Rick Santorum on This Week yesterday, describing his reaction to John Kennedy’s 1960 speech on the issue of separation of church and state:
“To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?” Santorum said.
“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country,” said Santorum.
Obviously Santorum is the one who hasn’t read JFK’s speech because that is not at all what Kennedy said. He didn’t say people of faith have no role in the public square. He did say this:
“I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept 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.
…“I do not speak for my church on public matters; and the church does not speak for me. Whatever issue may come before me as President, if I should be elected, on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject, I will make my decision in accordance with these views — in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictates.”
Then there’s this:
“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country, said Santorum.”
That would put Santorum at odds with two other American presidents–James Madison, the man who wrote the First Amendment, and conservative icon Ronald Reagan.
Madison wrote in 1822:
“Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Govt will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together”
It was also Madison who, as president; vetoed a bill that granted a charter to an Episcopal church in the District of Columbia; vetoed a bill that would have given Federal land to a Baptist church in the Mississippi territory; opposed appointing chaplains to both Houses of Congress, all because it was his opinion that these actions violated the non-establishment clause of the First Amendment, which he wrote. If Madison were around today he would no doubt be accused by Santorum of taking part in President Obama’s “war on religion.”
Reagan would also have made Santorum ill with these remarks in October of 1984:
“We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate.”
Somebody pass Ricky another barf bag…or two.