August 16, 2012
The Honorable Mitt Romney
Romney for President
P.O. Box 149756
Boston, MA 02114-9756
Dear Governor Romney:
As a Baptist minister and as president of Interfaith Alliance, I have dedicated my career to preserving the sanctity of religion and the integrity of government. I have been pleased that, for the most part, your campaign appropriately has demonstrated respect and appreciation for religion on the campaign trail. However, after seeing your recent advertisement on TV, “Be Not Afraid,” I could not help but be disappointed in your campaign’s use of religion as a divisive electoral tool in an attempt to win votes. Going forward, I urge you to tread more carefully in your outreach; it’s never ok to use religion for political gain, and as a presidential candidate, you should be striving to set the model.
Asserting, “President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith”invokes a war that simply does not exist outside the minds of the Religious Right. Furthermore, such rhetoric oversimplifies the legitimate questions that exist about finding the proper balance between ensuring all women receive necessary health care benefits and protecting the religious freedom of all Americans. I would welcome an ad that conveys your differing perspective on the public policy issue of health care and religious freedom. But to trot out the image of a deceased beloved religious leader and the specter of a non-existent war on religion is shameful.
Invoking the image and words of the late Pope John Paul II and employing the rhetoric used by Catholic leaders in denouncing the Affordable Care Act, your ad appears to be nothing more than a divisive ploy to win “the Catholic vote.” Religion should never be used as a political tool to secure votes. Campaigns should be about policies, issues that will affect how a candidate would govern and shape the lives of his or her constituents. It is both my concern with the current state of affairs, and my commitment to being a part of the solution, that motivates me to write to you today.
I urge you to ensure that the remainder of your campaign is focused on the policy issues which distinguish you as a candidate. For more guidance on running for public office in our great multi-faith nation, I encourage you to review Interfaith Alliance’s guide for candidates, available at interfaithalliance.org/elections. Winning an election is not worth destroying the private integrity of your personal beliefs or compromising our nation’s historic commitment to religious freedom.
C. Welton Gaddy
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.