"(T)he notion of separation of church and state has been taken by some beyond its original meaning," Romney said, "They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgement of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in the public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America -- the religion of secularism. They are wrong.
"We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders -- in ceremony and word. He should remain in our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history and, during the holiday seasons, Nativity scenes and Menorahs should be welcome in our public places."
Romney understands that while the First Amendment proscribes the establishment of religion, it guarantees the free expression of all religions, even in the public school. Supreme Court, take note. "I will not separate us from the God who gave us liberty," said Romney.
This was a tour de force, and it was delivered before perhaps the largest audience Romney will have for any speech before the January caucuses and primaries. It will be the subject of editorials and columns in coming weeks. And it is hard to see how Romney does not benefit hugely from what was a quintessentially "American" address
With this speech, Romney has thrown on the defensive his main rival in Iowa, Mike Huckabee, the Christians' candidate who, when asked if Mormonism is a cult, left the impression it might well be.
The issues of religious tolerance, what it means to be a Christian in politics, and of secularism versus traditionalism are all now out on the table, and will likely be the social-moral issues on which the race turns between now and January.
To this writer, Romney is on unassailable grounds. Nor is he hurt by the fact that his wife and five children testify eloquently that he is a man of principles who lives by them.
Mike Huckabee's ascendancy and Romney's address defending his faith, refusing to disavow his beliefs and making this a test of tolerance while launching an offensive against secular humanism, tell us that God is back -- in the presidential campaign.
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