Why Santorum’s Religion Matters
Santorum’s religion is and should be an issue in this election. And before you all accuse me of being a religious bigot, let me point out that I don’t think any other candidate’s religion is an issue. True, I think the fact Romney wears magical underwear is weird, but magical underwear isn’t going to impact his ability to be a good President. Santorum’s beliefs, on the other hand, will. Here’s why.
He appears to be a true believer and we kind of need to know that. Additionally, he is Catholic and Catholicism isn’t your run of the mill religion. It is an independent theocratic monarchy which is ruled by the Pope. In other words, it is a sovereign nation, and an adherent to Catholicism must answer the question this raised about dual loyalty. And yes, we do kind of need to know if and when US interests diverge from Vatican interests, whose side Santorum will take. John F Kennedy had to answer this question for a reason. Santorum does as well. And given that Santurum has said Kennedy’s position that he would put his country before the pope makes him sick. Well, we, the electorate do have a right to have this issue clarified.
What I hope a journalist will ask Santorum are two basic questions. One will help us gauge how effective or ineffective his problem solving abilities are and the other will tell us whether his loyalties lie with us or with the Vatican.
- Does he believe in the literal existence of the devil or has he been speaking metaphorically? I teach critical thinking. The first thing I always tell my students is that what you believe about the cause of your problems matters greatly. The more your understanding is based in reality, the more effective you will be at solving your problems. When it comes to Santorum, this matters. If his comments about Satan are metaphorical, then I would say this is a non-issue. However, if he believes in the literal existence of a being named Satan, then his beliefs will cause a problem for us should he be elected President. The President’s job is to solve problems. If you think your problems are caused by a supernatural entity creating havoc in our world. Your solutions to those problems are all going to be geared towards fighting this supernatural entity. Pragmatic solutions to solve the economic crisis, for example, won’t be considered because they are irrelevant to someone who thinks the problem is, quite literally, Satan. For the record, I would like our President to be more pragmatic and less concerned with waging a cosmological battle between the supernatural forces of good and evil. And I think the majority of Americans would agree with me on this. I hope he is speaking metaphorically but his track record speaks otherwise. How else do you explain the fact he seems to think that criminalizing abortion will help the economy? Only someone who thinks God is punishing us for allowing abortions would connect the two. Regardless, we need to know whether or not his problem solving is practical or supernaturally based.
- Does he believe the Pope is infallible? If he believes the Pope is infallible, which is a central tenet of Catholicism, he should not be considered a valid candidate for any elected office in the United States because he will not be able to take any oath of office pledging his loyalty to the US Constitution without lying. And no, this isn’t an extreme statement. Santorum has been pretty honest that he puts his interpretation of God’s will above US law. He has made this sort of statement many times. That in and of itself calls his patriotism into question. If he believes the Pope is infallible it means he believes that the Pope speaks for God on earth and that means that whatever the Pope decides, that is what Santorum thinks should happen. No exceptions. And I happen to think that would make him extremely dangerous. I want a President who puts US interests first.
So yes, Santorum’s religious beliefs do matter. They matter because they indicate whether he is going to base his problem solving on reality or on his belief in the existence of supernatural evil entities. And his beliefs about the Pope’s infallibility will impact his loyalty to our country. While we Americans usually shy away from candidates’ views, his views will directly impact how he carries out his duties and I personally don’t want a president who takes his orders directly from a foreign head of state who has zero interest in religious freedom.