My friend Ryan sent me this quote from Mitt Romney yesterday and I about gagged.
“We must continue to welcome faith into the public square and allow it to flourish,” Romney noted. “Our government must respect religious values, not silence them. We will always pledge our allegiance to a nation that is under God.”
Romney doesn’t realize that, if elected, he’s also there to serve the significant portion of our populace that doesn’t believe in god. They’re not part of the ‘we’ to which Romney refers. Thanks for the marginalization and the class distinction.
And we must welcome faith and allow it to flourish? The faith that brings us the rape of children in the care of the Catholic church? How about the deference to faith that allows them to get away with it? What of the faith that brought down the Twin Towers? Perhaps he means the faith of parents who pray their children to death rather than doubt the risk losing the benevolence of a jealous god by taking their offspring to a hospital? Or what of the religious values that have moved people to dump millions of dollars into discrimination against the LGBT community, just as they did in the civil rights and women’s suffrage movements? These horrors and more are all manifestations of human ignorance so contrary to basic human compassion; the existence of each is baffling if not for the passionate, unflinching faith, pumping blood into them.
The response is always the same: those aren’t real examples of faith (except Mitt is all about the discrimination against the LGBT community)! Look at all the good religious people do! Why wouldn’t we want to encourage that?
First, these are perfect examples of faith. These people believe to such an extent that they would do the will of the lord regardless the consequences. They are our Abrahams. If you think litany of terrors born of faith are reprehensible, don’t say we must allow faith to flourish. Say, “we must allow my brand of faith to flourish exclusively,” because that’s clearly what you mean.
Second, realize that you are no more likely to be right about god’s existence or his will than these true, true believers. You can say that their beliefs are different, but you cannot say that yours are more reliable since your faith is no better supported by reason or evidence than that of the monsters, which is precisely the point. Once you open the door to believing things for lousy reasons (i.e. faith), people do not only do beneficial things for lousy reasons: they often do inhuman things. So when the believers ask why we’d want to stop all the good things coming from religion the response is simple: we don’t. What we do want is for people to realize that faith is a crummy reason to do anything, whether it’s charity or murder, and we want to encourage people to be good without the dedicated gullibility and self-deception of faith tainting the goodness.
To hell with Mitt Romney. He has our circumstances as backwards as humanly possible. The flourishing of faith in the public square is anathema to us. Faith in the public square belongs in the landfill of other human errors as a point of embarrassment. My allegiance is to reason, and to all the fruits of our collective intellect, which necessarily places me in opposition to Mitt Romney and his idea of a nation under god.