Wednesday, March 16, 2011

JFK the Radical Catholic

Via TPM, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) is chastising the late John F. Kennedy for his “radical” view on the separation of church and state.

Rick Santorum told about 50 members of the group Catholic Citizenship that he was “frankly appalled” that America’s first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, once said “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”

“That was a radical statement,” Santorum said, and did “great damage.”

The Boston Globe reports that Santorum, who is Catholic, criticized the increased secularization of politicians, which he related back to a speech Kennedy gave at the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in 1960. Kennedy had made the speech to a group of Protestant clergy as a presidential candidate, in order to allay fears that the Catholic church would influence his decisions if elected.

“We’re seeing how Catholic politicians, following the first Catholic president, have followed his lead, and have divorced faith not just from the public square, but from their own decision-making process,” Santorum said Monday.

“Jefferson is spinning in his grave,” he added.

If Mr. Jefferson is doing any grave-spinning, it’s in response to Mr. Santorum. Here is Mr. Jefferson writing to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 making it clear that he believed the Congress and states had no role in the establishment of religion.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

It looks like Thomas Jefferson was quite the radical.

I don’t mind Rick Santorum running for president. What I do object to most strenuously is his being so ignorant of history and the laws of this land. And if he wants to be the next Catholic president, he’s no Jack Kennedy.