Thursday, December 06, 2007

Romney’s big religion speech: Freedom requires religion


Romney was introduced by Bush the Elder, who Romney thanked for the whole greatest-generation-World-War-II thing: “You left us, your children, a free and strong America.” This is where commas are so important: “You left us your children” would not be quite such an applause line.

He said that our generation also faces threats, such as “radical, violent Islam.” In a speech about religion, which was presumably written very carefully indeed, he decided to blame Islam rather than Muslims. Other threats: “over-use of foreign oil and the break-down of the family.” So to prevent your family breaking down, fill it with only domestic oil.

The Founders called on “the Creator” and “discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom.” “Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom.” “Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.” Um, no.

The JFK part: “No authorities of my church” which he is steadily refusing to name “will ever exert influence on presidential decisions.”

10 minutes or so in, he does finally use the dread word “Mormon.” It is the faith of his fathers, and he will be true to them.

He believes Jesus Christ is the son of God and the saviour of all mankind. And, um, that’s all he’s going to say about that. He essentially says that if he did the “what Mormonism means to me” speech some expected he would have to do, that would make him the spokesman for his church, so naturally he couldn’t do that.

There are features of other faiths he wish Mormons had: the profound ceremony of the Catholic mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit of the Pentecostals, the confident blandness of the Lutherans, the money of the Jews... er, sorry, I got bored with transcribing. Here’s what he came up with for the Muslims: their commitment to frequent prayer.

Complains that people trying to remove mention of God in public life are trying to establish a “new religion” of secularism. We should acknowledge the Creator in words and ceremony. Nativity scenes, that sort of thing. Judges should respect “the foundation of faith on which our Constitution rests.” “I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from the God who gave us liberty.” “Liberty is a gift from God, not an indulgence of government.” We do trust in God, we are one nation under God.

Europeans are all atheists and their cathedrals are just backdrops for postcards. Oh, wait, his point is that there are people of faith, but the churches are withering away. That’s actually telling: for him, faith requires an organized church to be any good. You can’t just believe in God willy nilly.

At the “other extreme” to the Europeans is the creed of conversion by conquest. He means Muslims, because Christians have never done that sort of thing. In the US, by contrast, reason and religion are allies (in other words, he thinks Christian tenets, unlike oh say Muslim ones, are supported by reason. Hah!).

Anyone who kneels in prayer to the Almighty has a friend and ally in the Mittster.

He concluded, “Let us give thanks to the divine author of liberty, and together let us pray that this land will always be blessed with freedom’s holy light.” (his emphasis).

In fact, the word “Mormon” escaped his lips exactly once, no doubt slipped in so he wouldn’t be accused of not using it at all.

He failed to acknowledge, as even George Bush does, that some of us don’t believe in any of these religions. Presumably we’ll be sent in chains to the salt mines, since “freedom requires religion.”

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