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TAG | Rick Santorum

Feb/12

16

Helping Obama to Victory

If ever the GOP were to score points in the contraception wars it ought to have been at the beginning of the controversy, when it was easiest to frame the discussion in terms of religious freedom.

Well, it hasn’t been happening.

Gallup:

PRINCETON, NJ — Catholics’ views of President Obama were little changed during a week in which the administration battled publicly with Catholic leaders over whether church-affiliated employers should have to pay for contraception as part of their employees’ health plans. An average of 46% of Catholics approved of the job Obama was doing as president last week, compared with 49% the prior week, a change within the margin of sampling error.

Although Catholic Church leaders’ opposition to the requirement dates back to last fall, when the policy was being laid out, the controversy erupted and made headlines in the last 10 days, after the Obama administration announced that religious-based employers would ultimately have to comply. The Obama administration’s rules would have forced organizations affiliated with the church — such as Catholic hospitals, service organizations, and universities — to pay for employee healthcare services that go against their belief that Catholics should not use contraception.

It is possible that practicing Catholics are more likely than nonpracticing Catholics to hew to the church’s teachings on birth control. But both groups — those who attend church every week or nearly every week and those who attend less often — had identical 46% approval ratings of Obama last week. Though both more frequent and less frequent churchgoing Catholics’ approval ratings of Obama were down from the prior week, neither change was statistically meaningful.

CBS:

Amid continued controversy surrounding an Obama administration policy mandating that women working at religiously-affiliated institutions be provided with free access to contraceptive health care, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that most Americans – including Catholics – appear to support the rule.

According to a survey, conducted between Feb. 8-13, 61 percent of Americans support federally-mandated contraception coverage for religiously-affiliated employers; 31 percent oppose such coverage.

The number is similar among self-professed Catholics surveyed: 61 percent said they support the requirement, while 32 percent oppose it.

Majorities of both men and women said they are in favor of the mandate, though support among women is especially pronounced, with 66 percent supporting and 26 percent opposing it. Among men, 55 percent of men are in favor; 38 percent object.
The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.

And it’s only going to get worse, as the perception that the GOP is somehow anti-contraception sinks ever deeper in public consciousness (helped along , of course, by the pronouncements of Santorum on this topic), and the argument over the First Amendment gets lost in the noise. And that, have no doubt about it, is going to cost the GOP a lot of votes.

This whole thing is looking more and more like a Terri Schiavo moment.

And here’s a reminder from ABC (Mar 21 2005) of how that played out with the public:

Americans broadly and strongly disapprove of federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, with sizable majorities saying Congress is overstepping its bounds for political gain.

Sampling, data collection and tabulation for this poll were done by TNS.

The public, by 63 percent-28 percent, supports the removal of Schiavo’s feeding tube, and by a 25-point margin opposes a law mandating federal review of her case. Congress passed such legislation and President Bush signed it early today.

That legislative action is distinctly unpopular: Not only do 60 percent oppose it, more — 70 percent — call it inappropriate for Congress to get involved in this way. And by a lopsided 67 percent-19 percent, most think the elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so more for political advantage than out of concern for her or for the principles involved.

This ABC News poll also finds that the Schiavo case has prompted an enormous level of personal discussion: Half of Americans say that as a direct result of hearing about this case, they’ve spoken with friends or family members about what they’d want done if they were in a similar condition. Nearly eight in 10 would not want to be kept alive.

In addition to the majority, the intensity of public sentiment is also on the side of Schiavo’s husband, who has fought successfully in the Florida courts to remove her feeding tube. And intensity runs especially strongly against congressional involvement.

Included among the 63 percent who support removing the feeding tube are 42 percent who “strongly” support it — twice as many as strongly oppose it. And among the 70 percent who call congressional intervention inappropriate are 58 percent who hold that view strongly — an especially high level of strong opinion.

And who was one of the politicians most involved with the attempt to ‘federalize’ the Schiavo tragedy?

Why, none other than Santorum, crushed a year later in a senatorial contest in which his role in the Schiavo case is thought to have played no small part in his humiliating defeat. The idea that this rigidly dogmatic ideologue is in any way electable is ludicrous. There is also every danger for the Republicans that his candidacy would be so polarizing that it would trigger a surge in voters interested only in voting against Santorum, and while they were at it, his parties’ candidates for the Senate and House, something that would present additional dangers for the GOP.

Obama must be laughing.

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Feb/12

10

Oh Please

As a reminder that the enviros, the New York Times and the other usual suspects on the left do not have a monopoly on the politics of panic, here’s Santorum:

They are taking faith and crushing it. Why? Why? When you marginalize faith in America, when you remove the pillar of God-given rights, then what’s left is the French Revolution. What’s left is the government that gives you right, what’s left are no unalienable rights, what’s left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you’ll do and when you’ll do it. What’s left in France became the guillotine. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re a long way from that, but if we do and follow the path of President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, then we are headed down that road.

There are (countless) good ways to argue against Obama and there are bad. And then there’s Santorum’s guillotine. Ludicrous.

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Jan/12

28

“A Gift in a Very Broken Way”

Via Think Progress (I know, I know), here’s Rick Santorum explaining why a woman left pregnant should be compelled to give birth:

Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn’t have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice. I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn’t, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.

We”?

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Jan/12

8

Rick Santorum & Opus Dei

I touched the other day on the fact that Rick Santorum had included Opus Dei in the list of organizations he chose to praise for the “new evangelization” (he also included Regnum Christi, a group of which I had never previously heard, of which I’ll write something in a later post), and I drew some criticism from one reader from saying that Opus Dei rang a “somewhat sinister” bell. His suspicion, quite clearly, was that I had been influenced by Dan Brown’s distinctly dodgy narratives. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Opus Dei certainly has some fine people in its ranks, but, as this recent post from the Daily Telegraph’s Damian Thompson (a former editor of the Catholic Herald) demonstrates, there is something about this organization that does not feel, well, quite right:

With all this phone hacking around, I think it’s time electronic eavesdroppers had their own patron saint, don’t you? As it happens, I have the perfect candidate: St Josemaria Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, who died as recently as 1975 and was canonised by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

A few years ago, I interviewed a distinguished priest who, as a young man, had been a member of Opus Dei and close associate of Escrivá. My jaw dropped when, half way through our conversation, he mentioned casually that “The Father” had installed bugs in Opus’s Rome headquarters in order to tape-record the conversations of visitors waiting to see him. I asked him how he knew.
“Because I helped him do it,” came the reply.

The Vatican refused to hear this priest’s testimony when Escrivá was being assessed for sainthood; conveniently, the role of Devil’s Advocate had been abolished. Of course, all saints had flaws. It’s just that you don’t expect them to share the same ones as Richard Nixon (a far more sympathetic character than Escrivá, in my book).

Anyway, the reason I’m bringing up Opus Dei is that this controversial organisation – comically misrepresented in The Da Vinci Code but still secretive and slippery – is planning to open two independent secondary schools in south-east England.
Or, to adopt the official party line, a group of parents, some of whom happen to belong to Opus Dei, are opening schools “inspired by the teachings” of St Josemaria. Hmm. Don’t get me wrong, Escrivá was undoubtedly holy, but he was also vain, a snob and a spiritual control freak. While some of his followers are exemplary Christians, the saturnine ethos of Opus bothers many Catholics, including some outstanding clergy.

A priest I know used to hear the confessions of primary school children at an Opus Dei school. “It was disturbing,” he told me. “I’d hear seven-year-olds riddled with adult scruples, worried that their disposition towards the sacrament wasn’t sufficiently pure and their sin wouldn’t be forgiven.”

He added that a teacher at an Opus school had boasted to him that she’d persuaded a little boy to give up his teddy bear for Lent. “How on earth is that going to help the child – to take away something so comforting and normal as part of his so-called spiritual development?”

Indeed. And one might also ask: how are Opus Dei “numeraries” (full members) supposed to develop healthy relationships with the opposite sex when men and women are forbidden to travel in the same car? Even if the man is a priest? One Opus centre has installed two sets of sliding doors between the kitchen and the dining room. This allows serving women to leave food in the small space between the rooms so male diners aren’t “distracted” by female flesh.

Opus Dei in England has taken advantage of the bumbling of the Catholic bishops. (Think L/Cpl Jones in a mitre.) Its fingerprints are all over a new PR outfit called “Catholic Voices”, it has a growing presence in a certain seminary, and before the papal visit it even managed to appoint a thickly accented Spaniard as spokesman for the beatification of John Henry Newman.

Opus always hits back when it’s criticised, so no doubt there will be the usual carefully worded and disingenuous denial of everything I’ve just told you. Meanwhile, its recruiters will keep gatecrashing smart Catholic parties, scanning the crowd for attractive young professionals who can be invited to “informal” drinks and then plugged into E-meters. No, sorry, that’s the Scientologists. But it’s an easy mistake to make.

And Rick Santorum’s support for Opus Dei is more than a matter than one line in a problematic article. If, for example, we turn to a 2002 report from the National Catholic Reporter we find this:

The extent of the power and prestige of Opus Dei in today’s Catholic church was on full display during a high profile Jan. 7-11 congress here marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of founder Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer.

The event drew 1,200 people from 57 countries, with an impressive number of church and state VIPs on hand, and was streamed live on the Internet. It occurred less than a month after Pope John Paul II recognized a miracle that clears the way for Escriva to become a saint.

One point that became clear during the Congress was how Opus Dei-inspired politicians tend to apply Escriva’s emphasis on finding holiness in work. A key theme of the gathering was the need for “coherence” between faith and politics, which in practical terms means taking one’s cues from the Catholic church on issues such as abortion, gay marriage and cloning.

American VIPs included Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J., a member of Opus Dei’s Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, and U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania. Santorum told NCR he is not a member of Opus Dei, but an admirer of Escriva…

Santorum is, of course, fully entitled to those views, but the electorate is fully entitled to ask how they would affect his behavior as president. Writing in the 2007 article I cited in a previous post, Santorum argued as follows:

[Romney] also said that “a person should not be rejected . . . because of his faith.” His supporters say it is akin to rejecting Barack Obama because he is black. But Obama was born black; Romney is a Mormon because he accepts the beliefs of the Mormon faith. This permits us, therefore, to make inferences about his judgment and character, good or bad.

Fair enough, and the same can be said about Santorum’s admiration for Opus Dei.

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Jan/12

8

Rick Santorum on Romney & Religion

Here’s Rick Santorum writing on Romney and religion back in 2007. The whole piece is worth a look, both for what it does say and what it does not.

In the following extract Santorum makes the (reasonable) point that a candidate’s religious affiliation is something that should not necessarily be off-limits:

[Romney] also said that “a person should not be rejected . . . because of his faith.” His supporters say it is akin to rejecting Barack Obama because he is black. But Obama was born black; Romney is a Mormon because he accepts the beliefs of the Mormon faith. This permits us, therefore, to make inferences about his judgment and character, good or bad.

He tried to address the questions by discussing Jesus, suggesting that the specific theological tenets of Mormonism are not in any important respect different from those of traditional Christianity. I disagree. However, voters should use extreme caution in factoring theological tenets into their assessment of a candidate’s qualifications, because theological tenets, as opposed to moral tenets of a religion, transcend reason – consider, for example, the virgin birth.

But, it is fair to look at a candidate’s faith from the standpoint of its moral teachings or, as Catholics say, its “social teaching.”

Romney hit on the correct voter question: “Does [the candidate] share these American values: the equality of humankind, the obligation to serve one another, and a steadfast commitment to liberty?” He said “yes,” and provided some examples to bolster his answer. It was Romney’s best argument to Christian conservatives – we may not see God the same way, but we see our obligation to God’s people the same way.

It could have been even better had he acknowledged a fact that can’t help be true for a person of real faith – that the moral teachings of an individual’s faith will do more than shape his character, they will influence his decisions.

I came to not entirely dissimilar conclusions in a post on the Corner in October:

On the wider topic of whether a presidential candidate’s religious affiliations should be something that should be immune from comment and criticism, the answer is no. If a candidate insists that his or her God is central to who they are and what they believe, that’s a fair enough thing to say, but, under those circumstances, it’s no less fair for voters (or political rivals) to ask what that might mean for how that candidate might act as president, and, if they don’t like the answer, to say so or vote so.

But note Santorum’s comment about how “specific theological tenets of Mormonism” do differ in important respects from traditional Christianity. That’s clearly true, but then read what he goes on to say:

Would the potential attraction to Mormonism by simply having a Mormon in the White House threaten traditional Christianity by leading more Americans to a church that some Christians believe misleadingly calls itself Christian, is an active missionary church, and a dangerous cult?

How does a candidate possibly address such concerns?

Assume for the sake of argument that there are valid considerations. Shouldn’t we look at everything about the candidate, including positions on the issues that could have even a more dramatic impact on Christianity than his personal faith? What about the candidate’s willingness to confront the threat of radical Islam’s war against Christianity, or the current efforts to undermine our Judeo-Christian culture and even our religious freedom? Like most voters, my faith matters more than politics, but we are electing someone to the most important political position in the world. I’m more concerned about losing our children to jihadis or a materialistic culture than losing them to Mormonism.

Nothing notably surprising there, but even on a fairly simple parsing of this (together with what preceded it), it’s easy enough to think that Santorum (who must surely view himself as a “traditional Christian”) has difficulties in seeing Mormonism as Christian.

That’s not a view I would share. As I wrote on SR last October:

For my part, I don’t much care one way or the other, but I don’t think there can be a great deal of doubt about it. In the course of two thousand years Christianity has long since come to mean much more than those texts that some of its early leaders chose to regard as definitive. Naturally, there are many outgrowths of this now wildly varied religion that some Christians will find wanting. And they are perfectly entitled to do so. Those, however, are issues best left to the sectarians. To an outsider, at least, Mormonism is clearly a part of the greater Christian family.

Nevertheless, I don’t find it particularly shocking that many Christians might disagree, particularly those (such as Santorum) who appear to regard themselves as custodians of some sort of orthodoxy.

So the question is whether Santorum does or does not see Mormons as Christians. Again, his answer wouldn’t worry me either way, but this is an election year and Mormon voters might be interested to hear what Santorum has to say on this topic.

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Jan/12

4

Toeing the Line

The Huffington Post (I know, I know) dredges up this 2002 article by the gift-of-God-to-Obama better known as Santorum, and, yes, it’s worth reading, particularly this:

Like most American Catholics, I have followed the recent sex scandals in the Church with profound sympathy for victims, revulsion over priests who prey on minors and frustration at the absence of hierarchical leadership. Unlike most, I have been visited by the gift of hope; for I see in this fall an opportunity for ecclesial rebirth and a new evangelization of America. This “new evangelization,” advocated strenuously by Pope John Paul II, has the potential for restoring confidence in the priesthood while empowering all American Catholics…

It is startling that those in the media and academia appear most disturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promoted moral relativism by sanctioning “private” moral matters such as alternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.

Nonsense, and disgusting nonsense at that.

And then there’s this:

Most importantly, I hope this crisis in the clergy will remind the laity of the call of Vatican II, a call the Pope has re-echoed throughout his incredible papacy. This is not just the hierarchy’s church; it belongs to all the baptized. Pope John Paul II reminds us time and again of Luke’s Gospel: “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” We are all called to be “fishers of men.” Both clergy and laity have mutually supportive and indispensable roles in the “new evangelization” through administration of the sacraments and proclamation of the Gospel and all Church teachings.

Even now we witness this “new evangelization” through many ecclesial lay movements such as Opus Dei, the Neocatechumenate, Focolare, Regnum Christi, Communion and Liberation.

I’ve never heard of most of these groups, but Opus Dei certainly rings a somewhat sinister bell.

And Santorum, it seems, is a fan.

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Oct/11

19

“A License to do Things”

Via ThinkProgress Health (I know, I know) comes this gem from Santorum:

Rick Santorum pledged to repeal all federal funding for contraception, during a recent interview with CaffeinatedThoughts.com editor Shane Vander Hart, arguing that birth control devalues the act of procreation. “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country,” the former Pennsylvania senator explained. “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be

I won’t give Santorum much, but I will give the defeated Pennsylvania senator this. He doesn’t hide what he thinks.

Good grief.

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Jun/11

11

God: Swing Voter, Fickle Too…

Via New York Magazine

After a thorough investigation, Daily Intel has discovered that God is separately backing at least three different contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. Over the course of the past few months and even years, God has sent signs and direct messages to each of these candidates encouraging them to run, presumably without telling them that he supports other candidates as well.

God has apparently thrown His weight behind Herman Cain, soon-to-be candidate Michele Bachmann and that strange Rick Santorum, a candidate for whom one electoral humiliation is not enough.

Under the circumstances, I can only conclude that God is a Democrat.

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May/11

10

Rick Santorum, No Thanks

Here’s the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin on Rick Santorum:

At the Republican presidential debate on Thursday Rick Santorum was asked about Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’s suggestion that there be a social truce. Santorum answered, “Anybody that would suggest we call a truce on moral issues doesn’t understand what America is all about.”

That is wrong. In fact, it’s the precise opposite of what America is about. As a matter of political tactics you can think a truce is a bad or good idea, but it does not define America or our system of government.

You can look to the Declaration or the Federalist papers or the Constitution and make a principled argument that America is about individual liberty or limited government (which secures the former). But it’s not about moral issues or any issue.

Our country was founded on the notion that limited government (bound by the rule of law and hemmed in by the separation of powers) is essential to maintain a free, diverse and prosperous people. It is precisely because we disagree on so many issues that we support a political system that tempers majority control with individual rights. It’s not about one side winning on certain issues or even demanding that certain issues be at the forefront of our agenda…

…Santorum’s assertion, quite frankly, reflects a certain constitutionally illiteracy and is at odds at a fundamental level with modern conservatism. Indeed, since the presidency requires that the chief executive “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” — which presupposes one understands what’s in it — Santorum has in the most concise way possible demonstrated his lack of qualifications to serve.

One can only agree. Next, please…

Read the whole thing.

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