Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Romney Gets it Wrong About Separation


The Huffington Post recapped an interview Mitt Romney had with the magazine Cathedral Age that included some very memorable quotes.  Romney, private equity exec turned governor turned presidential candidate turned historian took a shot at secularists as those who "seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God" aren't acting in line with the Founders' intent.  The all-knowing Romney clearly knew what Madison, Jefferson, et al were thinking.  Romney goes on to further  say that "some" Americans have taken the separation of church and state too far, "well beyond its original meaning."  Finally, Romney said the Founders didn't intend for "the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God, 'and in God, we do indeed trust."  Now I have heard this line hundreds of times about how religion is under assault in the public square.  Well know it’s my turn for a retort.
Why take Romney’s word when we have the words of one James Madison:
“If Religion be not within cognizance of Civil Government, how can its legal establishment be said to be necessary to Civil Government? What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of Civil Authority; in many instances they have seen the upholding of the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberty of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the political liberty, may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it [liberty], needs them not.”

Further, here is the critical passage from the Virginia Religious Freedom Act of 1786:

“Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions on belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect civil capacities.

And though we will know that this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any acts hall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be infringement of natural right.”

My final counter to Mr. Romney is if he is so outspoken about freedom of religion, why hasn’t he taken a pro-Mosque stance?  Why has he not, as achurch leader, spoke out against bigotry against Muslims who have simply wanted to exercise their freedoms?  The same freedoms that the founding fathers had in mind when they created the Constitution.  In fact, I believe the likes of Romney, his running mate Paul Ryan, and the influence growing social conservative core (not wing mind you) of the new GOP are trying to overly and unduly influence government policy based on their fundamentalist religious beliefs.  Which is why they must be stopped; stopped by free thinking, critical thinking, enlightened and educated individuals.  Who’s with me?

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