The first Amendment to the Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….” I don’t think that Rick Santorum has read the Constitution recently if ever. Last night on Hardball Chris Matthews tried to referee a shouting match between Michael Steele, the former chair of the Republican Party who tried to defend Santorum’s introduction of his religious beliefs into governing policy and David Corn who tried without success to explain why the introduction of religion was wrong. All three of them missed the point. The point is that we can have no established religion in this country and while those who govern as President can have personal religious beliefs, they cannot impose them on the country.
Kathleen Parker ended her recent column titled “The Trials of Saint Santorum” this way
Everything stems from his allegiance to the Catholic Church’s teachings that every human life has equal value and dignity. The church’s objection to birth control is based on concerns that sex without consequences would lead to men reducing women “to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of (their) own desires,” as well as abuse of power by public authorities and a false sense of autonomy.
Within that framework, everything Santorum says and does makes sense, even if one doesn’t agree. When he says that he doesn’t think the government should fund prenatal testing because it leads to abortion, this is emotional Santorum, father of a disabled child and another who died hours after a premature birth. In both instances, many doctors would have recommended abortion, but Santorum believes that those lives, no matter how challenging, have intrinsic value.
Though Santorum’s views are certainly controversial, his biggest problem isn’t that he is out of step with mainstream America. His biggest problem is that he lacks prudence in picking his battles and his words. The American people are loath to elect a preacher or a prophet to lead them out of the desert of unemployment. And they are justified in worrying how such imprudence might translate in areas of far graver concern than whether Santorum doesn’t personally practice birth control.
Parker’s statement that “the American people are loath to elect a preacher of a prophet” is exactly right. And he is definitely out of step with mainstream America. Maureen Dowd was even blunter opening her column with
Rick Santorum has been called a latter-day Savonarola.
That’s far too grand. He’s more like a small-town mullah.
Santorum is not merely engaged in a culture war, but “a spiritual war,” as he called it four years ago. “The Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country — the United States of America,” he told students at Ave Maria University in Florida. He added that mainline Protestantism in this country “is in shambles. It is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”
Satan strikes, a Catholic exorcist told me, when there are “soul wounds.” Santorum, who is considered “too Catholic” even by my über-Catholic brothers, clearly believes that America’s soul wounds include men and women having sex for reasons other than procreation, people involved in same-sex relationships, women using contraception or having prenatal testing, environmentalists who elevate “the Earth above man,” women working outside the home, “anachronistic” public schools, Mormonism (which he said is considered “a dangerous cult” by some Christians), and President Obama (whom he obliquely and oddly compared to Hitler and accused of having “some phony theology”).
Rick Santorum wants us to be a Christian country and beyond that a fundamentalist Catholic one. How different this is from President John F. Kennedy declaring that the Pope would not run the government. Mullah Rick needs to read the Constitution.
It is too easy to make fun of him. This is a dangerous man. We need to take him seriously.
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I’m no defender of Obama; in fact this is coming more as a criticism than a defense. But you’d be hard pressed to find an example of Obama trying to suppress or stamp out religion. As a secular humanist – as Jefferson and most of the founding fathers were – I want not one dollar of my taxes going to faith-based institutions. Obama is currently making sure that that is exactly what happens by continuing many of Bush II’s policies. For example: http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/what-war-religion-obama-catholic-charities
I would suggest that a president that strips away our freedom of religion, as Mr. Obama is attempting to do to the faithful, is far, far more dangerous.
I keep hearing people say that but no one can give me any examples. And having employers regardless of religious affiliation pay for insurance that provides contraception is not one. Anyone who pays for insurance of any sort pays for all kinds of contingencies that may never happen. My health insurance goes to paying for someone’s prenatal care but I am much too old to have a baby. It also provides for contraception which I no longer use, so the contraception argument doesn’t fly. It pays for prostate cancer treatment and I will never have prostate cancer. I would like to see some other examples of the President taking away religious freedone, please.
It’s quite sad how the Constitution has to be exhumed these days when discussing political matters such as this; it’s become more of a rarity than the norm. Moreover, media political pundits often engage in the dishonorable tactic of discussing politics by their own standards rather than placing them against those listed in the Constitution. If I may induce some form of irony here, it is comparable to a group of pastors and priests gathering together to discuss religion while neglecting to include the Bible.
I discuss some more of these themes here: http://tarenceray.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/thomas-jefferson-perfect-government/