Sunday, February 26, 2012

Santorum's View On Separation Of Church And State

Ah... if there's one thing we can say about Rick Santorum, it's that we can trust him to consistently say things that smack of radical right-wing extremism.

Here is an article on Yahoo! entitled Santorum says he doesn't believe in separation of church and state. That's quite interesting. Because separation of church and state is the only way to guarantee the religious freedoms afforded by the First Amendment. As soon as matters of the church become mixed with those of the federal government, we lose that part of the First Amendment. Whether it's because government is taking a special interest in and promoting a certain religion, or singling one out for criticism, it doesn't really matter; to me, any mixing of the two is a clear violation of the First.

Santorum is quoted as saying "The First Amendment means the free exercise of religion and that means bringing people and their faith into the public square."

Wait... what?? Actually, I'm pretty certain the First Amendment means the exact opposite: we let people practice their own religion on their own time, and the government neither espouses it nor interferes with it. I would also argue that the First Amendment equally protects those who choose to follow no religion at all. If we start bringing faith into government matters, aren't the rights of atheists being violated? Not to mention the rights of everyone who follows a religion different from whatever religion government is promoting.

And, as I expect at this point, he has taken Democratic words and twisted them into a convenient talking point. In 1960, President Kennedy gave a speech outlining the idea of separation; the idea that, in order to guarantee religious freedom, government should be totally divorced from any religion.

Commenting on this, Santorum said "To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? What makes me throw up is someone who is now trying to tell people that you will do what the government says. That now we're going to turn around and impose our values from the government on people of faith."

I'm pretty sure the idea isn't to say that "people of faith have no role in the public square". Otherwise, the government would be comprised completely of atheists at this point. I'm honestly not even sure what he's trying to say in the latter two sentences. How does separation of church and state translate into "the government imposing its values on people of faith"?

Because, if you love the First Amendment as much as Santorum claims to, surely you must see that separation is the ONLY viable option. I hardly think turning America into a theocracy is the way to guarantee religious freedom for all. 

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