Jewish Journal


February 28, 2012

Santorum, the presidency and the campaign politics of religion


In a very good piece about Rick Santorum’s religious-oppression scarecrow tactics, Steve Shaw, co-author of “Presidents and Their Faiths,” writes at the Huffington Post that he’d like to see Santorum acting “both a bit more presidential and a bit more Christianly”—“a bit more James Madison and a lot less Machiavelli.”

In recounting the role of religion in past presidential elections—who doesn’t remember the election of 1800?— and looking at how a candidate’s religious beliefs have become campaign fodder, Shaw takes issue with Santorum attacking Obama’s “phony theology” and alleged war on religion.

He concludes:

Santorum has not declared, as have others, that Obama is a Muslim or an atheist or an agnostic; he has not questioned directly Obama’s Christianity. Rather, he calls into question Obama’s theology, as if this were a contest for an endowed chair at a seminary and not a contest for our highest constitutional office. A “Theologian-in-Chief” is not what Madison and his colleagues had in mind nor is it what we need today. John Kennedy broke the stained glass ceiling in 1960, and in 2012 Mitt Romney may perform a similar feat with respect to Mormonism. But there should not and must not be any kind of theological litmus test for occupying the Oval Office.

It’s a really interesting piece, and not just for the current stuff. Check it out.

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