08 December 2007

God's Place in Politics

The New York Times has some sensible things to say about Mitt Romney's speech on his faith and its role in his political ambitions. Here are some quotes -- the full text of the editorial is at the bottom of this post.

Mr. Romney filled his speech with the first myth — that the nation’s founders, rather than seeking to protect all faiths, sought to imbue the United States with Christian orthodoxy... Mr. Romney dragged out the old chestnuts about “In God We Trust” on the nation’s currency, and the inclusion of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance — conveniently omitting that those weren’t the founders’ handiwork, but were adopted in the 1950s at the height of McCarthyism.

In his book, “American Gospel,” Jon Meacham quotes James Madison as saying that law was “meant to comprehend, with the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.”

The founders were indeed religious men, as Mr. Romney said. But they understood the difference between celebrating religious faith as a virtue, and imposing a particular doctrine, or even religion in general, on everyone. As Mr. Meacham put it, they knew that “many if not most believed, yet none must.”

We believe democracy cannot exist without separation of church and state, not that public displays of faith are anathema. We believe, as did the founding fathers, that no specific religion should be elevated above all others by the government... That is why they wrote in Article VI that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

The full text of the NY Times editorial is

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