Rule of Thumb: If it Makes Santorum Sick, it’s Probably Good for Liberty

One of the more distressing things for me concerning this 2012 campaign is the religious test being imposed on some of the candidates by the voters and encouraged by other candidates. There are at least some voters who will not support Mitt Romney under any circumstances because he is a Mormon. Once upon a time, the idea of a Catholic being president was just as much of a scandal but today very few non-Catholics would consider this a deal breaker.

Ironically devout Catholic Rick Santorum, one candidate who benefits from fellow Catholic JFK’s election 52 years ago, says that when he heard JFK’s famous separation of church and state speech he “almost threw up.”

Here’s an excerpt from the speech that made Santorum almost hurl:

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured–perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again–not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me–but what kind of America I believe in.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute–where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners [sic] for whom to vote–where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference–and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish–where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source–where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew–or a Quaker–or a Unitarian–or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim- -but tomorrow it may be you–until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.

IMO this is JFK at his very best. This speech could just as easily apply to Mitt Romney; all he would have to do is replace the Catholic references with Mormon ones and it would have the same exact meaning. Kennedy had to give this speech because of the fear that he would impose his dogma on the country or bow to the Vatican. Now, 52 years later, we have another Catholic in Rick Santorum who has a very different attitude concerning his Catholic faith and how it relates to how he would govern.

It seems to me that if Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith is fair game, so is Rick Santorum’s Catholic faith. Does Santorum approve of how the Vatican has handled the pedophile priests? I think that’s a very fair question. Another good question might be why he apparently doesn’t agree with the Just War Theory (couldn’t it be argued that he’s just another cafeteria Catholic?).

I really couldn’t care less about the personal faiths for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, or Barack Obama. They can believe in many gods or no gods if they neither pick my pocket* nor break my leg nor infringe on my freedoms by imposing his values on me. I do not get why this is so hard for some people to understand.

*A very real concern.

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  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    Normally I don’t like going after politicians for their religion. While Mitt Romney is a Mormon, I don’t see much in his political or business history that suggests it makes a whit of difference to how he would govern.

    I can’t say the same for Santorum.

  • Let’s Be Free

    This is a paranoid post. This strain of libertarianism that hates religious is ugly and destructive. Santorum has a record going back decades of using but not imposing his religious beliefs on anyone. He is a decent, moral, honest, god-fearing fellow and if those are disqualifying traits then there is something wrong with the disqualifier, not the candidate. As for saying religion makes more of a difference to Santorum vs. Romney come on — why do you think the Mariott’s are yielding a small fortune to Romney’s super pacs if it isn’t in the name of their shared religion? Even though I’m not much religious myself, in my day to day life my dealings with deeply religious people have been almost uniformly more positive than my dealings with self-centered atheists. That’s the way it is.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    @ Let”s Be Free

    http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2012/01/02/rick-santorum-the-anti-libertarian/

    [Libertarians] have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.

    That’s Rick Santorum. He has made other similar statements about how he doesn’t like the libertarian elements in the GOP. As Brian Lehman writes here, the problem with Rick Santorum is not his faith. Ron Paul is also a man of faith and I support him. The difference is Paul promotes the notion that people should be left alone (provided they are not infringing on the rights of others) and Rick Santorum does not. I hardly think this is a paranoid statement.

    Full disclosure: yes, I am an atheist and I make no apologies for that.