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Rick Santorum and Rage

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum

The photo shows John “Rick” Santorum smiling, but the man has a tendency to get into a rage. Recently he said that the famous speech given by John F. Kennedy on the separation of church and state made him “want to throw up.” Santorum later said he wished he “had that particular line back.” He spoke that particular line to George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” in February of 2012. The reason the subject came up was because Santorum was asked about having said something like that back in October. Back then Rick said he “almost threw up” after reading the speech.

What made Rick Santorum want to throw up or almost throw up was that – according to Santorum – Kennedy was saying that “people of faith have no role in the public square.” Of course, neither Kennedy nor anyone else has said that. Everyone knows that Kennedy made that speech in 1960 to set at rest the anxieties felt by certain voters about Kennedy’s Catholicism. The only other Catholic of a major party to campaign for the presidency was Al Smith in 1928, and he was defeated in part by the fearful bigotry of certain Lutherans and Southern Baptists who believed that if Smith were elected he’d be taking orders from the Pope. Now that Catholics can participate in politics at the highest level, Rick Santorum, a Catholic, almost vomits when he reads that speech about the separation of church and state.

Until Rick Santorum got so angry he nearly vomited, even Republican voters believed that ” separation of church and state” meant that the institution of state is separate from the institution of any church. Or, as that iconic  Republican Ronald Regan said in 1984, “Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.”

But Rick Santorum gets into a rage about a lot of things. President Obama, in his speech to Congress in 2009, asked “every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.”

And Santorum flew into a rage. “What a snob!” he cried. Why is it snobbery to ask your fellow Americans to commit themselves to a year of higher education or vocational training or an apprenticeship? Rick Santorum, has an undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University, an M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, and a law degree from the Dickinson School of Law.  That’s about as much higher education as you can get!

Sometimes it seem that Santorum distorts the words and policies of his political opponents simply in order to get into a rage about them. Or maybe it’s the other way around: he distorts and misquotes his opponents in order to justify his habitual rage.

Rick Santorum is a man of faith, despite — as he would say — despite having gone to college. Because, according to him, “62 percent of kids who enter college with some sort of faith commitment leave without it,” Wow! That’s terrible! And hard to believe. He made those observations to George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” He said he got that figure from a study that may be out of date and, he added, “I suspect it may even be worse.” That might explain his sizzling anger about asking people to get at least one year of training in anything from a college to a trade school. According to Santorum, those educational institutions are places where liberals indoctrinate students. Golly.

A lot of studies have been made about the effect of educational level on religious beliefs and, by and large, they don’t support Santorum’s views. Quite the contrary, the study that Santorum was referring to points out that “76 percent of those who never enrolled in college report a decline in religious service attendance.”  Apparently, not going to college damages faith more than going to college.

Purposely distorting another person’s words is called bearing false witness. And making assertions that you know are not true is called lying.  Rick Santorum’s behavior gives faith a bad name.  Or maybe he’s just looking for ways to justify his inner rage.

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