HOLY CRAP (AND I MEAN THAT IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE)
Romney, from the speech he's going to give today:
Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.
"Freedom requires religion"? Gee, thanks, Mitt -- I'm an atheist, so I guess I hate freedom. But give the SOB credit: Not only did he out-God Mike Huckabee, he almost out-authoritarianed Rudy Giuliani's notorious "Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do."
There's more in the speech, and a lot of it is precisely the religious-right boilerplate I expected:
"...in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America -- the religion of secularism. They are wrong.
"The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust.
"We should acknowledge the Creator as did the founders -- in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'"
But I think he felt that wouldn't be enough, that religious rightists would see the speech as Theocracy Lite and stick with Huckabee. So he tried to swing for the fences at least once, and he may have hit a home run -- with "Freedom requires religion," the Mormon (or, rather, his speechwriting shop) may actually have concocted a phrase that Protestant fundies will quote forever as they try to turn America into a Christian nation.
Meanwhile if he gets the nomination and tries to run in the general election as a warm, fuzzy centrist, the rest of us should never forget that he said this (i.e., never let the GOP and the media try to make us forget that he said this).
The Politico puts "Freedom requires religion" in the headline. Yup, that's the money quote.
UPDATE: D. Sidhe says in comments,
I suppose one could argue that freedom requires the *possibility* of religion, as in the right to believe whatever you feel like.
But (as she realizes) that's not what Romney is saying. I'd say he's doing a twist on the old right-wing argument that "morality is impossible without religion," and just substituting "freedom" for morality because he hopes it will rally the theocrats, anger a lot of the rest of us, and make him into a victimized, persecuted advocate of the Right Way.