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Author Topic: Romney's speech on Faith
The Rabbit
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What did you think of Romney's address on faith and politics today?

I haven't been able to find a text version but I listened to much of it. link

On the whole, I was rather disappointed by the address. It seemed he didn't have anything of substance to say beyond "I believe in Jesus Christ" and "I won't take orders from the LDS Church". I thought it paled in comparison to the address Obama gave on the same topic last summer.

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Ron Lambert
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He disarmed a lot of his most influential critics by assuring them that he would be a president of all the people. (Like JFK wisely did, too.) Evangelicals are supposed to have been mollified by his clear statement that he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. We can let pass the fact that Mormons mean something a little different from what most Evangelicals mean when they say Jesus is "the Son of God." Evangelicals mean that Jesus is actually One with the Father, of the same divine substance, from all Eternity, and was never created, never promoted. As Jesus declared, "Before Abraham was, I AM." Thus announcing that it was Jesus Himself who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, and who gave Moses the Law on Mount Sinai. Jesus is completely and fully and always was God. Suffice it to say that Mormons mean something different. I see no reason to make an issue of it here. I accept Mormons as Christians, even if somewhat "strange" Christians. However alien to my theology theirs may be, they are still kindred spirits compared to Moslems. That seems to be the bottom line these days.
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Puffy Treat
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
I see no reason to make an issue of it here.

Then...why bring it up? [Smile]
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Evangelicals mean when they say Jesus is "the Son of God." Evangelicals mean that Jesus is actually One with the Father, of the same divine substance, from all Eternity, and was never created, never promoted. As Jesus declared, "Before Abraham was, I AM." Thus announcing that it was Jesus Himself who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, and who gave Moses the Law on Mount Sinai. Jesus is completely and fully and always was God.
And except for the "of the same divine substance" part (what ever it means), Mormons mean the same thing.
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enochville
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The text can be found here: http://www.sltrib.com/ci_7650536?source=rss

As an atheist, the thing that struck me was his anti-nonbeliever and anti-secularist statements.

"There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom."



"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires 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."



"Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people."



"But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong."



"The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust."

"We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders - in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. 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.'"



"Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government." (He then goes on in this paragraph to prove that liberty comes from soldiers dying on the battlefield in its defense and not from God.)



"In such a world, we can be deeply thankful that we live in a land where reason and religion are friends and allies in the cause of liberty, joined against the evils and dangers of the day. And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me."



It seems as if Romney is saying atheists, agnostics and the irreligious are second-class citizens at best.

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Slim
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I just finished listening to the speech. I liked it. I think it would have been bad to explain the doctrine of our church. He said in his speech that to do so is to carry out the religious litmus test. Besides, if he became president, he wouldn't be the spokesman for our church, but for our country. All he had to do was convince people that he's not going to take orders from Salt Lake. And that people shouldn't vote for/against him only because of his faith.

(Ron: "suffice it to say that Mormons believe something different." I know what you are really trying to say, but I have to point out that we also believe that it was Jesus Himself who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, and gave him the Law. We also believe He is God. The part that "Mormons believe something different" is only that we believe He is a different person than His Father.)

... And, Obama gave a speech?

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TomDavidson
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The message of the speech: I believe in Christ, unlike some icky people. Consequently, I am more like you evangelical Christians than I'm like an icky person.
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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by enochville:
It seems as if Romney is saying atheists, agnostics and the irreligious are second-class citizens at best.

Sadly, this type of attitude seems to be common. These types of speeches are meant to appeal to emotion, not reason. Claims such as "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." sound pretty but don't really stand up to scrutinization.
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Dagonee
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This is not the issue I need Romney to address.
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Steev
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
The message of the speech: I believe in Christ, unlike some icky people. Consequently, I am more like you evangelical Christians than I'm like an icky person.

Yeah, even though I share the same religion with Mr. Romney, I find that I agree with Tom and felt that there was a bit of that. However, if he promises to support same sex unions I will consider voting for him.
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Threads
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An Atheist Responds to Mitt Romney's Speech on Religion
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Javert
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quote:
"Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government."
Yeah...definitely not voting for him.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
quote:
"Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government."
Yeah...definitely not voting for him.
Oh right as if you were seriously considering it in the first place. I don't mean to be a jerk, but that's like me saying, "welp, now I'm not voting for Richard Dawkins." But perhaps you have a good reason for not voting for a man who feels liberty is a gift from God instead of something our government gives us to spoil us.

----

Maybe I missed a part of the speech but I didn't get the vibe that he was painting atheists/agnostics as "icky" or 2nd class citizens. He kept saying that he would not promote any one religion as president, what else did you want from him? He opposes some of the "secular" developments that have been going on in the public sector.

I didn't find the speech particularly amazing, I think he accomplished his aim of stating his faith in Christ, acknowledging that many fear his church or religious views will determine his decisions and that that will not be the case.

Dagonee: IIRC you have not decided if Romney's swich from pro-choice to pro-life was a real change of heart or a political move. Is that right? How do you plan on determining that? Vibes?

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TomDavidson
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BB, why wouldn't you vote for Richard Dawkins?
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Jhai
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BlackBlade, how about
quote:
We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders - in ceremony and word. ... Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests.
I don't want to acknowledge any Creator in ceremony or words, and I am strongly opposed to the (potential) leader of my nation telling me what I ought to do with regards to religion. I also think our greatness would do just fine without judges who respect the foundation of faith that our country apparently rests on. I don't think faith should ever enter into any judge's mind when he's performing his job.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
BB, why wouldn't you vote for Richard Dawkins?

Well 90% because I don't know his political platforms. [Wink]

But seriously, he views religion with far more hostility then I think is appropriate. But hey if he gave a similar sort of speech as JFK or now Romney and meant it, it would be POSSIBLE that I would vote for him.

edit: By similar I mean the bits about not representing a religion but not discriminating against any either. Not that he thinks God is a foundation upon which this country was made.

Synesthesia: Nothing in of itself, but it like religion can be over applied IMO.

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Synesthesia
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What is so bad about being secular?
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BlackBlade
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Jhai: I have an idea, but I am not positive which part of my post you are responding to. Could you do me the courtesy clarifying?

As for your quote, I did not particularly like that part of his speech either. I wish he had clarified what he meant. He vaguely talked about public nativities and menorahs but that still felt pretty vague for me.

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kmbboots
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From what I remember of JFK's speech, he made clear that his religion was personal and he emphasised the separation of church and state. That doesn't seem like what Romney did.
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aspectre
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"What is so bad about being secular?
Nothing wrong with being secular. However secularism means separation of Religion and Law.

Making pronouncements about God is religious.
Assuming ones beliefs are unquestionably true is fanaticism.
A religious fanatic refuses to accept others' right to have different opinions about the nature of God.
QED RichardDawkins is a religious fanatic.
And a religious fanatic is too dangerous to have as Commander-in-Chief of a nuclear state.

[ December 06, 2007, 10:58 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
From what I remember of JFK's speech, he made clear that his religion was personal and he emphasised the separation of church and state. That doesn't seem like what Romney did.

I disagree but my perception of the speech hardly holds more weight then yours.
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MattP
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quote:
Oh right as if you were seriously considering it in the first place. I don't mean to be a jerk, but that's like me saying, "welp, now I'm not voting for Richard Dawkins."
I don't know about Javert, but this atheist would consider voting for Romney, particularly given what some of the other options are. But this speech did make that somewhat less likely, as there is a subtext of hostility towards people who don't share some of his beliefs.

quote:
But perhaps you have a good reason for not voting for a man who feels liberty is a gift from God instead of something our government gives us to spoil us.
Are those the only two options?
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TomDavidson
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quote:

Making pronouncements about God is religious.
Assuming ones beliefs are unquestionably true is fanaticism.

Am I allowed to disagree with both these assertions? [Smile]
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Jhai
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BB: the part about painting atheists as "icky" or 2nd class citizens. It may not be overt in the statement I quoted, but I think he's certainly suggesting that religion ought to be playing some sort of role in the lives of Americans. And if we're not following that ought, we're in some way 'bad' (since ought implies requirement, and not fulfilling requirements is a bad thing).
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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by Threads:
An Atheist Responds to Mitt Romney's Speech on Religion

Someone sure is a drama queen.

Honestly, it's not that hard to make your points without hamming it up for your readers.

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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
But perhaps you have a good reason for not voting for a man who feels liberty is a gift from God instead of something our government gives us to spoil us.

Or perhaps he has a good reason for not voting for a man who believes that atheism and freedom are incompatible.

quote:
"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires 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."
Let's be real. How would you go about trying to convince an atheist to vote for a man who believes that freedom would "perish" under atheism? That's exactly what Romney is saying when he says that freedom would "perish" without religion.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Oh right as if you were seriously considering it in the first place. I don't mean to be a jerk, but that's like me saying, "welp, now I'm not voting for Richard Dawkins." But perhaps you have a good reason for not voting for a man who feels liberty is a gift from God instead of something our government gives us to spoil us.

Not seriously considering, but he was definitely on my potential list. If it had ended up as a Romney vs. Clinton election, I could very well have tilted in favor of Romney. After reading those comments, now I won't.

As for your second assertion, I agree with what Threads said:

quote:
Or perhaps he has a good reason for not voting for a man who believes that atheism and freedom are incompatible.
Also, thinking of liberty as a "gift from god" definitely seems a bit condescending coming from someone who doesn't want to extend liberty and freedom to certain citizens. (That is, homosexuals.)
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TomDavidson
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Let's be fair to Romney for a second and point out that same-sex marriage is not really a "liberty" or "freedom" issue.
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Jhai
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It is a "one-religion-over-another" issue. Hinduism recognizes homosexual marriage as valid.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Let's be fair to Romney for a second and point out that same-sex marriage is not really a "liberty" or "freedom" issue.

Depends on your definitions of liberty and freedom.

As far as I'm concerned, consenting adults should have the freedom and the liberty to do what they want provided they harm no one. Maybe my definitions are a bit unique. [Dont Know]

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TomDavidson
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Well, yes. But since federal marriage isn't religious marriage, that's not really sensible grounds for complaint. I don't mean to nitpick; I agree with you on the larger issue. But I think arguing that an opposition of same-sex marriage represents an unwillingness to extend liberty and freedom to homosexuals is an unfair distortion.
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Steev
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Yeah keep the religion vs. state things separate.

Marriage, if I recall (in)correctly, originated as a religious concept. So, if there is to be a federal marriage then it shouldn't matter who the marriage is between and if the religions want to keep the sanctity of marriage to man and woman then the federal marriage, by all means, should be called something else. Give it a different word. Will it matter? Who cares? But my point is if Mr. Romney is going to serve the country and not his church then something as minor as same sex unions should not even be an issue.

But they are issues because he has to fall in line with political party lines in order to get elected. Too bad really.

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steven
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quote from Jhai --"Hinduism recognizes homosexual marriage as valid."

How? I had no idea. Tell us more.

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Jhai
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Well, let me start by disclaiming that India isn't a homosexual paradise or anything like that. Indian culture is not good with homosexual anything. From a strictly religious point-of-view, however, there's plenty of textual evidence that says homosexual marriage is okay, at least within certain contexts. In fact, two male gods marry each other. Another pair of gods, Visnu and Shiva (two of the more important male gods) also procreate together. Their kid was so powerful that the other gods had to neutralize him (or maybe her - not sure) to keep the general harmony from being destroyed (or maybe the world - to some extent, they're the same thing).

Now if you tell this to Hindu friends of yours, they probably won't immediately believe you, or even know about Visnu & Shiva's kid. This is because a large part of the religion is passed down culturally, rather than through any particular text, so messages get garbled and things that are difficult to accept culturally get left out. For the most blatant example of this, consider the no-no of eating beef.

There's nothing in the Vedas (the most fundamental Hindu text) that says you can't eat beef. In fact, the Vedas say that noble/rich people should slaughter their best cattle and serve beef when important guests visit the kingdom. But historically cattle has been too important to be used for consumption, so eating beef was frowned upon culturally. This has eventually filtered down to most Indians as "good Hindus don't eat beef."

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Tresopax
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quote:
Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.
This claim strikes me as something that sounds nice but doesn't actually make any sense. Why would freedom require religion?

quote:
But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.
Romney is correct on this point.

quote:
Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me.
Any person who has knelt in prayer? Does that include Osama bin Laden?

All in all, this sounds like a pretty hollow speech. I have my doubts whether it actually says much real about Romney.

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steven
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I recently heard something on NPR by an author who said one of the main reasons the Founding Fathers explicitly put forth the separation of church and state was to make the church durable. They thought that making state-sanctioned religion would weaken and dilute religion, causing to to become irrelevant. Or he said something like that.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
From what I remember of JFK's speech, he made clear that his religion was personal and he emphasised the separation of church and state. That doesn't seem like what Romney did.

I disagree but my perception of the speech hardly holds more weight then yours.
Judge for yourself. Here's a link to the Kennedy speech:

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/40/story_4080_1.html

And remember, it was 1960.

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scholar
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Same sex marriages touch on a lot of issues and to define it merely as religous seems a bit limited to me. For one thing, no sanctioning same sex marriage does not stop homosexuals from living together as a married couple. It does, however, allow anyone who wants to deny their marriage. By sanctioning ssm, then you will force companies to extend any benefits that would be given to a spouse to homosexual couples. This will cost companies money, something they try to avoid. Also, it changes people's tax laibilities. I am not saying that ssm should not be legalized, just that it isn't just religion.
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Icarus
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
Thus announcing that it was Jesus Himself who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, and who gave Moses the Law on Mount Sinai.

This is a sentence fragment. It's not a terribly big deal, but since English is not my first language, I tend to take learning it a bit more seriously than some.
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Lyrhawn
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Wow, lots to cover here:

Slim, Obama gives a speech pretty much every day, and often more than one a day. If you haven't seen them, it's because either the media isn't pushing them or you aren't looking. But specifically, Obama gave a very, very good speech on religion, and usually I'm pretty indifferent to religious speeches.

Now in general -

Romney was attempting to do a 50 years (approx) later version of JFK's Catholicism speech, and I think he took the ball and ran in the opposite direction with it. Kennedy, by the way, I think faced a much more virulent stigma than Romney. Now their speeches were the same in one way, they both shared the "I won't take orders from elsewhere, and I'm not going to stop being who I am, yet I'm going to be a president first, and a religious person second," and while I think that is important, the similarities stop there.

Kennedy downplayed in the extreme the importance of religion. His speech focused on America and Americans, and all the things we can do together and all the reasons we should unite. Romney's speech was about America and RELIGIOUS PEOPLE. Kennedy's speech could be viewed as championing a secular government, whereas Romney more or less says we're a Christian nation, everything we have comes from religion, and only religious people have the moral authority to contribute. Frankly I found the whole thing EXTREMELY offensive.

He wasn't talking to all of America, he was talking to God fearing Americans. It was his attempt to say "hey, Jesus freaks, I'm just like you." If that was all he was trying to do, it probably came off pretty good. But if he was going for a speech like JFK's, I think it fell flat, with a hard thump. If anything I think he just pointed a finger at the divide in America between secularists and the religious, and then soundly planted his flag with the religious.

It's true that I wasn't planning on voting for him before, but I never had a specific problem with him. Now I feel I have a duty to stop him from reaching the White House. I think he has dangerous notions on what America is and should be.

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Saephon
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For what it's worth, I doubt the goal of Romney's speech was to rally atheists and non-Christians. This seems to be more like preaching to a choir that's slightly weirded out by the preacher's social life. [Smile]
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
Kennedy, by the way, I think faced a much more virulent stigma than Romney.
I doubt this somehow. My (Catholic, grew up in the 60s) aunt and I were talking about it and we tend to agree that what anti-Catholic sentiment was then, anti-Mormon sentiment is now, and in similar degree among similar groups of people.

I don't think this speech was aimed at winning over atheists at all. I think it was aimed at the ultra-conservative Religious Right more than anyone.

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pooka
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quote:
separation of Religion and Law.
I thought Jefferson's expression (which does not actually appear in any founding document) was separation of Church and State.
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Scott R
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I wasn't happy with it; I don't think religious belief== liberty.

Romney's speech did not parallel Kennedy's. It was the OPPOSITE of Kennedy's.

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Tatiana
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I thought the speech was good. I was cringing a bit at what he might try to say about our faith, how he might try to paint Mormonism as just another form of protestantism, which it very much isn't, but he didn't go there, and I'm proud of him for that.

I thought the speech was a bit scary for atheists too. I totally see why they feel that way. But I don't think he meant that atheist people are second class citizens or anything of the sort. I think he meant that religion does strengthen the social contract, and that governments that ban religion altogether are oppressive and coercive, just as much as those governments that try to establish by force a single religion.

So overall he did impress me to the extent that he's not somebody I'd be afraid of having as president, if the Democrats self-destruct again this year as they've done so many times in the past.

I think Obama is the superior candidate to Romney in many ways, but that's not the comparison we're making, I guess.

Hillary is never going to be electable in the general election. Too many people loathe her. I really hope the Democrats don't nominate her.
Obama's getting Oprah's strong support so hopefully that will put him ahead in the polls.

Every time the dems nominate a liberal from the northeast they lose the general election. The last northeastern liberal elected was Kennedy. When they nominate a centrist from the south they tend to win. (I consider Hillary northeastern because of her representing New York, and because she feels to me like a northeasterner, despite her Arkansan connections.)

But if it came down to Hillary vs. Romney, though I would vote for Hillary, I would feel sure Romney would win, and that wouldn't scare me for our country, or not much. He seems to be a reasonably intelligent guy and to be trying to do the right thing. Overall, I thought the speech was really good.

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TomDavidson
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Hillary's neither a northeasterner nor a southerner. She is, in almost all ways, for good and for bad, your typical North Shore Chicago expat. Swing a small cat in Winnetka and you'll hit at least three brassy but oddly brittle-seeming women, all of whom share the fashion sensibility of Meryl Streep, who're as qualified to be President.
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Scott R
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:bothers Tom about something that has nothing whatsoever to do with this thread:
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Icarus
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They'll probably all get on your case about swinging that cat, too.
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Omega M.
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I took the quotations of Romney posted above as meaning that he will respect the role religion plays in many Americans' lives and act with knowledge that the American government is not the pinnacle of the moral order. Perhaps I'm being too charitable to him. However, I've heard his statement
quote:
"The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust."
before in other places, and I'm never clear what its practical implications are. There's no point in making an argument beginning, say, "Here in the Bible, we see that ..." in the public square because it won't convince anyone who believes that the Bible or your tradition of interpreting it is not divinely inspired. Maybe there are people who automatically ignore everything a minister says in the public square, even if it makes no reference to religious texts; but I wonder if conservatives exaggerate the numbers of these people.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Let's be real. How would you go about trying to convince an atheist to vote for a man who believes that freedom would "perish" under atheism? That's exactly what Romney is saying when he says that freedom would "perish" without religion.
There is a difference between:

1. Believing that if an atheist were president that freedom would perish.

2. Believing that if the official state religion was atheism that freedom would perish.

3. Believing that if everyone in the country/world were atheist that freedom would perish.

I believe in 3 but not 1 or 2, (though 2 could lead to 3 but not necessarily) Is it so hard for an atheist to believe that if we went back to the days of a state sponsored religion that everyone was compelled to believe in that freedom would cease to exist? Well for the religious, pushing all forms of religious expression out of the public sector is a step in that direction, only towards atheism rather then a specific theism.

For this believer and many others were everyone to stop believing in God, he would alter the way he manages things in such a way as to show us the folly of our disbelief. Perhaps a famine would starve us into submission, or perhaps another country would become stronger than us.

Maybe none of that would happen, but for me at least, I believe the concepts of the rights of man were divinely inspired in the first place. Men capable of expressing those ideas intentionally placed so that they could play such a role. For me at least, I believe God himself had an active hand in creating the United States so that an environment of relative tolerance could exist.

I think Romney cares more about keeping us from moving towards de facto mandatory atheism, than saying atheists are icky. Obviously we all disagree on where the balance should be, but I hardly think Romney is going to usher in a new age of atheist persecution, though he may not keep the ball rolling in the direction many wish he would.

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