UNlike President Kennedy, Governor Romney refused to embrace absolute separation of church and state to please secular extremists and to calm irrational fears.
That, America’s Founders would enthusiastically cheer.
Romney: Mitt Romney, aka Mormon Mitt and Mitt the Mormon, Republican presidential hopeful, former Governor of Massachusetts and winner of the first debate of the declared Republican presidential aspirants.
Reindeer: any of several large deer that have palmate antlers, best known generally for pulling Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve and, by constitutional lawyers, for inspiring the "reindeer test."
"Reindeer test": name given to the United States Supreme Court procedure for determining whether a Christmas display on public policy is constitutionally permissible (a free-standing creche is forbidden but if secular figures, like reindeer, accompany the creche, the scene is treated as sufficiently secular to permit the creche to stay).
Religion: “the duty owed to God,” as James Madison, Father of the Constitution, tersely put it.
Proponent of constitutional fidelity and judicial restraint and Judicial Confirmation Network legal counsel Wendy Long has judged the "reindeer test" to be "silly."
Now that's restraint!
These days we are subjected to something else "silly": the notion that Governor Romney is not fit to be President of the United States because he is a Mormon.
Fittingly, Governor Romney invoked reindeer to rebut the sinister, whoops, silly, suggestion. (Since reindeer keep creches on public property at Christmas time, maybe they will protect Governor Romney too from being prejudiced by those who don't know that his religious preference is not an impediment to him being a terrific president and those who know but pretend otherwise because they fear (rightly) that Governor Romney is a man of faith who will not surrender to the secular extremist desire to impose absolute separation of church and state on America (through the unelected judiciary, of course, since the people's elected representatives will not do it).
Before last Christmas, National Review’s Katharine Jean Lopez asked Governor Romney, “Will an exposé on Mormon Christmas celebrations hurt you in the primaries?”
Governor Romney amusingly replied, “This may sound strange to some, but my grandchildren will be eagerly awaiting presents to be delivered to their homes by a bearded man in a red suit led by a pack of flying reindeer. The lead reindeer, by the way, has a red light bulb for a nose — certainly a YouTube scandal waiting to happen.”
Mormons celebrate Christmas too!
As Governor Romney has explained, as to values, his Mormon faith is “like almost every other faith [he’s] encountered in the world.”
“[Mormonism] believes in the nature of the human family. It believes that we should serve one another. It believes that we should reach out and make a difference to preserve institutions of stability and democracy, that we should have freedom of religion.”
"There are differences between doctrines of churches. But the values at the core of the Christian faith, the Jewish faith and many other religions are very, very similar and it's that common basis that we have to support and find ability to draw people to rather than to point out the differences between our faiths.
“The differences are less pronounced than the common base that can lead to the peace and the acceptability and the brother and sisterhood of humankind.”
That’s terrific, not troubling, for all people of good will.
Truth be told, however, there IS a politician who is a Mormon and a grave threat to America.
NOT Governor Romney (a conservative Republican who supports fiscal responsibility, constitutional fidelity and judicial restraint).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (a liberal Democrat who recently declared the war in Iraq lost; opposed the confirmation of Justice Samuel A. Alito. Jr., because the Far Left wanted a nominee who would promote their agenda and legislate from the bench to do it instead of interpreting the law and the Constitution and allowing we the people to govern ourselves); and whined when the United States Sipreme Court upheld the federal partial-birth abortion ban for which he had voted! HE's a dangerous man who happens to be Mormon.
That’s right. Some Mormons are Republicans, and others are Democrats. Some are liberal, and others are conservative. Some are good, and some are not.
I’m an orthodox Catholic, not a Mormon (or a prosepective Mormon, and not even an acquaintance of Governor Romney, but I can tell you that Governor Romney is no Harry Reid (thanks be to God!)and the best hope of the viable Republican presidential possibilities.
I also can tell you that the media has focused relentlessly on Governor Romney’s religious preference in a way that it did not when his father, George Romney, ran for President in 1968, or Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, did in 2000, or when Senator Reid became Minority Leader in 2005 and Majority Leader in 2007.
Because Governor Romney believes in God and traditional America values—those God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness than inspired America’s Declaration of Independence—instead of the secular extremist alternatives (death, licentiousness and the pursuit of hedonism). He is a member of the Mormon Church, not what Ann Coulter called "Godless: The Church of Liberalism."
Secular extremists realize that kind of man must be demonzed, and religious Americans of various faiths must be made to believe that he really doesn’t share their basic values, or else he’ll win the presidency and appoint justices and judges who will not impose the secular extremist agenda and drop God from America’s Pledge of Allegiance and currency and coin.
When CNN’S Wolf Blitzer asked Governor Romney before he declared whether his faith would be a problem, Governor Romney responded with this declaration of faith…in the American people:
“The great majority of American people look at the character of the person[s], their track record, what they plan on doing, what their values are….
“You are going to see most evangelicals support whoever they feel is closest to their values. And that may be me. It may be somebody else. But I don't think that people are going to ever disqualify someone and apply a religious test. The Constitution says that's prohibit[ed]. We don't apply religious tests. And I doubt Republicans will either.”
In response to inquiry as to how he would “deal with what is bound to be attacks from the media and opponents about [his] religious faith,” Governor Romney made this additional key point about the bulk of the American people: “I think the American people want to see a person of faith lead the nation, and I don’t think the American people care very deeply about which brand of faith that is.”
Exactly! Most Americans don’t want a Satanist in the Oval Office, a good person of any faith will do nicely, and a co-religionist who violates fundamental tenets of his or her and still professes to be a member in good standing will be repudiated by his or her co-religionists.
Three Roman Catholics have run for president as a majority party candidate. Two—Al Smith and Jack Kennedy—each got about four out of five “Catholic” votes while running against Quakers (Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon). In sharp contrast, John Kerry lost the “Catholic “ vote to a Methodist (George W. Bush), because President Bush was perceived as more compatible with the “Catholic” voters’ values.
Governor Romney explained:
“There’s not very much that’s well known about my church because it’s not broadly based throughout the nation with large numbers of people who are adherents. When anything is unknown, people are going to be a little skeptical. But I think, again, as individuals look at my life and my family’s life, they’ll recognize that my values are quintessential American values; that my religious beliefs are consistent with the religious beliefs of other Judeo-Christian faiths, such as a belief in the divinity of God and the need to need to provide service to others, the preeminence of the family unit. These types of elements are what America looks for in a leader.”
And rightly so.
As Governor of Massachusetts, Governor Romney invoked a now generally revered Republican whom Democrats of his time gave hell when he was a presidential candidate and president:
”I subscribe in some respects to what Abraham Lincoln said in -- well, it goes to the Lyceum Address when, at age 28, he said, you know what, in America there is something called the political religion. It’s our adherence to the laws of the land, to our oath of office.
“And as a governor, I consider my highest promise the promise I made to uphold the constitution of my state and of the country. And regardless of one’s faith, that’s the biggest responsibility.”
He feels the same about the duty of the President of the United States.
As President, Governor Romney would not Mormonize America. He would respect religious liberty and America’s religious heritage instead of trying to trying to transform America into a secular extremist state (like the defunct Soviet Union or France) and to restrict the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment to churches, synagogues, temples and mosques.
ABC’s George Stephanopoulus asked Governor Romney how his faith informs his politics. A fair question.
Governor Romney replied: “I think religion is a separate sphere in terms of a particular brand of faith, but I think the principles of all faiths have, as their foundation, the idea that there is a supreme being, that this supreme being is a heavenly father, and that all the people in our country and in all countries are sons and daughters of the same supreme being.
“I think we are, if you will, one family of humanity. That informs very dramatically my sense of what our relationship should be in the world, our need to care for the very poor and the diseased and the brutalized, our need in this country to provide opportunities for all of our citizens.
“That fundamental belief that we are all brothers and sisters has an enormous impact, I think, on a lot of what we do.
“But the particular doctrines of a church I don't think are a major part in a political sense.”
They were not supposed to do so. That’s why the Constitution prohibits a religious test for federal office.
Obviously Governor Romney’s faith is very important to him, as it should be. It is an inspiration to him and should not be an impediment to those who embrace traditional American values supporting him.
This exchange between Mr. Stephanopoulos (who was instrument in President Clinton’s election in 1992) and Governor Romney tells us much about both Governor Romney and his political opponents who view his religious preference as a political opportunity:
“Stephanopoulos: "[Y]our Mormon faith has been a big part of your life. You were a bishop in the church. You were president of the Boston Area Parishes.
“You spent more than two years in France as a missionary and described it as a watershed experience.
“Mitt Romney: Oh, absolutely. It taught me that there's a great deal to life besides just what's living in my little community back in Michigan.
“I was in a pampered home with great advantages. I went to France and I lived on a far more modest, humble basis. We made about a $100 a week. We drew out of our savings to live there. That was food, clothing, transportation, housing, the whole bit.
“And I recognized that the opportunities we have in this country are absolutely extraordinary. But, also...
“Stephanopoulos: It can't have been easy to try to convert people in the Catholic...
“Mitt Romney: It's real hard being a missionary in France.
“Ann Romney: I think the conversion happens from within, to tell you the truth.
“I send five sons on missions, as well, and when they leave, they're 19-year-old boys. They come home 21-year-old men and they've learned to step outside of themselves.
“They've learned what it means to truly care for someone else and they come back so much more compassionate and so much more caring and it changes their lives and I now see them as fathers and husbands.
“And their maturity and their ability to care for other people that are in need is just wonderful to see, as a mother.”
Mrs. Romney, who converted to Mormonism, did not shrink from chiding Mr. Stephanopoulos for fixating on Mormonism instead of focusing on her husband as a person.
“Ann Romney: I don't like all the emphasis that's being put on it, because I see it as being a little unfair.
“He is a man of faith and he has amazing principles. He's a good father and husband. I'd like them to look at the measure of the man and stop focusing so much just on his faith.”
But Mr. Stephanopoulos stayed on target.
“Stephanopoulos: But this is part of what makes us human beings and, you know, John Kennedy, when he gave that speech, he said that he believed in the absolute separation of church and state.
“And he went on to say this, he said, ‘here no Catholic prelate would tell the president, should he be Catholic, how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote, where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference."
“Is that what you believe?”
Governor Romney rightly rejected such unwarranted and unauthorized absolutism.
“Mitt Romney: Well, we have a separation of church and state in this country, and we should and it's served us well.
“I don't believe, for instance, we should take ‘under God’ out of the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't think we should take ‘In God we trust’ off of our coins.
“There's a point at which we take something which is a good principle to an extreme.
“But I do recognize and support the idea that when you take the oath of office, you basically support something which Abraham Lincoln called America's political religion.
“And if I'm lucky enough to be elected president of this country and I take that oath of office, there will be no higher promise than to abide by the Constitution and the rule of law.”
It is secular extremists, not people of various faiths, who have cause to beware.
As to funding faith-based institutions, Governor Romney pointed out not only that “we don't fund faith-based institutions, other than when they're performing a non-faith role,” but also that “some of the faith-based institutions, particularly in the inner city, are doing a lot better job helping the poor, helping kids, helping families get on their feet than some government social service agencies,” concluding that “helping them in their secular role is, of course, fine,” but helping them in a religious role is “unacceptable.”
That’s the same approach the Founders envisioned, not hostility toward religion or neutrality between religion and irreligion.
Mrs. Romney drew a line for Mr. Stephanopoulos:
”Ann Romney: …we draw the line on those that are just trying to make a difference in a child's life. I work with inner city at-risk youth and we find that a lot of the black churches in the inner city have been very, very helpful in being there on the ground, helping these kids, really making a difference in their lives.
“It's not even a church issue at all when it comes down to what they're really doing. They're on the ground, really there, and I'm very supportive of that, of trying to find anyone that's helping, give them a hand, as well.
“And it's not a proselytizing thing that's happening, the way I see it, with the inner city, the faith-based initiatives that I've been working with. They're there to help. They're there to make a difference in children's lives.
“And I feel as though we need to give them a hand, as well.”
A look at the record will comfort doubters worried that Governor Romney will Mormonize America as President. As Governor, he signed laws allowing stores to sell alcohol on Sundays, even though he was prohibited by his faith from drinking alcohol, and laws that expanded the state lottery, though Mormons are forbidden to gamble.
Moreover, the Mormon Church obviously does not impose political views Governor Romney explained it this way: ““There’s no church-directed view. How can you have Harry Reid on one side and Orrin Hatch on the other without recognizing that the church doesn’t direct political views?”
Further, Governor Romney respects the religious freedom of people of other religions, as illustrated by his urging the Massachusetts Legislature on March 10, 2006 to work with him on “a bill…to ensure that religious institutions are able to participate in the important work of adoption in a way that always respects and never forces them to compromise their firmly held beliefs.”
Governor Romney’s press release on the matter read as follows:
“DEFENDING RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, ROMNEY TO FILE BILL EXEMPTING RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS FROM GAY ADOPTION REQUIREMENT
“Calling it an issue of ‘religious liberty,’ Governor Mitt Romney today said he plans to file legislation to permit religious institutions to perform adoptions without violating the tenets of their faith.
“Today, the board of Catholic Charities voted to stop doing adoptions because of state law which requires that gays be given equal consideration for the placement of children. Because of the Church’s teaching, Catholic agencies may not provide adoptions to gay parents.
“This is a sad day for neglected and abandoned children. In this case, it’s a mistake for our laws to put the rights of adults over the needs of children. While I respect the board’s decision to stay true to their principles, I find the current state of the law deeply disturbing and a threat to religious freedom,’ said Romney.
“’I ask the Legislature to work with me on a bill that I will file to ensure that religious institutions are able to participate in the important work of adoption in a way that always respects and never forces them to compromise their firmly held beliefs,’ he said.
“Romney’s bill would authorize religious organizations to provide adoption services consistent with their beliefs by creating an exemption from the state’s nondiscrimination laws.”
The problem for genuienly religious people of any faith is NOT Governor Romney or his personal religious preference, but secular extremism, which arbitrarily redefined the institutional separation of church and state contemplated by America’s Founders as absolute separation of church and state mandating governmental neutality between religion and irreligion and prohibiting governmental support for religion generally, as though America is an agnostic or atheistic country.
Governor Romney may be the person who paves the way for a return to the constitutional path suddenly abandoned by the United States Supreme Court in 1947 and resulting in a number of other judicial activist Supreme Court decisions as the Court slid down a slippery slope after leaving the constitutional path.
Like President Kennedy, Governor Romney has assured his fellow Americans that no religious leader will dictate to him if he is elected President of the United States.
UNlike President Kennedy, Governor Romney refused to embrace absolute separation of church and state to please secular extremists and to calm irrational fears.
That, America’s Founders would enthusiastically cheer.
Governor Romney, they would joyfully befriend, not foolishly fear.
As John Marshall, America’s greatest Chief Justice commented: “[W]ith us Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations to it."
That's NOT absolute separation of church and state.
To be sure, America’s Constitution (including the First Amendment) respected the private right of conscience and repudiated the idea of government compelling religious practice, but it acknowledged God (dated “in the Year of our Lord”), accorded Sunday special significance (not counted it toward the days that the President has to acted on a bill passed by Congress) and sought “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” surely from the Creator who bestowed upon people those rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness asserted in the Declaration of Independence.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.