GOP presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, suffers with separation anxiety.
It’s a common kind of pathological neurosis afflicting ultra right wing religious extremists in the Republican Party, including several of the other 2016 presidential candidates. They pretend that the United States Constitution doesn’t mandate a separation between church and state. They think that Christian prayers should be recited daily to American children in the public schools and that the teaching of evolution be prohibited.
“Well, I was just thinking,” Santorum declared during a conference call with a group of religious social conservatives, “that the words ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the U.S. Constitution, but it was in the constitution of the former Soviet Union. That’s where it very, very comfortably sat, not in ours.”
In other words, Santorum believes that the concept of separation between church and state is an un-American communist idea. In fact, when he was a presidential candidate during the 2012 campaign he proudly stated that he “almost threw up” when reading John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech in which the future Catholic president proclaimed his belief in an “absolute” separation of church and state in America.
Knowledgeable Americans know that Thomas Jefferson originally coined the phrase “separation between church and state” in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Church explaining the meaning of the First Amendment Establishment Clause in the Bill of Rights, stating in part:
“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.”
Rick Santorum claims that, irrespective of the Establishment Clause, church and state is not separate in the United States because the phrase “separation between church and state” does not appear verbatim anywhere in the Constitution.
Of course, there is no language in our Constitution expressly permitting Americans to be Catholics either. Does that mean that the federal government can deny Mr. Santorum his right to be a Catholic?
Surely he must understand that the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause must be interpreted to allow him the right to be a Catholic just as the Establishment Clause has been interpreted for more than two centuries to mandate a wall of separation between church and state.
But Rick Santorum isn’t listening.
He’s suffering with separation anxiety.