In about half an hour, Mitt Romney will mount a stage and, among other things, say, "and you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me."
For those keeping track: Believers in "religious freedom" are now "people who have knelt in prayer to the Almighty." In other words, "religious freedom" is the "freedom to be religious." Those who are not religious, who do not want to see religion in the public square, do not have a friend in Mitt Romney. "They are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism," he says. "They are wrong."
What Romney's speech today seeks to do is construct a new "us versus them." Where Huckabee was having some success making the us equal "Christians" and the them equal "Mormons," Romney is making the us equal "believers" and the them equal "atheists." The bet is that voters hate "secularists" more than they're unsettled by Mormons, and that if Romney can set himself up as the foremost opponent of atheists in public life, that will be more important than precisely which version of Jesus he believes in, or how many planets he'll be given to rule after his death. It's a speech calling for tolerance, that hinges on a public display of intolerance. It's classic Romney, and totally disgusting.