Religious Right star Rick Santorum seems to think that repeating a lie often enough will make it true, but his insistence that children are not allowed to read the Bible in public schools still has no basis in reality.  

Santorum, a former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and failed presidential candidate who now runs a Christian movie production company, is likely hoping for a ticket to the White House in 2016 – though he has not formally declared his candidacy. Since Santorum’s base consists exclusively of far-right voters, he has been pandering to that crowd with statements about his desire to infuse America with more of that old-time religion.

Recently, Santorum claimed that America is in trouble and the solution to the nation’s very serious (and very much unspecified) ills is for schools to force students to read from the Bible.

“We have an obligation to educate, to form, within our churches to preach, within our families to educate, and to fight within our schools,” Santorum said last week. “Why are Bibles no longer in public schools? Don’t give me the Supreme Court. The reason Bibles are no longer in the public schools is because we let [the Left] take them out of the public schools.”

This is an old, tired Religious Right talking point but it’s still necessary to correct Santorum’s mischaracterization. In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in Abington School District v. Schempp that coercive Bible reading is unconstitutional in public schools. But that decision absolutely did not ban the Bible. Public school students remain free to read the Bible, as well as to pray, in school as long as they do so on their own or in small groups and do not infringe on the rights of anyone else while doing so. Why is that so hard for fundamentalists to understand? 

And what, exactly, would having students read the Bible save them from? Getting a proper education? Santorum doesn’t say because he doesn’t actually know.

This isn’t the first time Santorum, a traditionalist Roman Catholic, has attacked church-state separation, nor is it the first time he has misstated the facts about what is permissible when it comes to religion in public schools. It likely won’t be the last time, either. 

In fact, spreading misinformation seems to be the only way Santorum can keep his name in the news anymore. He has scaled the ranks of the Religious Right thanks to his extreme positions on “culture war” topics like abortion, same-sex marriage and prayer in schools. Along the way, he has made some pretty outlandish statements, telling rape victims to “make the best out of a bad situation” by not aborting a fetus if they get pregnant, and claiming that business owners who refuse to serve same-sex couples are being sent to “re-education camps.”

Nothing he says is original, and yet he is a regularly featured speaker at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., and at other Religious Right confabs.    

Despite some niche popularity, Santorum hasn’t held any public office since 2006. But it’s not for lack of trying. He lost his senate seat eight years ago by a whopping 17 percent and failed to secure the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 – even though God wanted him to run.

During his remarks last week, Santorum warned that “[w]e are on a crossroads in American history, a crossroads that looks like we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from.” But the true threat to the United States is not from secularism, as Santorum said – it’s from aspiring theocrats who want to force everyone to live by their rules.

Time and again, Santorum has shown that he has little grasp of the principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. His message is tiresome, and he is offering the American people absolutely nothing new or interesting.

It’s time to say goodnight, Rick.