Last week, Lil Ricky chimed in on Mitt Romney's so-called "Religion Speech."
Because it's the Rick-ster, there are a few choice morsels for our reading pleasure. He begins:
Didja see the nasty slap at JFK? Here's JFK's speech. I tried to find where JFK "copped out and said his faith doesn't matter" but I couldn't. I did find this:
What role should religion play in the public square? How did my own Roman Catholicism shape my work as a senator? Such questions were never far from my mind while I served in Congress. So, when Mitt Romney gave his "religion speech," I listened not as a political analyst, but as someone who wrestled with this subject for more than a decade.
Romney's speech was thoughtful and courageous. Unlike John F. Kennedy in 1960, he didn't cop out and say his faith does not matter. Romney gave an impressive defense of the believer's right to be engaged in politics. He also exposed the danger in secularist attempts to drive religion from our public life.
I wonder how all this intersects with the Palm Sunday Compromise. But I digress. Here's another ponderable:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
I find that last part curious. The ancient Greeks, thus spake Rick, were able to reason their way to virtue. These Greeks?
At one point, though, [Romney] opted for prose over accuracy by saying "freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." Sociologist Os Guinness said it better, that "freedom requires virtue, virtue requires religion, and religion requires freedom."
Virtue - a person's ability to control his desires and order his actions according to the Golden Rule - makes freedom and democracy possible. For most, virtue is derived from religion, but that hardly means a man without religion cannot reason his way to virtue. Witness the ancient Greeks.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that the ancient Greeks lacked virtue or that homosexuality is in anyway a sign of the lack of virtue. But for Senator Santorum who is so widely quoted as saying:
Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that's what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —
To now be using the ancient Greeks to support his idea of "virtue" is curious.
But Rick does get in a few licks on Mitt himself. Take a look:
Would the potential attraction to Mormonism by simply having a Mormon in the White House threaten traditional Christianity by leading more Americans to a church that some Christians believe misleadingly calls itself Christian, is an active missionary church, and a dangerous cult?
Let's parse. To Rick, Mormonism isn't "traditional Christianity." He also dutifully points out that "some Christians" believe the church misleads when it calls itself Christian - the implication, of course, that it's not. He also puts the phrase "dangerous cult" into the mouths of those same Christians. Rick Santorum continues:
How does a candidate possibly address such concerns?
Assume for the sake of argument that there are valid considerations. Shouldn't we look at everything about the candidate, including positions on the issues that could have even a more dramatic impact on Christianity than his personal faith? What about the candidate's willingness to confront the threat of radical Islam's war against Christianity, or the current efforts to undermine our Judeo-Christian culture and even our religious freedom? Like most voters, my faith matters more than politics, but we are electing someone to the most important political position in the world. I'm more concerned about losing our children to jihadis or a materialistic culture than losing them to Mormonism.
I admire President Bush's religious commitment, but I've never been tempted to become a Methodist. Kennedy's election didn't produce a surge of converts to Catholicism in the 1960s. A Mormon in the White House? Christianity has survived far tougher tests over the last 2,000 years.
Faith still matters in America. Mitt Romney showed it matters to him, too. He should be a viable choice for voters whose faith matters to them.
One last thing: Rick thinks that a Mormon in the White House would be a "test" for Christianity?
With friends like that...