Monday, December 10, 2007

Liberal former Star Tribune columnist Steve Berg calls evangelicals intolerant. But who's really intolerant?

Mitt Romney's speech on religion, faith and politics and in particular questions about his Mormon faith has been generally well received on the right and center right side of the political spectrum and even by some on the left. Chris Matthews said it was the best political speech of the year. Of course, many on the left didn't like it because Romney talked about the important role religion plays in our nation's public life and criticised secular efforts to marginalize religion. It's not surprising then that folks like Steve Berg, former liberal writer for the Star Tribune and now columnist of the a liberal blog news page for former Star Tribune writers and others took a less favorable view of the speech. In fact, Berg saw it as an opportunity to take a swipe at evangelicals.

Berg's column was titled, "Mitt Romney's call for tolerance praised, but will it appeal to a traditionally intolerant group?" He then goes on to say, "He gave a speech in which he appealed to Christian evangelicals for tolerance of his Mormon beliefs when, in fact, a good portion of evangelicals define themselves by their intolerance of other religious views..." This is another example of the tired, worn out liberal usage of the word intolerance. Just because a person doesn't agree with the views of another person, whether religious or political, doesn't necessarily mean one's intolerant. I can tolerate the person and his views, but I just don't agree with them. What's wrong with that? Of course, secularists are intolerant of what they view as the intolerance of evangelicals. Of course this doesn't constitute intolerance on their part because they're right and evangelicals are wrong. This intolerance by secularists is accompanied by an air of being "open minded".

Then there's Berg's effort to recast a different understanding of our national religious heritage. Berg said, "
The notion that God is responsible for granting America's political freedom is foreign to many Catholics, liberal Protestants and other believers, and is obviously troubling to secular Americans." Thus the belief that our rights come from God is somehow a foreign and thus "troubling" concept. Well, where does this "troubling" concept come from? None other than Thomas Jefferson. Yes all one has to do is look not to a cabal of evangelicals but to the founders of our nation and in particular Thomas Jefferson who penned our Declaration of Independence. It states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, ad the Pursuit of Happiness."

Secularists have attempted to recast our national understanding of itself for many years, suggesting that we really are a secular polity and religiously motivated sentiments should remain private. The founders would have viewed this idea as a foreign concept. As John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." And Adams also said, "It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. Religion and virtue are the only foundations...of republicanism and of all free governments."

If nothing else, Romney's speech has triggered a healthy discussion over the role of religion in America's public and political life.

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