What does Mitt Romney mean by ‘Enlightenment’?

Baruch, do you think Mitt made scare quote gestures with his hands when he read this passage in his speech today?

I’m not sure that we fully appreciate the profound implications of our tradition of religious liberty. I have visited many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired … so grand … so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just too busy or too ‘enlightened’ to venture inside and kneel in prayer. The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to Europe’s churches. And though you will find many people of strong faith there, the churches themselves seem to be withering away.

And this is something to regret? What a Leibniz this guy is. He is also flat-out wrong about what the founding fathers thought about religion in the public space — they were barely deists, them founding fathers, and would not ever have countenanced institutional expressions of piety on the government dime, no matter how ‘ecumenical’.


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