The JFK Speech That Made Santorum Want to Throw-Up
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri May 29, 2015 at 12:11:59 AM EST
On February 26, 2012, (when I first published this post), the heated GOP presidential primaries were getting hotter as the Christian Right sought to find someone who could take the GOP presidential nomination away from Mitt Romney. Santorum made a good run at it, and came in second, but Santorum being Santorum had more than a few problems. -- FC

It is amazing what a difference a few weeks can make. When I published an essay comparing speeches about separation of church and state by John F. Kennedy, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum, I had no idea that Santorum would become such a serious contender for the GOP nomination for president, nor did I think that his views on separation would become a central issue, let alone that he would usher in this new era of American politics by declaring on national television that he found JFK's views on separation to be vomitorious.  

"I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state are absolute," he told George Stephanopolous on ABC's This Week.  "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...  to say that people of faith have no role in the public square?  You bet that makes me want to throw up."

There has since been an explosion of discussion in the political blogosphere from The New York Times to Daily Kos.

Here is the transcript:  

STEPHANOPOULOS:  You have also spoken out about the issue of religion in politics, and early in the campaign, you talked about John F. Kennedy's famous speech to the Baptist ministers in Houston back in 1960. Here is what you had to say.

Earlier (ph) in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech, and I almost threw up. You should read the speech.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  That speech has been read, as you know, by millions of Americans. Its themes were echoed in part by Mitt Romney in the last campaign.  Why did it make you throw up?

SANTORUM:  Because the first line, first substantive line in the speech says, "I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute."  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 abhorrent (ph) at the time of 1960.  And I went down to Houston, Texas 50 years almost to the day, and gave a speech and talked about how important it is for everybody to feel welcome in the public square.  People of faith, people of no faith, and be able to bring their ideas, to bring their passions into the public square and have it out.  James Madison--

STEPHANOPOULOS: You think you wanted to throw up?

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: -- the perfect remedy. Well, yes, absolutely, 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 who is seen from the president, someone who is now trying to tell people of faith that you will do what the government says, we are going to impose our values on you, not that you can't come to the public square and argue against it, but 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.

Of course, JFK did not say and did not mean that religious people should be silenced or in any way expelled from public life.  He was speaking about how he as president would balance his religious views with his constitutional responsibilities.  But the notion that people of faith are being driven from the public square is a powerful theme animating a wide swath of the Religious Right and beyond.  It is a claim that does not stand up to reasonable scrutiny, but it is nevertheless one of the most deeply heard dog whistles in American public life.

Kennedy properly understood that the rights of individual citizens can be overwhelmed by powerful religious institutions (and demagogic pols) and in order to be president of all of the people, and to be able to swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States, he needed to be able to be the secular leader of a religiously plural nation, founded on the rights of the citizens -- and not out of deference to powerful religious institutions -- and he needed to be able to unambiguously say so.  

That JFK did say it with such eloquence and clarity that it still makes a demagogic pol with theocratic tendencies want to throw-up, underscores the ongoing importance of his speech.  

Santorum will continue to haunt the public square, but he will never be able to step out of the long shadow of our first Catholic president -- the one who understood that separation of church and state is the best and historically proved way to ensure religious freedom for all.    




Display:
As a Catholic, I don't think Santorum understands how the public at large is getting a poor impression from the USCCB's behavior over changes in HHS mandates and Santorum's zeal to merge church and state. Santorum and the bishops do not speak for many Catholics like myself, who believe in separation of church and state as well as freedom of conscience. I am really surprised that Santorum should be so ignorant of history in this country.

by khughes1963 on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 04:50:24 PM EST

Within the next few days I will posting on this issue.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 06:34:41 PM EST
It fits Opus Dei's MO to a T. Sometimes I wonder whether Friess didn't bankroll Rick Santorum in order to have someone inject theocratic and Dominionist themes into the body politic in 2012. Rick almost sounds as if his ideal state would be the Papal States under the rule of Pius IX, who was fairly well unpopular with the vast majority of his secular subjects by the time he lost the Papal States to a newly unified Italy in 1870. The only people left who supported him were the Neri, the Papal nobility of Rome.

In any event, I eagerly await your posting on this issue.

by khughes1963 on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 08:07:05 PM EST
Parent



that comes out of Santorum's mouth is in the barf zone anyway so it is an area of expertise for him.  The sooner he gets off the stage the better, especially for Catholics. Of course, he is literally driving women back into the Obama camp, so he is in a twisted way performing a public service. Plus, he is probably adding to the growing number of atheists/agnostics and non-believers in this country, which after observing this election cycle, could be a good thing in terms of muting dominionism.

by monarchmom on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:54:59 AM EST

Is Santorum really so ignorant as to think that JFK was separating himself from religious people in that famous speech? His biggest opponent in that election was the Pope and the rest of the religious hierarchy, that many Americans feared would be heading the country, not President Kennedy. The same women and men, plus the Catholic majority who use birth control, are none too happy about the Bishops who are throwing their weight around, trying to make an employment law case into religious persecution--with the help of the rest of the religious right.

by arachne646 on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:18:54 AM EST
Now, Santorum can't be THAT ignorant immediately after reading the JFK speech (if indeed he read it), but he can repeat the distortion of JFK speech so often that he believes it. Sincerity in politics may simply be the ability to delude oneself and reject evidence of one's own "lying eyes". Facts land but do not "stick".

by NancyP on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 01:29:43 PM EST
Parent
that in order to be a good liar, you have to be able to lie to yourself (and believe the lies).

The more I read about Santorum, the more I feel that he's a steeplejacker (or akin to one).  A cuckoo planted in the RC church.

I know I'm receiving those signals from him.


by ArchaeoBob on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 02:03:32 PM EST
Parent




how this is described in the local paper.  The headline: "On Campaign Trail, Santorum Delivers Defense of Religion".

It goes on to talk as if "Christianity" is under attack and he was defending Christianity from the hordes of secular humanists and atheists.

http://www.theledger.com/article/20120227/POLITICS/120229409/1410 ?Title=On-Campaign-Trail-Santorum-Delivers-Defense-of-Religion-&a mp;tc=ar

I'm hoping that people in other areas won't buy this meme, but I know a lot of people are going to think that Santorum was just defending his religion, not advocating for the forcing of it on others (which is what he is actually calling for).


by ArchaeoBob on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 11:09:52 AM EST


There is an excellent article on Huffington Post by Bruce Reyes-Chow, a Presbyterian minister: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-reyeschow/i-will-never-say-yo u-are-not-christian_b_1292246.html

And if anyone is so inclined, there is a petition to sign at Care2: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/wearechristianity/

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WWW Talk To Action


Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (362 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (184 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (108 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (98 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (110 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (133 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (125 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (84 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (231 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (59 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (156 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (173 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (54 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (56 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (215 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (248 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (96 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (184 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (146 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (145 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (153 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (148 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (125 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (226 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (144 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (84 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (193 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (83 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (109 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (111 comments)

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