It's a sign that Romney may be seeking to submerge evangelical distaste for Mormonism by uniting the two groups together in a wider culture war. Romney's speech has come under some criticism, even from conservatives like David Brooks and Ramesh Ponnuru, for positively mentioning many prominent religions but failing to include anything positive about atheists and agnostics.
Indeed, the only mentions of non-believers were very much negative. "It is as if they're intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They're wrong," Romney said, being met by applause from the audience.
BLOG COMMENT - DTM wrote:
Just a casual reminder: In Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), the Supreme Court struck down a Maryland state constitutional provision which stated: "[N]o religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God."
The Supreme Court held: "We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs."
As the Supreme Court noted in Torcaso, in the debate of the North Carolina Convention on the adoption of the Constitution, James Iredell, later a Justice of the Supreme Court, said: "[I]t is objected that the people of America may, perhaps, choose representatives who have no religion at all, and that pagans and Mahometans may be admitted into offices. But how is it possible to exclude any set of men, without taking away that principle of religious freedom which we ourselves so warmly contend for?"
Mitt, of course, is wrong on our Constitution and wrong on our history.