Rick Santorum Makes Me Want to Throw Up

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on February 29, 2012

Wes Pruden explains why:

There’s a tiny priest living in Rick Santorum’s trim, toned body, struggling to get out. The rogue priest escaped Sunday and said foolish things.

The candidate most admired for plain speech made it plain and clear that he doesn’t believe in the wall between church and state and doesn’t think much of John F. Kennedy for saying he did.

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” he told ABC News. “The idea that church can have no influence or involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”

This should cook his goose with conservatives (and everybody else), Catholic and Protestant alike, but it probably won’t. Many voters are as ignorant as Rick Santorum about the plain meaning of the First Amendment. Mr. Santorum, no doubt listening to his inner rogue, says the First Amendment’s guarantee of “the free exercise of religion means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square.”

Indeed it does, and the pope, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, all the Methodist and Episcopal bishops, rabbis Orthodox and otherwise, and peaceful imams everywhere have the right to be heard. But none of them has the right, as arbiters of their faith, to compel the president of the United States to make public policy conform to religious doctrine. This is what makes America the exceptional nation. This is what Mr. Santorum appears to not understand.

  • Anonymous

    I read the article, and I’m not quite sure Pruden has all the digits to Santorum’s number. Santorum clearly misunderstands JFK – he thinks Kennedy was saying something to the effect that he would completely shut himself off to religious influence. Such a notion would be barf-worthy if that were what JFK said – which it wasn’t. Both religion and politics revolve around morality; there is no way to hermetically seal one from the other.

    Kennedy simply said that the church should not have a governing role. Pruden evidently thinks Santorum suggested otherwise in this statement: “The idea that church can have no influence or involvement in the
    operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and
    vision of our country.” I already addressed the “influence” part. “Involvement in the operation of the state” is a vague statement  that can be interpreted a number of ways – serving as an arm of the government, publishing information about government activity (as the Christian Science Monitor does), seeking redress of grievances against the government, etc. Instead of picking the scariest alternative, Pruden should have asked Santorum to clarify.

    If I were to interview Santorum, I would ask him for his reactions to this statement: a church has no more and no less right to political activity than any secular organization. If he takes the right answer in agreeing with that sentiment, that would dispel Pruden’s fears. If not, then I’d ask for specifics on how those rights differ.

Previous post:

Next post: