Thursday, December 06, 2007

On Faith And Freedom

John Kennedy, Sept 12 1960 at the Greater Houston Ministerial Association.
"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute"
Mitt Romney today at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library.
"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."
Comparing the above quotes brings to mind a paraphrase of the classic Lloyd Bentsen take down of little Danny Quayle: "[Governor], I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. [Governor], you're no Jack Kennedy"

The Romney quote above is one of the most absurd assertions ever uttered in the history of political platitudity. (Hah! A new word!) Jesus Christ, who by Romneys own testimony "is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind" walked the Earth and spread his message founding the Christian faith in a land brutally occupied by the Romans. In fact one may argue that if not for the absolutely pathological outlook by the Romans on their subjects (which led them to do things like publicly torture and crucify common criminals as an example to the local populace) that Jesus would never have been offered as the sacrifice for mankind, which happening is integral to the Christian faith.

Jesus' disciples then spread the gospel in lands far and wide, and every single kingdom they visited suffered under various forms of brutal tyranny. They all died at the hands of brutal tyrants in the course of spreading their message and building one of the worlds great religions. If Romney were actually correct in asserting that "freedom and faith endure together or perish alone" Christianity would have died in the cradle, a forgotten cult based upon a cannabalistic off shoot of Judaism.

There are a myriad of examples of strong churches, amazing tales of faith and spirituality in the face of institutional oppression. In fact repression is one of the greatest reasons that any given populace turns to spirituality. Just look at the example of the early American slaves. Consider the foundations which led to the mythic status of the "Negro Spiritual", emblematic of inspirational faith and spiritual fortitude in the face of hopeless generational bondage. Now tell me that faith and freedom must live together or perish alone.

The message Romney is really trying to sell here is that religion should be influenced by the political system, as religion should also influence the system. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that overt spirituality is quite often the very foundation of tyranny and oppression. Romney rails against "radical violent Islam" in this very speech. Consider the governments which are founded upon a radical interpretation of that faith, and you are witness to some of the most backwards, illiberal and repressive regimes in human history. The Holy Catholic Church spent most of the middle ages brutally repressing various subcultures and other sects and religions based upon a warped mingling of faith and government. I contend that faith and freedom may certainly coexist with each other, but one is not neccessary in order to have the other. In fact intertwaining faith and freedom may lead to the death of one or the other... or both.

The evangelical audience Romney was reaching out to with this speech may appreciate the sentiment that insists freedom and religion endure together. But I'm not certain that they will be happy, understanding that their sectarian beliefs are not the guiding principles of the faith which influences our freedom.

Beyond that evangelical audience, people who are paying attention to this speech must be given pause at the expressed will of Romney at incorporating faith with freedom.

The message I'm getting here is:
Romney says freedom of religion is necessary. Religion dies without freedom.
You say the opposite. Faith can survive without freedom.

You go so far as to call Romney's statement "one of the most absurd assertions ever..."

The other half of Romney's equation, that freedom requires religion, you got so garbled that I can't even figure out what you're saying.

We all agree that religion shouldn't run the government. But I sure wouldn't want a government led by folks with no religious convictions, e.g. Lenin, Mao.
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