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Right Turn
Posted at 06:26 PM ET, 03/21/2012

Santorum: Peddling religious antagonisms, again

On a day in which the media intentionally played dumb (they were playing, right?) concerning Eric Fehrnstrom’s remark about the reset that occurs in a general election (Mitt Romney explained for the deliberately dim that the general election is a whole new race, but he’ll be running on the same positions he’s espoused in the primaries), there was a truly appalling comment by a Republican presidential candidate.

The Post reports on the latest Rick Santorum utterance: “The bottom line is that we do well among people who take their faith seriously, and as you know, just like some Protestants are not churchgoing, they are folks who identify with a particular religion but don’t necessarily practice that from the standpoint of going to church and the like.” What?!

I am not sure I have heard a more arrogant or bizarre assertion about the religious views of Americans. To call those who don’t support him nonbelievers is truly beyond the pale. This is the new religious test: Santorum’s crowd are really the God-believing; all the rest be damned (so to speak). The assertion that opponents are not truly devout (What test does he use? What about Orthodox Jews? Is he saying Mormons are not religious?) personifies both the tone-deafness and the lack of understanding by Santorum that his job is (or was) not to divide Americans by religion but to appeal to common values and ideals. If everyone who doesn’t side with you is a nonbeliever, we might as well go back to the religious wars of Europe.

He’s also wrong as a factual matter. In Illinois, Santorum lost those who attend weekly religious services and even Catholics who attend weekly services. He might think of his critics as deluded nonbelievers, but it is the case that many people who take their faith “seriously” oppose him.

In Santorum’s eyes, the 4 million Republicans who have voted for Mitt Romney and the over two million who have voted for Newt Gingrich are religious slouches. The effort to (excuse the expression) demonize those who vote for others on religious grounds is shameful. He should apologize.

What’s worse is that this is an obvious attempt to exculpate himself from responsibility for his failure to gain the nomination. Better to insult the voters and hurl excuses based on faith than admit that he’s simply not the guy to win the GOP nod.

By  |  06:26 PM ET, 03/21/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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