In his speech yesterday, covered gratis by all of the TV networks, Mitt Romney argued that Mormonism was 'merely a different brand of Christianity and that to pick at the differences between Mormons and other faiths was incompatible with America's history of religious tolerance.' He said, "Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle, indeed, if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree."
Yet in the next breath he claimed that religion is 'essential to freedom,' without pointing to any specific faith. "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," Romney said.
It reminds me of that famous '50's pop tune, "First you say you do, then you don't, then you say you will, then you won't..."
I'll coin a phrase: duplicit dualism. Romney wants no test of faith, but he requires faith. As he tried to recreate the John Kennedy moment, we might parody the elder's famous inaugural speech this way: 'As not what my religion is, ask what religion can do for your country.'
More crudely, this all boils down to sucking up to the Bible-thumpers. Clearly, the GOP is becoming the political wing of the Christian Right. The important question is this: does America need a religious political party? To find the answer we need not search too far for examples of nations run by a religious sect: Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan.
Sure, Mr. Romney, freedom needs religion.