Thursday, December 6, 2007

Romney: 'Freedom requires religion'

[Commentary below]
(CNN) -- White House hopeful Mitt Romney said religious liberty "is fundamental to America's greatness," in his Thursday address on faith in America.

Romney, seeking to become the first Mormon president, explained how his faith would affect his presidency in his speech at former President George H. W. Bush's presidential library at Texas A&M University.

"There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders," Romney said.

"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," he said.

"I believe in my Mormon faith [LDS church-Wikipedia] and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers -- I will be true to them and to my beliefs," he said, adding that if his faith hurts his candidacy, "so be it."

Romney said he thought some have taken the idea of separation of church and state beyond its original meaning by trying to remove any acknowledgment of God from the public arena.

"It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America -- the religion of secularism. They are wrong," he said.

(full article)


The idea that all the candidates profess some level of religious belief, whether sincerely or as a political expedient is troubling enough, but I have grave concerns about the positions and opinions expressed by this candidate (and similar sentiments voiced by others).

It is as though he believes that the underlying assumption of the existence of a god or gods, common to essentially all religions, is somehow separate from religion and that all people, regardless of the particular version of the story to which they subscribe, implicitly accept the god notion. This exposes that in his thinking, Atheists either don't exist or at least don't matter. We are outside his sphere of awareness - outside his universe if you will. How can such a person be the president of all the citizens when he fails to acknowledge many of them from the start?

He states that "freedom requires religion". I suppose in a humorous sense this can be true - what, afterall, would "freedom from religion" mean if there were no religion from which to be free? But seriously, true freedom cannot be realized in a dogma-laden context. Religion poses the greatest challenge to our rights and freedoms, in many cases seeking to specifically and explicitly abridge them.

Romney also conflates the concepts of religion and world-view when he refers to "the religion of secularism". While religion may encompass world-view, the reverse is not necessarily true. What he refers to as 'secularism' is quite simply the greatest strength of our nation as set forth by its founders; yet he dismisses this as some sort of misconception. These kinds of muddled thought are the most insidious threat to the vital separation of church and state that has made possible the very freedom he so quickly twists up with his religious thinking.

Though it is not inconceivable that such a man, should be be elected, could in the final analysis be shown to have had a net-positive effect on the country, his beliefs, not unlike many professed by the current disastrous president, are, to borrow his phrase, "at odds with" the principles on which this nation is founded. As such, I, for one, could not in good conscience even consider casting a vote for him.