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Get Your Religious Hands Off of My Government

Are you there, God? It's me... (other) Rick.

Rick Santorum seems to hear a lot of things that aren’t there.

Initially, Santorum claimed he heard the call from God to run for President. 

Of course, God apparently also told Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain to run for President, and they are not in the race anymore; which probably means all four of those people are prone to auditory hallucination, thus necessitating our need to institutionalize them. 

But in a key moment of Santorum’s campaign, he noted that (Catholic) John F. Kennedy’s speech given in 1960 regarding separation of church and state made him “want to throw up.”  Santorum’s (incorrect) stance was that Kennedy was trying to “separate faith from the public square.” 

JFK’s belief was almost certainly that religious advisors should instruct them on faith and morals.

Santorum seems to have missed the entire main idea of the speech, especially in the historical context under which it was given. This indicates that Santorum—like a lot of crazy Republicans, I’ve noticed—doesn’t seem to have much in the way of critical reading or listening skills. 

But Santorum also clearly cannot separate his personal faith from politics; and talks about it in this bizarre reverse-logic manner where he uses it to appear holier-than-thou.  His extreme stances on sex and birth control, prenatal testing, women’s roles in the home and in the military, college campuses, homosexuality, pornography, comments about Satan having his sights set on America, and the environment are clearly derivative from his very strong faith.  And I don’t have a hard-line to Christ on Skype like Santorum does—so I can’t know this for sure—but I’m fairly certain that’s the impetus for his belief system, and his political judgments.  He wants more religious input on government policy and faith-based politicking. He wants more Christian Conservative influence in our legislation.

So it’s really too bad Rick isn’t able to hear the voice of JFK echoing to him from the afterlife, because I’m willing to bet they could've sorted out their differences and he eventually would’ve found Kennedy a greater ally in his belief system than he would have found in me.

Because I absolutely believe all politicians should separate their faith from the public square.  

Politics and religion should be like water and oil (or, to put it in Santorum’s terms: women and sexual freedom). A politician’s religious viewpoints should be kept personal, should neither be espoused nor openly questioned, and should absolutely never be the impetus for policy. 

This is very simple: Using your religion (or even non-religion) as a moral basis for your personality and character is one thing; but using it openly as a motivating factor for your platform only creates divisions between people. With neutrality, and acceptance, and understanding—the things your religion should have taught you in the first place— you defend freedom of religion. But religious biases of all kinds should not affect government; because, in turn government could then also affect religion. It is a national imperative that people recognize this; especially those who might vote for a religious extremist like Rick Santorum.

If histories, and other countries, have taught us anything, it’s that religious and political extremists are dangerous people, especially in combination. In fact, you might say only religious and political extremists are worth fearing. What other type of extremists in this country even rank as anything more than "mildly annoying"? NASCAR extremists? Bieber extremists? Who has the potential to be more dangerous—Rick Santorum or a girl who passes out while excitedly dancing to “Baby”?

So, in regards to Santorum’s repeated efforts to push his religion in the dialogue as part of a campaign to be President of the United States, I would tell him to go home.

And then I would tell him that he should feel free to run his household in whatever manner he chooses, because that is what religious freedom is all about.

You wanna home school your daughter out of fear that college is for snobs who will cause her to lose her religion? Your choice. Go right ahead.

You want to be against abortion, even if that daughter is raped? That’s your prerogative.

Enjoy your grandchildren.

You want to be against gay marriage, or going to college, or people of other races? Fantastic. We’re not going to be friends, but you are 100% welcome to be that person as long as you’re not hurting anyone else outwardly with your bigotry.

But don’t run for President.

Don’t assume that what has influenced you should influence me. Don’t you, for a second, have the ignorance and audacity to believe that I’m going to run my life in this country, under your moral and religious parameters. You are not of some higher moral and spiritual ground than I am to infringe upon our existing freedoms. 

And how dare you even mildly assert that I should run my life by the principles of either you, or your view of God? 

In short: be conservatively religious as an individual, and in your home. The policy of the nation needs to be more liberal in accepting faiths and beliefs of all kinds; even ones that do not gel with the religion and morality you’ve been taught to believe.

And if you don’t accept that, Rick, at the very least, this whole process should have taught you one thing: 

If you really did hear the voice of God to run for President, it’s only because He wanted you to know you’re a loser.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lisa Regula Meyer March 19, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Oh, that's what I was betting they were getting at, but that whole "insurance covering things I disapprove of infringes on my religious freedom" argument is a canard. Churches still don't have to cover contraceptives, but religiously affiliated schools and hospitals do. If the religious schools/hospitals don't want to offer insurance that covers contraception, they can 1) not offer insurance, 2) restrict their services and employment to only those of the same faith, 3) realize that paying into an insurance pool is not going against any religious tenet. Let's not forget, either, these schools and hospitals that don't want to abide by federal law get *tons* of money from the federal government.
Jim Williams March 19, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Theists have got to be the whiniest majority in history! Every part of government/society tilts in their favor, and yet they cry "infringement" any time they're asked to recognize that not everyone shares their particular view of the world. If churches wish to continue to be major political players, tax them fairly and end the special considerations they get in education, health care, the military and federal funding of their "charitable" arms. Otherwise, build the wall between religion and government higher and stronger!
Stacie Russ March 20, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Jason - The Government can't regulate my religious beliefs - because I have none. Some of the the stuff said at the pulpit must have been pretty bad if it was deemed a hate crime. Think of the pulpit restrictions as a friendly warning from your federal government. "don't preach hate crimes or we will bust down your doors and stop allowing you to pray to your invisible friends. We will stomp all the pew's, break all your silly paegan statues, steal all the gold and feed that silly flatbread to the birds" Seems like a friendly suggestion to me! Bottom line Fat Jesus, is that you are free to practice any religion, free from persecution, provided you don't break any of our laws" That's when the rule changes a bit and you lose that right. Just think: all this controversy over a few million people's belief that this whole world started 5000 years ago with Adam, Eve and a talking snake! One thing I forgot to mention is: I feel one religious thing that should be illegal is the music. Christian rock bands are extremely gay, and you have to admit the music pretty much sucks too - right? We should just pass a law now that forbids this kinda of rubbish before any normal kids hear it and decide to become gay.
David March 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM
If you want your employer to provide contraception as part of your health plan, and you know the Catholic church will not provide it - then don't work for the Catholic church. I feel the same way about the anti-smoking campaign. I've never been a smoker, but I still believe the decision as to whether or not allow smoking in a privately held establishment should be up to the owner, not the government. If I own a restaurant and want to allow smoking and I then realize nobody is frequenting my business then I have to make a business decision - maybe it is because people don't want to be around smokers. It should be my decision, not the govenrment's. Frankly it is non of the government's business.
Curt Fell March 20, 2012 at 12:00 PM
What is being regulated at the pulpit making certain beliefs hate crime?
Curt Fell March 20, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Very well written, Patrick! Kudos to you...
Pastor Chris March 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM
You are misguided. I am not here to defend Santorum. But I am hear to say your view of religion is misguided. We have FREEDOM OF, not FROM RELIGION in America. Our forefathers never intended for RELIGION - our our belief in God and the Scriptures - to be removed from the public arena, civil discourse, our schools or any part of society. Rather they wanted it to be a part of our society and culture. Our Forefathers would protected your RIGHT TO YOUR SPEECH...and they protected Santorum's and anyone elses right TO RELIGION. Your argument totally misses this truth. I realize many of you will disagree. That really doesn't matter. Read the Constitution...read the intent...stop removing God, faith, religion...from areas of life. It is not "Oil" and "water" as you claim...that is on true from the perspective that GOVERNMENT is to stay out of RELIGION. But it is not in reverse. Religion has a place in our democracy and our forefathers wanted to protect it from the Government. Sadly, people who hold your position threaten our democracy by trying to make this a private matter instead of part of our way of living. If you are truly open minded...and you read the constitution...you will see that this perspective is the intent of our forefathers. If you want to change the Constitution to say "FREEDOM FROM" then you need change it...but don't try to say that is what it says now. That is misguided and dishonest.
Ken McEntee March 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Ditto.
Sonia Gwynes March 20, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Patrick, I always enjoy reading your pieces. This one may be the best yet. Thank you.
Sonia Gwynes March 20, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Maybe you should read it again because you seem to have only read between the lines. Try reading the actual document and the history surrounding it.
James Thomas March 20, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Ms. Russ, your commitment to the gracious tolerance of others illustrates so succinctly the failure of the PC diversity culture of todays political left. Why does the phrase "first they came for the Catholics" keep running through my head? Because you put it there.
James Thomas March 20, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Jason, Read Matthew 5:10-12 and decide for yourself if that time is not now.
James Thomas March 20, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Jay G., Funny, what you suggest the extremists are doing is exactly what Ms. Russ is advocating. Seems like the anti-religionist need to do some soul searching and Constitutional Law studying.
John Olesky March 20, 2012 at 01:39 PM
There has been so much harm done in this world in the name of religion. Politicians -- not just crazy Rick -- push our "fear" buttons to get votes. Then they get together with the D's and the R's in a D.C. bar and laugh at us. This country was founded by people who were trying to escape religious persecution. So they tried to make sure that the government would not espouse one religion over any others. Why not try tolerance and morality for its own sake? Not just because you're afraid some creature in the heavens will strike out dead with lightning. My philosophy in life is simple: I try to behave so that, if everyone in the world did the same, it would be a better world. I don't always succeed, but the effort is sincere. Why so much anger when anyone dares to suggest that a politician stirring up the natives through religion, to suit his election hopes, is doing the wrong thing? And the idiots reside on both sides of the aisle, with D's and R's to their name. And since we keep re-electing them I guess that makes us even greater idiots. Shame on us.
James Thomas March 20, 2012 at 01:53 PM
John O., "There has been so much harm done in this world in the name of religion." True, but in the 20th Century Anti-Religious beliefs made up for all the lost time and added some new records to the harm done to the world. You believe in what most people call the Golden Rule, we share that belief. Can you honestly appraise some of the posts to this article as being guided by that rule?
Pastor Chris March 20, 2012 at 03:34 PM
James and Jason...thank you...you give me hope that our religious freedoms will remain in tact. As a nation of law...we need to realize our freedoms come from the Constitution. Religion - faith - God - belong in Government. For those trying to say most of our Forefathers were agnostic need to go read founding father documents and stop reading modern liberal history books that are trying to rewrite history. There was a variety of religious backgrounds, but overwhelmingly they espoused the God of Scriptures and even called upon His name. God belongs in our nation and it is time we allow faith to play a role in public discourse and realize ones faith is a part of who they are...a part of our homes...part of our schools...part of our communities...part of our places of worship...it is part of life. We have the right to express our religious views by freedom of speech and we have the right to have the government stay our of our religion and not impose their HANDS upon our beliefs and practices of faith. We need to read the Constitution and read founding father documents. I truly hope that everyone engaging in this debate will do their homework and those trying to kick God to the curb, so to speak, will stop attempting to rewrite history and ignore the Constitution. The more stuff like this is done, the more people like myself will speak the truth.
Jason March 20, 2012 at 04:08 PM
James, you are right, but it has been going on since he wrote that, it has just been happening more and more in the US in recent history. We are fighting to not lose the rights that many don't have elsewhere in the world. The sad thing is that non-Christian's who fight to restrict our rights to observe and preach our beliefs don't realize they are also taking away their own rights. Eventually someone will use these new laws as precedence for laws in the future to limit someone else from practicing their beliefs.
Tim Torrence March 20, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Lisa, I'm sorry to say your argument is not logical. 1) The contraceptive mandate not only dictates what coverage an employer must provide it also redefines what a religious organization is. This has a far greater scope than most people realize and many other faiths are hoping the Catholics prevail on this. Hospitals and schools and charities that do not provide this insurance will be paying the tax, that is inevitable. 2) If a Catholic hospital was to restrict employees to their faith they would be immediately hit with discrimination law suits. 3) Paying into an insurance pool that provides services that go against a person's faith is the exact argument the church is making. It is probably a good time to read Cardinal George's letter to his parishioners. http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2012/0226/cardinal.aspx
Tim Torrence March 20, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Tristan, I just spoke to my household LGBTQ expert and she assures me that using the word gay is not on the same level as the N-word. She also assures me that the LGBTQ community is smart enough to know when the term gay is meant in a derogatory manner.
Tim Torrence March 20, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Sonia, this is the actual text of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Please point to the actual phrase that supports your disagreement. When I read the actual amendment it says government cannot make a national religion nor can it stop you from practicing your faith.
SharEd March 20, 2012 at 05:45 PM
You've written a wonderful article Patrick. It's easier to agree with you totally and not argue incessantly or vitriolically with others!
Earl Elevant March 20, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Whining about a whiny article where you say whining is bad. What was your point again? Pot, meet kettle.
Earl Elevant March 20, 2012 at 06:58 PM
So he should give up being who he is in an effort to be who you want him to be? I'd bet we'd then have to hear how he's unprincipled.
Alex Vandehoff March 20, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Christopher - can you tell me what churches have been shut down by the government? Faith is a part of life. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, Buddhist, Taoist, Pantheist, Wiccan, etc. ALL OF THEM. By saying 'God belongs in our nation' and referring to the 'God of Scriptures' you are implying a very Christian-centric tone to your comment. And that tone flies in opposition of the point you seem to be trying to make. Faiths/religions should not dictate civic discourse in any way. That's the trouble with democracy - not everyone is the same as you.
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John Meola March 24, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Excellent article! Couldn't have said it better myself.
James Thomas March 24, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Alex V. I disagree. Faith can not be divorced from the "civic discourse". As you admit "Faith is part of life". Taking your argument to it's fullest extent the faithful believer MUST then become someone who believes one thing and does another. You are ENFORCING the hypocricy you decry. "That's the trouble with democracy - not everyone is the same as you."
Ed Fisher March 24, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Article says it as good as it needs be said.
Damon koch April 14, 2012 at 02:03 PM
James, you are correct. More murder was committed in the 20th century in the name of aethism than in the name of any religion. Mao, Stalin, Hitler and others were aethists or agnostics. Also, the murder being committed today is in the name of Radical Islam, not Mr. Santorium's faith.
Damon koch April 14, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Patrick, once again you have mischaracterized the conservative position. Rick Santorium never said he was against people using contraception if they want, he's against the government paying for it or forcing employer's from paying for it. I know that being in the teacher's union you feel entitled to have taxpayer money pay for everything you want, but some of us believe that this country works best and has become great by the efforts of individuals acting their own self interest free from government mandates.

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