How Dumb Is Rick Santorum?

People for the American Way have posted a recent radio interview with former U.S. Senator and all-star culture warrior Rick Santorum.

During the discussion, Santorum said that Christians have allowed their faith to be removed from the public square and need to start fighting back, arguing that removing the Bible from public school classrooms is not neutrality but rather the promotion of the secular worldview. He suggested that conservative Christians should respond by “calling secularism a religion because if we did, then we could ban that too.”

Claiming that the absence of religion is itself a religion, Santorum said that Christians must reassert themselves and insist that Christianity “should be taught in the schools” instead of worrying about offending people.

Leaving aside the massive constitutional ignorance Santorum (once again) displays,  I’m intrigued. How do you ban the absence of something?

Earth to Santorum: “secular” means “not religious.” It doesn’t mean “anti-religious.” An experiment in science class is secular; the study of the periodical table of elements is secular. English grammar is secular. History–even when it includes study of the influence of religious beliefs and movements–is secular.

Stuff that isn’t religious is secular. It’s a descriptive term, not an ideology.

The removal of religious doctrine from the public sector (government)(which is not at all the same thing as its removal from the public square, where religious expression is protected by the Free Exercise Clause) is simply a recognition that in a free society, the government doesn’t get to impose or endorse a set of preferred religious beliefs. The transmittal of religious doctrine is the prerogative of families and religious institutions.

There are a lot of culture warriors who really do understand the First Amendment, but choose to pander to the sizable number of Americans who don’t. I don’t think Santorum is one of those. I think he’s a true believer.

And not a very good thinker.

In fact, his diagnosis of secularism reminds me a lot of his diagnosis of Terri Schavo. He sees things that aren’t there.

 

 

58 thoughts on “How Dumb Is Rick Santorum?

  1. Aging: If you wrote the kind the bigoted platitudes that you write about Christians about almost any other group, the ACLU would call you out in a second. But for some reason, your hateful remark that “weak humans need religion” gets a free pass. So I have to call you out.

    I would actually agree with you that “weak humans need religion” from a totally different point of view, but not from yours, which is obviously bigoted.

    As for wars, you’d be better off picking on nationalism and capitalism, which make even ISIS look like bullies in a sandbox. Your idea that if we got rid of religion, we’d be in some utopia is just unsophisticated and ignorant of history at best, and prejudiced at worst. You completely and willfully overlook the contributions of religious people.

    I hate to send sparks flying, but I hear hateful views like yours expressed a lot. Christians are the world’s largest religion, and you talk about them like they’re all Fundamentalist Baptists out to take everyone’s rights away. Again, where’s the ACLU and why does this narrow minded attitude fly?

  2. @Stephen: you say that you “hate to send sparks flying” but you choose to intentionally misread and misstate the views of the others here.
    AgingLittleGirl has not written any “bigoted platitudes about Christians”. Her statement “weak humans need religion” is an equal-opportunity claim that singles out no specific religion.
    You completely misunderstand what the ACLU is about. The ACLU does not call out any individual or group for making what you call bigoted statements. The ACLU stands up when an individual’s actual civil rights are being infringed, and if you think that your civil rights have been infringed when someone indirectly calls you “weak”, then you have had a faulty education in civics.
    Please show me specifically where anyone here has claimed that “if we got rid of religion, we’d be in some utopia”. No one here has made that claim. Instead, you are the one who is stereotyping every liberal secularist or atheist as some sort of hateful straw man that exists only in your own mind.

  3. @Stephen: here are the other places where you have assumed a great deal about secular liberals:
    “most people who describe themselves as “secular” are, in fact, against religion.”
    Your evidence for this? Perhaps I should introduce you to Sheila Kennedy, whose blog this happens to be.
    “when liberals talk about keeping “religion” out of schools, they’re really only talking about Christianity, in 99% of cases”
    Nope.
    “making sure that kids do not learn anything about religion in schools”
    “want to keep schools in a ziplock bag air-sealed away from any contact from religion”
    Nope, that’s not us. Keep religious indoctrination out of public schools, yes.
    “the Catholic Church, which I don’t think most secularists understand…”
    Do you have any idea how many current atheists were educated by Jesuits?
    It’s typically the evangelical Christians that hold the most uneducated misconceptions about Catholics.
    “You don’t typically follow news sources that don’t support your view.”
    Speak for yourself, some of us actually do.
    “people who actually know more about religious history tend to be the types that you WANT.”
    also “the kind of Christianity that secular liberals want.”
    I have no idea what kind of mind-reading you are playing here. Exactly what kind of Christianity do you think that secular liberals want?

    So tell me now who is stereotyping whom?

  4. Mary, nice to meet you. Thank you for having my back. I said no such things in my posts and you were positively brilliant in your rebuttal. No further comment is needed. Thanks so much.

    “little girl” means height challenged…for goodness sake!

  5. @Mary and Aging: just calling it like I see it.

    “Name me one religion that hasn’t had some disgusting scandal involved with it. I bet you can’t do it.” Well, stay away from Darwinian theory, then, folks. Eugenics, forced sterilization, 100+ years of weird racial theories based on cruel readings of natural selection…. all came out of social interpretations of Darwinian theory. If people blow off Christianity because of the Inquisition, well, I’d be within my rights to blow off evolution because of Social Darwinism. (Though, I don’t…. for the record, I’m a Christian and I believe in evolution. Any Christian who doesn’t believe in evolution needs to do a reality check.)

    “Only weak humans need religion.” Still waiting for an explanation of how this isn’t vindictive and bigoted.

    JoAnn Green has written on here at least once that “religion poisons everything it touches.” That’s just not true.

    I’m not calling out all atheists as hateful straw men. But I do think there’s a lot of hate out there, and that it seldom gets called out by the Left. They’d be (quite rightly) on top of it in one second if it came from the Religious Right. But when it comes from atheists, it’s ignored.

    I’m not right about everything, Mary. Just responding to what I see written on this board. Which is pretty common.

  6. @Stephen: You are doing far more than “Just responding to what I see written on this board.” You are refuting claims that no one here is making, like the claim about a non-religious utopia I pointed out earlier. In other words, arguing with a straw man.

    Once again a misstatement: You add the word “only” to the claim “weak people need religion”. This logically changes the meaning of the claim. The statement “weak people need religion” is not logically equivalent to “all religious followers are weak people”. The original statement may be judgmental, but is neither vindictive nor bigoted. Perhaps you need to check the actual definition of these adjectives.

    And speaking of still waiting, I am still waiting for your explanation of “the kind of Christianity that secular liberals want”. So perhaps you could directly “respond” to a specific question.

  7. Stephen; I must have overlooked – maybe didn’t read – your comment regarding a statement I did NOT make. I haven’t said that religion poisons everything it touches because I do not believe that; please repost where you believe I made that comment. I just happened across Mary Strinka’s comment and backed up to read your’s.

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