So, I’m watching Meet the Press this morning. One of my least favorite theocrats, Rick Santorum, commented on Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy’s speech before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in which Kennedy said he believed in an “absolute” separation of church and state. Rick Santorum said that Kennedy’s words almost made him throw up, and that and absolute separation was never the intent of the founding fathers. Really? (Read the full text of Kennedy’s speech.)

Of course, David Gregory didn’t take the trouble to call him out on this…I suspect that challenging Santorum wasn’t part of a pre-appearance agreement setting the interview ground rules…so I just muttered what the f*** to myself, figuring that there must be another Constitution out there that I hadn’t read.

He then goes on to say that the founding fathers wanted a public square filled with a diversity of ideas, and that the ideas belonging to people of faith were not meant to be excluded from that debate. You’re right, Rick, the founding fathers did not intend to exclude people of faith…or people of no faith…from the public square, but I am equally confident that the ideas they had in mind were those that were well reasoned and intellectually based, rather than those rooted in religious myth and custom. The latter, no matter how widely they are believed, have no more place in the public square than do beliefs in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny or, my personal favorite, the Tooth Fairy.

To say this in a less prejudicial way, when ideas cannot stand apart from the faith-based belief set from which they spring, especially when those ideas can influence domestic and foreign policy, they must have no standing in the public square debate. Maybe that’s what James Madison meant when, in a letter to William Bradford, Jr., April 1, 1774, he wrote, “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect.” Having channeled Madison on a number of occasions, I know, when he spoke of debilitations of the mind, he was referring to Santorum’s inability to embrace Darwin’s theory of evolution, as well as the threat of global warming.

Later on in the interview Santorum unleashed a Republican favorite; the government shouldn’t pick winners and losers. What drives me insane about this is that even left-wing pundits seem comfortable with the winners and losers thing as though picking them is some kind of transcendent evil. Tell it to China or Germany or Brazil. They find winners pretty easily, and then eat our lunch with them.

Of course, Rick Santorum will argue that American exceptionalism takes us down a different and better path…a path that includes exceptional ignorance.

  1. Good One and here is another part that the Republicans will ignore (Treaty of Tripoli)

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

    According to Frank Lambert, Professor of History at Purdue University, the assurances in Article 11 were “intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. President John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers.”

    Supporters of the separation of church and state argue that this treaty, which was ratified by the Senate, confirms that the government of the United States was specifically intended to be religiously neutral. The treaty was submitted by President Adams and unanimously ratified by the Senate.

    The amazing thing here is the Republicans continue to contend that Obama and the Democrats are constantly violating the Constitution. Perhaps they should say that while looking in the mirror.

  2. bmccabe says:

    Very nice contribution, Sean. What I find so depressing about our current state of affairs is that facts have so little currency; they just don’t seem to matter. That said, I don’t mean to suggest that there wasn’t plenty truth stretching and outright lying going on in the past, it just seems like there’s so much more today. Does it seem that way to you? I think things got worse with the outbreak of Reagan’s culture war, although I have no “factual” basis for that belief. Love to get your take on this…

  3. nomadicview says:

    Great article.
    I have come to think that the real problem is we are letting candidates get away with using their religion as credentials for becoming president. The mainstream media have never been courageous enough to ask them tough question about their faith. If somebody simply asked a few questions to the candidates exactly how much their religion would affect their mentality as president, it would be clear that either they are phonies or they are way too dangerous to be anything other than a preacher in a very small town in the middle of nowhere.
    I thought long and hard about which questions I would ask them. It’s not a religious test but a test of how much influence we as voters might expect if a person like Santorum were president.

    You can find my 12 questions here.

  4. Ms. Agboola says:

    Great Article! When I was younger I thought the scariest thing I would see in my life would be “Nightmare on Elm Street”, then came this GOP primary. Some narrow views have been displayed this election year, especially concerning religion and life. It is truly peculiar that Santorum supports life by taking an anti-abortion stance but ignores the fact that life needs to be maintained throughout life. The ability to know if you get sick you can go to the doctor and afford it is part of maintaining life, yet he opposes “Obamacare”. The ability to advance your skill or knowledge improves not only your socioeconomic position but future generations. This is part of maintaining life not snobbery.

    I really wonder how much of the United States does Santorum’s ideas represent and are we closer to becoming less democratic and more theocratic?

    • nomadicview says:

      So true, Ms.
      Here’s another quote by Santorum, that not only should disqualify him as a candidate for any high office but places him smack-dab into the Right Wing radio call-in nut.

      Rick Santorum, for example, seems to think that marriage is the solution to poverty.
      What two things, that if you do, will guarantee that you will not be in poverty in America?” he asked the crowd. “Number one, graduate from high school. Number two, get married. Before you have children,” he said. “If you do those two things, you will be successful economically.

      I can think of no worse advice to give a young person than to marry young and have lots and lots of babies. I think he needs a one-way ticket to India or some other developing country just to see how this solution to poverty works in practice.
      I just keep asking “Is this really the best they could find in the Republican party???”

      • bmccabe says:

        The Rick Santorum phenomenon only makes sense in the context of what the Republican Party has become. He is supported by a significant number of people who vote as a group, and who possess a world view that is disconnected from any sense of reality other than their own. But to me, the problem isn’t Rick Santorum per se, because after he is relegated to the political scrapheap, the right-wing whack jobs who breathed life into him will still be around questioning evolution, promoting the Christian nation baloney, removing Thomas Jefferson from social studies textbooks in favor of John Calvin (Texas schoolbook adoption), denying global warming, discriminating against gays and transgendered people, denying women the right to manage their own bodies and burning an occasional witch. Can you imagine any other developed nation where a guy like Rick Santorum would be given even a puncher’s chance of becoming president, prime minister or whatever?

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