By February 20, 2012 1 Comments Read More →

Santorum the Sincere Theocrat

http://mariopiperni.com/religion

Like many so-called conservatives, Rick Santorum often alludes to a pocket Constitution — “the operator’s manual of America.” As well as a pocket printing the Declaration of Independence which he calls — “the why of America.” This talismanic use of the founding documents seems to impress many low information voters and others who have been duped by lip service without any indication of a reasoned understanding of the documents or their meaning for the American Republic.

Two clear examples leap to mind.  First, Santorum repeatedly cites the Declaration of Independence – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among them Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” He then goes on to assert that this reference to equality comes from the fact that America is a “Judeo-Christian country.” In order to do this, Santorum either has to ignore the explicit wording of the Declaration, or its historical context, or the identity of its principal author.  Despite the efforts of revisionists, the American endeavor was not launched on the basis of fundamentalist Christian teachings.  The “why of America” as Santorum calls it reflects the philosophy of the European Enlightenment as expressed by leading Americans of the eighteenth century. Thomas Jefferson used the word Creator deliberately, and was not referring to the standard Christian conception of God.  Jefferson and other founders believed in the philosophy of natural rights and thought equality inhered in the condition of being human.  This belief is nothing like Santorum’s contention that the Almighty is directly involved in every human birth from the point of fertilization onward. Second, Santorum seems to find it impossible to follow the “operator’s manual of America” regarding religion and public office. Article 6, Clause 3, says this: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” This is not obscure and ambiguous language.  Religion is not a qualification or decisive factor regarding any office or position of public trust under the United States.  Nonetheless, Mr. Santorum repeatedly casts public and civic issues in religious terms.  In a Columbus, OH, speech he assailed President Obama for following “some phony ideal, some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.” In these remarks, Santorum used the word theology three times in close succession.  He later tried to explain this as a reference to environmentalism. This leaves people with one of two choices. Either Mr. Santorum does not know the meaning of the word theology, or he thinks people hearing and reading his remarks do not. In the first instance, Mr. Santorum is stupid. In the second, he believes most other people are ignorant.

The Framers of the Constitution included the no religious test provision for good and abundant reasons.  As the nineteenth century legal scholar, Joseph Story, stated, “They knew that bigotry was unceasingly vigilant in its stratagems, to secure to itself an exclusive ascendancy over the human mind; and that intolerance was ever ready to arm itself with all the terrors of the civil power to exterminate those who doubted its dogmas or resisted its infallibility.”    On the basis of this knowledge, the Framers explicitly excluded religion as a determining factor in seeking and securing governmental power in the Republic.  If any candidate for any office or public trust in the Republic claims to revere the ideals at its foundation and still pushes religion as a deciding factor, such a candidate is trying to perpetrate a fraud on the American electorate. We, the people, must not be complicit in this subversion of republican ideals.  We must demand that sectarian beliefs do not form public policy or shape the discussion of civil issues.

As in the preceding matters, Mr. Santorum provides much to consider in this regard.  For example, He criticized the idea of requiring insurance plans to cover amniocentesis, a prenatal test used to detect fetal maladies. According to Mr. Santorum, “A lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in utero and the customary procedure is to encourage abortions.” Note that Mr. Santorum has no medical qualifications. He uses the vague designation “a lot” and presents no statistics.  Note further, he expresses concern about encouragement of abortions.  From whence does this concern spring, it comes directly from Mr. Santorum’s sectarian belief regarding abortion.  This is one more example of Mr. Santorum imposing his sectarian perspective on a public policy issue.  The precepts of the Catholic Church guide Catholics, but they do not decide policies for the United States.  Despite Mr. Santorum’s willful ignorance, prenatal testing is aimed at optimizing the health of both the mother and the developing child. Such sectarian bigotry is one more reason why women should reject Mr. Santorum in his quest for the presidency.   In another example, Santorum responds to environmental concerns by asserting that man has been given dominion over the earth and it exists to serve man, rather than man existing to protect the planet. “The Earth is not the objective, man is the objective, and I think that a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside down,” Mr. Santorum said. This perspective comes straight out of Mr. Santorum’s religion and again demonstrates his theocratic approach.  Mr. Santorum puts more credence in ancient fables than in scientific evidence and he ignores that man has one and only one planet to inhabit.  Thus, in addition to everything else, he poses a false dilemma.

In Columbus, OH, Santorum told a conservative Christian audience, “In the nation’s past, he said, “Most presidents homeschooled their children in the White House” and he intended to do the same.  The fact that presidents have dramatically different circumstances than most families apparently was lost on Mr. Santorum.  He went on to say that he would get state governments out and put parents in charge. Furthermore, Santorum asserted we are failing our society because people are graduating without the skills and “value structure that’s necessary to be able to go out and work hard and to be able to produce in our society and to build strong communities.” This is the same person who routinely accuses liberals of being arrogant. On issue after issue, however, Mr. Santorum asserts the superiority of his personal, sectarian values.

Lest we conclude that Mr. Santorum is a generalized Christian crusader, we should consider this – “mainline Protestantism, and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.” This is precisely the kind of sectarianism the Founders and Framers specifically stood against.  Can anyone say counterreformation?  As he told students at Ave Maria Catholic University in Florida, he is the leader of a spiritual war against Satan for control of America. It seems mainline protestants are his adversaries as well as the Prince of Darkness.

Finally, Santorum abandoned all restraint and tried to arouse apocalyptic concerns by comparing Republican primary voters to the “greatest generation” and today’s failings of European financial systems to the crumbling of Europe’s cities as Adolf Hitler gained power in the 1940s.” After a while you find out some things about this guy over in Europe who’s not so good of a guy after all. … Sometimes, sometimes it’s not OK. It’ll be harder for this generation to figure it out. There’s no cataclysmic event,” Santorum concluded. While he conceded President Obama’s policies are “not quite as horrific as Hitler’s”. Santorum still warns that the President wants to restructure America. As he says, “It’s happening now folks, it’s happening now. This is a brave new world that we do not want to go down.” Such phrasing has no place in a civil political campaign.

Mr. Santorum is the most dangerous Republican candidate still in the hunt for the nomination. He is not merely a danger to Democrats. He is a danger to the survival of the Republic. Although pundits often give Santorum credit for his authenticity and his sincerity, these traits are the core of his dangerousness.    He is sincere in his beliefs, and his beliefs are antithetical to the foundational principles and fundamental purposes of the American Republic. Therein lay the threat.

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