Santorum Uses Faith as a Political Weapon

by Dan Quinn

We’ve seen this kind of thing before — right-wingers suggesting that someone’s political beliefs somehow make them an inferior Christian or not Christian at all. (And then, of course, the question they’re suggesting to their audience is: “If they’re not Christian, what are they? Their core values must be alien.”) See here, here and here, for examples of how right-wing members of the Texas State Board of Education have done it. Other religious-right leaders in Texas, such as Cathie Adams of the far-right group Texas Eagle Forum, have done it repeatedly as well. And we often see a variation of that smear leveled at the Texas Freedom Network and our supporters, as we noted last week.

So it wasn’t too surprising when Rick Santorum — anointed earlier this year by religious-right leaders as their preferred Republican presidential nominee — said this yesterday:

Obama’s agenda is “not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology,” Santorum told supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement at a Columbus hotel.

When asked about the statement at a news conference later, Santorum said, “If the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.”

But Santorum did not back down from the assertion that Obama’s values run against those of Christianity.

“He is imposing his values on the Christian church. He can categorize those values anyway he wants. I’m not going to,” Santorum told reporters.

This is a dog-whistle to right-wing extremists and their sympathizers who question the faith of President Obama and others whose politics they don’t like. And it’s yet another example of how the religious right uses faith as a political weapon to divide Americans. A spokesman for the president suggested that Santorum’s comments are a new low. Considering what we’ve seen in Texas in the past, that’s saying something.

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