Think what you will about my characterization -- I don't care -- but it's Romney, in his speech, who blurred distinctions. I myself think there's about nothing funnier than a believer in the mainstream Christian fairy tales poking fun at Mormons for their "ridiculous" beliefs. So I'm just grouping them -- as Romney would have us do -- into one, and I'm calling it: Moronism.

Here's a piece that gets Romney's speech right. Steve Chapman in Reason, linked by Balko. You know, I wrote in a comment to another post just today...

As it stands, we have Christians often trying to impose their silly Jebus fairy tale on everyone under the guise of "tradition" (nobody gets to dictate what tradition I value) and atheists often trying to impose secular materialism on everyone under the guise of "separation."

I was trying to be fair, but it's not really accurate, as Chapman points out:

The former Massachusetts governor makes equally imaginative claims about those who champion church-state separation. He believes they "are intent on establishing a new religion in America—the religion of secularism." Oh? You would look long and hard to find any secularist or civil libertarian who thinks the government should officially espouse atheism or encourage Americans to abandon religion.

Believers insist on keeping "In God We Trust" on our currency. Where are the nonbelievers who want to replace it with "There Is No God"? Secularists don't expect the government to take their side—only to practice neutrality. They think 1) all Americans should be free to practice the religion they choose and 2) none should have the active assistance of the government.

But neutrality between belief and nonbelief is something Romney can't abide. He thinks the government must be firmly and vocally on the side of religion. Only when it comes to Mormonism versus other religions does he recognize the value of neutrality as a principle. Isn't that convenient?

So it's not quite accurate to imply that atheists or secularists have attempted to impose their non-belief. But it's true that it's essentially a fight over money. It was bound to happen, that as soon as atheists (who have always existed) realized they just might not be lynched by all the practitioners of Moronism, while at the same time gaining some confidence in realizing they were not alone, began to push back. What they are saying is: you can't rightly take their dollars via taxation and use those dollars to promote values they find repugnant. Sound familiar? Though atheist, and delightfully rude and hostile to Moronism, I personally don't bother with the fight for separation. For one, the problem is more fundamental and I don't waste time in arguments where I have to accept the premises of my opponents. But mostly, I just don't care that much about it. There's lots of things done with money stolen from me that are far more repugnant to me. Religion is just moronic and stupid, but for the most part it's not evil; anymore, at least.

Consider what I blogged earlier in the context of politics.

Being lied to, either by one's self, or others, is a value to a lot of people. As such, they pursue -- they seek out; they solicit; they pay for -- people, circumstances, and situations wherein they position themselves to get a dose of sweet sweet lies so that they may feel some comfort in confirming the lies they tell themselves.

I think this is why this whole deal is getting more fever-pitched all the time, and a lot of the pressure is coming from the ones who take their beliefs most literally. Unless you lead an awfully sheltered life, you and your kids are in a losing battle against reality where dogmatic, literal religious doctrine is concerned. There's simply no good reason to pay much attention to Moronism, and everyone can easily see that. All kids can see that they have a huge abundance of values to choose from, not only religious oriented ones. It really doesn't matter if I do or don't see a problem with that (I don't, in principle). The world is becoming "balkanized" in terms of values, and this can only be to the good, I think.

Religion is/was simply a convenient collectivist lie to tell kids so that they felt like part of something and had a set of instructions for lots of the big issues in life. It was a source of comfort: those old, comfortable and familiar lies. Today, and increasingly so, kids are coming up with their own value systems to build lives around. Some of those will just be new lies; some inferior to the old lies, some better. The point, though, is in breaking the church-state stranglehold on information and values. Oh, yea: the kiddies are certainly going come up with some dumb ones, but that'll be easiest to see when shown in contrast to the smart ones some will be coming up with.

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