Politics and Religion: A Silly Thing to Mix Part III


chanukah-ham.jpg

Well, they’re at it again (see this and this). [Now with “day after” NY Times editorial links below] The pathological need for the American people to listen to politicians prate upon their religious “beliefs” has culminated in Mitt Romney’s big JFK style speech. Well, Mitt you are no JFK (you don’t have a Boston accent for one). For your reading pleasure, here are some choice quotes from Presidential hopeful, uber-Mormon and possible robot (and certain asshole) Mitt Romney’s speech this morning:

Top honors:

“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.”

“A person should not be elected because of his faith, nor should he be rejected because of his faith. Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin. As governor, I tried to do the right, as best I knew it, serving the law and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution. And, of course, I would not do so as president. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law.”

In the who really cares category:

“There is one fundamental question which I’m often asked: What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind. My church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism, but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle, indeed, if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.”

In the “I will contradict myself” category:

“There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church’s distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths.”

In the creepily disingenuous category:

“When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.”

“We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. 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.

In the my speech writer did a search and replace with the word “freedom” category:

“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.”

Last, but certainly not least, in the I don’t quite recall reading that about US history category:

“The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation ‘Under God’ and in God, we do indeed trust.”

UPDATE: This editorial found in today’s NY Times succinctly points out the numerous myths Romney perpetuates throughout the speech, some of which I have mocked above. Romney’s true aim was obvious:

Still, there was no escaping the reality of the moment. Mr. Romney was not there to defend freedom of religion, or to champion the indisputable notion that belief in God and religious observance are longstanding parts of American life. He was trying to persuade Christian fundamentalists in the Republican Party, who do want to impose their faith on the Oval Office, that he is sufficiently Christian for them to support his bid for the Republican nomination. No matter how dignified he looked, and how many times he quoted the founding fathers, he could not disguise that sad fact.

As I’ve said before, this business of mixing politics and religion is reaching new heights of absurdity, consider this:

And yet, religious testing has gained strength in the last few elections. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, has made it the cornerstone of his campaign. John McCain, another Republican who struggles to win over the religious right, calls America “a Christian nation.”

CNN, shockingly, required the candidates at the recent Republican debate to answer a videotaped question from a voter holding a Christian edition of the Bible, who said: “How you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you. Do you believe every word of this book? Specifically, this book that I am holding in my hand, do you believe this book?”

Yikes, very scary. Even David Brooks editorial on Romney, politics and religion this morning was worth reading. Brooks writes:

In Romney’s account, faith ends up as wishy-washy as the most New Age-y secularism. In arguing that the faithful are brothers in a common struggle, Romney insisted that all religions share an equal devotion to all good things. Really? Then why not choose the one with the prettiest buildings?
In order to build a voting majority of the faithful, Romney covered over different and difficult conceptions of the Almighty…When he spoke of God yesterday, he spoke of a bland, smiley-faced God who is the author of liberty and the founder of freedom. There was no hint of Lincoln’s God or Reinhold Niebuhr’s God or the religion most people know — the religion that imposes restraints upon on the passions, appetites and sinfulness of human beings. He wants God in the public square, but then insists that theological differences are anodyne and politically irrelevant.

7 thoughts on “Politics and Religion: A Silly Thing to Mix Part III

  1. this ham looks both delicious and very festive! i’m sure that whatever this “Chanukah” thing is, it will be a great addition to it – where can i get my hands on this “Chanukah” ham? are there any bacon or sausage that comes with it?

  2. damn, oh well, now thanks for pointing out my clearly delusional attempts to engage anyone in any semblance of a mature discussion on that blog and be an honest and direct friend that you always are and tell me in my virtual face – what is it exactly that was judged to be “moralist” and “anti-intellectualist”? i mean it’s not like i was inventing the wheel with my questions – anyone who is even slightly familiar with Derrida or Hegel would be on the same page with me in my questioning of the problem of translation! right? i mean for a blog that apparently takes its title from Hegel’s Science of Logic, i am amazed at a certain level of dismissiveness and irrationality – and i am declared to be a dick?

  3. Now we can add passive aggressive to the list of qualities! It’s always the worst when one mistakes your active aggression for passive aggression. I think the rules of blogging etiquette are being taken a bit too dogmatically. Don’t you think? I’m not quite sure what was judged to be “moralist” or anti-intellectual, perhaps your hinting at an impossible “pure form” of translation? Your offensive use of the word “certainty”? If I could misquote, de-contextualize and violently appropriate something one of the dynamic duo at the CPC said the other day to serve my own purpose: “you never know in which PARTICULAR relation to the potty it shits.” Yes, indeed.

  4. Hey Mikhail, did you see? Somebody reached our blog by searching this term:

    “Thanksgiving shower douche”

    That gives rubber turkey a whole new connotation. They must be sold next to those special once a year Chanukah hams.

    Shahar, do you know anything about a Thanksgiving shower douche?

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