When Romney and others assert that American virtues, generally summed up in the idea of "freedom," are based on faith, a cruel fact of history is being ignored. The politics of human rights, like the idea of individual freedom, were born not in religion but in the Enlightenment struggle against it.
In the very years [post war] that majorities of Europeans were walking away from organized religion, they were resolutely turning away from government-sanctioned killing, whether through war or through the death penalty; they were leaving behind narrow notions of nationalism, mitigating state sovereignty, and, above all, replacing ancient hatreds with partnerships. All of this stands in stark contrast to the United States, where the most overtly religious people in the country support the death penalty, the government's hair-trigger readiness for war, and the gospel of national sovereignty that has made the United States an impediment to the United Nations."
James Carroll, International Herald Tribune, December 17, 2007