July 19, 2010

A too-easy out..

I don't have time to do it justice, but this comment on Romney's religion speech is very much in tune with my thoughts. I felt something similar recently when Nikki Haley indignantly rejected comments on her Sikh upbringing. What she should have said is that she's proud of her parents, and that their religion has many virtues that are very compatible with Christianity. And that she welcomed scrutiny!

It's from a good piece by Kenneth Anderson at The Volokh Conspiracy, Mormons in the Financial Times.

...What Romney's religion speech did was to take the tack adopted by some Muslim intellectuals and their defenders, but it has lots of antecedents among minority religions in American debates over politics and the public square — to challenge any demand to have a reasoned discussion of tenets of the faith as racism. Romney put his religion out of bounds — all of it — on roughly the same grounds. That can't possibly be right, and anyone in Romney's camp who thinks that it is should ask themselves whether they would accept that for a moment when, say, a Muslim says that this or that is required by God — honor killing, for example, or stoning an adulterous woman — end of discussion. Obviously it could be any religion or really any belief system; my point is to pick one where a conservative Republican is unlikely to agree on the grounds of moral relativism that, however, Romney's speech at a couple of crucial junctures demands. However inconvenient for Romney having to answer at least some questions as to the demands of his faith, that is what an engagement with reasoned toleration — rather than multiculturalism or relativism — demands in a liberal society. The rest of the article sets out criteria for what should be available for question and what not....

...It is a crucial mechanism that the United States has to get right(er), and avoid the ways in which Europe has got it wrong, if it seeks to have the traditional American resolution of religion and public life as Muslims, Mormons, and other faiths seek a place within the demos and the polis. For this reason, I would certainly urge Romney's advisors to do a fundamental re-think of his too-easy out last time around. ...
Posted by John Weidner at July 19, 2010 7:41 AM
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