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Why Romney's Religion Matters - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

Romney's religion should be a factor? I though among Americans of all political stripes that it was a factor. I seem to have read the a significant proportion of all people, regardless of party, will not vote for a Mormon.

That his true feelings align with the religious right. Was there ever any doubt about this from a Mormon? The evidence speaks to this loudly and on too many issues that are none of religions business.

Romney use religion when convenient. Don't they all?

I would never vote for this man anyway, regardless of his associations and beliefs, as he and his fellow wackaloons are too involved in their delusions. Sunday is not enough for them and meeting them as we do from time to time, Mormon missionaries, show us that they take their religion too seriously in the 21st century.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 02:50:26 UTC | #913310

nurnord's Avatar Comment 2 by nurnord

My introduction to Sean was watching him present a piece followed by Richard speaking about TMoR at Kentucky University. I was immediately intrigued and impressed and this grew with each successive performance I have watched, including this one. He is intelligent, clear, focussed and as far as my intuition tells me - absolutely passionate about this movement.

Richard - great choice for the key role in the US, a man that reflects your own qualities.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 02:52:43 UTC | #913311

Ranzoid's Avatar Comment 3 by Ranzoid

"When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movement becomes headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late."

--Dune

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 03:50:37 UTC | #913318

PERSON's Avatar Comment 4 by PERSON

Live by The Word, die by The Word.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 08:03:34 UTC | #913346

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 5 by Richard Dawkins

Brilliantly intelligent and well-informed speech by Sean, delivered with his usual eloquence. Nice slides too.

Richard

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 08:47:23 UTC | #913352

Ivan The Not So Bad's Avatar Comment 6 by Ivan The Not So Bad

Did Mitt Romney Posthumously Convert Atheist Father-in-Law?

One of the creepier corners of Mitt Romney's uncannily flawless life story is the fact that he not only drew his bride, Ann Romney, over to his weird religion: He converted her entire family as well. This despite the fact that Ann's father, Edward Davies, was a committed atheist who insisted on raising his children without religion.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 10:15:01 UTC | #913371

ccr5Delta32's Avatar Comment 7 by ccr5Delta32

It looks as he could indeed be the republican nominee .I wonder how this will play with the tendency of US politicians to milk the holy cow (religion) for whatever they can .It kind of defuses the relationship ,the quick and dirty proxy for pandering votes .

I'm reminded of a Family Guy episode, Brian (the dog) an atheist : Paranoid official , " We've an Atheist in our town ! It was better with the terrorist , at least they believe in a god even if it is a brown smelly god."

Romney can't really wear his religion on his sleeve as an emotional appeal to the largely christian majority.It would lack the impact ,I'm sure not many christian will be convinced his religiosity puts him in the same kinship as themselves if anything it could damage the hardcore republican base support .they enjoy now .

But on a hopeful note , it might herald an ending of the marriage of religion (christian specific) and politics. One could ask . What next ? A Sceintologist ?,, A Muslim ? white long bearded god forbid

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 10:28:32 UTC | #913375

militant_agnostic's Avatar Comment 8 by militant_agnostic

I don't know if you've been following the hilarity of his tax return but apparently his wealth also matters; I don't know if this link will work in the UK. The Daily Show I-know-what-you-did-last-quarter

If it doesn't in it he swore blind he wouldn't release his tax return, then under pressure he did & it turned out he earned 43 million dollars over 2 years and pays less than 14% tax which angered some folk. To which he legitimately pointed out he only paid what the law required portraying himself as some sort of slave to the tax code without pointing out how much lobbying his & other private equity funds had paid for in 2007 to stop the tax rate on payouts going to 35%

This prompted Jay Leno to joke that the Golden Temple was Romney’s summer home http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfGlyjY5bJU Which has caused a ridiculous accusation of racism read the details here

How sad that our own politicians are signing such a toadying, oleaginous, statement that even goes as far as to recommend the UK government wast it's time & effort making "representations" to the US government, over such a pathetic affair, FFS people, can we get an Early day motion sponsored saying that there is no right to not be offended and pointing out it's a logical impossibility given how offensive the curtailment of free speech is to right thinking people

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 10:30:25 UTC | #913376

debaser71's Avatar Comment 9 by debaser71

I've been saddened by some of RD's dismissive remarks towards legitimate issues regarding the separation of church and state in the US. SF is a welcomed addition to RDF.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 13:53:00 UTC | #913437

Viveca's Avatar Comment 10 by Viveca

America really is a foreign country! Politics, as a practical reality, usually means choosing the lesser between competing evils. But as Faircloth makes clear at the end, that doesn't by any means get rid of the problem. If I was a US citizen i'm sure i'd voted Democrat, but only through gritted teeth.

The whole nature of public discourse needs to be radically improved and transformed so that serious questions can be addressed with a level of intelligence and knowledge appropriate to the task. This problem goes at least as far back as Plato and seems an unsolvable puzzle. Two central obstacles lie in the path of greater enlightenment: firstly, the ruling powers have evolved by successfully accommodating themselves to the prevailing ignorance, stupidity and lies. And secondly, the populace in general is inattentive, intellectually lazy and easily distracted.

I wish Faircloth well, but let nobody think it's going to be anything other than a very long and hard struggle.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 15:26:21 UTC | #913448

existance's Avatar Comment 11 by existance

What a bizarre world we live in when people have seriously considered voting for a person who was a Mormon missionary in France. I mean have they even looked into Mormon beliefs? They must be up there with the most ridiculous heaps of made-up claptrap around (and goodness knows there is some stiff competition!). Aside from the usual standards of treatment I reserve for people (being polite and considerate), I certainly couldn't respect this man, let alone vote for him. Just as well I'm not being asked to I suppose. Still, mad mad world.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 15:27:49 UTC | #913450

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 12 by aroundtown

Comment 10 by Viveca America really is a foreign country! Politics, as a practical reality, usually means choosing the lesser between competing evils. But as Faircloth makes clear at the end, that doesn't by any means get rid of the problem. If I was a US citizen i'm sure i'd voted Democrat, but only through gritted teeth.

The whole nature of public discourse needs to be radically improved and transformed so that serious questions can be addressed with a level of intelligence and knowledge appropriate to the task. This problem goes at least as far back as Plato and seems an unsolvable puzzle. Two central obstacles lie in the path of greater enlightenment: firstly, the ruling powers have evolved by successfully accommodating themselves to the prevailing ignorance, stupidity and lies. And secondly, the populace in general is inattentive, intellectually lazy and easily distracted.

I wish Faircloth well, but let nobody think it's going to be anything other than a very long and hard struggle.

I want to congratulate your observations Viceca. They are extremely accurate and that is why I am piling on to your statement. Everything you wrote is valid and the reality is even a bit more scary actually. I live in the middle of this lunatic asylum and I can tell you it is a tough go sometimes just to hold on to reality when you live around this everyday. America has a penchant for operating with a selective amnesia when it comes to remembering the affliction of the politicians that abuse them. We go back and forth from Democrat to Republican thinking we will get a different result but it is generally a continuing debacle from both of these beauties. One should never loose sight of the fact that money is the main motivator here in the States and those with more of it buy the influence they require to make more. Religion here is very much a business actually and trying to take that feedbag of these people will be a challenge for sure.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 16:02:01 UTC | #913460

godsbuster's Avatar Comment 13 by godsbuster

"America should lead the world"; really Mr. Faircloth? So far it has been doing so and appears predicated on doing so in future (if Mitt Romney's recent speech is any indication) predominantly on the basis of military/economic bullying.

If the anti-theist crowd wishes to have international viability they're going to have to work on the tin ear they consistently display to politics in general and jingoism in particular. Start by reading some Noam Chomsky. If that seems too ambitious, try reading the unusually articulate (for youtube), unanimous and scathing push-back dealt Mr Faircloth on this topic in the youtube comments to his speech.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 16:05:19 UTC | #913461

sean faircloth's Avatar Comment 14 by sean faircloth

Comment 2 by nurnord: My introduction to Sean was watching him present a piece followed by Richard speaking about TMoR at Kentucky University. I was immediately intrigued and impressed and this grew with each successive performance I have watched, including this one. He is intelligent, clear, focussed and as far as my intuition tells me - absolutely passionate about this movement. Richard - great choice for the key role in the US, a man that reflects your own qualities.

Nurnord, Thank you for your incredibly kind comment above. For me it has been a wonderful experience to join RDFRS-US under the leadership of Executive Director Dr. Elisabeth Cornwell. She is a unique combination: an evolutionary psychologist with Silicon Valley experience. If it were not for Dr. Cornwell and Richard Dawkins, I would not have this wonderful opportunity to help out. The spirit she has brought to this organization with things like the highly innovative and successful Out campaign and the introduction of Lawrence Krauss in our community are just a couple of her tremendous accomplishments. She has been a great and generous advisor to me, and I really appreciate her leadership. Sean Faircloth

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 16:24:51 UTC | #913464

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 15 by Sean_W

I enjoyed this presentation.

------/mods/-----

The text above marked as a link, "A Ten Point Vision of a Secular America: Restoring the Values of America's Founders" does not reference anything.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 16:54:13 UTC | #913470

stellier68's Avatar Comment 16 by stellier68

I agree with Viveca 100% here, the polarization of US politics has brought the country of the edge of the Democracy they seem to value and cherish so much... I wonder who would Winston O'Brien had voted for, has he had the opportunity, Big Brother or Goldstein?

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 17:05:06 UTC | #913477

TeraBrat's Avatar Comment 17 by TeraBrat

Romney didn't force his religious beliefs on the people of MA when he was their Governor. I think that a persons religion should not be an issue at all when they run for the Presidency. Otherwise we are taking away people's freedom of religion. If you ever want to see an Atheist President voting in a Mormon would be a step in the right direction. It would break the Protestant hold on the Presidency.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 18:38:38 UTC | #913509

Functional Atheist's Avatar Comment 18 by Functional Atheist

@17 JFK was Catholic, and it is pretty safe to consider Jefferson a Deist, but you make a fair point that the election of a Mormon President, or a Jewish President, would represent a kind of breakthrough for diversity in the highest American office, and that could ultimately be helpful to a future candidate who is a humanist, agnostic, or atheist.

I will be voting for Obama regardless of the Republican nominee, but I'm unconvinced that Romney's Mormonism should be viewed as particularly disqualifying. A Romney Presidency would likely strive very hard to avoid causing any particular shame or harm to his religion, so there's a case to be made that he'd be a less extreme and awful President than a Gingrich or a Santorum.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 19:03:48 UTC | #913519

debaser71's Avatar Comment 19 by debaser71

Did some people even watch the video? SF specifically mentions how it's Romney's RELIGION that's a problem not that his religion is Mormon.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 19:52:24 UTC | #913538

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 20 by Richard Dawkins

I have real problems coming to terms with the strict American taboo against noticing somebody's religion when you consider voting for him. I can readily understand the importance of the separation of church and state as far as government policy is concerned, and I respect J F Kennedy for upholding the founding tradition and drawing that hard and fast line. But when you vote for somebody, how can you not be influenced by what you know of his beliefs?

No matter what a candidate may say in public about contemporary policies, can you really take him seriously if you know that, privately, he is a credulous fool who seriously believes Joseph Smith, a convicted fraud, translated golden tablets and then lost them? Translated them, moreover, into seventeenth century English although he lived in the nineteenth century, writing a narrative that is palpably made up. He believes that the Garden of Even was in Missouri, that Jesus visited America, that Native Americans, contrary to all archeological and scientific evidence, are the lost ten tribes of Israel and that black people are descendants of Ham and therefore cursed.

How can you persuade yourself that a man's palpably idiotic beliefs are 'private' and therefore irrelevant to whether you want to vote for him? Why would you trust a gullible fool to run the most important country on Earth? And why shouldn't you make use of what is publicly known about his private beliefs, in order to decide whether or not he is a gullible fool.

Richard

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 20:12:35 UTC | #913549

Corylus's Avatar Comment 21 by Corylus

Comment 20 by Richard Dawkins :

I have real problems coming to terms with the strict American taboo against noticing somebody's religion when you consider voting for him. I can readily understand the importance of the separation of church and state as far as government policy is concerned, and I respect J F Kennedy for upholding the founding tradition and drawing that hard and fast line. But when you vote for somebody, how can you not be influenced by what you know of his beliefs?

One possible reason for the taboo is that, if you never open that particular can of worms, then you never have to face the awful possibility that his religious beliefs might be wavering ... or even non-existent.

Similarly, it took me a little while to understand the mentality behind the peculiar "Don't ask: Don't tell" injunction. Then I realised that letters from the doctor - those ones that you put off opening - work in a very similar fashion.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 20:27:29 UTC | #913556

Quine's Avatar Comment 22 by Quine

I suspect that everyone does take this into consideration, privately. However, it is also my opinion that it is not considered polite to mention it publicly, because it comes from a time when almost all were associated publicly with specific religions, and thus, living in glass houses it has been considered better not to throw stones.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 20:37:11 UTC | #913559

achromat666's Avatar Comment 23 by achromat666

Terabrat, .

Romney didn't force his religious beliefs on the people of MA when he was their Governor. I think that a persons religion should not be an issue at all when they run for the Presidency. Otherwise we are taking away people's freedom of religion. If you ever want to see an Atheist President voting in a Mormon would be a step in the right direction. It would break the Protestant hold on the Presidency.

If in a similar fashion to MA he doesn't make his faith part of his platform I might at least understand the position. But I don't see that happening, and I don't see the republicans pushing someone that isn't going to make god a part of their platform. Yes, it can easily be said that Romney will say anything to get votes (because he will) that hardly gives us a window of what we could expect a Romney presidency to be like outside of highly opportunistic.

That aside, Sean's presentation shines quite a bit of light on many things I didn't know about the man, and make it even harder for me to take him as anything other than a danger to the presidency, like every other republican candidate.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 20:40:40 UTC | #913560

Functional Atheist's Avatar Comment 24 by Functional Atheist

Comment 20 by Richard Dawkins :

I have real problems coming to terms with the strict American taboo against noticing somebody's religion when you consider voting for him. I can readily understand the importance of the separation of church and state as far as government policy is concerned, and I respect J F Kennedy for upholding the founding tradition and drawing that hard and fast line. But when you vote for somebody, how can you not be influenced by what you know of his beliefs?

No matter what a candidate may say in public about contemporary policies, can you really take him seriously if you know that, privately, he is a credulous fool who seriously believes Joseph Smith, a convicted fraud, translated golden tablets and then lost them? Translated them, moreover, into seventeenth century English although he lived in the nineteenth century, writing a narrative that is palpably made up. He believes that the Garden of Even was in Missouri, that Jesus visited America, that Native Americans, contrary to all archeological and scientific evidence, are the lost ten tribes of Israel and that black people are descendants of Ham and therefore cursed.

How can you persuade yourself that a man's palpably idiotic beliefs are 'private' and therefore irrelevant to whether you want to vote for him? Why would you trust a gullible fool to run the most important country on Earth? And why shouldn't you make use of what is publicly known about his private beliefs, in order to decide whether or not he is a gullible fool.

Richard

Speaking just for myself, here are the reasons I'm not particularly disturbed by Romney's Mormonism:

1) While there are sound reasons to consider Mormonism even weirder and crazier than older forms of Christianity, the distinction is one of degree, not type. Santorum's Catholicism, for example, seems to more directly pertain to his public policy positions regarding access to artificial contraception, and to safe and legal abortion. And while Gingrich's Catholicism doesn't appear to be as fundamentalist as Santorum's, the man himself is so grandiose and bellicose that my overall impression of his character is quite harsh: he may be mad as a hatter.

2) Personal contact with Mormons over the years has left a largely positive impression on many people. The affect of a typical Mormon is genial, friendly, neighborly, and they are typically solid members of a community--they tend to have a good work ethic and be self-sufficient, they are less likely to be dishonest in their personal and professional conduct than the general population, they keep a tidy home and yard, they pay their taxes, etc.

3) Mormon politicians haven't behaved in a particularly alarming fashion. While they are inclined to conservative politics and the Republican Party, the Udall family illustrates that a significant minority of Mormons have progressive political and social views, so they are not a monolith. While I disagree with Orrin Hatch on most major issues, a fair observer is likely to conclude that he's behaved pretty honorably in the Senate, and was able to form close friendships with those across the aisle, like Ted Kennedy.

4) The alternative to the candidate with whom I disagree with on theology is almost without exception another candidate with whom I disagree on theology. If religious views were a disqualifying characteristic for a candidate, I wouldn't be able to vote for anybody most of the time. So for me, religion is a side-issue and non-determinant in my voting decisions most of the time: religion only comes to the fore with candidates like Pat Robertson or Rick Santorum, whose public policy views seem to be particularly warped by their religious beliefs. And since I almost exclusively vote Democrat, I'm already typically going to vote for the more secular available candidate, again reducing the relevancy of religion in my voting behavior.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 20:44:41 UTC | #913562

Quine's Avatar Comment 25 by Quine

I also want to commend Sean for this video. I first saw him at his presentation to AAI in Burbank 2009, and was quite impressed. Glad to see he is working with RDFRS, now, and look forward to seeing him in Washington D.C. come March.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 20:46:39 UTC | #913563

blitz442's Avatar Comment 26 by blitz442

Comment 20 by Richard Dawkins

Romney is currently opening up on Newt with both barrels in the primaries, and is apparently doing serious damage.

The fact that Newt has not gone after Romney's faith - a faith that many Republican christians regard as a weird cult - speaks volumes as to how deep this taboo reaches.

I would love to be a fly on the wall in those strategy sessions in Newt's camp; I'm sure that this has been discussed. The fact that Romney is a member of an organization that was openly racist well into Romney's adult life....oooh it must be so frustrating to not be able mention this when Mitt is going after YOUR character.

Of course, at a recent Republican debate, the media played into this taboo by asking the potential nominees a softball generic question about faith, instead of asking them about the stark differences between their respective faiths.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 20:49:07 UTC | #913565

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 27 by Richard Dawkins

The fact that Romney is a member of an organization that was openly racist well into Romney's adult life....oooh it must be so frustrating to not be able mention this when Mitt is going after YOUR character.

Indeed it must. I hope the taboo is broken by the time he comes up against Obama

Richard

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 21:32:42 UTC | #913576

Mickelodian's Avatar Comment 28 by Mickelodian

Where I would be very worried that a man who believes a convicted con-artist is somehow a prophet would be elected the most poweful man in the world. I would also be very worried that the very thing we as secular rationalist accuse others of is becoming all too common with secular speakers these days.

To offer an argument yes, I have no issue... to form a premise for consideration, again no issue or argument would you get from me. To evaluate those premises badly however I DO have an issue with because if I can tear holes in rhetoric I accept then I can assure everyone else that any reasonable person, even with likewise consideration of the facts will do the same.

To then come up with a conclusion based not on the premises offered but one which was coming from the start' is rather weak.

I like Sean, he's a likable fellow, I believe what he said, whilst not entirely accurate is mostly valid nonetheless... but 'I' am not the one who needs to tighten my premises so much that a microbe with a jackhammer count penetrate the logic.

So yes there is clearly a cabal of right wing fundies lining each other up for control. Yes there observable is a large quantity of money pouring in to their coffers too (I'm sure many were told it is to be used for charitable good causes)

But this argument is (as Sean pointed out himself) much larger than Romney. It is all about what sort of outlook the nation which professes itself as the leader of the free world will have in this new century.

Rational discourse is thrown out the window it seems to me... and the other side are more guilty of this. But, Big BUT! a decision needs to be made as to whether the baby should be thrown out with the bathwater in pursuit of a secular USA.

I don't really have any issues with that either, but I'd like it to be said, by someone... anyone.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 21:59:01 UTC | #913591

AlecK's Avatar Comment 29 by AlecK

Im sorry, but this this proves a point I was worried about. It seems that that this site have no intention in actually standing against religious fanaticism, but rather making huge jumps in logic to make sure that no republican can ever seem even remotely rational. Honestly this rhetoric of the "religious right" is exactly why atheists and humanists are always seen as "liberal nutjobs". Romney believes that both evolution and global warming should be taught in classrooms. The quote mining and literal interpretation of lines in this video reveal that we are not concerned with preventing theocratical policy, such as bush's, but rather reinforcing the binary the democrats are rational and care for our rights, and republicans are ALL EVIL RELIGIOUS NUTJOBS WHO WANT THE CHURCH TO RULE THE WORLD. Romney has mentioned his religion in this race, say, twice? Obama has claimed that his faith inspired his policys, and where were the humanists and secularists? Nowhere. The entirety of Faircloth's justification for why Romney is a nutjob is by quotes made years ago. He simply liked a book written by a guy who made racist comments in his life, and that means that he is going to bring back Jim crow laws? Give me a break. Obama was friends with a former terrorist, and yet Romney is attacked for mined quotes. The worst part of the video is where Romney was attacked for 4 minutes for holding traditional conservative economic views. I thought faircloth was attacking his religious views? And where is the proof that his private crazy beliefs will cause theocratic policys? That was the point of the video I assume, but all that happened was "ROMNEY SAID SOME RELIGIOUS THINGS! HE MUST BE A BUSH CLONE!" This is completely about him being a republican, not him being religious.

Sorry about the rant, but I wanted to get my opinion out.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 22:05:11 UTC | #913592

GregGorey's Avatar Comment 30 by GregGorey

Sean has always been great, but he has improved by leaps and bounds. Great job!

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 22:25:01 UTC | #913596