Sunday, December 09, 2007

Religion, Romney, and Privacy

I'm not in love with Mitt Romney, as should be clear after this post and this one. As far as I'm concerned, he's a smooth talking, handsome, rich politician who pretends to believe in causes, and then later "changes his mind" when the political winds shift in a different direction. He did this with the issues of gay marriage and abortion (choice), among other issues. First -- when he wanted to be Governor of Massachusetts -- he was for them, now that he wants to be President -- he is against them.

I can't stand him so much, I'd almost forgotten that he is a Mormon, not that that makes me like him any more or less (because I highly doubt his family is anything like Big Love). But apparently, his Mormonism is a rather large issue in the presidential campaign -- at least to Conservative Christian Republicans -- so yesterday Romney gave a speech about it. Or rather, gave a speech called "Faith in America.

There has been quite a bit of commentary about his speech in the media: here's an article from the Globe and here's the Globe's editorial.

Here is a sample, as quoted from the Globe editorial:
"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom," he (Romney) said. And just to make sure they grasped which religion he was espousing, he added: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind."

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.

Someone with ambitions to lead all the people in a pluralistic society should not identity so closely with any religion or religious figure, even one as revered as Jesus.
So where do I begin? "Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom." Well...no...if you live in a free society, you are free to practice your religion, but it is not required. You are also free NOT to practice religion. What is he trying to say? That those who don't practice religion aren't free? Or shouldn't be allowed to live in a free society?

Romney was critical of those who would replace a faith-centered nation with "the religion of secularism." But, as the Globe commented in its editorial, religion doesn't guarantee a just society - quite the opposite is possible. Look what is going on in the world today in the name of religion! And what is this "religion of secularism" to which he is referring?

I agree with the Globe's comment that "someone with ambitions to lead all the people in a pluralistic society should not identity so closely with any religion or religious figure, even one as revered as Jesus." Why is it that politicians now-a-days have to profess their belief in Jesus every 5 minutes? This drives me crazy. First of all, I'm not really interested in their religious beliefs. Second of all, I don't really want to know who or what they believe in. It all seems too personal to me. But maybe that's the problem. Politics is becoming too personal. Hell, it seems like all we're interested in these days is politician's religious views and their sex lives!

So... I'm not sure where this leaves me. I still dislike Romney, and I don't like the way religion is becoming such a topic of public discourse in the U.S. I realize that most of the population of the U.S. identifies as being Christian (see yesterday's post), but I'm not sure that that justifies such a public display of religious zeal. I'm sure that many Christians in American would rather have their religious views and feelings kept private. And they probably would like the same from their politicians.

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