Saturday, December 08, 2007

And now, a reflection on politics and religion...

Originally posted by Mark Kleiman and quoted with permission

Just in case you hoped it was an oversight, a spokesman for the Romney campaign won't say whether non-believers have a place in the America he wants to lead. I thought it was pretty clear from the text that the answer is "No."But a reader points out an equally nasty feature of the speech that had escaped my attention. Romney's recitation of the religious traditions he admires includes only monotheist faiths. I'm not surprised he left out pagans and wiccans, but excluding Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Native American traditions couldn't have been accidental, could it? When Romney says:
any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty has a friend and ally in me. He seems to mean that literally: that to be his "friend and ally" you must practice a religion that acknowledges one Almighty God. (Let's cut him some slack for missing the point that Jews don't "kneel in prayer"; that phrase could, I suppose, be understood metaphorically.)
Reporters should press Romney on this point: it would be fun to watch him squirm between offending the bigots and offending the Hindus.
James Joyner has a good roundup of reaction; his take is substantially the same as mine.]
Footnote No, I'm not going to get started on the argument about whether trinitarianism is really a monotheism; let's accept for the moment that, in some branches of sacred mathematics, 1 = 3.Second footnote
commenter "Sabatia" points out that Romney's religion was no problem for him politically in liberal, secularist Massachusetts. And "Jeremy," in the same thread, points out that Romney's speech is in fact the opposite of Kennedy's:
where JFK defended an absolute wall of separation between church and state, Romney tries to rally one set of believers against everyone else. Feh.
Second update Acccckkkkkk!!!!! Not only do I agree with David Brooks; I agree with
David Frum . Well, not the part where he says that Romney has shown himself to be
"data-driven," unless he means by that polling data. But this is just about perfect:
To be blunt, Romney is saying:
It is legitimate to ask a candidate, "Is Jesus the son of God?"
But it is illegitimate to ask a candidate, "Is Jesus the brother of Lucifer?"
Amen, brother! Preach it!

And from TPM
In Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), the Supreme Court struck down a Maryland state constitutional provision which stated: "[N]o religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God."
The Supreme Court held: "We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs."
As the Supreme Court noted in Torcaso, in the debate of the North Carolina Convention on the adoption of the Constitution, James Iredell, later a Justice of the Supreme Court, said:
"[I]t is objected that the people of America may, perhaps, choose representatives who have no religion at all, and that pagans and Mahometans may be admitted into offices. But how is it possible to exclude any set of men, without taking away that principle of religious freedom which we ourselves so warmly contend for?"
Mitt, of course, is wrong on our Constitution and wrong on our history.

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