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

  • Climate blind

    If there was ever a teaching moment for a nation or a culture on an issue of historic importance, wouldn't it be the late summer of 2017 for climate change?
    • Sep 14, 2017
  • Tax sham

    This week begins another ritual that has become the most celebrated sham of modern times. We always look forward to it, because it will make our country richer and happier and change all our lives for the better. We call it tax reform.
    • Sep 7, 2017
  • Anti-Obama

    Donald Trump has proved beyond doubt that he is the most uninformed president in history, but he also grasps better than anyone in the media or his party that he was savvy enough to pick the only moment in history that he could be elected president: the retirement of Barack Obama or, he saw it, the banishment of Barack Obama.
    • Aug 31, 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

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Climate blind

    If there was ever a teaching moment for a nation or a culture on an issue of historic importance, wouldn't it be the late summer of 2017 for climate change?
    • Sep 14, 2017
  • Tax sham

    This week begins another ritual that has become the most celebrated sham of modern times. We always look forward to it, because it will make our country richer and happier and change all our lives for the better. We call it tax reform.
    • Sep 7, 2017
  • Anti-Obama

    Donald Trump has proved beyond doubt that he is the most uninformed president in history, but he also grasps better than anyone in the media or his party that he was savvy enough to pick the only moment in history that he could be elected president: the retirement of Barack Obama or, he saw it, the banishment of Barack Obama.
    • Aug 31, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

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

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Time for a coalition

    • I am very glad to see a lot of women running for government positions in…

    • on September 19, 2017
  • Re: Time for a coalition

    • Since Hillary's book has come out, the Hillary Bashers have starting ranting again. My thoughts:…

    • on September 19, 2017
 

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