Wednesday, 5 September 2012

View from America: A secular guide to voting Romney

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To coincide with the publication of his new book How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom (Houghton-Mifflin) we are posting a series of short films and blog posts by Jacques Berlinerblau, one of the most perceptive commentators on America’s religious and irreligious landscape.

In his seventh dispatch, he turns his attention to November's presidential election, with a secular guide to voting. First up he assesses Mitt Romney, with Barack Obama to follow next week.
An American Secular Voting Guide: Part One, Mitt Romney
One point I have made fairly consistently about American secularism is that it is not necessarily a synonym for “things that the Democratic Party does”. Actually, over the past few years – more precisely since the devastating defeat of John Kerry by George W. Bush in 2004 – the party seems to be moving away from the separationist secularism it once held dear (Kerry being the unsmiling avatar of that form of secularism).
It emerges from this that we ought not to automatically assume that Democrats are the Party of Secularism. Nor does the converse hold: the Republicans aren’t always anti-secular (though, admittedly, they seem hellbent of late on being precisely that).
It is for these reasons that I crafted this here visual “voter guide” for secularists. Today, I start by looking at Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney (President Obama’s turn is next week). What I conclude about the former governor of Massachusetts might mildly surprise you. Let’s put it this way: certain ascriptions of culture endow him with true secular potential.
Ah, American secularism: on the skids, but not without its unpredictable charms.
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