By Bruce Smith and Steve Peoples, Associated Press in Toronto Star, October 7, 2011
“This century must be an American century. In an American century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world,” Romney says. “God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America must lead the world, or someone else will.”
While Romney served as a Mormon missionary in France more than four decades ago, he has limited foreign policy experience. As he says in nearly every campaign stop, he has spent the majority of his life in the business world. But Romney has been critical of Obama’s foreign policy, particularly the president’s aggressive timeline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
At a campaign stop in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, on Thursday, Romney previewed some of the themes for Friday’s speech. He called for 100,000 new troops, increased military spending and a larger Navy.
“You would think that the president and the people in Washington would recognize the importance of the United States military and the need not to shrink our military budget but strengthen it,” Romney told veterans on the hangar deck of the World War II-era aircraft carrier USS Yorktown.
If there is, or ought to be, a sure-fire formula for imploding a presidential campaign, it has to be telling the voters that a candidate "knows the intention and mind of God."
It has been a tradition as old as human history that politicians and military leaders have invoked God's decision and power to accompany their mission. "God is on our side!" is a rallying cry for much of human history. And, there is literally no evidence of the truth of that rhetoric.
Not only that, but especially to tell voters that a strong military is "God's purpose" is much more than a step too far. It is a kind of clinging to a desperate hope of past military, political, economic and intellectual prowess, even, it could be argued, testosterone, in comparison with the rest of the world.
Further, there is a kind of arrogance in the statement that begs the question, "Is this man even fit to be president?"
Wrapping oneself in self-manufactured sanctimony is akin to telling the rest of the people, including especially those against whom one is competing, "I am closer to God, and have a special "line of communication with God" that the rest of the world does not have. It is not only sheer poppy-cock; it is extremely dangerous.
It sets up the spectre that someone else, somewhere else, will respond, in opposition, that "God is on OUR side" and that is precisely the kind of conflict from which there is no escape.
Now, whoever considers him/herself a warrior in those two camps, is fighting a "holy war" (with God as the Commander in Chief, the chief intelligence officer, the ultimate controller)....and that could be a description of much of the last decade, given the radical Islamists' claim that "Allah" is calling for jihad against the west, especially against America.
I recall an inscription over the front door of a theology seminar, Huron College, part of the University of Western Ontario, that read "True Religion and Sound Learning"....as if the Anglican church had a monopoly on God's intentions for his people.
As a student at that college, studying ministry, I, along with many of my classmates, was appalled at the presumption and the arrogance of the claim. The meaning for many of us was then, and continues to be, echoed in the recent Romney rant, that the Anglican church was the "true religion." Of course, the Roman Catholic church has held, publicly, that they are the only true Christian religion, and that all others, especially protestants, have strayed from the "right" path, and will abandon their apostasy by returning to the discipline, rule, dogma and tradition espoused and enforced by the Vatican. It is just as much an over-reach for the Romans as it is for the Anglicans, and as it is for Romney, coming as he does from the Mormon church.
If one even catches a glimpse of the grace of God, one is held in awe by such an experience and cannot even approach "knowing" the mind and the intent of God, in the retelling of the experience. Such an experience does not and cannot imbue its recipient with "special knowledge of God's intentions;" it merely (and ironically) exposes him/her to the transformative and unusual and overwhelming gift of that grace.
Even building cathedrals, often described as testaments to man's gratitude for the gifts of God, reaching "to heaven" as many of them aspire to do, is, like the compositions of many of music's great talents, dedicated to God, without claiming to encapsulate the "true" faith.
Only the Jewish faith, at least from my limited reading, escapes the trap of "knowing the mind of God" and admits to such humility, yet pursues with vigour in both informal and formal dialectics, various possible interpretations, as a discipline that, they believe, brings them closer to the imponderable, the inexplicable and the awesome nature of God and God's will. They even recommend some 613 "life rules" for the descendants of their "tribe."
Romney's grasping for the triumphal "God's purpose" for the American people, especially in the current context of world affairs, tarnishes his bid, and his name and his potential for fulfilling the presidential role, even though the media will not treat his "helium" theology as off-limits, so depraved does the U.S. feel right now, that many of their people are also "grasping at straws" in an effort to restore their confidence in themselves, by invoking God's confidence in them. It is a slippery slope, and Romney has deliberately and dangerously chosen to follow it.