To Be Fair to Mitt Romney

I was recently very critical of Romney's speech because rather than argue for the separation of church and state, he embrased the conservative theocratic arguments against such a separation. I was also critical because his speech seemed to put atheists and agnostics outside the scope of good Americans.

To be fair to Romney, after the speech, he answered some questions by Tim Russett about atheists in public light that takes a different view:

MR. RUSSERT: But when you say freedom requires religion, can you be a moral person and be an atheist?

GOV. ROMNEY: Oh, oh, of course. Oh, of course.

MR. RUSSERT: And participate in freedom?

GOV. ROMNEY: Oh, of course. Yes, this...

MR. RUSSERT: So freedom doesn't require religion?

GOV. ROMNEY: Well, this--the, the context was talking about the, the founding of the nation and the, the sense in this case of John Adams describing the fact that our constitutional form of government and this American experiment required morality, which in turn required religion. And, and yet, of course, on an individual basis, you have many individuals of great morality and--that, that don't have any particular faith.

MR. RUSSERT: So if you determined that the most qualified person for the Supreme Court or for attorney general or secretary of education happened to be an atheist or an agnostic, that wouldn't prevent you from appointing them?

GOV. ROMNEY: Of course not. You, you, you look at individuals based upon their skills and their ability, their values, their intelligence. And there are many who are agnostic or atheist or who have very different beliefs about the nature of the divine than I do, and, and you evaluate them based on their skills. But I, I can tell you that I, I myself am a person of faith and, and respect the, the sense of the common bond of humanity that comes from that, that fundamental belief.

MR. RUSSERT: But there'd be no litmus test?

GOV. ROMNEY: No, no. There's no litmus test of, of that nature.

Read it here. Hat Tip to Get Religion.


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