Published on Countercurrents.org, by Ramzy Baroud, 16 December, 2007.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s speech on December 6th – in which he tried to explain his Mormon faith – was met with a mostly sympathetic reception at George Bush Library in Texas.
The speech has been long anticipated, not so much for its relevance to the pressing debate on the defining role of religion in American politics, and how this undermines the very meaning of secular democracy. It was awaited simply because Romney belongs to the wrong faith. Recent polls indicate that one out of every three Republicans will not vote for Romney because he is a Mormon.
The whole affair has done much to reveal the hypocrisy of institutional democracy in the United States. While every presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, has unreservedly uttered lip service to democratic ideals, very few have dared push the boundaries by actually explaining their personal views on what separation of church and state means.
Given the Republicans’ reservations on Romney and the fact that the religious vote has long been shown to be a formidable factor in determining who claims the throne of the Oval Office, one can easily deduce that religion is hardly a personal matter in the American political milieu. Imagine, for instance, the sort of chances a presidential candidate would have as a dedicated atheist, or worse, as a devout Muslim …
… It’s odd that in the first decade of the 21st century, the media still validates the same religious thoughtlessness that had prevailed in America when Catholic John F. Kennedy made his famous statement in 1960 asserting that the Pope would not sway his presidency. Indeed, the media should have chastised the entire debate which ranks potential presidents based on whose God is best, or whether comparative religion should be discussed at all. Needless to say mediocre journalism like that of Riley should have never made it to print in the first place. (full text).