by Stephen Foster
With regard to the American principle of separation of church and state and the notion that there should be no religious test for holding public office there is a double standard that has become somewhat evident in this year’s Presidential election season.
Last week as the Democrats sought to address the fact that “God,” by name, had been omitted or removed from the party’s platform language, they convened a fiasco. In the campaign for the few undecided voters remaining—in the few swing states which remain in play—this was thought to have left an opening for talking point charges of the Democrats (and by extension their standard bearers) being ‘values-challenged’ compared to their ostensibly more pious Republican opponents.
Newly minted Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has naturally attempted to take political advantage of the opportunity presented by these events by perhaps accurately suggesting that the Republicans would never have been faced with such an embarrassment because they would never think of taking God out of their platform.
At two campaign stops in the wake of the Democratic Convention, Romney implied that he was on God’s side. In leading a Virginia Beach, VA crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance this past Saturday (September 8, with Pat Robertson on the stage), Romney said, “That pledge says ‘under God,’ and I will not take God out of our platform, I will not take God off our coins, and I will not take God out of my heart.”
At a September 10 Mansfield, OH rally Romney promised that, “I will not take God out of my heart, I will not take God out of the public square and I will not take it out of the platform of my party.”
This is problematic on two fronts. Why should God’s name be used in a partisan political party platform under any circumstances? The Constitution of the United States has been a coherent and functional document without gratuitously invoking the name of the Lord. Can there be a better (or worse) example of using the Lord’s name in vain than by using it for partisan purposes in a practically meaningless political party platform?
Nevertheless, the danger of political populism is now, without doubt, on full display.
The Obama Campaign desperately tried to defuse this political land mine by reporting that the President had personally instructed the Democratic National Committee platform committee to reinsert God’s name into the platform (and that it be reiterated that the DNC position is that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel).
Of course, the Democratic National Committee is charged with winning elections for the Democratic Party; and will obviously do whatever it deems is in the interest of same. If that includes pandering to an undecided segment of the body politic, it will. By having the President personally intervene, after the fact, in the reinsertion of “God” into the platform, and by ramming it through on a clearly bogus voice vote it has, again, certainly demonstrated as much.
(This is another example of why neither political party nor neither end of the political spectrum can ever be actually trusted.)
The other problem is that, being a Mormon, Governor Romney would, ironically and hypocritically (under “normal circumstances”) rather that there be little/no mention of religion in a national campaign in which he is a candidate.
However now, by personally exploiting this God omission fiasco, he is shrewdly trying to have it both ways. He can claim to be the standard bearer of the party of God against the anti-God party; while it would be unfair—and even considered to be unconstitutional—to question him about his particular religious beliefs. How convenient?!