The Troubling Theology of Rick Santorum

All Hail the Great Theocrat, Rick Santorum the First!

I guess that’s what the conservative right wing party is saying in certain corners.  I guess I’m taking my cue from the biblical story about Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah who refused to bow to the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, who has set up a statue of a Babylonian deity, and I’m just refusing to conform to the theology Rick Santorum is putting forth.

As the economy has limped forward, the last two months have seen unemployment numbers drop.  With unemployment numbers being a lagging economic indicator, and job crreation numbers actually going up, the Dow Jones hitting the 13,000 mark once again, it’s safe to say that the economy is getting better.  Certainly seeing housing starts and housing sales go up with probably be the final sign that we have climbed out of the recession, but we are certainly moving in the right direction.

How unfortunate for the Republican party.

Their 12-month stance as the horse race for the GOP nomination began last year was that Obama’s policies were negatively affecting the economy.  From Obama’s tax plan to the budgets submitted by the White House which led to the type death defying congressional standoffs that introduced the word “brinksmanship” into the newsmedia lexicon to describe just how deadlocked Congress was.  Every chance a Republican in front of a microphone had, they took a pot shot at Obama’s handling of the economy.

Then suddenly, as 2011 turned into 2012, the rhetoric against Obama stopped.

The next thing you know, no one was talking about how bad Obama was handling the economy and then we were hearing debates about birth control, women’s rights and the Roman Catholic church, and the issue of abortions was back in front page news.  And then, much to my shock and chagrin, the Great Theocrat, Rick Santorum the First brought up Obama’s “phony theology.”

I’ts not just that Rick Santorum and Barack Obama have opposing theologies, which I’m quite sure they do, but using religion as a focal point for culture wars disturbs me.  This comment that Santorum made was first of the many statements concerning religion and Obama that were talking points for mainstream media last week.   Specifically, the “phony theology” quote was in reference to Obama’s stance on contraceptive coverage with faith-based institutions.  Santorum was making the claim that Obama was “antithetical” to the Judeo-Christian values of this country.

What Santorum did was lay the foundation for labeling Obama as not a Christian.  This of course, opens up the discussion for the extreme right wing faction of the party to label Obama a Muslim yet again.  What startles me about this argument is the blatant hypocrisy that they employ in their logic.  Elected GOP officials teeter on the edge of calling him a Muslim and certainly allow their un-elected operatives to call him as a such, yet they tout his attendance at Trinity United Church of Christ under the pastorate of Jeremiah Wright as evidence of him not being a Christian.

All hail the Sweater Vest King, Theocrat Rick Santorum, the First!

Regardless, this time, the argument seems to be nuanced differently.

Santorum is carelessly trying to paint Obama as being unChristian and because he is not a Christian, he will not support the moral values of this country.  In 2008, the argument was more heavily framed in the ideology of religion, this time it is the religion of the ideology.  It is as though we’re waiting on the Santorum campaign is throwing the combination of religion and ideological attacks on the wall to see which one will stick.  To me, it seems as if Santorum won’t care if they paint Obama as either a Muslim or a non-Christian secularist who doesn’t hold the values of this country.

And he has help in doing so.

Seeing Franklin Graham, the son of great American evangelist Billy Graham get on MSNBCs “Morning Joe” last week and outright question the Christianity of Obama was absolutely shameful.  Personally, it was a low moment in the realm of public theology.  First of all, it’s just bad public theology to speak with any degree of certainty the soteriological ramifications of another individual.  If Franklin Graham was to be so bold as to outwardly favor one candidate or even one political party over the other, he would have been best to defer the question of “Do you think ________ [insert candidate name] is a Christian?” He could have simply answered “I don’t know, you have to ask him” as he did for Obama and give the reasons yay or nay for why he thinks so.  But to be so bold as to clearly declare that the three white men in the GOP field are Christians over the questionable salvation of Obama is just tacky.

This type of jingoistic tripe reduces the validity of religious conversations in this country.  Indeed it conflated the conversation of Christianity with the unabashed religion of Americanity.  This underlying religion of Americanity that no one ever admits to being a dutiful follower of allows this “manifest destiny” type of hegemony to proliferate through the consciousness of American thought.  That’s why one’s veracity as a Christian has been reduced to whether or not one supports the Roman Catholic church on the issue of contraceptive usage and coverage.

This Americanity has also produced the polar opposite of dominionist theology.  Taking their cue from Genesis 1 and the creation story when the story depicts Yahweh creating humans and giving humans dominion over the earth.  The progressives have chosen to understand it as though humans ought to be taking care of the planet and to preserve natural resources as much as possible.  Rick Santorum and his ilk laugh in the face of basic science, scoff at global warming and believe that since we’re here as humans, we’re supposed to use it for all it’s worth–and this is indeed the will of God.

Disgracefully, Santorum’s isses concerning Obama’s theology have not stopped there.  Calling Obama “weak” when it came to him apologizing on behalf of American soldiers who burned the Qur’an was the epitome of why we shouldn’t want him as the head of state.  As basic fact-checking has gone, even George W. Bush apologized on behalf of the American soldiers and the situation at Abu-Ghraib prison.  Yes, presidential apologies are rare, but certainly in this case, necessary.

What further pissed me off, to be blunt, about the Qur’an burning situation it was that the soldiers who burned were alleging that they contained ‘extremist messages or inscriptions” was that isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black when it comes to the battle of holy books?  Now I’m not sure if that literally means that certain people were using passages as covert messages to start an insurrection, or were these books burned solely with the understanding that the scriptures themselves contain “extremist messages or inscriptions.”  Either way, let’s be honest, if anyone in this country commenced to burning Bibles in a public fashion, whatever  municipality this was located in would have a riot on their hands.  Furthermore, let’s recall the national outrage Pastor Terry Jones faced in Florida last year when he planned to burn the Qu’ran in our own country.  For Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to label Obama as weak for apologizing and then using it as a platform to say that he’s a Muslim apologist essentially is unforgivable.

The latest in this bigoted conversation coming from the Santorum camp has been this meme that has caught fire is this concept that higher education is turning what should be a fundamentally conservative generation into a flock of indoctrinated liberals.  Over this past weekend, Santorum went on a Glenn Beck show and started talking about how a college education is nothing more than liberal indoctrination.  This was followed by a stump speech in Troy, Michigan where Santorum said the following quote:

“Not all folks are gifted in the same way…Some people have incredible gifts with their hands. Some people have incredible gifts and … want to work out there making things. President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob….There are good decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor trying to indoctrinate them. Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image. I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his.”

If you want the stunning visual, here it is:

Specifically when Santorum said “He wants to remake you in his image” sounds like theological-speak to me.  Personally, I think it’s a set up to see if Santorum can play his hand right and fashion Obama as an antichrist of sorts.  Given all of the imaging of Obama as a christological character back in 2008 from both sides of the political party aisle, I think it wouldn’t be hard for the Santorum camp to make that sale.  While Santorum might not ever use the word “antichrist” in relationship to Obama, painting Obama as a demagogue-who’s-anti-Christian-and-a-Muslim-apologist-who-went-to-Jeremiah-Wright’s-church-and-is-threatening-to-indoctrinate-your-children-if-they-go-to-college would certainly be up his alley.

Honestly, the level of disingenuousness that Santorum is displaying is unconscionable.  In 2006 he spoke of his committment to college education on his website, as Talking Points Memo reports and let’s not forget his recent on-the-air committment to funding Historically “Blah” College and Universities and how in favor of that he was.

 

Finally, Rick Santorum stepped in it even more than Sarah Palin ever did.  Rick Santorum went so far as to attack posthumously an assassinated president to get across his ideology on the separation of church of state.  While of course the Constitution never explicitly uses that language, the provisions of the First Amendment certainly prohibit the establishment of a state authorized religion, and it certainly prohibits the creation of a theocracy.  The Supreme Court over the years has certainly done well to create a culture of keeping clear the separation of church and state–and rightly so.

Even erroneously Sarah Palin spoke of the Christian beliefs of the founding fathers of the country and all their religious beliefs that, according to her, went into the Constitution, but even Sarah Palin never said that she was against the “separation of church and state.”  Even the social conservatives that try and have Decalogue statues placed on courthouse lawns never come out and say “I’m against the separation of the church and state.”

To that end, O Great Theocrat Rick Santorum, the First, you’re shown your ineptness when it comes to 1) basic foreign policy matters concerning Afghanistan and what a president needs to do in certain situations, 2) your understanding of higher education in this country (especially from a guy with three advanced degrees) and 3) your inability to uphold and “faithfully execute” the duties of a head of state in defending the concepts and basic ideals of the Constitution.

The end of the Santorum Dynasty c. 2012

May your reign of terror end swiftly.

Keep it uppity and truthfully radical, JLL

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6 responses to “The Troubling Theology of Rick Santorum

  1. Great analysis of Santorum’s worldview. He is simply digging deep into wells that the Conservatives drink deeply from. By characterizing Obama as a baseless deviant who happens to be of color, and is a non-citizen who wants to indoctrinate your children, he sets off the same kind of xenophobic frenzy that we find in such “American Classic” films such as Birth of a Nation, wherein White Purity and American (read White) Values are found. I spoke of these troubles months ago but never thought it would be a serious concern. If we dont wake up soon all of us will be back, “In our places”.

  2. The picture of the Santorum Dynasty at the end of this excellent post is from c. 2006 or 2008 (most likely around the time the neonatal brother who lived two hours was introduced to the children as a corpse for family portraits). The photo ‘went viral’ when Santorum’s rabid-righteousness became more public.

    The Santorum Dynasty appears not much different now, just older and forced-smiling when cameras are aimed at Patrium Ricktus Santorum the First.

  3. This is about the 4th blog post that I’ve read on this subject. All four take a different perspective and I love it.

    What pisses me off about Santorum’s remarks (outside of every thing you brought up) his apparent arrogance and utter obliviousness to the fact that education for African Americans has been a bit of an equalizer. It’s his unearned white privilege that allows him to cavalierly disregard the importance of education. It’s easy to brush off the importance of higher education when you can get an interview simply because you are white while at the same time black men with a bachelors degree can’t get a foot in the door.

      • If I can get the quote right “a picture speaks a thousand words.” In the last picture on your blog the little girl is expressing the feelings of his whole family. Daddy your words are hurting us. They all seem to be frighten.

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