Can I Get an Amen?on December 7, 2007 at 3:47 pm
Thursday, speaking at the George Bush Presidential Library, Mitt Romney–governor, billionaire, Mormon– took the lectern and assured a confused Christian Republican base that although we may wear different underwear, Christ alone girds our loins.
“Today, I wish to address a topic which I believe is fundamental to America’s greatness: our religious liberty. I will also offer perspectives on how my own faith would inform my Presidency, if I were elected.”
What followed, in what was promoted as Romney’s “Kennedy speech” (referring to John F. Kennedy’s 1960 address clarifying where his Catholicism ended and his own mind began) did anything but illuminate the particulars of Romney’s sect. It did, however, make quite clear how religion itself will influence his presidency. Lest anyone think that seven years of having a born-again Christophile at the wheel of power had sobered our nation’s oligarchs, Romney left no doubt that America’s holiest days were still to come.
“There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us,” spake the Chiseled One. “If so, they are at odds with the nation’s founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator.”
Compare these sentiments to Kennedy’s, who in his speech said:
“While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that we have far more critical issues to face in the 1960 election; the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers 90 miles off the coast of Florida–the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power–the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills, the families forced to give up their farms–an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space.”
Quite the contrast. With Kennedy, matters of religion were a distraction from communism, poverty and America’s future in outer space. With Romney, it is distraction from religion which looms dark on our horizon . It is not hard to see that, pledges of being autonomous from Church prophets notwithstanding, things like space exploration would probably not rank high for a president who would first ask if the moon had enough gravity to make kneeling possible.
Romney waved off any notion of going into the heretical nitty-gritty of Mormonism by saying such would amount to a “religious test” and that “no candidate should become the spokesman for his faith.” But he had already agreed to such a test moments earlier when he said: “What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.” Is he not speaking for his faith when he declares Jesus to be overlord of humanity’s soul?
Of course he is! Romney simply elucidated what his faith has in common with the rest of America’s batshit believers. It is only where his faith diverges and takes a path through Polygamyland and the Valley of the Cursed Negro that the religious question suddenly turns into an SAT.
Romney went on to compliment the dimples on the cheeks of every faith in America he could think of, none of which would pass the absurdity test any better than his own (so back off, Seventh Day Adventists!) and reminded his audience that America’s steeples are pointed to the source of all life’s blessings…the Sun. No, wait! Heaven! Where God lives! In the sky, with the Sun! (It’s like His lava lamp.)
Having established his bona fides with his audience, Romney then lined up their common enemy in his sights: skeptics, AKA, “secularists”.
“They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.”
It is a curious thing, this attempt (hardly new) to yoke free-thinking Americans with the same slave collar of “religion” that the faithful proudly display as though they were sporting silk ties. As a firm believer in our nation’s secular roots, I don’t recall ever trying to convince myself that a glass of burgundy was magic carpenter’s blood, nor have I ever participated in a cross-country caravan to set up a desert settlement where I could marry as many teenage virgins as their fathers would sell me. But if refusing to participate in a collective effort to stick an imaginary police officer in my head qualifies as religion…
Waitaminit! It’s still not religion, you fuck! But this is the deadening of thought that religion itself brings: the inability to think outside of your faith, the conflation of free inquiry with dogma, until finally you are spouting Oceanic gibberish such as Romney did when he said “freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.” This is the nation Romney sees himself leading, one where “freedom” means coughing up new contagious fallacies to infect the mind and keep it lumpen, not as an inexorable drive to slip the shackles of ignorance, of subverting the lockstep belief in the unjustifiable to create a society based on reason.
Romney’s speech did not materialize out of nowhere. Had he his druthers you would know nothing more about Mormons than that they have a kick-ass choir. Indeed, his speech discloses far less than even that. But Mitt Romney is at pains to clarify why his religion should not be considered a kookfest, and why he alone is the rightful heir to the Southern Strategy and not Republican insurgent Mike “faith is my life”Huckabee, who bluntly states that he recognizes no demarcation between religion and politics. That Huckabee is not already seen as far outside our country’s norms only goes to prove that America will embrace any lunacy, only pausing to consider if it was revealed by a leprechaun or a gingerbread man.
The address was heavy on quotations from our Constitution’s fathers who, far from endorsing the intellectual convictions of the fathers of our bible, are today considered wise only because they broke from the tribalism and dogma which preceded our civilization. Those qualities we consider most sacred in our culture and in our law–equal rights for all, regardless of religion, gender or race–are principles which are despised (one or more) by every faith Romney singled out for praise, his own being a chief offender. That Mitt Romney should be allowed to hold the highest office in the land while worshiping under such a creed should be laughable, except that every President of this country has been given a similar pass, so long as they did not attempt to justify their hypocrisy at the expense of another’s. This is the omertà of American politics.
With Mitt Romney racing to prove that he will get coat hangers into the uteri of poor women faster than the next leading snake-handler, you should thank Zeus, DNA or whoever you think is running the great cosmic carnival that history spit forth the great secular minds who wrote the laws and promulgated the apostasy’s that allow a man like Mitt Romney to even make a claim to the mantle of leadership of the United States. And you should embrace also the responsibility that comes with the knowledge that this right flows not from any Deity who today presides over a world of disease, totalitarianism and genocide without moving one atom to end any of it, but from the American people, who still hold in their breast the belief that merit, not wealth, blood or faith–or the having of it– is the criteria by which a man comes to command a free people.