So said Mitt Romney, Republican presidential hopeful, as he spoke yesterday in what was ostensibly tauted as a repudiation of any notion that his Morman faith would impinge upon his duties as president, if he were to be elected; as an explanation of the tenets of his faith to ease the twitter of those unconvinced of his Christianity–largely born-again, neo-con, evangelicals (the name, George W. Bush, comes to mind here), who, apparently, covet their hunch Mormans, like Catholics, Muslims, and everyone else who does not share their inside track, their direct dial hookup with the Almighty are ipso facto damned to Hades and certainly not Empowered to occupy the White House.
Romney raised the specter of the first Catholic to run for president, John F. Kennedy. Although Romney did not–perhaps could not–allow the name “Kennedy” to pass from his lips (a sinful backslide; an unforgivable blasphemy), his, Romney’s, inference was that it was incumbent upon him, like Kennedy, to assure America that he does not “…define [his] candidacy by [his] religion.”
First, it is instructive to see/hear what Kennedy said in Houston, before a group of Southern Baptist Leaders during the 1960 presidential campaign.
The video is here. It is interesting to note Kennedy’s introduction, by whom I presume was a Southern Baptist leader at the time, who noted: “Contrary to common propaganda, the South is not a hotbed of religious or racial intolerance…” Methinks Kennedy bit his tongue when he heard that one. (The entire speech is here, thanks to Suz.)
And, the video is here, where Kennedy reiterates his stance on religion in a speech in West Virginia (the comments on religion come toward the middle of the video).
Even at twelve-years-old, I understood–even though I didn’t understand the meaning of the words I would later learn to describe my impression of JFK–that here was a man with a fine mind, articulate, committed; a bright and beautiful presence who defined the hope of America as the founders had intended.
From an editorial in the New York Times this morning, (The Crisis of Faith): “Still, there was no escaping the reality of the moment. Mr. Romney was not there to defend freedom of religion, or to champion the indisputable notion that belief in God and religious observance are longstanding parts of American life. He was trying to persuade Christian fundamentalists in the Republican Party, who do want to impose their faith on the Oval Office, that he is sufficiently Christian for them to support his bid for the Republican nomination. No matter how dignified he looked, and how many times he quoted the founding fathers, he could not disguise that sad fact.”
And, this is what Romney said: “Freedom requires religion just as religion required 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. …When I place my hand on the bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes by highest promise to God. …I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. …Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our Constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from the ‘God who gave us liberty.’ …Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage. …Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government. …Any believer in religious freedom, any person who had knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. …we welcome our nation’s symphony of faith.”
“We face no greater danger today than theocratic tyranny, and the boundless suffering these states and groups could inflict if given the chance.” So said Mitt Romney.
I will not insult your intelligence–as Romney insulted mine–by opining long on the sweet suet this slick-tongued, slick-haired panderer tossed to those whose sacred duty it is to impose “…theocratic tyranny…” in the name of their god upon America. Have we not already seen some little manifestation of such over the last six years from the self-proclaimed messenger of god who, today, sits in the Oval Office?
And, by the way, how dare Romney besmirch the memory of John F. Kennedy by even suggesting a commonality between the two. Kennedy provided this nation with hope, pride, the promise of a bright future. Romney promises a more intense immersion within the scourge of theocratic priapism; the “…boundless suffering…” that he himself ascribes to the “…theocratic tyranny…” which he himself so ably pandered to yesterday.
P.S. And, as an aside, here is what JFK had to say about secrecy.