I'd like to second Ezra's sentiments about Romney's speech. It was, at its core, as anti-Enlightenment as Rod Parsley's most recent book, Culturally Incorrect, which pointed to the Enlightenment as the root of all of our current problems. Romney posited that Americans believe that "liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government" and belittled the grand but empty cathedrals of Europe, suggesting, with as much robotic sarcasm as he could muster, that Europeans are perhaps "too enlightened" to venture inside. While Romney was asking Americans to have an enlightened response to the variety of religions in our country (or, or more specifically, asking biblical literalists to forgive his religion's deviation from their brand of literalism), he was simultaneously mocking the very basis for the constitutional republic: a government by and for the people. Not by God, and not for God, either.

That said, the fact that Romney felt compelled to defend his religion tells us a lot about whether Americans -- or at least the Americans in his target audience -- really do believe, as he suggested, that anyone who prays to the Almighty is A-OK. Mike Huckabee hasn't been asked to explain why he has embraced the endorsement of Tim LaHaye, who thinks non-Christians have been making a 2,000 year-old terrible mistake for which they'll pay at Armageddon. Why the Book of Mormon is considered weird but Left Behind isn't says a lot about what the issue here really is.

--Sarah Posner

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