My Crucifix Is Bigger Than Yours: Santorum Charges President’s Agenda Springs From A”Phony Theology”

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Fresh off an attack on the legitimacy of public education and now surging in the polls, Republican primary candidate Rick Santorum couldn’t hold back the religious zeal.  President Obama’s agenda  is motivated by things not quite Christian the former senator from Pennsylvania charged in a recent campaign stop in Ohio.“It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology,” he said. “But no less a theology.” My, my, what could the homeschooling Roman Catholic mean? Surely not the Big Lie that the President is a Muslim, an idea that served as the red meat of Tea Party attack dogs  since Obama won the White House. No, perish the thought. The darling of the far right simply meant that the President was “imposing his values on the church, and I think that’s wrong.”  Sure, just a philosophical and scholarly difference  of opinion on health care policy and the First Amendment, coincidentally stuck smack down in the middle of a presidential campaign. Santorum even generously conceded that –wink, wink,– “if the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.” 

Like a good limbo dance, one wonders how low Santorum can go in bending over backwards to appease the unappeasable right-wing fundamentalist base, and, in this year’s Republican race to the bottom campaign, that’s saying something. We thought “Idea Man” Newt  Gingrich was the show stopper with his kids janitorial corps, but we then looked on wide-eyed as Constitutional scholar, Rick Perry, revealed to us that everything from public schools to Medicare is unconstitutional in his book. Couple that with his call for Texas Secession and we thought we’d seen everything. Not hardly, we now have Rick Santorum, whose presidential campaign is beginning to look like a papal conclave. All that’s missing is some shiny red satin beanies and the “smoke watch” parties around  the Sistine Chapel’s chimney. 

You would think that a guy with both an undergrad and law degree from Penn State could find a copy of  the Constitution or maybe just a book on Thomas Jefferson. Apparently, they are as scarce around Happy Valley as babysitting jobs for former Penn State coach and accused child molester, Jerry Sandusky.  Let me help out.  Article IV, Paragraph three  of the U.S. Constitution provides that:

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.
 Seems clear enough, but in the tribalized world of the Christian far right, there is only one supreme document and it’s publisher started His presses in the First Century. In that world view, there is only one authentic theology and that’s the one that should be directing all governmental processes.  Think that’s fear mongering. Take a look at this video at about 4:55:
 
 Note the falling all over themselves to “out-Christian” the next guy or gal.  The intention seems clear enough. Law must serve the Christian religion or it is phony law. That is precisely what Santorum is saying through the code-speak that every fundamentalist knows. His attack on Obama is made for the same reason he attacks public education: It smacks of the secular and that is something the mindlessly faithful can neither fathom nor accept.  And make no mistake about it, this is something quite new in our history. While religious zealotry got off the Mayflower with the Pilgrims, the historical Christian ethic has always been to divorce the religion from the moral corruption of civil governments.
 
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and graduate of the Harvard Divinity School, Christopher Hedges, calls it nothing short of American Fascism. Commenting on his 2007 book, American Fascists: The Christian Right and Their War on America, Hedges points up the anomaly:

This is a new movement, as embodied by people like James Dobson or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, who call for the creation of a Christian state, who talk about attaining secular power. And they are more properly called dominionists or Christian reconstructionists, although it’s not a widespread term, but they’re certainly not traditional fundamentalists and not traditional evangelicals. They fused the language and iconography of the Christian religion with the worst forms of American nationalism and then created this sort of radical mutation, which has built alliances with powerful right-wing interests, including corporate interests, and made tremendous inroads over the last two decades into the corridors of power.

Hedges sees the effort as a Mass Movement and one he deems “the most dangerous in American History.”  The former New York Times war correspondent also sees an ominous endgame:

I mean, essentially, when you follow the logical conclusion of the ideology they preach, there really are only two options for people who do not submit to their authority. And it’s about submission, because these people claim to speak for God and not only understand the will of God, but be able to carry it out. Either you convert, or you’re exterminated. That’s what the obsession with the End Times with the Rapture, which, by the way, is not in the Bible, is about. It is about instilling — it’s, of course, a fear-based movement, and it’s about saying, ultimately, if you do not give up control to us, you will be physically eradicated by a vengeful God.

Hedges echoes the Founders in his concerns about the threat of take over of secular government by theocratic factions. No less an expert on religious factionalism than Thomas Jefferson warned us about elevating ecclesiastical law over democracy:

[If] the nature of … government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope. (Thomas Jefferson, to Pierrepont, Edwards, July 1801, quoted from Eyler Robert Coates, Sr., “Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government: Freedom of Religion”)

In a sense, Santorum’s comments may be spot on. Obama does come from a philosophical position far different that Santorum and his ilk. While Santorum bases his politics in Biblical revelation, Obama comes from the perspective of the rule of law and reason. As most political observers over the centuries have noted, this is a collision course with religiosity.  It was James Madison who deduced the antagonism in the American context:

I must admit moreover that it may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to a usurpation on one side or the other or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them will be best guarded against by entire abstinence of the government from interference in any way whatever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order and protecting each sect against trespasses on its legal rights by others. (Letter Rev. Jasper Adams, Spring 1832).

Amen, Brother Madison. Amen.

Can fundamentalist religion and secular democracy co-exist, or are they on an inevitable collision course? What do you think?

Source: New York Times

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

193 thoughts on “My Crucifix Is Bigger Than Yours: Santorum Charges President’s Agenda Springs From A”Phony Theology”

  1. Jim does not care about proofs. if he Believes in what he says he does his religion is valid to him, although his interpretations and desire to force it on everyone else does not make it something the rest of us need to follow.

    The fact that he has questioned “Do you think that the founders wanted Muslims here practicing Islam?” tells me he tolerates nothing outside of himself. Of course that is obvious by his words here anyway.
    Then of course the Bible has been translated innumerable times. How would even know that the version on which he has been relying has anything to do with the orginal word of G-d?

    “If Obama were a Christian then he would bear fruit of a Christian.” I think getting the economy back towards a better footing, working to insure millions of uninsured Americans can access health care, the auto industry back on its feet etc is the fruit of someone who cares about others, probably as he cares for himself. That would make Jesus proud.

    How often does he pray? How often does he read his Bible? Does he tithe? Does he witness? Does he attend church regularly? Is his life dedicated to serving Christ?

    When did Christ make Jim the Christ? Elaine (i believe it was) got there before me, ‘judge not lest ye be judged’, Unfortunately for Jim it is too late.

  2. carol levy

    Oh now I am judging. Let’s assume I am even though I am not, then don’t avoid the questions. How often does he pray? How often does he read his Bible? Does he tithe? Does he witness? Does he attend church regularly? Is his life dedicated to serving Christ?

  3. mespo,

    I just like to compliment you on another success of your Jefferson/Madison challenge. It’s truly a nuclear weapons strength tactical deployment of historical fact against theocrats.

  4. Jim,

    Absolutely none of your questions have anything at all to do with whether the President–or for that matter, anyone else–is competent at his or her job. What I want my President to be and do is a good job.

    I want my President to care about the economy, taking care of the masses of people under the umbrella of protection by his office, to plan for the health of the country, both present and future. I want my President to be concerned about protecting the environment and the planet. I want my President to be a follower of science, education and logical reasoning. I want my President to protect personal privacy, civil rights and the guarantees found in Bill of Rights.

    I do not care if he does or does not enter a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, seldom, often or never. I don’t care if he prays once an hour or never. I do not give a rat’s ass if he tithes or not. In fact, I recall a line from an old Charlie Daniels tune, “They tell you to send your money to the Lord, but they give you their address.” I don’t care if he ever says a rosary, lights a votive candle or goes to vespers. I don’t care if he has a prayer rug in his office and prays in the direction of Mecca. I. Simply, Don’t. Care.

    All that matters is that he does a good job in the office. If he does not do his duty as spelled out by the Constitution and demands of the high office, then he needs to go and replaced by somebody who will. And by that, I also mean someone who does not pray to the Green God of Wall Street.

  5. OS,
    You hit the nail on the head. It isn’t the President’s job to be a crusader for Christ. He is supposed to be a crusader for us and a protector of the constitution.

  6. I might add here that none of the four stooges running for the Republican nomination come even close to meeting the criteria I laid out above. For all his faults, Obama comes closer than any of them to meeting my criteria.

    Just for grins, here is a video of Mitt Romney at one of his big political rallies in Detroit. 65,000 seats in the arena, 1,200 people present. Enthusiasm level? Meh!

    Just for comparison and grins, here is Obama at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

  7. Now we know why Santorum is the Republican frontrunner. It’s what God wants!

    *****

    Karen Santorum, Rick Santorum’s Wife, Says Campaign Is ‘God’s Will’
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/karen-santorum-rick-santorums-wife_n_1299090.html?ref=politics

    Excerpt;
    Rick Santorum’s wife said Thursday that although she was initially opposed to her husband’s presidential campaign, she came around to the idea after realizing that “God had big plans for Rick.”

    In an interview with Glenn Beck, Karen Santorum spoke candidly about her initial reservations, stating that Santorum’s unsuccessful reelection bid for his Senate seat in 2006 had made her hesitant to support a presidential run.

    She told Beck on Thursday that it was the passage of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act that made her change her mind.

    “I did always feel in my heart that God had big plans for RIck,” she said. “Eventually it was there, tugging at my heart. … When Obamacare passed, that was it. That put the fire in my belly.”

    Karen Santorum has not been front and center in her husband’s campaign as she cares for the couple’s youngest child, Bella, who suffers from a genetic disorder. She said in the interview that her opposition to Obama’s health care plan was largely due to her daughter’s condition.

    “This is why we’re making the sacrifice we are as a family, to give all,” she said. “Because I do believe that if President Obama is elected again, I do believe we’re going to lose our nation as we know it. As a mother of 7, I’m really concerned about that.”

    Santorum believes her husband’s recent rise in the polls is “God’s will.”

    “I think [God] has us on a path,” she told Beck. “I do think that there’s a lot more happening than what we’re seeing.”

  8. Gene H:

    “I just like to compliment you on another success of your Jefferson/Madison challenge.”

    ****************

    Thank you Gene. I was seeing Def(Dumb&Blind)Con 4 around the corner and had to bring out the strategic stuff. It’s really pretty easy since I’ve never had a taker.

  9. Well Jim, I will take mu fingers out of my ears for a moment.

    Matthew 6:4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you

    New International Version (©1984)
    But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    This is the answer. It is G-d;s business not yours.

    And as is said the president is not the minister in chief (or hey how about the Mullah in Cheif or the Rabbi in chief – how’d you feel about that, Jim?) nor should he be. Youw ant a theocracy then you know where you can find that in this world.

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