Romney gives non-Christians the finger

Today’s Washington Post has an editorial titled “No Freedom Without Religion?” that points out a little phrase I’d not heard about Mitt Romney’s “Kennedy” speech yesterday in Texas.

Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom…

Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government.

Excuse me? Which god? Yours? If I remember my very limited knowledge of the Mormon faith, every man with children eventually becomes a god – which one of them blessed us with liberty?

How about me – I worship many deities and personified forces of the universe. Which of my gods granted us liberty?

Or maybe it was it YHVH? Or was it Vishnu? Amaterasu? Zeus? Ra?

And, as the Post mentioned, that doesn’t even cover the millions of people in the U.S. who don’t believe in any creator of any kind. Mitt Romney just threw those people folk into the sacrificial flames.

I appreciate that not even a politician can be everything to everyone, that they’ll occasionally make gaffes, that they have to make calculated decisions about targeting their most likely voters in order to win. The fact that all the Republicans must play to their most right-wing constituencies in order to win the nomination is one of the biggest problems in our electoral primary system today (the Democrats have the same problem, just to their left wing). So I’m hardly surprised that the Republicans, and Mitt Romney in particular, are giving non-Christians the finger.

That still doesn’t make it right.

UPDATE: I just found that David Brooks of the New York Times wrote on this very issue in today’s NYTimes: Faith vs. the Faithless. Brooks isn’t as annoyed as I am, but he also wishes that Romney had at least acknowledged the non-observant and non-religious.

29 replies »

  1. This little example of idiocy is what makes those of us who consider themselves left wing republicans furious at the right wing repugnicans who seem to dominate our party. I myself am like Brian in being non Christian and not particularly interested in having my religious beliefs dictated to me, especially by some group of narrow minded right wing zealots.

  2. You can pretty much call me an agnostic, but I could never understand why people who don’t have a religion, or feel themselves to be in a minority religion, get so defensive about about these topics. Whether you like it or not, roughly 80% of people in the United States are Christians. Romney was talking to those people in that speech and trying to reach them. But more to the point, Who Cares! Have you really ever been “oppressed” by Christians? I’ve never in my entire life felt any pressure to do something against my will from any religion. How in the world did the sentences that you quoted above offend or even annoy you?

  3. WhoCares:

    Seriously, you MUST be joking. You live in a society where many places it’s illegal to buy alcohol on Sunday. Marijuana is illegal. You can be jailed for a whole array of “victimless crimes.” And some places, what you do in your own bedroom can get you in hot water.

    Hypothetically, where do you suppose these kinds of laws come from?

  4. Slammy – Just because I’m hardly surprised doesn’t make me happy about it. The Bill of Rights is supposed to guarantee the rights of the minority against predation by the majority. That it hasn’t been working that way recently is a condemnation of the recent political leadership in this country.

  5. Dr. Slammy:

    I’m not a big fan of “victimless crimes” either, but are you saying its just Christians who created these laws? I highly doubt that Jews, Muslims, and other minority religions here are big fans of buying alcohol on Sundays and smoking Marijuana. In fact, I’d wager that there’s a good portion of atheists and agnostics who’d agree with those laws too. So “hypothetically,” I suppose laws outlawing marijuana comes from the belief by most Americans that the United States is better off without allowing individuals to smoke Marijuana, and laws against buying alcohol on Sundays comes from those towns/counties where citizens feel it’s detrimental to their local society.

  6. WhoCares:

    Let me quote your own comment back to you: “…roughly 80% of people in the United States are Christians.”

    So while I agree that other religious groups might not like these activities, the laws we live by are made by that 80% majority. Are other religious groups part of the problem? Sure. But they’re nowhere near being the biggest part of it.

  7. Along that line I don’t even believe the majority of the problem is spawned by the Majority of Christians. The ones I have a problem with personally are the far right extremist who want to try forcing me into the mold they believe we should all be hammered into. And yes I have personal experience with that type of extremist (read zealot).

  8. Dr. Slammy:

    I’m not understanding your point. Yes, roughly 80% are Christians, but like we both agree, other religious groups are against those activities as well. So it doesn’t matter that 80% are Christians, if it was 80% Jews or Mulsims, we’d still have those laws you mentioned. I’d wager that even if we had 80% atheists or agnostics, we’d still have those laws. Many of these laws may have been based long ago in religion but are now considered to reflect the values of most Americans, religious or not.

    Now you could say that it doesn’t matter, you are still being “oppressed” by laws that had there original basis in religion, but what other options do you suggest? Perhaps we should never make any laws because it might oppress an individual?

  9. Rho:

    That’s my point, you said you’ve had an experience of religious zealots “who want to try forcing me into the mold they believe we should all be hammered into.” But my questions was if you had ever actually been forced into that mold. I get peppered continuously with religious groups asking me to follow their teachings, join their church, give them donations, live my life like they live theres, etc. But I’ve never actually been forced to do that.

  10. My situation is that it got so bad I haven’t spoken to my older brother or his wife in over a decade. But they still try once in a while to get at via my mother and via my e-mail.

  11. But I’ve never actually been forced to do that. You might find this a radical statement, but yes, you have. You just don’t necessarily realize that fact.

    Does your employer (assuming you’re not self-employed, anyway) offer you the opportunity to shift your company-defined holidays away from Christmas to other days of your choosing? Are you permitted to flex your schedule onto Saturday and Sunday and take Tuesday and Thursday off all the time? If not, then this is a mild form of oppression that you don’t even recognize due to your acculturation in the predominantly Christian U.S. culture.

    Have you ever felt pressured NOT to talk about your faith or lack thereof for fear of being harassed or fired? I imagine probably not, because being agnostic is generally more OK than being an atheist, pagan, Buddhist, or Muslim. I have felt that pressure, and that is a form of oppression as well.

    Neither of my examples amount to a threat to life and/or limb, but they are still mild forms of oppression that should be resisted. Mitt Romney’s overtly religious expression are further examples of that oppression.

    (And I haven’t even gone into the fact that they’re factually inaccurate – most organized religions have no desire in granting their adherent anything resembling freedom. The only possible exception I can think of is the Unitarian-Universalists, but there may be a very few others.)

  12. Brian Angliss:

    Most company-defined holidays are non-religious, and I cannot shift those either.

    Not working on Saturday or Sunday? Again, this may have a basis in religion but is now just considered days that most non-retail businesses have agreed to be a common set of days to give off to employees. And of course, I’ve never been forced to take them off. 😉 Retailers are also more than happy to let you work those days. You could also start your own retail business that is closed on Sundays and Saturdays, but expect to lose some business. Again, I do not see this as attributable to religion anymore.

    Everyone feels pressured to not talk about their personal beliefs at work. Yes, even Christians. That’s because business owners usually do NOT like arguments over personal beliefs distracting you from your work. It’s simply good business practice.

    I probably do have a fairly strict definition for the use of the word oppression – those situations where death is the only other option. Otherwise, to me, everyone on earth can be considered oppressed.

    I’ll concede the factually inaccurate parts, but again, I’m not trying to promote the prominence of religion in the public square. My point here is that non-Christians tend to get extremely defensive when religion is brought up in the public square. To me it’s a non-issue. I’ve never been forced to do something that I can attribute to a religion.

  13. WhoCares:

    Other options? Here’s one – how about we insist on a secular public sphere? Religion can do what it wants on its own turf, and sure, people are free to speak their minds. But let’s stop making policy based on religious beliefs.

    Until we get there, yes, I have an issue with it.

  14. Have you really ever been “oppressed” by Christians?

    Oh, absolutely! Where do I start?

    I had a football coach who put the “atheist” in the middle of an Oklahoma linebacker drill over and over until I could no longer stand up. He refused to play me in games because God wouldn’t allow a team to win if there was an atheist on it.

    In high school, my grades were lowered rather often because of my lack of faith. I was told so to my face more than once. I was denied opportunities for some scholarships, and despite being first in my class and the only National Merit Scholar ever from my high school, was not allowed to be in the National Honor Society because God would not like it. Years after the fact, I obtained a copy of teacher and counselor recommendations for college and two of three of them recommended I not be accepted because I had “no faith.” I had a boss once who threatened to fire me because I wouldn’t volunteer at her favorite religious charity.

    And that’s just a few instances.

    Hey, if you noticed a cancerous growth on your skin, do you think it might be a good idea to excise it before it gets too large? Either your personal experience or the experiences of others would probably make you think that was a good idea. Well, rigid ideology is that cancer, and it has produced torture and murder on a vast scale whenever allowed to have coercive power. It really doesn’t matter if that ideology is communisim, fascism, racism, monotheistic godism, or any other ism you can think of in which people turn on their emotions and turn off their brains.

  15. “Whether you like it or not, roughly 80% of people in the United States are Christians.”

    There’s lies, damned lies, and numbers that people pull completely out of their ass.

    That’s like the lie that the US is a christian nation. Um, don’t think so. The Founding Fathers warned repeatedly against the plague known as christianity.

  16. Actually, Dom, you’re a little off here. Sort of. I did a long-winded bit on this awhile back. The 80% number is actually low, and while you’re right about the fact that we’re not a Christian nation legally, it’s damned hard to argue with the premise that if 85% of you people are X, you’re an X society.

  17. My good Doctor,

    I would be remiss if I wasn’t at least a little skeptical about a News Corp-owned organization like Beliefnet. A lot of people I’ve talked with proclaim they are spiritual but won’t have anything to do with organized religion.

  18. DomPierre:

    I’m more skeptical about the methodology. It’s well known that people often don’t respond honestly to questions that have some sort of moral overtone.

  19. Also don’t forget that he way one poses a question will effect the answer. an example would be a pole that asked the two following questions.

    1) Would you support a well qualified female president?

    2) Do you support the current money grubbing elitists who control your government?

    Wanna bet what most people would answer to those two questions? I use those as an example because thase are the two questions the last political pollster who called me asked before I got disgusted and hung up in her ear.

  20. 3%-5% of Americans are Atheist/agnostic, so what is this millions and millions as if majority of Americans are Atheists.

  21. Actually, that is very true, I don’t argue with that, but he says it as if the Majority of Americans are Atheist. 255,000,000 Americans are Christians at least.

      • I guess nothing can stop you from reading what the author said however you like, but let’s be very specific:

        And, as the Post mentioned, that doesn’t even cover the millions of people in the U.S. who don’t believe in any creator of any kind. Mitt Romney just threw those people folk into the sacrificial flames.

        There is nothing remotely inaccurate or misleading about this sentence. Your issues are your issues, period.