Rick Santorum just cannot help himself. Political pundits and strategists affiliated with his own party have been virtually screaming at him, telling him that if he wants any shot at winning in November he needs to quit the culture wars and stick to jobs, jobs, jobs. But, again, he just can’t help himself.
On Thursday, Santorum sat down with professional conspiracy theorist and right-wing radio talk show host Glenn Beck for a wide-ranging interview, during which he dropped this whopper:
I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely. The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.
The proof? For President Obama’s alleged nefarious motivations, Santorum offered none. For colleges as “indoctrination mills,” Santorum noted that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.”
62 percent? Wow, that is a big number, isn’t it? You know what’s an even bigger number? 76 percent (more on this in a bit).
We were curious, so we went looking for the source of Santorum’s information and found that the Republican presidential candidate likes his facts picked like cherries and is likely guilty of a lie of omission.
The study does say that 64 percent — not 62 percent — Yikes! It’s even worse than Santorum thought! — of students enrolled in traditional four-year colleges report a decline in attendance in religious services. But what the study also says and that Santorum neglected to mention is this:
Yet, 76 percent of those who never enrolled in college report a decline in religious service attendance.
Simply put: Higher education is not the enemy of religiosity. Instead, young people who avoid college altogether display a more precipitous drop in their religious participation.
According to the very same study cited by Santorum, colleges as secularizing machines are about as real as the mythical “war on religion” and “war on Christmas.”
In fact, the study notes there are many other reasons why young adults become less religious, but that framed diploma hanging on their walls isn’t one of them.