Monday, December 10, 2007

Romney and Huckabee's religious intolerance

Joe Conason

Distasteful as all the Bible thumping and ostentatious piety of the Republican presidential aspirants certainly are, the time may have come to address their religious pretensions directly, instead of turning away in mild disgust. For the truth is that no matter how often candidates like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee promise to uphold the Constitution and protect religious freedom, they are clearly seeking to impose the restrictive tests of faith that the nation's founders abhorred.

So if these two worthy gentlemen seek to exploit or extol their own faith, why should we bar ourselves from exploring the subject more deeply? They have invited a discussion of the sublime and the absurd in their religious doctrines, and of how those doctrines would influence them in office. We have already seen the destruction inflicted on America and the world by a dogmatic chief executive who believes that God urged him to wage war. (And let's not forget that Rudolph Giuliani, among others, has echoed the notion that President Bush was divinely chosen and inspired.)

At this point Mr. Conason explores the subject more deeply. Go see.

Phonies like Huckabee and Romney (my em) complain constantly about the supposed religious intolerance of secular liberals. But the truth is that liberals -- including agnostics and atheists -- have long been far more tolerant of religious believers in office than the other way around. They helped elect a Southern Baptist named Jimmy Carter to the presidency in 1976, and today they support a Mormon named Harry Reid who is the Senate majority leader -- which makes him the highest-ranking Mormon officeholder in American history. Nobody in the Democratic Party has displayed the slightest prejudice about Reid's religion.

I'm not prejudiced against anybody's religion, but I am prejudiced against the way people speak and act. Out amongst us 'gentiles' they keep a lid on it pretty much, but on their home turf, AKA 'Utah', Mormons are arrogant insufferable pricks, at least the few I've come in contact with.

I will illustrate with a personal experience. Quite a few years ago, I went over to Delta UT to compete in the Cherry Creek Hare 'n Hound desert motorcycle race. It was held at the Little Sahara Recreation Area, and had the deepest sand I've ever seen. I got buried in it to the point I couldn't see my rear wheel, which actually came in handy as it put the carburetor at a more convenient height to strip it and clean the sand out of it which had stuck it at full throttle. Believe me, when you slam the throttle shut and the bike continues at full speed, that's pucker power! The sand got in my chain so bad that it effectively turned it into one piece and snapped one of the chain adjusters, cocking the rear wheel so it was pointed in a slightly different direction than the front one. At this point, my race was over and I limped back about twenty miles to the pit area.

I was whupped. I sat on the tailgate of my pickup and drank an ice cold beer which was really nice. At this point a person with a cowboy hat on, whom I can only assume was a Mormon, wandered by and commented disdainfully,

"Are ya drunk yet?"

I needed that like another itchy asshole and it has colored my view of Mormons ever since, for right or for wrong.

Liberals and progressives have no apologies to make, or at least no more than libertarians and conservatives do. Cherishing the freedoms protected by a secular society need not imply any disrespect for religion. But when candidates like Romney and Huckabee press the boundaries of the Constitution to promote themselves as candidates of faith, it is time to push back.

I don't care much about Romney. He's all flip-floppin' vinyl and hairspray. If it comes out that he made most of his money by asset-stripping and putting people out of work, it'll just be the frosting on the cake. He doesn't stand much of a chance of being nominated, let alone being president, and that's good.

Huckabee is a different story. His aw-shucks bullshit is appealing to fundies and a lot of gullible christians who aren't. I don't think he's got much of a chance of becoming president either, but I have to say that, with his Jesus-buried-the-dinosaurs-6000-years-ago beliefs, he's the most dangerous of all the Repug candidates. He's a true evangelical fundie. I was gonna ask for the Lord to call him home and save us all, but He doesn't need phonies like that either. Let's hope we don't get stuck with him, in the White House and up our butts both.

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