First Class Bigots: Rick Santorum and Franklin Graham’ Religious Hypocrisy

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For three years now, many have claimed the president is a secret Muslim, who is hell-bent on destroying Christian America. This xenophobic idiocy has been embraced by Republicans, who see it as a means to stymie the agenda of Democrats and to make Mr. Obama a “one-term president.”y

[Speaking Truth To Power]

In recent weeks, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has surged as Republican voters continue to flirt and court presidential alternatives to Mitt Romney.

But, given Santorum’s penchant for stirring up bigotry, especially, through religious zealotry, can his noxious message gain traction in mainstream America?

Currently, the “culture war” issue has become a hot theme of discussion. Strategically, Mr. Santorum has positioned himself as a leading crusader in this debate—most likely so he can garner support from so-called religious-right conservatives. This is occurring behind the backdrop of Republican spearheaded legislative initiatives regarding the toxic topic of abortion and contraception that are popping-up around the country.

Last Sunday, Mr. Santorum said he “almost threw up” while reading President John F. Kennedy’s September 12, 1960 speech, where he complained of the soon-to-be president’s position on the separation of church and state.  Speaking a few days before the Michigan and Arizona primaries Mr. Santorum vehemently stated: “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”

The essential question here is: was President Kennedy’s opinion really contrary to the spirit of the First Amendment of the Constitution regarding religion?

First, here is what the First Amendment says about religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” 

And here is a relevant excerpt of what Mr. Kennedy—who was then still a senator—said in his address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute…I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all… Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end--where all men and all churches are treated as equal… I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.”

Now, the first thing here is this: the wording, in the Constitution, opens itself up to argument—by charlatans like Santorum—because of the opaque language used. Some may well ask the meaning of not “respecting an establishment of religion?” Yet, anyone who understands the history of America’s beginnings would know that the Framers most likely didn’t want America to be plagued by religious division and zealotry. Didn’t this cause many Europeans to immigrate to America and factor into the war of independence? Does Mr. Santorum know this history?

What is it about President Kennedy’s speech that nauseates Mr. Santorum? Could it be the fact that President Kennedy’s statements quite clearly—and correctly—criticizes the notion that a president’s religion should be of any serious concern to their ability to rule? For, this very idea has been at the heart of many attacks against President Obama.

From the very beginning, suspicion regarding the true religion of President Obama has been created by Republicans and their racist supporters to cast aspersions against America’s first African-American president. For three years now, many have claimed the president is a secret Muslim, who is hell-bent on destroying Christian America. This xenophobic idiocy has been embraced by Republicans, who see it as a means to stymie the agenda of Democrats and to make Mr. Obama a “one-term president.” The legislative gridlock we’ve seen on Capitol Hill for the last three years testifies to this.

However, there’s another problem here that’s very disturbing: the equating of the Muslim religion with terrorism. Last week, Rev. Franklin Graham insinuated President Obama maybe a Muslim when he stated on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Show that “under Islamic law, the Muslim world sees Barack Obama as a Muslim” and that “Islam had gotten a free pass under Obama.”

“Rev.” Graham's specious comments are venomous on many levels. How does he know the Muslim world sees Obama as Muslim? Assuming the Muslim world does see him as a Muslim, so what? Some see all White people as evil racists, does that make it true? And how has Islam “gotten a free pass under Obama?”

Moreover, religious differences aside, shouldn’t genuine ministers of any faith respect the rights of those of other religions—in an America supposedly tolerant of other religions? Are we saying we can never have a Muslim president in America—or atheist—who faithfully protects the nation? If “Rev.” Graham was a real religious scholar he would know that Islam—one of three major Abrahamic religions—has more in common with Christianity than many realize. Ironically, Mr. Graham’s own father, Rev. Billy Graham, prayed with President Obama in North Carolina in 2010.

Mr. Graham has since apologized to President Obama. But he states because of his moral opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage he can’t support the president. Where are Mr. Graham’s moral opposition—and these other pretentious preachers—to the warfare and poverty now wreaking havoc on world society? Do they only see immorality in sexual matters? Keep in mind, when the good minister was disparaging the president he gave the thumbs up to Mr. Santorum, who accused President Obama of practicing a “phony theology.”

Once again, the hypocrisy of these impostors is truly a revelation. Mr. Santorum’s attack on abortion and same-sex marriage is attractive to these counterfeit Christians. But why don’t they seem to care that his “small government” rhetoric will further impoverish the needy in this country? For while Mr. Santorum feels programs for the poor are useless “big government” initiatives he apparently has no problem pushing for government intrusion into people’s sexual lives.

In the final analysis, Mr. Santorum is wrong. No president’s religion should be a factor in judging their credibility and legitimacy to reside in the White House—or in the appropriate function of government. Americans must reject the attempts by those, like Mr. Santorum, who seek to undermine the First Amendment’s prohibition against the influence of religion in American politics.



"Speaking Truth To Empower."


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