Rick Santorum's Views On Religion Are More Discriminatory Than They Are Open

Ahead of the critical primaries in Michigan and Arizona, former Senator Rick Santorum — who has dominated headlines since the beginning of the campaign with his drastic and blunt opinions on contentious topics such as abortion, gay rights and education — has recently done it again.

On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Santorum expressed his vehement support for the merging of politics and religion by referring to the speech delivered on September 12, 1960 by then-Democratic presidential candidate, John F. Kennedy, where he called for the separation of the Church and State for the purpose of promoting social equality by abstaining from granting certain religious groups preferential treatment over others.

Santorum heavily criticizes the agnosticism supported in this speech, declaring that it violates the First Amendment of the Constitution and that the division of the church and the state “is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”

As Santorum continues to further promote religious and conservative views that are incompatible with the social advancements that are gaining steam in the wider U.S. today, he does it in a manner that is discriminatory, short-sighted and factually incorrect, as the First Amendment of the Constitution calls for the freedom of religious expression, which is the very opposite of what Santorum is arguing for.

Santorum added during his interview on Sunday that, “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” adding that it makes him want to “throw up.”

A little background on Kennedy’s speech defines the context of the subject. At the time that the speech was delivered, Kennedy was a presidential candidate speaking to the Houston Ministerial Association, seeking to quel concerns that he would align his policies to the Vatican due to his Catholic faith. In the speech, Kennedy goes on to explain that a secular government gives more room for religious freedoms amongst its civilians, and could potentially eliminate divisions and intolerances that are perpetuated when governments privilege certain religions over others. 

Santorum refers to the First Amendment to support his argument for the involvement of religion in government. It seems that Santorum failed to notice that the First Amendment supports freedom of religious expression; while his argument unquestionably asks the U.S. government to base its laws and social values on Christian teachings. It is in fact Kennedy’s speech that is in accordance with the First Amendment and not Santorum’s recent opinion.

One of the most obvious and frustrating patterns that are noticeable as the primaries begin is how the four Republican contenders Newt Gingrich, Rep.  Ron Paul (R-Texas), Mitt Romney and Santorum, have all spent the majority of their campaigns focusing much heavily on social issues in the U.S. than on the more pressing and important economic ones.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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Selma Al-Samarrai

Recent McMaster University graduate with an Honours degree in Political Science and a minor in Psychology. Previous experiences include a 2-year employment as the Senior News Editor for McMaster's weekly student newspaper, The Silhouette and a writer for a technology blog. Interests include International Relations, Middle Eastern affairs and women's rights.

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