Mitt Romney, it seems, has made a meta-announcement, telling us that he’ll make a speech this Thursday in which he’ll talk about his religion, and how it relates to Americans’ sensibilities and his possible presidency.
Mitt Romney will deliver a speech entitled “Faith in America,” addressing his Mormon religion, on Thursday at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Tex.
His campaign is describing the address as an opportunity for Mr. Romney to “share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation and how the governor’s own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected.”
Mr. Romney personally made the decision to give the speech last week, feeling it was the right moment to do so, his advisers said. After he decided he would make it, the campaign consulted with former President Bush’s library, which invited him to deliver it there.
At the risk of repeating myself — I’ve said this sort of thing before — I have to say that I just find this to be silly. I do not care what the president’s “faith” is, per se. I don’t care if the president, or any other government official, believes in God, Adonai, Allah, Jehovah, Buddha, Shiva, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Joseph Smith’s tablets, Xenu, Satan, Agape, Zeus, Cthulhu, little green men, or nothing “spiritual” at all.
What I do care about is that the president can lead, govern, decide, negotiate, and inspire — inspire everyone, of all faiths and none — without taking direction from an imagined being that one has to “have faith in” to believe, without getting the rules from an arbitrary book that “the faithful” take to be inerrant truth.
I’ve been made wary in recent years of anyone who hopes to be president bringing up God or faith at all, and I have to push back on myself in that regard. It doesn’t bother me, a priori, that a potential president goes to church, accepts Jesus as his saviour, wears a yarmulke, or lights bonfires on Samhain, and I need to remind myself of that. Many of the people I live, work, and play with do these same things, and I respect and trust them.
And that’s the key: I need to be able to trust the person I’d vote into the presidency — to trust that person to do the job rationally, sensibly, and for the good of the country, the world, and the people. It’s clear that “people of faith” can do that, and can be trusted.
It’s also clear that many can’t. And it’s clear to me that Mitt Romney is in the “can’t” category. The very statement he makes in announcing the speech, quoted above, shows that; I’ll repeat it here, with my emphasis added:
His campaign is describing the address as an opportunity for Mr. Romney to “share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation and how the governor’s own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected.”He passes, here, from the acceptable (the part that’s not highlighted) to the dubious (the part that is). That his “faith” would “inform his presidency” at all makes him unsuitable to me, and it wouldn’t matter what faith we were talking about.
Unfortunately, the candidates are pandering to the faithful, and it’s hard to find one who isn’t doing that. I don’t see Bill Richardson or Dennis Kucinich telling us to vote for them because they have faith in God, so that’s a plus for them.
It’s time for sense and good advice to inform the presidency. It’s time for truth, justice, and the American Way to inform the presidency. It’s time for our role as an honest, productive, and respected member of the world community to inform the presidency.
It’s time for reality to inform the presidency.
 For the nit pickers: yes, I know that “follows Buddha” is better; one doesn’t “believe in” Buddha. I didn’t want to try to write that sentence with that distinction in it. Oh, well.