Friday, December 7, 2007

Kudos to Romney on Faith Speech

Just because he's not my choice for President, doesn't mean I can't recognize the positive contribution Mitt Romney made with his speech on Faith. Some are saying he was wrong not to specifically include atheists in his speech.

Wait a minute... "wrong"? Yes, even atheists have things they consider "right" and "wrong". From where I sit, any belief that includes a moral code is a religion. The only distinction is that in atheism and humanism, it is man (whether individual or plural) who is seen as the source of the moral code, rather than God. So by including all "religions", Romney did include atheists and humanists.

Because some have attributed the timing of Romney's speech to the rapid rise of Mike Huckabee (also a former Baptist minister) in the polls, I want to mention two things. First, that Mike Huckabee strongly denounced an Iowa push-pole that brought up the question of Romney's religious beliefs. Second, that Huckabee himself has also been the target of repeated attacks on his religion; primarily over the fact that he was a minister and his strong belief in Divine Creation.

Like the upset of these atheists over Romney's speech, I think the attacks against both men are probably grounded in a disdain for anyone who actually believes the basis for "right and wrong" comes from a Divine source, and is not subject to our human whims.

also see:
No Law Respecting An Establishment of Religion
Huckabee accused of believing in God
A Candidate with Moral Clarity


Emma said...

What do you mean, "even atheists have things they consider right and wrong"? Atheists are no more immoral than religious people. I don't believe in God, or any god for that matter, but that doesn't mean I'm any more likely than you to go out and mug an old woman or kick a dog.

Also, your argument that atheists should be included in a speech on faith doesn't really make sense. You yourself say that atheists, believe it or not, have a moral code, but that this code comes from man, not from god. I've always been under the impression that religion, kind of by definition, involves god, or some other higher power, which also by definition, is not atheism.

Vradic said...

Emma, you're right in that most religions do include some concept of deity. But, even includes a definition of religion that doesn't require a deity. "6.something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice."

I didn't mean to say that atheists have NO moral code. I meant to indicate the presence of a strongly held moral code indicates adherence to at least a rudimentary religion, even absent the belief in a deity.

It's been my experience that most atheists don't have a passive lack of belief that there is a God.(although such may exist)
At least those such as are faulting Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee for their religious speech seem to have an ACTIVE BELIEF that there is NO God.

Emma said...

I think we might in part be arguing semantics here. Your usage of religion as simply a belief system is (making a religion of ... whatever) is only possible because the term "religion" is such a commonly understood term - an entire belief system. I do think you're right that some atheists have made a religion out of not believing in God, but I think this is sort of the equivalent of fundamentalist Christianity, or any other religion, for that matter. It doesn't actually represent or include the vast majority of people with vaguely similar belief systems.

As far as Romney and Huckabee (and, to a certain extent, all of the presidential candidates) are concerned, what disturbs me is not that they are religious per se, but that they feel it necessary to prove just how religious they are. I don't think that it speaks well of Romney to claim that he believes in the same Jesus the conservative Christians do, in order to get their vote. And it disturbs me that in a nation largely founded on separation of church and state, every presidential candidate has to be religious in some way, practically a litmus test, if you will, while an atheist wouldn't stand a chance of getting elected, no matter how brilliant and rational he or she might be.

Vradic said...

I understand your concerns. I think I addressed some of them in another post of mine. "No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion"
I have the link at the bottom of the Faith Speech article.

While much has been made of Jefferson's "separation of church and state" comment in his letter to the Danbury Baptists; it's really much more accurate to say our country is largely founded on Freedom of Religion.

The purpose of the establishment clause was to prevent the federal government from running "an establishment of religion". In other words, a particular sect or demonimation of Christianity; though the founders understood, that the same wording gave citizens the right to practice other religions or no religion.

I would enjoy your comments on the article referenced above. Thanks again Emma for reading and your comments.

You might also enjoy my post "Where Huckabee gets it Wrong..."(from Nov); which includes at least one reason why I wouldn't want him as my preacher, although he's my choice for President.

As to electing an atheist; I'd vote for an "atheist" with a history of consistent voting and position history that's pro-life and against government sanction of "gay-unions"; rather than a pro-abortion, pro-gay-union "christian" any day of the week.

I look for candidates with a history and positions that match the political and social goals I have grounded in my faith; not for candidates who I think have reached the same theological conclusions I have.

Emma said...

We seem to be pretty much diametrically opposed to each other, Vradic, in that I would consider voting for a Christian as long as he or she had a consistent pro-choice and pro-gay rights voting record.

That said, I've very much enjoyed this exchange we've had going, and I imagine I'll continue reading your posts, in appreciation of your thoughtful, reasoned arguments, even if I whole-heartedly disagree. It's a pleasure to discuss such divisive topics with someone so clearly not divisive, despite fundamental differences.

Vradic said...

Thanks Emma,
I enjoy discussions with intelligent and civil people such as you, whether we agree on things or not.