Santorum and Satan: Three Speeches

santorum regurgitorumRick Santorum probably won’t win the Republican nomination for President. But he certainly has won many Republican primary votes across America during this long campaign. What distinguishes Santorum’s campaign is his emphasis on religion, and the way he wants to place his religion into our government. Three speeches tell us about what kind of President Santorum wishes to be.

In August 2008, Santorum spoke at Ave Maria University in Florida about the McCain-Obama Presidential contest and about America.

“This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on . . . the United States of America. . . . He attacks all of us and he attacks all of our institutions. The place where he was, in my mind, the most successful and first successful was in academia. . . . And so academia, a long time ago, fell. . . . the next was the church. . . . 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. . . . the body politic held up fairly well up until the last couple of decades, but it is falling too.”

“The colleges” have fallen, most or all of them, except perhaps Ave Maria. That may be why Santorum argued last month that President Obama wanted to brainwash our youth: “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely . . . The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.”

Then the churches fell. According to Santorum, mainline Protestant churches are no longer Christian. This is surprising, since according to a Pew survey of registered voters in 2011, 51% of mainline Protestants support Republicans, while only 39% support Democrats. But Santorum’s voters come especially from evangelical Protestants, among whom 70% lean Republican and 24% lean Democratic.

I wonder whether he thinks the Devil has completely triumphed in black Protestant churches, where 88% are Democrats. He certainly believes that President Obama has “fallen”. He said last month about Obama’s agenda, “It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.”

A second speech that reveals much about Santorum the politician was given just last week in Louisiana by Pastor Dennis Terry of Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, introducing Santorum to his parishioners: “This nation was founded as a Christian nation … there’s only one God and his name is Jesus. If you don‘t love America and you don’t like the way we do things, I’ve got one thing to say — Get out! We don’t worship Buddha. I said we don’t worship Buddha. We don’t worship Mohammed. We don’t worship Allah. We worship God. We worship God’s son Jesus Christ.”

Well, some do, some don’t. About 75 million Americans do not worship Jesus Christ. The audacity of our founders, who all had their roots in countries where Christianity was the government-sponsored religion, was to create a nation with no official church. Santorum applauded while Pastor Terry shouted that non-Christians should “get out” of America.

steve hochstadtFinally the relationship of religion and politics can be seen in Santorum’s reaction to a third speech by another Catholic candidate for President, John F. Kennedy. JFK addressed that relationship directly and courageously in front of a group of Protestant ministers in Texas in September 1960. About that speech, Santorum said in October, “Early in my political career, I had an opportunity to read the speech and I almost threw up. You should read the speech.” Santorum liked that image so much, he said again last month that the speech “makes me throw up.”

What makes Santorum sick? Here is some of what JFK said:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute . . . 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 . . . Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end, where all men and all churches are treated as equal, where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice . . . and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood. . . . I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.”

Steve HochstadtI believe in Kennedy’s America. Not in Rick Santorum’s, where those who do not agree with him have been captured by the Devil, where a man who tells non-Christians to “get out” is applauded, where religious intolerance is used as a campaign strategy.

Steve Hochstadt

Taking Back Our Lives

Published by the LA Progressive on March 26, 2012
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About Steve Hochstadt

Steve Hochstadt is professor of history at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, and author of Sources of the Holocaust (2004) and Exodus to Shanghai: Stories of Escape from the Third Reich (2012), both from Palgrave Macmillan. He writes a weekly column for the Jacksonville (IL) Journal-Courier and blogs for the History News Network. "His latest work is presented at www.stevehochstadt.com."