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Mitt Romney's new ad accusing President Obama of declaring a "war on religion" with the Affordable Care Act isn't without risks for the Republican presidential nominee. Even leaving aside the over-the-top hyperbole, it turns out that Romney put similar contraception policies in place during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts. But much more dangerous for Romney is his de facto religious test for true membership in the American community, one in which Jews, Muslims and non-believers have second-class status—or simply no status at all.

Romney's double-standard starts with the voting bloc he has pursued most vigorously over the last month: Jewish Americans. (It is worth noting that the Romney campaign tests the fairness of press coverage by substituting "Jew" or "Jewish" for "Mormon.") While no fan of the kibbutzim so critical to the successful establishment of Israel, in Jerusalem and again on the pages of the National Review Mitt insisted "culture makes all the difference" in understanding "the accomplishments of the people of this nation."

But in the United States, it turns out that for Mitt Romney, something else matters much more. In May, Romney explained what "it" was to the graduates of the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

During a speech in which he never mentioned the word "Mormon" (he used it once in his "Faith in America" address in 2007), Romney tried to explain to his evangelical audience "where we can meet in common purpose." Surely, Romney suggested to applause, they could agree on this (around the 9:00 minute mark above):

It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with. Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government.

But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man. Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action. [Emphasis mine.]

Romney's message—No Jesus, No Dice—must have come as a surprise to the millions of Jews, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and myriad other non-Christians in the United States of America. But it shouldn't have.

Four and a half years ago during his much-hyped "Faith in America" speech, Romney explained that "No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith" and warned:

"There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution."
Sadly, Romney during his last presidential bid endorsed precisely that very religious test for followers of Islam or no faith at all.

In November 2007, the former Massachusetts governor said as much to Mansoor Ijaz at a fundraiser in Las Vegas. As Ijaz recounted:

I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "...based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."
Despite Romney's subsequent denials, Greg Sargent and Steve Benen documented other witnesses and other occasions during which Mitt repeated his No Muslims Need Apply policy.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

Given his own membership in a small religious minority, one might expect more openness and tolerance from the Mormon Romney. But in 2006, Romney declared "People in this country want a person of faith to lead them as their president." In December 2007, Gov. Romney upped the ante by insisting "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." And in his "Faith in America" speech that month, Mitt seemingly added atheists to his list of those to be excluded from the American community (around the 7:30 mark):
"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, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims."
(Just as long as those frequent prayers weren't going to be heard in President Romney's Cabinet Room.)

That nonbelievers had no place in leading Mitt Romney's America was remarked upon by conservative commentators at the time. While Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review asked "what about atheists and agnostics?" David Brooks of the New York Times concluded that Romney "asked people to submerge their religious convictions for the sake of solidarity in a culture war without end." Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wondered:

"Why did Mr. Romney not do the obvious thing and include them? My guess: It would have been reported, and some idiots would have seen it and been offended that this Romney character likes to laud atheists. And he would have lost the idiot vote."
And as Mitt Romney decided during his first run for the White House, you can't win the Republican nomination if you lose the idiot vote. So he dumbed down his own faith to make it more palatable to the GOP's evangelical base, much to the consternation of his fellow Latter Day Saints. The New Republic's Josh Patashnik explained Mitt's quandary back in November 2007:
During an interview earlier this year with George Stephanopoulos, the presidential candidate disputed the suggestion that Christ would someday return to the United States rather than the Middle East. Mormons, he said, believe "that the Messiah will come to Jerusalem. ... It's the same as the other Christian tradition."

This was both technically correct and completely misleading: The church's position is that, while Christ will indeed appear at the Mount of Olives, he will also build a new Jerusalem in Jackson County, Missouri, which will serve as the seat of his 1,000-year reign on Earth. Romney had conveniently neglected to mention this part of his church's doctrine.

Needless to say, his fellow Mormons were none too pleased. "Brother Romney is playing a little bit of a political game with his answer," one church official told Lee Benson of the Deseret Morning News--in a column noting that Romney's comment had "caused more than a few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ... to scratch their heads as if to say, 'What the flip?'" Callers to a Utah talk-radio show lambasted the candidate for misrepresenting church teachings. And the Mormon blogosphere--known as the Bloggernacle--buzzed with discussion of the quote. One post on the blog Mormon Mentality condemned Romney for being "evasive," while another complained, "If he were so proud to be a Mormon, he should tell the truth."

Mitt Romney has repeatedly said he is proud to be a Mormon. But he is apparently far more frightened of not becoming president of the United States. And that truth means that only by accident will Romney tell the truth about what he really thinks about America's diverse religions, including his own.

So when his new ad asks, "When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?" There can be only one answer.

Not Mitt Romney.

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 10:33 AM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Street Prophets , and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As a non-believer... (3+ / 0-)

    I don't care about what Romney's, or Obama's, or any other politician's religion is...as long as I have confidence that they are strongly committed to the principle of separation of church and state. While I agree that religious liberty is an important perquisite to having a free society, I also believe that a strictly secular government is a prerequisite to religious liberty. You cannot have or preserve religious liberty without preserving the principles of secularism. Once religion enters politics, someone's religious liberty (including the religious liberty of non-believers, as well as the religious liberty of religious minorities) always gets stomped on by the majority. This is a really basic Enlightenment principle...wars were fought over this stuff.

    I have confidence that Barack Obama respects the religious freedom of people who don't share his religious views, so I don't think that his religion is particularly relevant to the campaign. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, doesn't seem to respect secularism/separation of church and state, so his religious views, by his own standard, are fair game and relevant to whether he should be elected President. Since he wants to mix religion and politics, it's fair that we ask about what his religious views are and what their policy implications would be.

    The religious right has worked very hard to create a double standard where they pretend that separation of church and state is a fiction when they want to force their religious views on everyone else via the power of government, but then shriek with outrage and faux martyrdom when people question their religious views.

  •  Romney is insecure with his Mormon faith (0+ / 0-)

    Since he is clueless about lots of Catholic womens ,they could care less about  his or the  Vatican position on sex ,as long as they get thier freak on , Even the Catholic League has condemn  Romney for not supporting Chick fil a

  •  IF you put all the Mormons, Jews and Muslims (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tampaedski

    together in this country, it adds up to about a third of just the atheist part of the non-believer category.  So how come these groups hold such politcal sway in this country?  I, for one, want to see that changed.  I'm so sick of religious stuff being bantered about in the news all the time. Christians can't agree on what their faith means and who among the thousands of little sects have it all correct. The liberal Christians and fundamentalist Christians are at each others throats over theology, and the Protestants and Catholics still don't get along unless they are agreeing on taking over the government. Then you have the Israeli lobby in the US bending our ear to the point that we give Israel billions in aid even though they spy on us and ignore our requests to stop expansion.  The Catholic Church, ignoring its own vast immorality is beating down the doors of our government with their contraception is evil line. They also run hospitals all over this country where THEY forbide EVERYONE from having legal health care and medicines if they violate their "Ethical" directives list, which the Pope can change whenever he wants.

    And Obama, supposedly being a good church/state separationist, lets Rick Warren lead the whole nation in the Lords Prayer, and quotes Psalm 46 at a 9/11 ceremony that is meant to honor ALL the dead.

    So as far as I can see, Romney's ridiculousness, hypocrisy and etc. in the area of religion makes him no better or worse than the whole lot of religionists in this country. The all use our government and political system to evangelize and manipulate, and would all fold if we ranked away the government welfare that props up most of their institutions.

    The best I can hope for is that the number of non-religious, atheists/agnostics grows by leaps and bounds to the point that religion will have to go back to its churches, temples and mosques and leave the rest of us and the government to a more peaceful and RATIONAL dialogue.

    Sorry to use your thread for this rant, but once in awhile when we are bombarded with the religion angle, I can't help but blow off steam about it.

    •  I think that atheists (0+ / 0-)

      try to be non-confrontational, and end up getting drowned out by the din.  But that is slowly changing as more an more atheists are willing to speak up and challenge people who spew crap about them.

      There is lately more resistance to the "atheism is a religion" and "athiests hate god" crap that is so common.

    •  You Might Look Farther Into What Christian (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreenMother

      fundamentalists are doing. They're taking over more than liberal protestant churches. Whatever you think about the 3 groups you worry about, you need to add this one.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 08:16:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Republican position (0+ / 0-)

    combines their desire to force people to follow fundie religious dogma with their knack for favoring corporations over people.  And what better candidate to make the argument than a Mormon bankster?

    You can tell Monopoly is an old game because there's a luxury tax and rich people can go to jail.

    by Simian on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 04:23:30 PM PDT

  •  ... (4+ / 0-)

    Photobucket

    The thing is, you see what you want to see, and you hear what you want to hear. Dig? - The Rock Man

    by BalanceSeeker on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 07:49:28 PM PDT

  •  You know, I just wanted to say that you're (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    here4tehbeer

    an excellent writer.  You're one of the best writers here.

    I'm following you now.

    Great, great work.

    Have you googled Romney today?

    by fou on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 07:52:09 PM PDT

  •  When diaries are reposted, we should be able (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roadbear

    to give recommends to comments.

    Remember, you can't have crazy without az.

    by Desert Rose on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 07:55:47 PM PDT

  •  Dead pope and Disowned Union Founder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    here4tehbeer

    sterling recs

    The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

    by JML9999 on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 08:01:52 PM PDT

  •  Only by accident . . . (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, KayCeSF, earicicle, Jack Hare

    will Mitt Romney tell the truth about ANYTHING.

    •  Same for Same the Staff (0+ / 0-)

      Sir Etch-A-Sketch aka Mr Snowstorm
      or Ms Shuda moved to Massa-choose-its

      The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

      by JML9999 on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 08:07:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I can't believe that stupid prick is taking the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother, Subterranean

    culture war strategy.  Good luck with that Mitt.

    Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right. I'm riding in the Tour de Cure. You can donate here.

    by darthstar on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 08:11:21 PM PDT

  •  thanks i cant believe it (0+ / 0-)

    how can we elect a persons link rombley he is so bad he has a horse we need to do something march or camp out somewhere lets fix things and make them better meat whichkills some many animals they dont deserve it its becaus of hallabarton and bush and everybody who want sto make things bad so many peple we need to wach more TV and learn what they tell us i love puppies and cute things the world needs us to help them so much

    we need the democrats to help the world lets talk about this and let everybody no how we feel so they no we are so good and want to help animals and people who are different than other people dont forget to be green and recycle your things to stop global worming and coexist with errbody

  •  I pray to see an atheist president in my lifetime. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roadbear

    Not any Randian type, of course, just so that's clear.

    I just flushed my Ronald Wilson Reagan Exclusive Economic Zone. Whaddya know, trickle down theory actually works somewhere.

    by cal2010 on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 08:36:04 PM PDT

  •  How is it possible that a candidate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indie17, roadbear

    for President of the United States just makes stuff up, then drags the red herring in front of his supporters - for what, to make them feel like they're being oppressed?  Saying things like this

    It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with.
    that have no basis in reality whatsoever, is intolerable.  The only people who have a "problem" with the free exercise of religion are the people following the majority religion.

    No candidate should be allowed to divide the American public like this.  But then, I don't know how to stop it other than defeat him at the ballot box and hope he evaporates, or melts, or in some other way just disappears.

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 08:37:24 PM PDT

  •  If you read articles about the recent Pew poll, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ckntfld

    most will say that Romney's religion doesn't matter.

    But when you look into the numbers, they tell a different story.

    Some info from christiancentury.org, linked below:

    "But nearly one in four white evangelicals say they are uncomfortable with Romney's Mormonism, higher than any other religious group except atheists/agnostics (30 percent).

    Many social conservatives warned during the GOP primary that Romney would struggle to spark evangelical enthusiasm. Fewer conservative Christians would volunteer to canvass neighborhoods, donate money or plan rallies, they said.

    The Pew poll indicates such fears may be warranted. Among the nearly 23 percent of evangelicals who are uncomfortable with Romney's Mormonism, just 16 percent back him strongly.

    "There is definitely an enthusiasm gap there," said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew. Smith noted, however, that 93 percent of conservatives still say they will vote for Romney.

    ...

    Conversely, just seven percent of Democrats and liberal-leaning Americans have concerns about Obama's faith.

    http://www.christiancentury.org/...

  •  So he's for quotas? (5+ / 0-)
    ...based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified.

    I haven't done the math, but I suspect that based on the numbers of American Mormons in our population, I cannot see that a Mormon president would be justified.

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 08:53:56 PM PDT

  •  One more thing... (0+ / 0-)

    "America is a Christian country" is dead wrong. Cause this country was founded to get away from people who believed "England is an Anglican country" or such.

    16, Progressive, Indian-American, Phillies Phan. Obama/Om/Chase Utley

    by vidanto on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 09:50:05 PM PDT

  •  I am proud that I went to school in Illinois (0+ / 0-)

    where the farmers who had been victimized by the Mormon Prophet had the moral courage to kill Joseph Smith.   How did they know that wasn't enough to put a stop to the crooked Ponzi scheme we now call a religion?

  •  This is some scary stuff! (0+ / 0-)

    Reading about Romney and his religious comments is just plain scary. Also, it always creeps me out how politicians talking about religion is the norm, and every major politician is forced to do it. My parents were put in camps because they were Jewish. They came to the U.S. for freedom, and that includes freedom from having our leaders whip the country into a religious fervor.

  •  Let's all remember Ryan voted for the Iraq War (0+ / 0-)
  •  It is what Republicans do best.... (0+ / 0-)

    They want freedom, but  they can't wait to legislate me.

    They want small government for everyone except them.  Once they have all the taxpayers money money and assets through privatization,  they'll raise our taxes to pay for increased earnings and profits.

    When Robme is the best you've got, what does it say about the party and our country.  

    "bin Laden's dead, and GM is alive" ~ Biden

    by dkmich on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 04:19:42 AM PDT

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