Here are excerpts from a variety of sources commenting on Mitt Romney‘s faith speech:
We’ve read John F. Kennedy’s 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, and have to say, Mitt Romney, you’re no JFK.
Romney’s hodgepodge speech offered a little something for everyone–except nonbelievers. Even Pres. Bush has publicly admitted that America includes nonreligious citizens. But the 14% of adults in the United States who are not religious apparently don’t exist in Romney’s world view. “We are a nation ‘Under God’ and in God, we do indeed trust” means “we” who do not believe in a god are not part of this nation?
He was trying to persuade Christian fundamentalists in the Republican Party, who do want to impose their faith on the Oval Office, that he is sufficiently Christian for them to support his bid for the Republican nomination. No matter how dignified he looked, and how many times he quoted the founding fathers, he could not disguise that sad fact.
… in his speech, he courted the most religiously intolerant sector of American political life by buying into the myths at the heart of the “cultural war,” so eagerly embraced by the extreme right.
Mr. Romney dragged out the old chestnuts about “In God We Trust” on the nation’s currency, and the inclusion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance — conveniently omitting that those weren’t the founders’ handiwork, but were adopted in the 1950s at the height of McCarthyism.
He left out a significant number of Americans, including those who accept no religion or are less than fervid in their faith. They believe just as strongly in freedom and tolerance as their fellow citizens who go to church every Sunday.
Romney got applause when he criticized those who would supplant a faith-centered nation with “the religion of secularism.” But given the amount of violence and intolerance that various religions have generated throughout history, it is unwise to insist that religious belief is a prerequisite for freedom.
“I was disappointed in Romney’s statement,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “The founders of our Constitution meant for religion and government to be completely separate. Romney is wrong when he says we are in danger of taking separation too far or at risk of establishing a religion of secularism.
“I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, and I believe in my faith,” Lynn added. “But I believe just as strongly that non-believers are good Americans too. I wish Romney had said that.”
Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists, said that Romney “is no John Kennedy when it comes to the First Amendment.”
“His speech was a pitch to the religious right which already has too much political clout in this country,” said Johnson. “Like other candidates, Romney is overlooking the 13% of Americans who profess no religious beliefs, and will voting their principles next November.”
Johnson added that Romney “drapes himself in the mantle of religious self-righteousness, and then gives token mention to the First Amendment.”
Christopher Hitchens in Slate:
Romney does not understand the difference between deism and theism, nor does he know the first thing about the founding of the United States. Jefferson’s Declaration may invoke a “Creator,” but, as he went on to show in the battle over the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, he and most of his peers did not believe in a god who intervened in human affairs or in a god who had sent a son for a human sacrifice.
A long time ago, Romney took the decision to be a fool for Joseph Smith, a convicted fraud and serial practitioner of statutory rape who at times made war on the United States and whose cult has been made to amend itself several times in order to be considered American at all. We do not require pious lectures on the American founding from such a man, and we are still waiting for some straight answers from him.
Besides us, did anybody notice this extraordinary insult, almost a warning Romney just gave to every American who believes in maybe more than one god or doesn‘t believe in any god or just isn‘t sure or just isn‘t sure it‘s anybody else‘s—and I‘m going to choose my words carefully here—just isn‘t sure it‘s anybody else‘s goddamn business?
Well, apart from sort of nominating himself to be a fill-in for Bill O‘Reilly, did he not recognize the hypocrisy in that? He called secularism a religion and then called it wrong, ostensibly, while giving his speech asking for religious tolerance.
[In an exchange with The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson]
ROBINSON: … he‘s got plenty of money. He could have bought the time on the networks if he had wanted to. It was an extraordinary coup for the Romney campaign to get that much coverage on all the networks. So, I‘m sure, maybe Rudy Giuliani will now give a speech on marriage and that will get a lot of coverage, too.
OLBERMANN: You just made my day.
That’s only a sample.
Feel free to link to other statements on Romney’s speech in the comments.
[tags]atheist, atheism, Republican, Christian, Mormon, faith, religion[/tags]