Romney argues case for cultural conservatism

Michael Gerson

Washington Post

Published: Wednesday, May 16 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Agree or disagree with the policies Obama recommends, his arguments can't be called sophisticated. They are the liberal political application of a "What Would Jesus Do?" wristband. In a mirror reflection of the religious right, Obama has a tendency to engage in partisan proof texting — which is divisive in service to any ideology. Saying "I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount" is a claim of divine authority that short-circuits democratic debate. Even when Obama changes his political views, Jesus somehow comes around to agreeing with him.

Injecting religion into politics is always a tricky business. Religiously informed moral beliefs about human rights and dignity have public consequences — properly debated on issues from abortion to gay rights. But the use of faith and scripture as partisan trump cards is bad for religion and for politics. On recent evidence, it is Romney who is more sensitive to the danger.

Michael Gerson's email address is michaelgerson@washpost.com.

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