Thursday, December 6, 2007

One nation, under Romney...

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finally gave his "Mormon" speech.

The frequent comparisons of this speech to then-Senator John F. Kennedy's "Catholic" speech in 1960 are misplaced. Kennedy's speech was about how he differed from Catholics on political issues, not on the general separation of religion and state. Romney, on the other hand, made no effort to distance himself from the more difficult parts of Mormonism, including its gross discrimination of African-Americans well into the 1970s. The entire point of JFK's speech was to clear up public issues with Catholic beliefs, and Romney ducked that effort entirely.

Furthermore, justifying why it is okay for a particular non-Protestant to be in national office is long outdated. Other recent non-Protestant candidates for president or vice president (e.g. John Kerry in '04, Joe Lieberman in '00 and '04, Geraldine Ferraro in '84) saw no need to justify their religion. Furthermore, there are several Mormons already in leadership positions in the federal government, including current Senators Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch from Utah, Harry Reid from Nevada, Mike Crapo from Idaho, and former Senator Paula Hawkins from Florida. Perhaps other most Mormon in presidential politics is Romney's father, a serious presidential candidate in 1968 while serving as governor of Michigan. Indeed Mormons have a long history of political involvement, and so Romney has no need to justify his religion to the country.

In the actual content of his speech, Romney chastises those who "seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God." Here, Romney is stating his approval for a monotheistic religion that is universal for all American. Romney is fundamentally wrong. The numerous references to G-d in public life qualify as an "establishment of religion," which Congress has no business acknowledging under the Constitution.

Romney's claim that "We are a nation 'Under God'" is simply his own opinion, to which he is entitled. As president, however, he is not entitled to public money to subject others to his particular religious preference.

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