Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and candidate for president of the USA, recently gave his "here I stand" speech on being Mormon and being American. Many, including Peggy Noonan and Richard John Neuhaus, were impressed. I was pretty impressed, too--much more impressed with Romney than with my own faith's candidates.
Romney boldly embraced his faith. “Some believe,” he said, “that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it.” While the president of the USA serves peoples of all faiths and beliefs (or, presumably, non-belief), he will not compromise his own convictions or distance himself from his church. While I'm no rabid fan of Mormonism, I've got to admire the guts. Romney displays a lot more guts in the arena of fidelity than, say, JFK or Dukakis or Pelosi, some fellow Catholics. I wouldn't mind a man of character and fidelity in the White House, even if his religion is not my own. (That is not an endorsement. Just a matter of fact. He's eligible in my book.)
Others, however, have not been so impressed. How could he make a speech on religion in America without mentioning the, um, non-religious? The Economist.com just ran an article on America's atheists and non-religious--one of the fastest-growing belief-groups in the country, currently numbering about 30 million--and the neglect and even persecution they feel in the public square. Could Americans ever elect an atheist to a high public office?
An interesting question. I wonder if it is bigotry to say one wouldn't vote for an otherwise qualified candidate. On the other hand, given sound policies, good moral character, and electability... perhaps I would vote for Senator Atheist before I ever voted for Senator Dukakis.