Mitt Romney admitted in 2007 that he had participated in Mormon ceremonies in which dead people were baptized into Christianity without their prior consent or knowledge. Yet in his latest attack ad against President Obama, Romney gratuitously uses footage of his recent meeting in Poland with Lech Walesa to claim he, Romney, will protect your religious freedom better than President Obama.
The video opens asking, “Who shares your values?,” and falsely states, “President Obama used his healthcare plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith.”
Seriously, America, President Obama is running for re-election. In a country that claims to be the most religious on earth, does anyone in their right mind actually think he would wage a war on religion months before the election?
Obama isn’t “forcing religious institutions to go against their faith.” He’s making organizations that operate as secular businesses abide by the same rules as everyone else. If you want to run a secular organization, you have to play by the same rules. That’s the American way.
The video asks, “When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?” — just after it shows an image of Pope John Paul II transforming into Mitt Romney (image, top.) (Maybe that was an unconscious directorial decision, maybe not. The power of the subliminal is, as we all know, substantial.)
But first of all, let’s be honest: religious freedom in no way, shape, or form is being threatened. The radical right wing Christian wing nuts — not all Christians, just the radicalized ones — are claiming “freedom of religion” to support every attack on the rest of society they want to make.
Can you even imagine, if you and your family weren’t Christian, waking up to learn your dead father, who was perhaps, Jewish, or an atheist, or aMuslim — that a group of Mormons you never met decided to posthumously baptize your dead dad into Christianity?
“At a time when he least needed bad publicity about his religion, Romney is now being dragged into a new scandal over his church’s posthumous baptism of Jews, who are rightly outraged by the practice,” an article in February’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported:
Five years ago, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told Newsweek magazine that he’d participated in Mormon ceremonies to baptize the dead. He didn’t name names.
The controversy erupted this week after the church was exposed for the posthumous baptisms of the parents of Simon Wiesenthal, a deceased Holocaust survivor who devoted his life to raising awareness about the death camps and exposing the Nazis who’d participated.
The church has apologized, but Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who also survived the Holocaust, says Romney, a Mormon, should also denounce the baptisms since he wants to be the next U.S. president.
“How come he hasn’t spoken out?” Wiesel asked in an interview with MSNBC. “I’m sure he’s not involved in this, nevertheless, the moment he heard about this he should have spoken out.”
The controversy hurts Romney on two fronts. Throughout his campaign he has positioned himself as an unflappable supporter of Israel. His silence about the proxy baptisms may undercut his support from American Jews.
Secondly, his candidacy has been dogged by public skepticism about his religion, which claims to be Christian but whose views are outside of mainstream Christianity. Last week, however, he appeared to be turning a negative into a positive, by seizing upon the adverse publicity President Obama received from Catholics over health insurance coverage of contraception.
“Remarkably, under this president’s administration, there is an assault on religion,” Romney told a Colorado crowd, “an assault on the conviction and the religious beliefs of members of our society.”
Yes, America, if religious freedom were being threatened, who would you want to protect it?
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