“We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.”
Rick Santorum teed off on a venerated former president Sunday morning for telling America that the separation of church and state was “absolute..” Was it the guy responsible for the above quote? No, that was Ronald Reagan, running for re-election in 1984 (h/t BB).
It’s Democrat John F. Kennedy who made Santorum “throw up,” the GOP presidential contender told ABC’s George Stephanopoulus, with his famous 1960 speech to Baptist ministers trying to assuage widespread fears about his Catholicism in order to become our first, and still our only, Catholic president. Santorum claims that JFK said that “people of faith have no role in the public square,” and urged ABC’s viewers to go read the speech for themselves and see.
So I did. (It’s here.) And not surprisingly, that’s not what Kennedy said at all.
To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up and it should make every American…Now we’re going to turn around and say we’re going to impose our values from the government on people of faith, which of course is the next logical step when people of faith, at least according to John Kennedy, have no role in the public square.
I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country. This is the First Amendment. The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion. That means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square. Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, no, ‘faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate.’ Go on and read the speech ‘I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith.’ It was an absolutist doctrine that was foreign at the time of 1960.
Let me start by saying: Santorum sounds literally hysterical. It’s a troubling sign of the GOP’s desperation that he’s virtually tied with Mitt Romney for the lead in the 2012 primaries. It pains me to actually have to take him seriously.
Of course, there’s no place in Kennedy’s speech where he said “people of faith are not allowed in the public square,” or anything close to that, and Santorum’s saying it three times doesn’t make it true. Here’s one key passage:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew— or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.
It is absolutely clear that Kennedy accepts “people of faith in the public square” – his goal is to make a place for people of every faith in our public life. Kennedy doesn’t even go as far as Christian right hero Reagan, who actually said the separation of church and state protects the right of non-believers, too.
Kennedy doesn’t say he won’t consult with faith leaders; he says he won’t take “instruction on public policy from the Pope.” In fact, he confided in and took advice from Archbishop Philip Hannan, whom he befriended when he was first elected to Congress; Hannan gave the eulogy at Kennedy’s funeral. Sadly, Hannan died last September, after a long career as Archbishop of New Orleans, or else he might be able to refute Santorum from experience.
Kennedy doesn’t promise to renounce his own Catholic beliefs or disobey his conscience, either:
If the time should ever come — and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible — when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.
Ironically, Kennedy spoke passionately on behalf of the Catholic Santorum’s right to be in the public square.
If this election is decided on the basis that 40 million Americans lost their chance of being president on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser — in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people.
Santorum didn’t lose his chance to be president on the day he was baptized. He lost it – if he ever had it – when he lied about our first Catholic president, who just happened to be a Democrat. For shame.
By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, February 26, 2012
Nothing drives voter sentiment like the price of gas – now averaging $3.56 a gallon, up 30 cents from the start of the year. It’s already hit $4 in some places. The last time gas topped $4 was 2008.
And nothing energizes Republicans like rising energy prices. Last week House Speaker John Boehner told Republicans to take advantage of voters’ looming anger over prices at the pump. On Thursday House Republicans passed a bill to expand offshore drilling and force the White House to issue a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The tumult prompted the Interior Department to announce on Friday expanded oil exploration in the Arctic.
If prices at the pump continue to rise, expect more gas wars.
In fact, oil prices are rising for three reasons — none of which has to do with offshore drilling or the XL pipeline.
The first, on the supply side, is Iran’s decision to cut in oil exports to Britain and France in retaliation for sanctions put in place by the EU and United States. Iran’s threat to do this has been pushing up crude oil prices for weeks.
The second, on the demand side, is rising hopes for a global economic recovery – which would mean increased oil consumption. The American economy is showing faint signs of a recovery. Europe’s debt crisis appears to be easing. Greece’s pending bailout deal is calming financial nerves on both sides of the Atlantic, and the Bank of England and European Central Bank are keeping rates low. At the same time, China has decided to boost its money supply to spur growth there.
Neither of these would have much effect were it not for the third reason — overwhelming bets of hedge funds and other money managers that oil prices will rise on the basis of the first two reasons.
Speculators have pushed crude oil to $105.28 per barrel, up 35 percent since September. Brent crude, Europe’s benchmark, is now $120.37 a barrel – also worrisome because many East Coast refineries use imported oil.
Funny, I don’t hear Republicans rail against speculators. Could that have anything to do with the fact that hedge funds and money managers are bankrolling the GOP as never before?
But that’s okay. The gas wars may come to a screeching halt before too long, anyway. So many bets are being placed on rising oil prices that the slightest hint the speculators are wrong – almost any sign of expanding supply or declining demand – will set off a sharp drop in oil prices similar to the record one-day fall on May 5 of last year.
By: Robert Reich, Robert Reich Blog, February 20, 2012
Rick Santorum has lamented in recent public appearances that Americans are losing their religion by going to college. Asked to defend his charge that President Obama is a “snob” for wanting all Americans to engage in higher education, Santorum repeated the claim Sunday on ABC’s This Week, declaring that “62 percent of kids who enter college with some sort of faith commitment leave without it.” He’s invoked the same figure before.
A slight problem: multiple studies have found that the opposite is true — including the one that Santorum has reportedly been referring to.
A study published 2007 in the journal Social Forces — which PBS reports that Santorum’s claim is based on, although his spokesman didn’t respond to TPM’s request for confirmation — finds that Americans who don’t go to college experience a steeper decline in their religiosity than those who do.
“Contrary to our own and others’ expectations, however, young adults who never enrolled in college are presently the least religious young Americans,” the journal concluded, noting that “64 percent of those currently enrolled in a traditional four-year institution have curbed their attendance habits. Yet, 76 percent of those who never enrolled in college report a decline in religious service attendance.”
Or Santorum may have been referring to a 2006 Harvard study in which 62 percent of college Republicans said “religion is losing its influence on American life.”
But that study negates Santorum’s larger point: It found that “a quarter of students (25%) say they have become more spiritual since entering college, as opposed to only seven percent (7%) who say they have become less spiritual.”
And there’s more evidence that Santorum has it backward. According to a 2011 study in the The Review of Religious Research, the impacts of education on religiosity are complicated, but on balance it concluded that “education positively affects religious participation, devotional activities, and emphasizing the importance of religion in daily life.”
TPM has reached out to team Santorum to check whether there is other evidence to substantiate his claim. We’ll keep you updated.
By: Sahil Kapur, Talking Points Memo, February 26, 2012
You have to want to be President awfully badly to purposely scare the hell out of parents whose children face illness and disability in their lives. You also have to be a perfectly despicable human being.
Appearing yesterday with his wife, Karen, on the Glenn Beck program, Rick Santorum joined his wife in ‘revealing’ that it was the passage of Obamacare that motivated them to enter into the presidential race.
According to Karen Santorum, “Because we have as you know a little angel, little Bella, special needs little girl, and when Obamacare passed, that was it, that put the fire in my belly.”
Had that been the end of it, I’d have no problem whatsoever with Mrs. Santorum’s comment. If Karen Santorum feels that there is a better way to protect the health and wellbeing of her child, it is not only her right but her responsibility to do everything she can on behalf of her little girl and every child out there in similar circumstances. I would fully respect her for the same even if I disagree with her assessment of what the law means to her daughter and others who suffer illness.
But it did not end there—not by a long shot. Instead, Rick Santorum chimed in his agreement by arguing that the health care law would ration care based on the ‘usefulness’ of an individual.
It’s all about utilization, right? It’s all about how do we best allocate resources where they are most effectively used? [...] Government allocating resources best on how to get the best bang for your dollars and it’s all about utility. It’s all about the usefulness of the person to society, instead of the dignity of every human life and the opportunity for people who love and care for people to give them the best possibility to have the best possible life.
I don’t believe that Rick Santorum knows the first thing about dignity in a human life. He couldn’t. If he did he could not possibly have made such a statement knowing how this would cause fear for so many when it is a complete lie.
Never mind that the ACA has made it possible for children like Bella Santorum to always access health insurance, without lifetime caps and without the possibility for exclusion because of being born with a tragic illness or disability. Never mind that, because of the ACA, children born into a lifetime of medical challenges will never again face a time when they are denied the health insurance necessary to pay for their expensive healthcare needs.
And never mind that we are left to scratch our heads in wonderment that leading organizations such as the American Association of People with Disabilities, National Organization For Rare Disorders, The Arc of the United States, and numerous additional widely recognized and respected groups whose sole purpose is to represent the needs of those Santorum tells us will be deemed disposable, have not only registered their support for the ACA, but have gone to the trouble and expense to actually file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to defend the law.
Apparently, Santorum either believes that these organizations are led by the dumbest people alive; that they have entered into some sort of deal with the devil to sell out the very people they exist to defend for reasons that escape the rational mind; or he simply could not care less that his statements will be heard by people who are the parents of special children and that they will be terrified.
Let’s take a look at the what law actually does and who it affects.
The government board that Santorum pretends to fear is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which is authorized to make changes to Medicare—and only Medicare. Accordingly, while some children with challenges like little Bella Santorum could find themselves qualified for coverage in Medicare, young Bella would not be affected by any decisions of the IPAB as the Santorum family has their own insurance coverage. Further, the legislative record makes clear that the IPAB is not to offer any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or increase Medicare beneficiary premiums, increase Medicare beneficiary cost sharing (deductibles, coinsurance, or co-payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.
And if, by some evil act, the IPAB does attempt to ration healthcare, Congress has the specific authority under the law to shoot it right down.
If Rick Santorum doesn’t understand the law, he should. And if he is too lazy or finds it too inconvenient to correctly cite the law when lying is so much better for political purposes, then he could,at least, show sufficient humanity to avoid targeting his political potshots in a way designed to frighten those with challenged children.
You see, should the ACA continue to be the law of the land and Rick Santorum is not president, Santorum gets to return to his cushy lobbying gig. But all of these parents with special needs children—the people Santorum has so needlessly frightened—will be left to worry forever because Rick Santorum thought this all made for a nifty campaign pitch.
I guess when your ambition is as big as Senator Santorum’s, you can’t be worried about the damage to you do to those who are the most vulnerable.
I understand very well that many people object to the Affordable Care Act for a variety of reasons. And while I am convinced that if people better understood the law the result would be greater support for the law, this is wholly beside the point.
If your own judgment is that Obamacare is not the best way to address our healthcare problems, fine. That’s what America is all about. If you have a better idea as to how to deal with the issue then, by all means, vote for those who share your approach and work hard to make any change you believe is necessary, even if that includes repealing the Act.
However, when Rick Santorum tells us that the law would deny the right to life and the care needed to sustain that life to children like his own daughter, because such a child would be deemed to not be of ‘sufficient use to society’, he accuses the President, every member of Congress who supported the law, and every other supporter, such as myself, of being unfit to walk to this earth.
Anyone is welcomed to disagree with my judgment as to whether the Affordable Care Act is a good or a bad law. If my opinion is wrong, it won’t be the first time or the last that this will prove to be the case. But if you are going to accuse me of being willing to allow a child—or anyone else— to die because I would somehow deem her to be inconsequential to society, you’d really better be prepared to not only say that to my face but take the punishment that I promise you will follow.
What’s all the more amazing is that Santorum’s statement doesn’t even make sense.
In point of fact, the elements of the law that allegedly so concern Santorum do not even begin to ‘kick in’ until 2014. Thus, President Obama would only preside over its implementation for a very few years. And yet, Rick Santorum suggests that he is of the belief that Congresses and presidents in the years to come—some of whom will no doubt be Republican—would stand idly by while people are allowed to die because they are no longer deemed useful to society.
It is precisely because Santorum’s statement makes no sense, and precisely because he so badly cites the reality of the law, that we know that it is nothing but pure politics. And playing politics with the hearts of people whose lives are already tough enough takes a very special kind of human being—the kind that would never be welcomed at my dinner table.
American politics is a contact sport to be sure. But when the front-runner for his party’s nomination is willing to level charges such as this just to score some cheap political points while giving every parent with a challenged child a false reason to lie awake at night with worry, it is Rick Santorum’s usefulness to our society —not the value of the sick and disabled—that remains very much in question.
By: Rick Ungar, Contributing Writer, Forbes, February 25, 2012