I’ve tried to like Mitt Romney.
He strikes me as a smart, decent, presidential-looking guy with a sense of humor and good instincts. His past has certainly seemed pretty socially liberal, even if it isn’t feasible to appear that way to the Republican base now. He also seems to understand economics, and talks like someone who wants to liberalize things in that sphere as well. And, his kids seem to think he’s great.
His Mormonism doesn’t bother me. I don’t think it’s an order of magnitude more silly than the more popular religions.
But, it’s tough for me to tell where his obligatory pandering to the Religious Right ends, and his actual craziness and intolerance begins.
I found a lot about his recent speech about religion to be disturbing.
Not only did he mischaracterize the positions of the founders with respect to the relationship between religion and the government (this is common), but he seemed to exclude the non-religious from the picture entirely.
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.
Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people.
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.
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. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion – rather, we welcome our nation’s symphony of faith.
I’m not the only one who noticed this. Romney didn’t explicitly say that he hates people like me, but he certainly implied that I’m not included in his sphere of friends and allies.
I found it interesting that this speech took place at the George H.W. Bush Library and included praise of the former president. That’s because George H.W. Bush once said:
No, I don’t know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God.
Romney seems intent on following the same, stupid, tradition.
[UPDATE] To be fair, I was recently referred to this Meet The Press interview in which Romney clarified his position, saying “Oh, of course” atheists can be moral (on an individual basis), and wouldn’t be excluded from opportunities in his administration.