Jacob Sullum

Romney tried to build on this advantage, wrapping together all religions, except for "the religion of secularism," in a warm, fuzzy package. "Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me," he said. "We do not insist on a single strain of religion; rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith."

Americans who have never "knelt in prayer" clearly should not bother auditioning for the "symphony of faith." Romney conspicuously failed to address the question of whether they also are excluded from his circle of friends and allies.

Romney's justification for treating all religions as presumptively good, no matter how wildly contradictory their teachings, is that they all share a "common creed of moral convictions." He enumerated three: "the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another and a steadfast commitment to liberty." Yeah, there's no way an atheist could believe in those things.

To back up his claim that "freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom," Romney cited John Adams' comment that "our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people." Adams, a Unitarian who rejected orthodox Christian beliefs (including the divinity of Christ, which Romney was at pains to affirm), valued religion in general because he believed it restrained "human passions" such as "avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry."

Like other founders who leaned toward deism or agnosticism, Adams thought religion was important not because it was true but because it helped keep the common people in line. Romney's promiscuous ecumenism suggests he holds a similar view.

Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
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