It is absurd that in this country based on freedom of religion and freedom not to have a religion, a Presidential candidate would have to “explain” his religious affiliation.
Mitt Romney felt the need to “explain” Mormonism to the country. Romney and many media mavens have hailed his speech on faith as reminiscent of John F. Kennedy’s speech of his Catholicism, faith and the Presidency. Quite frankly there couldn’t be less of a resemblance.
I don’t care if Romney’s faith teaches that Christ came to ancient America, that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri or that the Angel Moroni visited Joseph Smith in New York- giving him magic glasses so he could read the hieroglyphics on the golden plates that had been buried by Moroni in Smith’s New York state back yard and are still in the Angel Moroni’s possession. I don’t care that some believe in virgin births, women being formed from the rib of a man, worshipping desiccated body parts and building cathedrals around them so these relics could provide a prayer path to God. I don’t care if some people believe that the Prophet Mohammad experienced the Isra and Miraj, a miraculous journey said to have been accomplished in one night along with the angel Gabriel. In the first part of the journey, the Isra, he is said to have travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem. In the second part, the Miraj, Muhammad is said to have toured heaven and hell. I don’t care if people believe that God parted the Red Sea and I don’t care if people believe that Jesus had a human mother and deity father. I don’t care if some people believe that one god Brahama created the universe, another- Vishnu preserves it, and a third- Shiva destroys it. I don’t care if Siddhārtha Gautama became enlighted under a fig tree.
However, the very people who Mr. Romney is pandering too- do care. They care very much about a person’s religion and judge him on how on a religious based report card. Remember all the hoopla about a Muslim congressman swearing his oath on the Qu-ran? Where was the religious freedom in that episode?
When President Kennedy made his speech he specifically stated that religion had no place in this debate. He further said that the Pope, his church or any other religious organizations should have no influence in public poliy.
The Republican party has gone way beyond Mr. Kennedy’s vision and conviction. They brought religious organizations into the mix of public policy and politics when they welcomed Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Ralph Reed into their inner circle and gave power to conserrvative Christians.
Romney was right when he said that the founding fathers prayed to God and were not of one faith and he correctly pointed out that Jefferson and others were Theists. If in fact the founders envisioned a country where any one was free to worship as he/she chooses do we know how we got to have a nation that sees itself as a “Christian nation”?
We are no longer that nation that Kennedy described where there was a distinct separation between church and state. The Republican party, Mr. Romney’s party, has blurred that line.
Kennedy spoke about how in America preachers do not endorse candidates from the pulpit. Well 47 years later- Conservative Christian preachers commonly endorse candidates from their pulpits- and often times those pulpits are broadcast into people’s homes.
Mr. Romney doesn’t want to be judged on his being a Mormon, but he wants to promote his “conservative” Christian credentials to the Evangelical base. Does this seem a little hypocritical?
But I guess Mr. Romney can rationalize just about anything- he has certainly taken every position possible on every policy issue that matters unapologetically. I certainly admire men and women who are open to changing their opinions on important matters- it can mean an open and curious mind. It just seems convenient that Mr. Romney’s views change dependant upon the constituency he is interested in courting.
But back to religion. It is absurd to say in one breath that one’s religion should not be how one is judged as a candidate, but religion is a vital part of the public square.
If Mr. Romney wants a separation of Church and State- first off he should speak about that and secondly he should leave the Republican Party. The Republican party hasn’t believed in that separation for decades. But as Mr. Romney courts the Evangelicals- he doesn’t really promote separation from Church and State- he is promoting that he is just like them!
So which is it Mitt? Should we care that you’re a Mormon or should we remove religion from the Presidential elective process. Sadly it seems Mr. Romney doesn’t want his religion made an issue during the election- but he believes that religion should influence public policy.
Don’t forget Mr. Romney’s “faux pas” referring to Obama as Osama- no religious prejudice pandering there!
If Mr. Romney makes it through the right winged Republican nominating process to the general election what incarnation of Mr. Romney will we see and what values will Mr. Romney have as he deals with a more moderate electorate?
Mr. Romney’s religion should not be an issue. Sadly his party has made it an issue in politcs and policy. It’s a different world than the one where there was absolute conviction about the separation of church and state in Kennedy’s 1960.
How I long for those Camelot days!