In urging Mitt Romney to be more upfront about his religion, Ross Douthat reminds us the he (Douthat) hates him some socialism ... unless it comes with a heaping helping of religion, in which case it's just fine:
To spend some time in Salt Lake City and its environs, as I did earlier this summer, is to enter a world where faith, family and neighborliness really do seem to fill the role that liberals usually assign to the state. There you can tour the church-run welfare centers, with supermarkets filled with (Mormon-brand) products available to the poor of any faith and assembly lines where Mormon neurosurgeons and lawyers volunteer to can goods or run a bread machine. You can visit inner-city congregations where bank vice presidents from the suburbs spend their weekends helping drifters find steady work....Wait -- welfare centers that give food to any poor person are OK? They're don't sap individual initiative and destroy America's moral fiber? Oh, yeah, I forgot -- transfers of wealth are OK if they come from organizations run exclusively by godly cultural conservatives, with no goldurn liberals in charge mucking everything up and turning it into socialism. (Secular right-wingers feel pretty much the same way about programs aimed at the underprivileged when they're financed by hedge-fund billionaires rather than the evil government.)
All liberals have ever wanted to do with social programs is democratize and secularize what would otherwise be the province of elites and churches -- to make these programs something we all share in. But giving suddenly becomes evil when liberals are involved. It means the wrong people have some control. And that's unacceptable to the right.