Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â TALK, DOUBLE TALK, and the PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
The upcoming Presidential election appears to be shaping up as a referendum for those candidates who are pro God in the 'right sense' versus those who do so 'wrongly', not enough, or are not at all that concerned.
For example, Governor Mitt Romney gave a recent speechÂ explaining theÂ crucial significance thatÂ faith has for him and by extension so too should any leader of our country. In his attempt to put the matter at rest he raised more questions than provided definitive answers. In his speech he said: "
He notes that our country has been careful to separate religion from government but with an important qualification:
"I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty."His qualification, if followed, goes a long way to blurring the boundaries separating church and state.Â Governor Romney says:
"We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong."He does not explicitly clarifyÂ what he means by 'the religion of secularism' but the implicit intention is to make those who are not of the faithful appear odious the equivalent of 'liberals' in the last elec tion.Â Governor Romney concludes:
And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: We do not insist on a single strain of religion â€” rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith. "
His conclusion implies that his friends and allys may have different religions but they had better have the same attitude towards faith. Therefore woe those 'secularists' who lack faith therefore are to be shunned.
Governor Romney clearly lays out the key concepts associated with the role of religion and the state. These are: God, Jesus the Christ, religion, faith, and secularism.
Whereas it might appear that religiosity in the United States has overwhelming numbers of adherents research indicates otherwise.
Evidence for [secular opposition movement] is the survey published by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York American Religious Identification Survey, 2001, by Barry A. Kosmin, Egon Mayer, and Ariela Keysar. This study finds a significant increase in the number of adult Americans who profess no religion. Today there are 29.4 million American adults who have no religious identificationâ€”an increase since 1990 from 8.16 percent to 14.17 percent. Moreover, the number of people who reside in a household whose members do not belong to a religiohttp://www.secularhumanism.org/ Paul Kurtz
Perhaps more to the pointÂ what Governor Romney and others including President Bush}Â mean by faith is only one definition of that term excluding others that are of equal if not greater value than theirs.
Alternative definitions of the concept of faith are derived from a distinction made between religion and spirituality.
"In recent years, spirituality in religion often carries connotations of a believer having a faith more personal, less dogmatic, more open to new ideas and myriad influences, and more pluralistic than the doctrinal/dogmatic faiths of mature religions. It also can connote the nature of believers' personal relationship or "connection" with their god(s) or belief-system(s), as opposed to the general relationship with a Deity as shared by all members of a given faith."In http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality In this connection the thesaurus distinquishes between altertive defintions of faith as follows: 1 -
|Â Â||noun 2|
|Synonyms:Â Â||canon, church, communion, confession, connection, conviction, credo, creed, cult, denomination, doctrine, dogma, doxy, gospel, orthodoxy, persuasion, piety, piousness, principle, profession, religion, revelation, sect, teaching, tenet, theism, theology, worship|
The main distinction is that faith in the first sense is a bi product of projected authority in which a person follows certain prescribed rules and unquestioned beliefs.
In the second definition, faith, is a bi product of individuals struggling with struggle to make personal meanings, to persevere in the midst of great trials and tribulations, to hope, trust, love and do service because it makes good sense to do so not because one is forced to do so or they are sinners.
The former definition of faith is exclusive, the second is inclusive. If Governor Romney means what he says about protecting the rights of all the citizens of the U.S. then he needs to broaden his understanding of what he means by faith and share it with the American people.