I’d preface this with my usual “I hate politics” protest, but that’s getting a little stale. I try to stay away from overtly political topics out of respect for my patients. They cover all ends of the political spectrum, and I’m happy to sit and listen respectfully to their ideas and opinions without sharing mine. When I do wade into politics I at least attempt to do so respectfully.
As a non-Christian, much of the blather about whether Mitt Romney is or is not a “Christian” is meaningless to me. I figure, if he says he is, then he is, and anyone else’s comments on it are irrelevant. I always suspect politicians of using religion like any other weapon in their armories, but as to what they claim to be, that’s their business.
So it was more with detached amusement that I watched a prominent Southern Baptist minister attack Mitt Romney about his religion. But then another player in this drama said something that was less amusingly bigoted and just downright scary:
The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity.
Any rational reader of the Constitution and other founding documents knows that this is not right; it’s not even wrong. I wish it were simply completely ahistorical idiocy displayed by a random bigot on a crowded street corner arguing with no one in particular. But the issue of Romney’s religion appears to be bringing this sort of idiot out of the woodwork to spread this nonsense.
Church leaders have every right (sort of, depending on what they think of their tax-exempt status) to say anything they want, even if it to wrongly try to deny others’ that same right. But politicians cannot ignore such statements; they must deny them, and forcefully. This is mainly a right-wing issue, and it is the Right who should “handle” it. Each of the candidates should clearly state that the acts and statements, and ideas of their opponents are the issue, not their faiths, and that the First Amendment clearly protects people of all faiths in all contexts.
They helped create this mess, they have to clean it up.