News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Monday, February 27, 2012

Santorum promises religious favoritism as president

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”
--Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum is taking a huge gamble in an effort to maintain his precarious lead for the GOP presidential nomination over Mitt Romney. He has doubled down on his support from the religious right. “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” Santorum told ABC News. Santorum went on to criticize an icon among many U.S. Catholics, John F. Kennedy. According to the New York Times, Santorum claimed “he had become sickened after reading John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech calling for the rigid separation of religion and politics.”

How far we’ve come.

In his 1960 campaign, JFK had to convince a predominantly Protestant U.S. electorate that the nation’s first Catholic president would not put his religion ahead of the nation. At the time, many voters were worried Kennedy might show favoritism to Catholics or let Papal edicts sway his decisions. Fellow Catholic Rick Santorum has turned Kennedy’s position on its head, promising that as president he will most certainly show favoritism to his faith. The video that "sickened" Mr. Santorum is included below. 

Of course, today’s voters need not really worry that Santorum will be a handmaiden of the Catholic clergy. Although Santorum’s stand on contraception and a woman’s right to choose mirror the official views of the Catholic Church, Santorum strongly opposes immigration reform which American Catholic bishops have openly supported.

To my knowledge, no one in the media has asked Mr. Santorum to explain this break with his widely self-proclaimed faith. I hope someone with access to Santorum will do this soon.

Interestingly, the most common nativist response to the Catholic Church’s support for the undocumented is that a religious organization should stay out of government policy. You see, in this case, many of Santorum's supporters believe there should be a strong separation between church and state.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez