd: to them, the "separation of church and state" does not mean the church must stay out of government, it only means the government must stay out of churches. Thus, in their minds, church leaders should remain free to use their tax-exempt pulpits to promote their chosen (Republican) political candidates, while the government must turn a blind eye to church-based political sponsorship. Apparently, no one has yet told them that their "separation of church and state" expression is found nowhere in the U.S. Constitution, and that its actual wording gives no support at all to their fanciful beliefs — a mistake perhaps indicative of their failure to read other important source documents, like, for example, their Bibles. But that's another subject….

    As regards Mark T's comment, while Fundies are fond of calling secularism a religion, this is merely a tactic for trying to reduce principled, rational thinking to the level of myth and superstition; i.e., *their* level. It merely demonstrates the vast chasm between fundamentalist thinking and the truth.

  8. Erich Vieth says:

    Andrew Sullivan weighs in on the Romney speech, arguing that Romney is trying to exclude non-believers from participating in their government. For the full post, see here.

  9. Sam Burnett says:

    I grew up in a church that went through a fight like this in the 70's and 80's. The church was placed in receivership because of its refusal to reveal its spending habits and finances…claiming it's tax exempt status as an excuse. The amazing thing is that they were able to twist it into a "satan persecuting the church" argument, gaining the support of the congregations and members of the church in fighting against transparency of their finances. The church won the battle, everyone was thankful that God had been behind them in fighting against this satanic investigation…and in turn postponed the revelation that the church leaders had squandered millions and millions of dollars spent on cars, jets, vacations, mansions, etc.

    I agree with comments made above…if a church is unwilling to open up its finances to the public, the IRS, or its members, of course it's obvious that there is mis spending going on.

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