Thursday, December 13, 2007

"secular Sweden is free while religious Iran is not"

That's Roger Cohen's retort to Romney's much quoted “Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.”

...The U.S. culture wars have produced what David Campbell of Notre Dame University called: “the injection of religion into politics in a very overt way.”

Much too overt for Europeans, whose alarm at George W. Bush’s presidency has been fed by his allusions to divine guidance — “the hand of a just and faithful God” in shaping events, or his trust in “the ways of Providence.”

Such beliefs seem to remove decision-making from the realm of the rational at the very moment when the West’s enemy acts in the name of fanatical theocracy. At worst, they produce references to a “crusade” against those jihadist enemies. God-given knowledge is scarcely amenable to oversight.


Religion informed America’s birth. But its distancing from politics was decisive to the republic’s success. Indeed, the devastating European experience of religious war influenced the founders’ thinking. That is why I find Romney’s speech and the society it reflects far more troubling than Europe’s vacant cathedrals.


[Romney] shows a Wikipedia-level appreciation of other religions, admiring “the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims” and “the ancient traditions of the Jews.” These vapid nostrums suggest his innermost conviction of America’s true faith.


Today's surging political religiosity among the party elite is not only irrational, it's highly ahistorical. We could stand for someone, a political candidate perhaps, reminding us of the history of those years when religion--Christian religion--was much more involved with the state and what the effects of that involvement were.

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