Favorite

Santorum applies religious test 

The rise of Rick Santorum raises the prospect that this year we will get closer to a test of that sentence in the Constitution that says "no religious test shall ever be required" for president or any other office in the land, which was debated hotly in 1787 but only mildly from time to time in the intervening 225 years.

We will not have a true legal test, of course, because the language and meaning are incontestable — no one can be kept off a ballot or denied office because of his or her peculiar religious faith or lack of one. Mitt Romney, Barack Obama and the wandering religious pilgrim Newt Gingrich need not worry. And though Santorum may violate the spirit of Article VI Section 3, no one, thanks to the First Amendment, will sue to stop him from claiming that his brand of piety gives him superior credentials for the job or that President Obama's faith makes him deficient. But Santorum's ascent to the top of the GOP field means that we will have exactly that debate, at least for a while.

Santorum has been raising the issue of spiritual suitability for some time, although indirectly in the case of Romney's Mormonism. He doesn't have to exploit that issue squarely. It is firmly implanted with evangelicals.

While campaigning in Ohio last week, the former senator, who unlike previous Catholic candidates adheres rigidly to Catholic doctrine and says he will apply it as president, questioned the president's Christian values. He accused Obama of having "a phony theology, not a theology based on the Bible — a different theology." His press secretary, Alice Stewart, formerly with Mike Huckabee and then Michele Bachmann, referred to it in a TV interview as "Islamic" theology, then said she misspoke when the interviewer called her on it.

The president's men cried foul; it was a low blow even for this subterranean campaign. After letting the controversy simmer for two days, Santorum came up with a "clarification." He wasn't questioning whether Obama was a Christian (he did that three years ago) but was referring to the environmental stands of the president. Santorum returned to the old attack on conservationists as Earth worshipers.

"I accept the fact that the president is a Christian," Santorum said. "I just said that when you have a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can't take those resources because we're going to harm the Earth by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, for example the politicization of the whole global-warming debate."

If environmentalism is an anti-Christian value, then Rev. Pat Robertson and other clerics are going to hell. Robertson appeared with Al Gore to preach that God expects Christians to preserve the sanctity "of this fragile planet we all live on."

But painting Barack Obama as a tree hugger had not been Santorum's intention. It was to reinvigorate the skepticism about Obama's Christian conversion. Polls show that many people believe he is a Muslim. In 2008, Santorum said Obama had attended church in Chicago for 20 years so he could claim to be a Christian and one day be elected to political office. Obama had to repeatedly restate his faith to interviewers.

As a live candidate Santorum is more circumspect. "If he says he is a Christian, I accept that," he says in a sort of rhetorical wink.

But running for political office on the ground that you are a better Christian, more faithful to biblical doctrine, will prove to be perilous, as Santorum may already be discovering in the debate over insuring birth control medicine and procedures. Polls show that a huge majority of voters, even Catholics, disagree with him on whether health insurance should cover birth control for anyone who wants it.

If Santorum's momentum continues, he will soon have to deal publicly with a different kind of marital issue from Newt Gingrich's. He and his wife, Karen, say birth control and abortion are terrible sins against God. So, did Santorum's wife use contraceptives all those years when she was the live-in girlfriend of Dr. Tom Allen, Pittsburgh's leading abortion doctor, before she met and married Santorum? Dr. Allen, now 92, says Karen told him when she broke off their affair that her new boyfriend was pro-choice and a humanist like them.

Gingrich, Herman Cain and Bill Clinton can tell Santorum there is no zone of privacy for you or your wife when you are running for president.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Rick Santorum, Alice Stewart

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Renowned reporter and author Roy Reed dies at 87

    Obituary by Ernie Dumas.
    • Dec 11, 2017
  • Tax lies

    If Aristotle's famous principle can be stretched from the theater of art to the theater of politics, we may soon discover whether the Republican tax cuts will challenge the public's "willing suspension of disbelief."
    • Dec 7, 2017
  • Not net neutral

    The Washington swamp that Donald Trump was going to drain gets deeper and wider every week.
    • Nov 30, 2017
  • More »

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Dollars and degrees

    Governor Hutchinson says a high graduation rate (ours is about the lowest) and a larger quotient of college graduates in the population are critical to economic development. Every few months there is another, but old, key to unlocking growth.
    • Aug 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Tax lies

    If Aristotle's famous principle can be stretched from the theater of art to the theater of politics, we may soon discover whether the Republican tax cuts will challenge the public's "willing suspension of disbelief."
    • Dec 7, 2017
  • Not net neutral

    The Washington swamp that Donald Trump was going to drain gets deeper and wider every week.
    • Nov 30, 2017
  • Selling tax cuts

    Making tax law is always pretty simple, despite the arcane references to S corporations, pass-throughs, carried-interest deductions and the like, which define the ways that lots of rich people get their income.
    • Nov 23, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • I miss my wolves. It has been over five years since the last of my…

    • on December 12, 2017
  • Re: Where cities go from here

    • So Florida says he was wrong the first time and the second time he says…

    • on December 10, 2017
  • Re: Cats and dogs

    • Dee-lightful column - and wonderfully written comments.

    • on December 10, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation