Yes, Romney actually said that. My friend and Jeopardy champion Eugene Finerman quoted him with scorn, and I simply have to pile on.

Freedom does NOT require religion.

No, Willard. Freedom requires a MINIMUM of religion. In order for democracy to function, government must be based on reason and fact, not Bible fantasies. The Founders made that very clear. I’m from near Phildelphia, and I know what the Constitution says.

So, as I’ve frequently argued, politicians should keep their religion – or lack of it – to themselves…and out of government. Otherwise, people will be allowed to impose their moral beliefs on others, by force of law. That is un-American.

Humanists just want to be left alone to decide moral questions for themselves. But fanatics seek to organize. They seek conformity.

Evangelicals are clustering around Huckabee, like hornets on the attack. The heart of his appeal is his Biblical morality. He claims not to know whether the Earth is six billion or 6,000 years old. This cannot be good for America.

Religion does NOT require freedom.

“Religious requires freedom” is another lie. Things aren’t true just because some politician says they are, no matter who it is, and no matter how facile and glib it sounds. Such statements must be tested against reality.

What reality tells us is that religion is the antithesis of freedom. There’s not a word about it in the Torah.
Always, religious violence and coercion are one-way: believers do it to unbelievers or other-believers to ENFORCE their beliefs on the Others. It almost makes me nauseous to mention religion and freedom in the same sentence.

The Identikit

Beyond his religious pandering and spinning to seem palatable to the Christian masses, Willard is the quintessential identikit candidate.

Years ago, I learned the British term “identikit candidate” – all things to all people, completely prefab. Willard Romney is the closest thing I’ve seen.

He’s doing a magnificent job of finessing his totally psychotic ideology (just as nutty as the rest of them…but Jesus in America???). Rhetorical artist that he is, he put the emphasis on “faith.” (That’s the same speech in which he uttered the quoted absurdity.)

That’s a good PR move. Everybody should have faith! In anything they want! Sure, just believe anything. Just don’t examine Mormonism too closely. That’s the deal.

Faith is not a good thing for politicians to promote.

I am not happy about any politician who promotes faith, belief without proof. Language must not become unhinged from reality. Such a process leads to childish/magical thinking and enables political propaganda.

With everything dumbed down and whatever you feel is true, a happy, uninquisitive citizenry will agree to wars and whatever other madness politicians dream up.

That madness includes religious doctrines and false histories.

“Scientology minus 125 years”

In a TIME cover story earlier this year, there was only one paragraph that contained a critique of Romney’s Mormonism: according to one person, “Scientology minus 125 years.”

In other words, just as bizarre as Scientology, but set in the 19th century: everything revealed to (acknowledged con man) Joseph Smith by an angel named Moroni (I absolutely cannot resist thinking of this waif of an angel as Boney Moroni…sorry about that)…written in special script that only he could read… lost Tribes and Jesus himself showing up in America, and much other fun stuff. Just as imaginative as the Chronicles of Narnia or Star Wars.

The difference is that many people regard it as truth.

All equally false

Of course, if the media weren’t so deeply in thrall to the political correctness of religious thinking, TIME would’ve quoted some prominent secular humanist to the effect that all religious myths are equally false, and that the reason Scientology and Mormonism seem bizarre to many modern people is that they are of such recent vintage.

A moment’s reflection will reveal that the events in the Bible are equally fantastic, if not more so. A cursory investigation of the world’s religious beliefs will yield volumes and volumes of make-believe, all simply made up by people because they didn’t know why things really happened.

What matters

In that sense, what a presidential candidate believes is less important than HOW he/she believes. Politicians are notably plastic people who will conform to their audience’s expectations. Where religion is concerned, if they are not true believers, they will keep their religious moderation and doubts to themselves.

It is completely improbable that all 550-plus members of Congress are atheists or secular humanists, yet only one has admitted to being such a deviant. Among the rest of them are many lukewarm believers who may or may not parade their religion publicly, although today it’s pretty much expected that politicians do so.

But you never know, and this is the real crux of the problem. If politicians are truly lukewarm, liberal, agnostic, or simply hypocritical about religious belief, then there’s not too much to worry about. They’re just doing it so as not to apear too different from the voters. Just more pandering.

Do they really believe?

But the real issue is: does the politician really believe? It doesn’t matter whether it’s some Mormon fantasy or some Christian or Jewish or Islamic or Hindu fantasy. If they believe it’s truth, then they should not be in charge of the affairs of state.

Why? Because it’s way too likely that such people will blend religion and politics… that they will come to believe that God is on their side, or that America is a Christian state, or America is a God-blessed country that can do no wrong — all very dangerous notions.

The willingness to believe religious fantasy is indicative of the willingness to believe and propagate political fantasies like the above.

Religion out of politics!

Thus, voters who really want the affairs of state to be run by rational and levelheaded people should absolutely not elect religious believers. Of course, the exact opposite is the case in America today — only religious believers can get elected — and that situation causes me great concern about the future of our country.

In one of the early 2007 debates, three of ten Republican candidates said they don’t believe in evolution – in which case I question their sanity and judgment and would not want them running the country.

Sanity in government

The Book of Genesis is an ancient text, nothing more, and to take it as literal truth is, I’m sorry, just nuts. As psychiatrist Thomas Szasz said, “If you talk to God, you are praying. If God talks to you, you have psychosis.”

Politicians who can spin and believe their own delusions about God can do so about America and the role of government. They can ignore the truth and the facts and make up any policies they want, as Bush et al. are doing, and that’s very bad.

The best thing would be for candidates not to talk about religion at all. It’s a private issue.

Secular humanist as President

I think a Secular Humanist would in fact be the best President. He/she will be a thoughtful, moral person (hopefully; plenty of immoral believers have been elected) who deals with facts, science, reason and reality (and the Constitution), and on that basis, decides what’s best for America.

The Secular Humanist President doesn’t waste a lot of time in prayer and religious attendance, instead attending to the nation’s interests. He/she doesn’t let religious myths and ancient commandments shape the nation’s policy.

Plus, a Secular Humanist President would be opposed to religious orthodoxy altogether, so there’s no need to trumpet one religion while ignoring all the others. Even better, such a President would not pander to religious believers and would guide the nation towards the deemphasizing of the public role of religion, minimizing the God-babble — and even discouraging religious orthodoxy abroad (that’s the way to kill terrorism at its roots).

A good Secular Humanist gets my vote any day of the week.

Earliter this year, in Chicago, the Dalai Lama said, “All major traditions have basically the same potential. All have the same message of love and compassion…that is the foundation of non-violence.”

Amen. That’s about as religious as I would want a politician to be.


Alan M. Perlman is a secular humanist speaker and author — most recently, of An Atheist Reads the Torah: Secular Humanistic Perspectives on the Five Books of Moses. For information, go to

2 Responses to “Latest from Willard/Mitt: “Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom.””

  1. on 07 Dec 2007 at 6:12 pmPistol Pete

    Romney isn’t just making this up. Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) said -

    “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

    You could argue that religion is not the same thing as faith or that de Tocqueville was wrong. But, Romney was simply trying to follow a path of least resistant in addressing concerns people have about his faith.

  2. on 07 Dec 2007 at 8:36 pmAlan

    Thanks for writing. I agree, he chose the path of least resistance. And I’m familiar with the attachment of religion to morality. Secular Humanists have been trying to disconnect the two for a long time.

    It’s not true: you don’t need God to be good. And the statement doesn’t become true by virtue of repetition. ;)

    Are the concerns that he would let his religion influence his Presidency? (He said he wouldn’t .) Or that it’s just TOO WEIRD?



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