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December 7, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ROMNEY'S RELIGIOUS WAR....The latest on the nonbeliever front:

A spokesman for the Mitt Romney campaign is thus far refusing to say whether Romney sees any positive role in America for atheists and other non-believers, after Election Central inquired about the topic yesterday.

I can't wait to see what kind of statement Romney makes on this. I figure that eventually he'll decide he has to at least address it, and I'm willing to bet it will be a classic campaign trail gem of smarmy, moi?, dog whistle, tapestry-of-America mush. It will mean nothing and everything, just like everything else Romney says. He shoulda been a poet.

Kevin Drum 1:11 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (54)

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I think that Romney and almost all Republican candidates take James Baker's position: "F- - - the Xs. They dont vote for us anyway."

Where X can be Jews, African-Americans, atheists, whatever.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on December 7, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

An insult to poets everywhere!

Posted by: mary on December 7, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Leftside of Romney's mouth: there is no religious test for public office.

Rightside of Romney's mouth: there is no religious test for public office unless you don't have a religion.

Posted by: Palooza on December 7, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Romney has already done plenty (such as his comments about Muslims) to convince me that he's a bigot. Calling atheists and agnostics un-American is just par for the course.

Posted by: Tom Veil on December 7, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Rightside of Romney's mouth: there is no religious test for public office unless you don't have a religion."

Midside of Romneys mouth, and only Abrahamic religions count!

This is of course exactly what the political polls would tell him to do. The few atheists who are hard-core libertarians vote R regardless, the rest vote D. None are considered to be in play. But enough of the population as a viseral dislike of them, so that can be played to.

Posted by: bigTom on December 7, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree, Kevin. Bush 41 said athiests shouldn't be regarded as citizens or patriots. Joe Lieberman suggested that one needed religion in order to be moral. There is no reason to think that Romney is going to give any more credit to non-believers than those two. Romney is still looking to kiss the asses of the fundies; he's not about to suggest that the athiests are ok.

Posted by: q on December 7, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

No, I think he's going to stand by it. It's gonna be his "moment of courage": he's gonna attack the atheists. As if THAT took courage in the Republican party! But he has no better political option if he wants to shake the conservative evangelicals away from Huckabee.

The country, as usual, be damned.

Posted by: Bill Camarda on December 7, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I think he already is what he shoulda been.

Posted by: steve duncan on December 7, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

It's unfortunate that the obnoxious behavior of radical atheists has tarred moderate atheists. Most atheists don't care if people around them celetrate Christmas or Hanukah or if money has the word "God" on it. By opposing this sort of thing, and by using court decree rather than the democratic process, the extremists have given all atheists a bad name.

That doesn't excuse Romney's back-of-the-hand treatment of atheists, but it tends to explain why such treatment is good politics.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 7, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

I can't wait to see what kind of statement Romney makes on this.

Kevin, I think Romney has already answered this. Americans are a religious people and America is a religious nation. Those who support the religious freedoms of People of Faith and value voters are welcome here, but they have no right to impose their new religion of secularism on others. America is about having freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Secularists and liberals confuse the two and that's why Americans don't trust the secularists and liberals.

Posted by: Al on December 7, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Nice to see Willard and his fellow hypocrites still struggling with differentiating the USA from its birth mother, an empire with the Divine Right of Kings and a state religion.

Posted by: ThresherK on December 7, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Bigotry based on mythology. You know who is also un-American? People who don't believe in Santa Clause.

I always love how "atheists" (who should instead just be called "normal, rational people") are at the bottom of the religious bigotry pecking order. Sure, Christians believe all Muslims are going to hell but at least other religions provide a certain reciprocity whereby they all agree on the same bogus premise that there's an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do and then punishes you or rewards you in the afterlife. It's like Santa Clause but you don't actually get any presents while you're alive.

Atheists are equally hated by most religions because they simply don't buy into the common snake-oil premise. Independent thought, critical thinking, facts, the scientific method, etc. are all anathema to religion. Because once you start thinking critically about things and demand proof to back up fanciful claims, religion and the money-making power structure it supports have a hard time surviving.

The truth is, Romney is actually an atheist with regard to all other religions on the planet. Atheists just go one god further in terms of disbelief.

Posted by: Augustus on December 7, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Those who support the religious freedoms of People of Faith and value voters are welcome here, but they have no right to impose their new religion of secularism on others. America is about having freedom of religion, not freedom from religion."

Thanks for letting me stay in my own country, Al.

Can you send in the better trolls, please?

Posted by: ThresherK on December 7, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

shorter Al: "new religion of secularism"


LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL
Oh Al, you just made my day. Now all we need is an informative visit by Normie.

Posted by: optical weenie on December 7, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Why would God need, or want, to play politics?

Posted by: Ya Know on December 7, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

" Americans are a religious people and America is a religious nation."

I would have to agree with Al, here. We are a religious nation, we religiously go to the mall to offer our sacrifices to the gods of prosperity and fortune, I see it every day, so we must be very, very religious about it.
Oh...not that kind of religosity eh, Al?
What kind of "religion" would you say Amurriican's follow?
Republicanism and they're self-appointed messiah wargod, George "it's hard, really hard!" Bush, and his prophet of doom and gloom, Dick "shotgun" Cheney?
Perhaps you mean all those Religous Rightest like Dr. "Republican Kingmaker" Dobson, or his loyal sycophant, the Pat "dam boy, why do you like a evil Gnome?" Robertson?
Tell me Al, which freakish syncretic religion are you talking about?

Posted by: sheerahkahn on December 7, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

someone oughta mention to these assholes that Ben Franklin was an atheist, and then ask them if they think that made a positive contribution to America.

Posted by: chiggins on December 7, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom requires that you have fixed, non-evidence faith in an all powerful dude who controls everything.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 7, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

America is about having freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Secularists and liberals confuse the two and that's why Americans don't trust the secularists and liberals. -AL

I am a Christian AL and the last thing I would ever do is be a crooked politician, besides that have you forgotten about the culture of corruption that has occured under the frauds elected because of their feigning to to be a 'moral majority'? They have given Christianity a bad name and have themselves sided with the atheists like Hitchens!

Posted by: Ya Know on December 7, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

As far as I can tell, a lot of believers aren't believers either.

Posted by: Mina on December 7, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK
.... such treatment is good politics. ex-lax at 1:41 PM
What explains it is Romney's pandering to christian extremists and their bigotry as shown by his own statement that he would refuse a cabinet position to a Muslim .


Romney and Blackwater: go to where the money is

...Blackwater is deep in the camp of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Cofer Black is Romney's senior adviser on counterterrorism. At the recent CNN/YouTube debate, when Romney refused to call waterboarding torture, he said, "I'm not going to specify the specific means of what is and what is not torture so that the people that we capture will know what things we're able to do and what things we're not able to do. And I get that advice from Cofer Black, who is a person who was responsible for counterterrorism in the CIA for some thirty-five years." That was an exaggeration of Black's career at the CIA (he was there twenty-eight years and head of counterterrorism for only three), but a Romney presidency could make Blackwater's business under Bush look like a church bake sale....

Posted by: Mike on December 7, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

We all, including those not of faith, should pray to Romney's God that he sees the light that atheists are human too, and deserve some attention.

Posted by: gregor on December 7, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

How, AL, has the prince of peace, Iesous, become pro-war and pro-empire? Thats quite the opposite of history as Iesous was not for empire, and it was the empire and Pilate, that put him to the cross?

I can see why people would want a kind peaceful president, but the Paradox is that an American President is the leader of an empire, a capitalist one not so much different from the Roman one.

The two ideologies are incompatible. And AL, when I think about it, Capitalism,due to its exploitative nature, creates liberalism because it by its nature exploits peoples [materialism] and desires. Look at Limbaugh, he talks conservative but his actions are , by his own definition of that word, liberal.

Posted by: Ya Know on December 7, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

I have such a visceral dislike for Mitt Romney right now, as both a politician and as a human being, that I'm actually considering donating to a Republican campaign just so they can beat him (Rudy and Mitt right now are in a tight race for potentially "scariest president EVAH"). Any suggestions on where I should put my money - you know, in ways that won't have long-term effects against the eventual Democratic nominee?

Posted by: Augie on December 7, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Also, after reading through the comments again, I thought it would be informative to remind us that a small fellow known as Karl Rove is an atheist. Maybe they should ask Republicans how they feel about him? Oh wait, IOKIYAR...

Posted by: Augie on December 7, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

You can teach creationism in my school, when I can teach evolution in your church. Fair enough? Otherwise, let's keep religion where it belongs, in the hearts and minds of believers, and out of public policy.

By the way, whatever happened to The War on Christmas? Did somebody win?

Posted by: jrw on December 7, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

O'realy declared victory in the war on xmas, haven't you heard?

Posted by: namvetted on December 7, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Now, Kevin I see no reason to insult poets, the best of whom nearly always convey truth.

Posted by: Jim Castleman on December 7, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

How fitting that Romney was introduced by George H.W. Bush, who famously declared, "No, I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God."

In his over-hyped address Thursday on "Faith in America," Romney sought to disarm evangelicals' fears about the role of his Mormon faith. But while he likely failed in that task, Romney assuredly succeeded in redefining the U.S. Constitution's ban on religious tests for political office. According to Romney's notion of public service, Muslims and atheists need not apply.

For the details, see:
"Mitt Romney Creates His Own Religious Test."

Posted by: Angry One on December 7, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

'nothing and everything' -- Maybe Mitt's speechwriters are Zen Buddhists?


BTW, what's it called when you go from being cynical about American politics to thinking the debate and main candidates are just lame?

Posted by: MaryCh on December 7, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

I fear America is sliding towards a less "enlightened" mindset, one in which superstition and
religious fervor trumps reason. A mindset that believes faith in a deity is essential for any type of debate; those who believe shall be heard, those who don't will be dismissed.

Huh?

Atheists don't believe in deities because they have evolved in their understanding of the Universe.

God is a human construct. Religion is used as a means of controlling others. What I believe is nobody else's business. But when others force their beliefs on me and on others, then I take offense.

The world is clamoring for leaders who rise above
pontificating about this or that faith vs. another.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on December 7, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

From Wikiepdia's entry on Secularism:

In another sense, it refers to a belief that human activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be based on evidence and fact rather than religious influence.

Seems to me that there must be plenty of the faithful that subscribe to this aspect of "secularism"?

Posted by: chiggins on December 7, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

It's unfortunate that the obnoxious behavior of "ex-liberal" has tarred neocons and Republicans. Wait -- no, it isn't.

Posted by: Gregory on December 7, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Two roads diverged in a wood and I--
I took the one most pandered by,
And that has made all the difference

-Willard "Mitt" Frost

Posted by: howie on December 7, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

And than David Brooks further divides the nation with this one sentence:

"I’m assuming that Romney left that out in order to generate howls of outrage in the liberal press."

And pray tell, what is the liberal press? Is it anything NOT owned by Murdock? The NON-corporate media of loyalist Bushism which equals the faithful? A bit of Karl Rove genesis at work I see, and the Repugs just can't get rid of that guy and his many demons of isolation and division policy.

So what we have is anything, anybody that says: War is not going good, Iraq is a civil war, Bush is torturing, Bush is wiretapping, Bush isn't honestly reporting the NIE briefing, the intelligence committee's FISA bill was somehow "partisan" even as it was NOT - to somehow equal liberal media, what equals truth is not "faithful".

And thus Republicans are smart how??? Brooks is happy to see Rommey attack the "liberal media" and Brooks talks about Rommey's dividing while doing his own dividing, and showing how Bushism is a constant religion of fatalism, a pro isolationist self implosion.

So keep up the good work Brooks, thrice and dice till Rove is known as father of the neo-conservative fatalistic GOP movement that it is so swiftly becoming.

Posted by: Me_again on December 7, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

David Brooks smarmy ways comes off as if he is playing a game. The pay off is excellent.
Trying he's best to rile and raise hackles.
Our response to Him would be to ignore the smirky Jerk.
As always truth has a liberal bias.

Posted by: apeman on December 7, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

If I here another criticism of atheists (even "radical atheists") by religious people for being "arrogant" I'll throw up on the spot. If that's not the pot calling the kettle black, I don't know what is. It would be like Hitler condemning Stalin for being an anti-Semite!

Apparently atheists are arrogant for expressing strong opinions, but religious fundamentalists who not only voice strong opinions, but who try to legally impose those opinions on the rest of the country (regarding abortion, gay rights, etc.) are not. That's some logic there.

Posted by: Lee on December 7, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK
I figure that eventually he'll decide he has to at least address it, and I'm willing to bet it will be a classic campaign trail gem of smarmy, moi?, dog whistle, tapestry-of-America mush.

Or maybe he'll be more direct, like George Bush (the Older): "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

Posted by: cmdicely on December 7, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Now all we need is an informative visit by Normie." Posted by: optical weenie on December 7, 2007 at 1:46 PM

You liberals! My house is bigger, my 9th wife is prettier, my car costs a lot, and I know more than you because my opinions are the right ones. Next!

Faux Norman Rogers (how'd I do?)

Posted by: Zit on December 7, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Tyger, Tyger, selling fright,
In the fogswamps of the right,
What immoral hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful asshatery?

Posted by: bigcat on December 7, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Mittens and the rest of the reichwingnut crew are going out of style. The fastest growing group in America is the "non of the above" faith. These are people who don't attend or go to religious services, may be atheists or just may be "spiritual".

Posted by: CParis on December 7, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

To their credit, the editorial board at the Washington Post gave some attention to the religious bigotry in Romney's speech:

No Freedom Without Religion? There's a gap in Mitt Romney's admirable call for tolerance.
RELIGIOUS liberty is, as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared yesterday, "fundamental to America's greatness." With religious division inciting violence across the globe, he is right to celebrate America's tradition of religious tolerance. He's right, too, that no one should vote against him, or for him, because he is a Mormon. We only wish his empathy for religious minorities such as his own extended a bit further, to those who do not believe in God.
Posted by: Oregonian on December 7, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Yea what Al said after all it's not the religious ones who have perverted sex,It's not Catholic preists being pediphiles it's not the value voters getting caught in bathroom stalls or taking late night strolls through gay parks is it.

Posted by: john john on December 7, 2007 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Do any of you people of faith know that the bible is written fromm 66 diffrent texts and rewritten by someone who may or may not have had a bias one way or another.Fact 1 the original text says "Gods" not "God". Could one believe that maybe Greek mythology may not be myth at all.And there really is more than one God.

Posted by: john john on December 7, 2007 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.” - Thomas Jefferson

I used to check off 'none' or 'none of the above' but found to my dismay that this was taken to mean I would welcome just about any religious wacko. I'd have to go through the whole spiel: " When I check 'none', it means just that. I'm an atheist. You're being here wastes both our time."

So now I go for 'Frisbeeatarian': When I die my soul gets stuck up on the roof.

Posted by: MsNThrope on December 7, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Time to call BULLSHIT on the whole God/religious, I am a “BELIEVER” thing and YOU SECURLARISTS ARE NOT.

People may say, hope, and want to “believe”. Expression of faith in something good, beyond our compression, spirituality, and prayer all great things if a person so chooses. But for GOD (which does not exist in any sense that we can comprehend) sakes, stop the fucking “I Believe” Bullshit. Only a moron-- excuse me--- only a person who suspends all rational thought and analysis would “believe” that their respective religious teachings are really, really true. We may want to believe, we may see them as abstract expressions of human desire for universal goodness, or ultimate redemption, but they are symbolic, abstract, mystical, and spiritual at best. Let’s get real… who the hell knows.

Time for a new “Holy War”. We can not let the Neo-Fascists frame the debate as “secular humanists” vs. all religions’ ”believers”.

We should move the debate to: respect of persons personal spiritual needs (including abstract atheism) vs. absolutists and literalists. Most people are in the former camp, very few actual “believers” in the later.

Posted by: erict on December 7, 2007 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK


"Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand."-JOHN ADAMS

Posted by: majarosh on December 7, 2007 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand."-JOHN ADAMS

Posted by: majarosh on December 7, 2007 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

You denigrate poets with that conclusion.

Although Mitt and shit do rhyme.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on December 8, 2007 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

"Tell me Al, which freakish syncretic religion are you talking about?"

Well, odds are it's the sort where god chooses as his representative on earth a prostitute-addicted faith healer in a nylon wig who thinks a first strike on Iran would be a good idea in order to bring forward Armageddon.

Posted by: Ally on December 8, 2007 at 6:14 AM | PERMALINK

Please keep poets out of this. Good poets do the opposite--they make language MEAN things. We need more poets and fewer Romneys!

Posted by: Susan on December 8, 2007 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Romney's Renaissance

From liberal Massachusetts where Romney campaigned on what the electorate wanted to hear, i.e. religious and social tolerance re gays, abortion, etc, to Philadelphia, thoughts of enlightenment heralding reason and science were the philosophical backbone of a great new country.

Voltaire on hearing Romney's new mantra invoked in his "Freedom requires religion" line sat bolt upright. Actually he bumped his head which vexed him all the more.
"Theese Romney fellow is such a slut" he said. "He makes the liar, Karl Rove, seem pristine and chaste in hees willingness to throw the Constitution under the tumbrils."

Posted by: cognitorex on December 8, 2007 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Romney's speech wasn't a defense of Mormonism nor was it an intellectual appeal to moralists everywhere. The speech was to assure the "base" that despite being a Mormon and no matter what the "base" may have heard about Mormonism, Mitt was foursquare in support of what the "base" supports.

See the transcript and note these lines.
They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. He's for public creches (and well, ok, menorrahs) and the 10 Commandments on the walls of public buildings.

"We believe that every single human being is a child of God - we are all part of the human family. I'm pro-life! Don't be afraid!

our aspirations, our values, are the self-same as those from the other faiths Seriously, Mormons aren't crazy-in the conventional sense.

"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Secular humanists are just plain wrong and I'll appoint the Discovery Institute to head up the Education Dept.

Mission Accomplished.

Posted by: TJM on December 8, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

andrew sullivan's blog reports the following comment of romney's wife on her husband's
"freedom requires religion" speech:

"it was a combination of george washington and the gettysberg address"

this is up there with george bush's comment:

"when i pray on my knees in the oval office every morn. i know it's god's will to have chosen me to be pres.at this time"

the above two comments make me long for richard nixon-----nixon was paranoid, but he wasn't delusional.

if somebody asked me how bad did i think things
could be twenty year's from now with people like bush, romney, giuliani and huckabee running the show i would say:

"that's a hard question---but i certainly could imagine real, real bad"

if somebody asked me are you real scared i would say:

"that's an easy quest.---i'm REAL, REAL SCARED"

Posted by: wschneid25 on December 10, 2007 at 7:35 AM | PERMALINK
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