Home / Culture and Society / Church, State, and Caliphate: A Snapshot of Santorum’s America

Church, State, and Caliphate: A Snapshot of Santorum’s America

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Sometimes we columnists tend to overstate our opinions while making a point about any given news story. Very often, the story in question speaks for itself far more effectively than anyone could. On the heels of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s near win in the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses, many pundits will undoubtedly begin to skewer his already suspect record, which includes losing his last reelection bid in 2006 by an 18 point margin to a decidedly inarticulate fellow with no prior experience in public office. However, in order to understand Santorum’s true ideological motivations, why not listen to him describe them at length?

Guest hosting infamous theoconservative activist and organizer Tony Perkins’s radio program during March of 2011, Santorum had, among many other things, the following to say:

Jesus said, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s” and that huge piece of wisdom has really set the course for western civilization where you have civil laws and have civil penalties – we exact justice in a civil fashion – and then we have higher laws, we have God’s law. Now our civil laws are supposed to comport with God’s laws but sometimes they don’t, and so it is always the obligation of those, for example, the issue of abortion – the civil law does not comport with God’s law, in my opinion and I think the opinion of many people in this country and it is our obligation to continue to try and change that law. We have to live under the civil law, we have to obey that law because it is the civil law but we need to continue to try to change it to make sure that these laws, the laws our country, comport.

In the Islamic world, that is not the case. Mohammad did not say, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s” because the civil law in Islam and the sacred law are one and the same. Shariah is both a civil code and a religious code.

There you have it. Sharia Law is not compatible with Western society because it merges religious and civil laws, while Western civil law itself is “supposed to comport with” the law of God through the lens of fundamentalist Christianity. Unwittingly, or perhaps wittingly, Santorum has clearly explained that there is not even a slight difference between the ultimate goals of Jihadists radicals and pseudo Christian zealots. Either way, the United States we all know and love ceases to exist, and a supernaturalistic dictatorship replaces it.

Never mind the obvious reality that the Founders did not draft the Constitution to suit the needs of militant mystics, or that the First Amendment makes such a thing an impossibility anyhow. As I stated in yesterday’s article, Santorum is essentially cruising at his own altitude, with a platform that is in no way, shape, or form reflective of mainstream American politics, let alone the Republican Party. If his statements alone cannot convince prospective voters of this, then one must assume that they wish to thoroughly abandon their current climate of physical, social, and economic freedom, which untold millions have given their lives to foster and preserve.

An essential fact with which most self-described conservatives must come to terms is this: a Christianist caliphate is no better than the more commonly described Islamist one. History shows that any government using the former as a basis for rule, from imperial Spain to the Byzantine Empire, has elevated slavery, in the physical, intellectual, and spiritual senses, to the level of standard public policy. The same holds true for Islamism, but such a thing is already common knowledge. What could possibly make otherwise reasonable individuals assume that America would have a prosperous fate at the hands of theistic totalitarianism?

This is the core reason why Santorum must not be victorious in his quest for the Oval Office. While I do not believe that he consciously harbors evil intentions for the United States, his ideology put into practice can only result in sheer terror. As the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Hopefully, another candidate will be able to halt Santorum’s momentum, allowing him to return to his rightful status as a startling eccentricity in the American political scene.

On to New Hampshire as the three ring circus devolves into a flash mob.

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About Joseph F. Cotto

  • Presumably, both the Pope and Bertrant Russell have something in common in so far as vision is concerned. The only other explanation would have to be that either you or Dan (Miller) are as different as night and day and that the fact you’ve come to the same conclusion is purely coincidental (and therefore of no import).

    Which should bolster our confidence in a pluralist society and, at the same time, take away some of the ammo from religion bashers.

  • I meant to say “comport with God’s law” in comment 1.

  • Baronius

    Eh. I got 75% of the way there, but I forgot to mention something. The individuals who are arguing about politics can have their positions informed by any number of differing visions. That’s why the religion of the person arguing, if any, doesn’t matter. Bertrand Russell guides Dan(Miller) to a position, and the Pope guides me to the same one. It doesn’t matter how we got there.

  • Baronius

    I just wrote a mile-long comment and deleted it. It was brilliant. I explained the entire history of Western thought. But it doesn’t really address the question that Joseph Cotto raises. So let me say that Santorum raises two fair issues, but unfortunately at the same time.

    He talks about the Western separation of church and state as a good thing. He also talks about the right of the individual to have a say in his government, which is equally enshrined. I know that this can be a sticking point for some people. It’s usually where conservatives and libertarians start eyeing each other suspiciously. But the Western tradition includes among its freedoms the freedom to change one’s government.

    The freedom to be free and the freedom to create laws for one’s society may seem contradictory. It’s the reason that we enshrine certain rights above the level of statute. It’s also the reason that the Founders (as Irene recently talked about) envisioned room for their divergent beliefs to be implemented. That’s where federalism comes in. Remember that the idea wasn’t uniformity; it was crazy little Puritan towns writing utopian laws, and people being able to move away from them and write their own laws somewhere else.

    So, where do Santorum’s comments fit into this? Well, we’re free to promote the vision that we have in the public square. We’re free to say that war or abortion or whatever is immoral, and if we convince the majority of the rest of the population we can get it coded into law. It’s a balancing act where the line is between freedom of governance and oppression. But it’s not a line that’s affected by the religion of the people carrying on the debate.

  • Roger,

    Precisely. In evangelical circles they call it “general revelation” but functionally it is synonymous to natural law theory. It does not actually have to carry any theistic content whatsoever which is why crys of theocracy are wide of the mark.

    Igor, that was Santorum, not me who coined that quote – I wouldn’t have any use for it at all. It is if the decision is taken unilaterally to ‘close the gap’ and make the two comport against, the will of the people that it become dictatorial but Santorum here explicitly repudiates that approach (in public at least).

    The real analog to Santorum’s (pretty wide of the mark) characterisation of Sharia law is the Christian Reconstructionists.

  • … substitute for …

  • Igor, substitute of “God’s laws” “moral law” concerned with justice, equality and so forth – taken as an absolute as it were, an ideal to which we all ought to aspire — and Casper’s proposition may not appear as ridiculous as it may strike some people at first glance.

  • Igor

    Who sez: “…our civil laws are supposed to comport with God’s laws.”

    That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard recently.

    Sounds like something made up by an illiterate southern baptist preacher trying to get a late-night UHF gig. In other words a televangelist.

  • I think you have made Santorum say rather more than he actually said. Yes civil law may (on Santorum’s view) comport with civil law (based on a natural law many christians would say this, not just in ‘christian’ nations but even where it does not he still explicitly states civil law (ie. the lower law)should be obeyed.

    I am not sure i agree with him there (and neither did the civil rights movement of MLK’s imaginings nor many an anti-fascist theologian in the 1940s, btw). In other words, the recognition of a divine economy does not a fascist make; after all, Reinhold Niebuhr’s realist politics, who was Obama’s own theological master is built on precisely this disjunction.

    And, I am now extremely perturbed that I have made a comment that defends a man I hope does not come within a million miles of the White House.