Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom
opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most
profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure
together, or perish alone.
Oh, wait. He never had it.
That speech was an appalling piece of dreck. He claimed the mantle of John F. Kennedy, but no, he’s no idealistic Democrat, and he sure mangled the Kennedy sentiment that we should elect our presidents as secular leaders, with no allegiance to any church, into an obscene insistence that our presidents must be fervent religious kooks.
It was also a speech that required the listener to be grossly ignorant to accept its premises. It was actually self-refuting.
I’m not sure that we fully appreciate the profound implications of our tradition of religious liberty. I have visited many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired … so grand … so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just too busy or too ‘enlightened’ to venture inside and kneel in prayer. The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to Europe’s churches. And though you will find many people of strong faith there, the churches themselves seem to be withering away.
The nations of Europe are free; religion is perishing, yet somehow, democratic institutions thrive. His thesis that freedom requires religion is shown to be wrong right there in his own speech. Not that it will matter to the religious fanatics who will praise his speech — to them, America is the only free nation in the world, so they won’t see the contradiction.
The American exceptionalism was everywhere in that talk, too.
The diversity of our cultural expression, and the vibrancy of our religious dialogue, has kept America in the forefront of civilized nations even as others regard religious freedom as something to be destroyed.
We are not in the forefront of civilized nations. As the Religious Right has risen ascendant, we have launched a pre-emptive, unjust war against Iraq; our government threatens another crusade against Iran; we have endorsed torture; we have compromised our own civil liberties; we have seen science belittled and diminished in favor of theocratic ideology; our educational system is being starved to death; the gulf between the rich and poor has steadily widened; and the selfishness of the wealthy has led to the erosion of our essential infrastructure. We have become a banana republic in mentality with the largest armory in the world.
Standing at the forefront of civilized nations is not a right, and you don’t achieve that status by going to church. Whatever nation holds that position will do so by the hard work of promoting the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of its citizens, and by supporting their intellectual and economic potential. Tax cuts for the rich and pious mumblings are not part of the equation.
Greg Laden has a more thorough dissection of the revolting speech. He must have a stronger stomach than I do, because trying to read Romney’s mindless blitherings made me want to retch. How has this country reached the state where such inanity is considered presidential material?