Both Mitt Romney and President Obama gave lengthy interviews to the National Cathedral’s magazine, “Cathedral Age”. I believe that we live in a secular republic where the government ought to be religiously neutral. There is no religious test to hold office but this interview did gives us a case study in Christian privilege that some like Mitt Romney believe they deserve. While he tore into the wall between church and state, in another interview he tried to use his religion as an excuse not to reveal his tax returns.
Romney said those who “seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God” aren’t acting in line with the Founders’ intent.
The separation of church and state is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution, but Congress and the courts have debated the practical extent of that separation since its founding.
Romney said the Founders didn’t intend for “the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation ‘Under God, ‘and in God, we do indeed trust.”
Romney, who is Mormon, didn’t mention his faith by name during the nine-page interview, but acknowledged that, “I am often asked about my faith and my beliefs about Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.”
“Every religion has its own unique doctrines and history,” he said, and “these should not be bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance.”
As has been found in many posts here at Secular Left, separation of church and state has never called for “the elimination of religion from the public square” only the elimination of using resources of the state to cheerlead for one specific religion. Religious beliefs should be about freedom of conscience and the state needs to stay out of it as far as no one is being hurt or having their rights violated in the process. You have a right to believe what you wish but not a right to use the government to force anyone else to believe it.
Also we were never a nation “Under God” until religious and political conservatives, scared of communism, in the 1950’s, forced it on us.
Now Mitt Romney is claiming religious freedom as another excuse to hide his tax returns:
“Our church doesn’t publish how much people have given,” Romney told Parade Magazine in an interview that will appear in the August 26 issue of the magazine
“This is done entirely privately,” he said. “One of the downsides of releasing one’s financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known. It’s a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church.”
Ann Romney, who joined her husband for the interview, added, “When Mitt and I give that check, I actually cry.”
So how does the details of his tithing trump the needs of US citizens, who will be voting in the election, to have all the information necessary to make an informed decision?
Notice too how in his “Cathedral Age” interview he asks to be excused from scrutiny about his religious beliefs and feels the 1st Amendment gives him the right not to answer specific questions about those beliefs and in the other interview he is using that same excuse to hide his tax returns. The 1st amendment doesn’t let you avoid public scrutiny when either being an agent of the state or wanting to be one.
That is what Christian Privilege is all about. Claiming your religious beliefs exempt you from public scrutiny when running for the highest office in the land yet also believing the government has the right to force your beliefs on others by tearing down the wall between church and state.