Wherein I defend Santorum

Yeah, it had to happen. I don’t actually hate the man and I think he might be an interesting person to sit and talk with…maybe.  I do think when he is attacked for defending teachings of the Catholic Church that people have crossed the line. Attacking his speech at Ave Maria is a perfect example of this. I wanted to write  a post about that, but found this post, which is pretty much what I wanted to say, without me having to find a dark/quiet corner for three hours.

 

Santorum, the media, and the religious test

By Phil Lawler | February 22, 2012 6:06 PM

Of course New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd thinks of Sen. Rick Santorum as a religious fanatic. That’s what one expects from Dowd, whose contempt for the Catholic faith is as strong as her political liberalism. But for the past few days the Drudge Report, ordinarily friendly to conservative candidates, has been sending a similar message about Santorum. When I last checked, Drudge was giving top-of-the-page prominence to eight different stories about a speech that Santorum delivered three years ago, in which he said that “Satan is attacking the great institutions of America.”

Drudge does not make the point explicitly, but by giving the issue such saturation coverage, he is clearly conveying the impression that Santorum’s words were astonishing.

What makes the senator’s statement so remarkable? That he professed a belief in Satan? Tens of millions of American hold the same belief. That he believes Satan is active in American institutions? Well, if you believe in a malevolent being who seeks to harm mankind, wouldn’t you expect him to work his evil through existing institutions? Granted, we don’t expect to hear political candidates ascribe social problems to Satan. But at the time he delivered this speech—again, it was three years ago—Santorum was not a political candidate. He was speaking as a Catholic, to an audience of his fellow Catholics, at a Catholic university.

Now let’s be honest. Even in Catholic circles, one doesn’t hear Satan mentioned frequently. Many Catholics are uncomfortable with any discussion of unpleasant subjects such as the Devil, Hell, or even sin. Unless I am missing the point entirely, the subtle message of the Drudge Report coverage is that those Catholics—the ones who don’t mention things that might upset people–may be acceptable political candidates. But the ones like Santorum, who actually believe in Satan and say so, are beyond the pale. In other words, Catholics are acceptable candidates if and only if they are prepared to soft-pedal certain inconvenient Church teachings. That’s essentially the message that is regularly conveyed, in less subtle ways, by Maureen Dowd.

The US Constitution (Article VI) explicitly provides that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” So the government cannot assign a formal religious test. But unless I am much mistaken, the America mass media are imposing an informal one. Santorum’s candidacy is questioned not because he is a Catholic, but because he’s that kind of Catholic. And if we could just eliminate that kind of Catholic, then we’d have… Do you see what we’d have? A political test for holding public office.

Nothing in the argument above should be understood as an endorsement of Sen. Santorum. I think he should be questioned sharply about his views and votes on both domestic and (especially) foreign policy. But not about his faith.

Filed under: General Stuff

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