You might find it hard to believe, but Rick Santorum is responsible for the existence of this blog. I could say that, like Sarah Palin, he inspires me; both have caused me to make positive choices in my life. In Sarah Palin’s case, I was inspired to vote in a presidential election for the first time in years. I had always been a big fan of John McCain – his straight-from-the-hip style, his willingness to vote on principle instead of by party line – and this new guy Barack Obama seemed to have quite a bit of charisma too. I was pretty sure that America would be taking a big step up from the George W. Bush years, no matter who won. Going to all the trouble to cast an absentee ballot from Beijing, where I lived at the time, didn’t seem really all that important, since I’d be happy enough with either outcome.
Enter Sarah Palin. I only had to see a couple of interviews to be terrified of the idea that this person might be a heart attack away from the Oval Office. Just when I thought President Dumb was leaving the White House, here was the specter that President Even Dumber might take his place. I made the necessary phone calls, got my ballot, and cast my vote. In that time-honored American tradition, I didn’t so much vote for one guy as I voted against the other. (This is closely related to another tradition known as vote the bastards out – for which a Google search turns up over 27 million hits.)
Rick Santorum’s surge in the polls this past winter meant that more of what he had to say was turning up in the news – and the more I heard, the less I liked. I never really thought he had a chance to win the nomination, but his campaign musings revealed a poisonous strain of political thinking in America, one that could only be called the desire for a theocracy. Don’t get me wrong – I am not opposed to a person of faith voting according to his conscience. Everyone has the right in this country to vote for whomever they choose. What I am opposed to is the idea that a democracy should be run according to – and is grounded in – the ideas of the Bible. Preachers and pundits are busily proclaiming such nonsense – but never offer one shred of proof from either history or their own sacred texts.
“Where do you think this concept of equality comes from?” said Santorum, according to ABC News. “It doesn’t come from Islam. It doesn’t come from the East and Eastern religions, where does it come from? It comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that’s where it comes from. Don’t claim his rights, don’t claim equality as that gift from God and then go around and say, ‘Well, we don’t have to pay attention to what God wants us to do,’” Santorum continued to the enthusiastic crowd. “‘We don’t have to pay attention to God’s moral laws.’ If your rights come from God, then you have an obligation to live responsibly in conforming with God’s laws, and our founders said so, right?”
ABC News link . Quotes from Rick Santorum at a town hall in South Carolina, January 2012.
Wrong, Rick. Exactly what part of the Bible served as the inspiration for Thomas Jefferson to write “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence? And where might I find examples of God’s moral laws or his establishment of our American rights? I see many examples in the Old Testament of Jehovah encouraging genocide for those who were not of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I can read Paul’s letters where he tells slaves to be obedient to their masters. I can even read how Jesus called a Canaanite woman a dog, and informed her that all the wonderful things he promised were for Israel alone. In fact, there are hundreds of examples in the Bible that would seem to refute the idea that concept of equality is part of our Judeo-Christian heritage. How can Christians be so ill-informed about the very book upon which they claim to base their beliefs – indeed, the future of their eternal souls? If you’re going to run around telling everyone that they need to do what the Bible says if they know what’s good for them – shouldn’t you take the time to read it first?
Mr. Santorum and others like him have inspired me to do something positive – write this blog. Christians aren’t reading their Bibles – they are content to let patriarchs and pedagogues do their thinking for them. In the process, what Jesus, Paul and others had to say is being grossly misrepresented. Perhaps more importantly, too many Americans are completely ignorant of Enlightenment writings – which is where ideas of equality and democracy truly come from. I’m convinced that we desperately need a greater awareness of these ideas if our country is to continue to prosper.