Santorum, Kennedy, and Jefferson: Which of these three is not like the others?

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, a likely candidate for president, said yesterday that he was "frankly appalled" that John F. Kennedy said, "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute." Santorum said, "That was a radical statement" and did "great damage." And here's the kicker: Senator Santorum added, "Jefferson would be spinning in his grave."

Huh?


Thomas Jefferson crafted the phrase “wall of separation between church and state.”  Jefferson and Kennedy espoused the same values. Santorum undermines these patriotic values.

In the same great speech that Santorum condemns, Kennedy said, America is “where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice.” (emphasis added). Kennedy said, “[N]o church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference.”

Mr. Santorum has the opposite view. Mr. Santorum has supported giving government money to religious schools that discriminate based on religion through the use of voucher funds. Santorum has gone even further and seeks to bring fundamentalist doctrine into public schools.  In fact he was such an enthusiast, that the Santorum amendment was named for him. This amendment proposed the teaching of intelligent design while questioning the academic standing of evolution in U.S. public schools.

As a Senator, Mr. Santorum introduced a bill that would make it easier for people in a workplace to claim, because of their religious bias, that they do not have to comply with state and local civil rights laws that protect against sexual orientation or marital status discrimination.

Santorum doesn’t hold back:

 

“Look, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was not about men and women serving in the military. Men and women who are gays and lesbians can serve in the military right now. That’s not the issue. The issue is a bigger issue. The issue is – and it’s not even about gay marriage. This is about a larger issue of the secularization of our society. It’s a larger issue about the left just, you know, trying to, you know, put government in control of this country, and trying to move faith, trying to move any people of faith and religion out of the public square, out of America, trying to transform what America’s all about."


Senator Santorum is free to make whatever fundamentalist statements he chooses.  I would defend his, or anyone’s right to do so, in the public square, or, as Santorum so frequently does, on the campaign trail. 

The fact that his views are constitutionallly protected does not make him right.

Senator Santorum uses this Christian-victim-in-the-public-square canard to distract us from the reality of our nation’s great leaders: Jefferson and Kennedy supported a secular government. 

Senator Santorum, time and again, has proposed laws that make it easier to discriminate based on religion, proselytize with tax dollars, and bring religious bias into our schools.  Kennedy and Jefferson were on record opposing religious bias in law. It is one of the reasons they will be remembered with admiration a thousand years from now, after Mr. Santorum is long forgotten.

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Santorum is just another sectarian welfare queen

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