Like just about everyone else in the atheist and secular blogosphere, I did not care for Mitt Romney's much heralded speech on religion, though I wasn't surprise by it either. I think I did a pretty good job fisking Romney in this post back in May.
The full text of Romney's speech can be read here, among many other places.
Now to be fair, I understand and accept the fact that I live in a country where the majority of my fellow citizens believe in a god and that candidates for elected office feel obliged to acknowledge that fact in their campaigns. Sure, I wish everyone in America would become an atheist in the same sense that Christians want everyone in the country to become Christian and Muslims want everyone to become Muslim and so on, but an atheist America is not particularly high on my list of priorities. A pluralistic and tolerant America that respects religious freedom and maintains a separation of church and state is just fine with me.
It is also a given that elected officials who are deeply religious people are going to be influenced by the values of their religion when it comes voting on legislation or making decisions. A politician who accepts the teaching of his church that abortion is murder and should be outlawed is obviously going to vote to curb abortion rights whenever the opportunity arises. He won't get my vote, but he certainly has the right to run for office and vote based on his conscience should he win.
As I wrote in another post I did on Mitt Romney, I could care less if he is a believing Mormon. I am looking for a president who is competent and gets results. I initially believed that Mitt Romney could be such a president, but as the post I linked to above recounts, I grew disenchanted with Romney when I scrutinized him further.
The speech that Mitt Romney should have given could have been very brief and simple. Point out that yes, religious freedom is one of the foundations of our greatness, including the freedom not to believe in any religion or god. Mention that the Founders, in their wisdom, bequeathed to us a Constitution that declared that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." Tell the audience that while he is a devout follower of his Mormon faith, they should base their opinion of Mormonism on his character rather than forming their opinion of him based on any prejudices they might harbor towards Mormons. Lastly, conclude by stating that he seeks to be president to make the country a better place for people of all faiths and of no faith at all, and that is the standard he should be judged by.
Instead, the message I got from the speech that Romney gave was that he was basically telling evangelicals "I'm one of you guys. And screw those other guys." Thanks for nothing, Mitt!