Slander From Santorum: Former Senator Once Again Proves That He’s No Jack Kennedy

Sen. Santorum, don’t think you can turn this country into a modern version of medieval Spain with iPods and Twitter. We won’t have it.

We’ve criticized former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum on this blog before for his poor understanding of church-state separation.

Santorum believes President John F. Kennedy was wrong when, in a famous 1960 speech, Kennedy vowed to be the president of all people and make his policy decisions not on the basis of what his Roman Catholic faith demanded but on the grounds of what was good for the country.

Here in part is what Kennedy said in his Sept. 12, 1960, address in Houston:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute – where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote – where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference – and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

“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 – and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

Good stuff, that.

Santorum disagrees. During a recent speech in Newton, Mass., Santorum said he was “frankly appalled” by Kennedy’s statement, adding, “That was a radical statement [that did] great damage.”

Continued Santorum, “We’re seeing how Catholic politicians, following the first Catholic president, have followed his lead, and have divorced faith not just from the public square, but from their own decision-making process. Jefferson is spinning in his grave.”

To Santorum, I can only say: Look, it’s bad enough that you run around talking trash about Kennedy, but adding Jefferson to your Festival of Ignorance is just too much. Leave the man out of it.  You apparently know nothing about him.

Jefferson spent his entire life opposing government-mandated religion and fought every member of the clergy who supported that foul idea. Here’s a famous example: During the election of 1800, presidential candidate Jefferson knew that many New England preachers were yearning to win favoritism for their faith from the federal government. He also knew that they hated him because they realized he would never let that happen. That’s why they spread wild tales about Jefferson being a libertine who, if elected, would burn Bibles.

Wrote Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, “The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” (Those words might sound familiar; they’re carved on the Jefferson Memorial here in Washington, D.C.)

If anything is causing Jefferson to spin in his grave, it would be the machinations of people like Santorum, who want to mix church and state into a poisonous theocratic gumbo and force-feed it to the American people.

No thanks, Rick. We know all about the theocracies you admire so much. They don’t work because they crush human freedom. We found a better way: separation of church and state. Supporting that good old American concept is hardly “radical.” In fact, I’d say the real radicals are the ones who want to tear it down.

Believe what you want about religion, Rick. Pray, go to mass and engage in other religious activities of your choosing. But don’t think you can turn this country into a modern version of medieval Spain with iPods and Twitter. We won’t have it.

In his famous speech, JFK eloquently laid out a vision of freedom of religion for all in a country that did not presume to aid or hinder faith. The choice of whether to take part in a faith community is always yours. Santorum has made his vision clear as well. It’s one that crushes freedom under the heavy heel of government-sponsored religion.

I think I know which vision the American people prefer.