Thursday, December 06, 2007

Is This a Nation of Only Monotheistic Believers?

Under the United Blogging Act of 2005, I should have said something about Mitt Romney's speech about how being a Mormon does not make him unfit to be president.

Hrafnkell picked up on a news release from Americans United, a group that did a lot for us during the pentacle grave-marker quest. The nugget:

“I was particularly outraged that Romney thinks that the Constitution is somehow based on faith and that judges should rule accordingly, “ Lynn said. “That’s a gross misunderstanding of the framework of our constitutional system.

“I think it is telling that Romney quoted John Adams instead of Thomas Jefferson or James Madison,” [the Rev. Barry W.] Lynn continued. “Jefferson and Madison are the towering figures who gave us religious liberty and church-state separation.

In Romney's world, contrary to what comes out of his mouth, there is a religious test for president:

"I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages,[sic] and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims.

And who did he leave out? I can think of a few religious traditions...

UPDATE: And the non-religious, of course, as Ann Althouse points out in her discussion of the speech.

UPDATE 2: Timothy Burke has the best summary of the Romney speech.



Blogger Copper Asetemhat Stewart said...

This was interesting to read alongside The Wild Hunt for the same day--the entry there was about appropriation of native culture. Mormonism presents not simply "religious test" connundra, but also questions about the ability of a Mormon politician to ethically represent Jewish and Native/Indian constituencies. Mormonism adds the question that many religions wouldn't: "What about American history?" I'm not sure how or to what extent, but it does seem very relevant to holding office and should be considered by an electorate better informed about what the cultural and epistemological issues are.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous sari0009 of said...

Greasing the slopes, slipping from majority vote into majoritarian tyranny…

Too many reduce the complexity of making E Pluribus Unum functional to an identity issue, their identity issues, and things just get more dysfunctional from there.

The politicians want to get elected at any cost (that’s not going to be thrashed by the majority) while too many American people want to tie up their identity as Christian Americans in reinventing America as a crypto-theocracy, willfully ignoring the fact that as a religion rules a land, its factions/denominations endlessly vie/war for power and control.

They believe in the myth of Christian unity and brotherly love, which crumbles once too much power is had. The signs are alreay there!

9:11 AM  
Blogger Jordan Stratford+ said...

"Is This a Nation of Only Monotheistic Believers?"

Of course it is. Always has been. Those who are either marginalized or who chose to marginalize, remain on the margins. Those who organize themselves into blocs, or align themselves with same, get a voice. Those which don't, don't. Hardly news.

So Pagans as Pagans will always be outside the monotheocracy. Fortunately, Pagans are also academics, union members, activists, parents, taxpayers, liberals, conservatives...

It's an interesting debate. It's so weird that up here in Canada, where we have an official religion and no separation between church and state (our head of state IS the head of the official religion) we seem to have far fewer issues about religion and politics and more de facto religious freedom. We're a funny species, we humans.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Chas S. Clifton said...


My comments are directed toward Gov. Romney's understanding of America rather than toward what America actually is.

The lack of an established religion is the best thing that ever happened to religion in America overall. Here, to rebel against the government is not to rebel against any given church, and vice versa.

And the legal structure does permit minority religions to claim their rights ... eventually. The "Pentacle Quest" is evidence of that. Are fallen Wiccan members of the Canadian Forces accorded the same privilege?

But I do find Gov. Romney to be the most offensive of the leading GOP candidates. The fact that he must try to portray his own faith as compatible with Protestant Christianity (and anyone who knows the Nicene Creed knows that it is not) means that he must always be a little bit deceptive.

Consequently, his attitude of "We are all happy Abrahamic monotheists here together," while it may persuade some Christians, is a political expedient.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Jordan Stratford+ said...

The "Pentacle Quest" is evidence of that. Are fallen Wiccan members of the Canadian Forces accorded the same privilege?

Absolutely. There'd be mass protests if that were not the case - we don't just "pride" ourselves on inclusiveness and multiculturalism, we "identify as" it. Two problems remain, although the first one isn't a problem;

1) We don't have a lot of dead soldiers, as we don't go to war as often as Americans. Now we're paying a heavy price in Afghanistan, but still statistically that's not a great number by comparison.

2) Soldiers' grave markers are decided by next-of-kin, usually parents. Pagan soldiers rarely have Pagan parents, although that will change eventually obviously.

But if a Pagan Canadian soldier died and wanted a pent on their marker, they'd bloody well get one.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Chas S. Clifton said...

Are there indeed any Pagan Canadian soldiers who have paid the ultimate price, or are you speaking hypothetically?

Multiculturalism is all well and good, but when people begin to think that it trumps the values of the larger society you get this.

Or the American Mormon splinter groups finding a happy polygamist home in BC.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Copper Asetemhat Stewart said...

Isn't tracing a causal connection between multiculturalism and the news story you cite a bit like blaming abolition for more intense whippings? How is a truly democratic regime anything other than multicultural in its basic premises? The sort of thing you cite--as well as our current "Center cannot hold" realities--seems to me to be birth pangs stemming from a recognition of reality, one that has always been true (and resisted) on this continent since colonization. (But then I'm a 7-th generation unchurched American who nowadays knows only two Christians personally--balkanization is happening).

8:55 AM  
Blogger Copper Asetemhat Stewart said...

I found a way more fully into the concepts I was trying to indicate in my comment and blogged it on Goddess of Liberty at:

I can't challenge the preponderance of monotheism, but there's ample basis for challenging the usual rhetoric from both left and right on issues of "Christian Nation".

10:22 AM  
Blogger Riverwolf said...

Romney is an interesting character to me for a number of reasons. I'm not "frightened" of his Mormon faith since my best childhood friends were Mormons. But what does concern me is what Chas pointed out: that he simply does not see anyone who adopts religious beliefs outside of Judeo/Christian monotheism. There is such a rich variety of beliefs and contributions, and it saddens me that Romney's speech didn't acknowledge these traditions.

But this is hardly surprising. He's courting the conservative vote, and he had to prove Mormons don't have horns (if only they did!). Anyway, he's lived a very sheltered WASPy life, and I frankly feel sorry for him. The irony in all this is that he (and other Christians) might call pagan traditions "godless," all the while pointing at each other and whispering "godless" under their breath. And they don't even realize it.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Tracie the Red said...

And apparently Mitt doesn't realize that the Adamses were Unitarians.

7:40 PM  

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