The Obama Watch

Be Not Afraid, Mitt

Romney should keep rolling out ads about Obama's war on religion.

By 8.10.12

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The most anti-Catholic president in American history is on track to win the Catholic vote, according to recent polling. Obama enjoys a 51 to 42 percentage lead over Romney, reported the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life last week. Alarmed by this gap, the Romney team has finally rolled out an ad that highlights Obama's war on religion.

Drawing upon images of Pope John Paul II and Lech Walesa, the ad makes use of Romney's recent trip to Poland, where he recalled the late Holy Father's words, "Be not afraid."

That is a good piece of advice for Romney's own campaign. Last week, it was too skittish to wade into the Chick-fil-A controversy. But this ad is a step in the right direction. It puts Obama's assault on religious freedom directly: "President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith."

Romney should "be not afraid" to hammer the Democrats as the party of abortion and gay marriage -- a collection of cocky PC totalitarians determined to deny business permits to Christians, fine them into submission, and drive them out of the military. Rahm Emanuel's starkly anti-Christian bigotry, punctuated by his "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values" comment, lends itself to many campaign ads on this theme.

It has been reported that the Democrats will include in their platform this year a plank in favor of gay marriage, which is a point of no return for the party. Surely Obama should pay some political price for this in a country where 32 states have voted gay marriage down and 38 have passed prohibitions against it. That the Democrats are holding their convention in a state where they couldn't pass gay marriage illustrates this vulnerability. But Obama won't pay a price for it if Romney remains reticent on this issue.

John Kerry's secularist campaign and waffling on gay marriage contributed to his defeat in 2004. He lost crucial swing states for refusing to support a marriage amendment in Ohio and for his wife Teresa's "we'll get there" reassurances to the gay community. After he lost, even Nancy Pelosi attributed his defeat to his clumsy secularism. She gasped that "61% of those who are regular churchgoers voted Republican." How did the Republicans manage to lose this advantage?

One reason is that Obama made sure in 2008 not to make the same mistake as Kerry, conning the religious with a lot of babble about the Golden Rule and his "post-partisan" appreciation for religion in public life. He changed the party's PR and a cowed John McCain let him get away with it. Incredibly, Obama keeps this quasi-religious patter up on the campaign trail. At an event this week with Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who demands that the Church pay for her contraceptives, Obama lied through his teeth about his revision to the HHS mandate: "We worked with Catholic hospitals and universities to find a solution that protects both religious liberty and a woman's health. We've made sure churches and other houses of worship don't have to provide or pay for it."

No, he didn't. The only religious groups that receive an exemption to the mandate are purely sectarian ones, such as the Amish. But any religion that operates in the public square receives no protection. Obama had Kathleen Sebelius come up with a definition of a "religious organization" so narrow that the largest religion on earth doesn't even count as one under the mandate. This is why Obama speaks more often of "freedom of worship" than religious freedom. He wants civic life all to himself.

Romney has an opportunity here to take Obama's supposed strength -- his appeal to single women through "Life of Julia" and Sandra Fluke-style propaganda -- and turn it into a weakness by exposing his pandering as a war on religion. Obama thinks Sandra Fluke's "right" to free contraception and abortifacients trumps the First Amendment's right to religious freedom. It wouldn't be "fair" to deprive her of free contraceptives, he says, out of concerns for religious freedom. Do the American people agree? Do they think Sandra Fluke's free contraceptives are more essential to the future of the country than free churches? Do they want to live under a president who in a second term will have more "flexibility" to impose gay marriage on them?

Obama's "values" -- the theme on which he is running since he can't talk about the economy -- are utterly rotten. They are the values of Planned Parenthood and hedonistic Hollywood. Romney, by contrast, can and should present himself as the champion of constitutional values -- an America in which Chick-fil-A, the Boy Scouts, and the Little Sisters of the Poor can "be not afraid."

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.