Thursday, December 06, 2007


Marty Peretz on the Romney speech:

The Religion of Secularism

Boston has always been a city of religion. Or of religions. It began with the Puritans.... But since it was a part of the king's venture into the new world it also had a deep strain of Anglicanism. And then of other Protestantisms, like the Congregationalists. Roman Catholicism followed and, with the immigrations from Ireland and Italy, exploded. Then, of course, the Jews....

Now, of course, Greater Boston has become a center for "the religion of secularism." That's the phrase that Mitt Romney put into the campaign today as a hostile characterization of that faith that knows no faith...and often derides the faith of others.... in Boston (where for decades as a reputable citizen and then as governor Romney has practiced his religion with barely anyone noticing) and elsewhere around the country, the name of God seems to give a lot of people the creeps....

I do not like Romney. I did not vote for him in Massachusetts. And, since I'm a Democrat, I will not have even the opportunity to vote against him (at least in the primary). But I hope that his speech will explain to fervid religious people who disdain Mormonism and to fervid secularists that faith is no impediment to service.

You know what you need to do, Marty, if you think Boston is a cesspool of hostility toward religion? You need to get on the T (you know what that is, don't you?) and take the Green or Orange or Red or (my old) Blue Line to some neighborhood you've never, ever been to. Get off, leave the station, and look around.

You know what you're seeing? I'll explain. They're called "ordinary people." Few if any of them have Ivy League degrees, and it would be surprising if a single one of them had ever had an op-ed published in The New York Times or had ever appeared on Charlie Rose or had ever joined prominent intellectuals and activists in signing a full-page ad denouncing (or supporting) some policy or other of the U.S. government. Nope, these are just regular folks.

And you know what else? A hell of a lot of them go to church. They're not hostile to religion -- they practice religion. They turn to houses of worship to get married and buried. Quite a few of them send their children to religious schools. They believe.

I know these people. I was raised among them. I was one of them, baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church (before I lost the faith).

I assume you're aware, Marty, that one of the groups formed in the Boston area in response to the church pedophile scandal was called Voice of the Faithful. Do you understand the significance of that name? Here was a religious institution responsible for horrible crimes, horrible betrayals of trust -- and people wanted to stay in the church anyway. Even after molestations and cover-ups, they didn't lose their faith. They wanted the church to change -- they wanted to fix it, not destroy it. They wanted to remain faithful.

Maybe your part of Boston is "a center for 'the religion of secularism.'" But try going to the parts of Boston you don't know. There, as in the rest of America, religion is doing just fine, thank you.

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