Rick Santorum is a wonderful example…of what makes me see red

Rick Santorum, looking poutyBuzzfeed just dropped a gold nugget of pure, observational journalism on the Internet just a little bit ago:

Rick Santorum: Conservatives Will “Never Have The Elite, Smart People On Our Side”

Here is a perfect case of Rick Santorum doing an exemplary job of illustrating exactly what it is that drives me berserk about these crafty, manipulative, deceitful bags of shit cloaked in spurious piety.

“We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country,” Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, told the audience at the Omni Shoreham hotel. “We will never have the elite, smart people on our side.”


Okay, thinky people…what is the role of the media? Simply, to communicate, correct? We can save matters of “how” and “what” for some other time. Now tell me, what kind of genuinely truth-loving person would decry not having the media “on our side?” Presumably, one that makes the case that a) his or her side is the side of truth, as though that were exclusive to a side, b) that media, by not taking the side solely of “truth,” thus takes the side of lies and deception, and c) the other side is the side of lies and deception, as though there were no truth to be found in it.

But there is so much more here in this statement. Santorum does a lovely job of telling us who the good, truth-loving people are with the pronoun we. He is, after all, speaking to a room full of folks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. If you take a close look at the website’s footer, you’ll see the copyright is claimed by FRC Action, the group that also prominently gives the viewer the option to be included in their mailing list right on the page. “FRC Action?” one who has no truck with them may ask. Yes, the legislative affiliate (read: lobby) for Family Research Council, an organization notorious for giving the appearance of extreme piety while perhaps being a diabolical front group for ultra-partisan hacks wrapped in pages of the Old Testament and shredded American flags.

As noted on FRC’s About page, they are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that advances “faith, family and freedom” from a “Christian worldview,” reviews legislation, meets with lawmakers, and testifies before Congress. Could there be a finer case for putting your tax dollars to work as a subsidy for a vicious band of narrowly doctrinaire religious sectarians? Magically, none of these actions apparently counts as lobbying, thus shielding FRC from taxation. Luckily, their more abundantly obvious efforts at same are so obvious that they had to create a spin-off group for the purpose.

For a refresher on what this clan of theological hooligans are up to, just take a look at their Issues page. “Marriage, Family, & Sexuality.” “Life and Bioethics.” “Religious Liberty.” Yup, this is a group devoted to the idea of Bible-based one-man-one-woman marriage, because the Old Testament clearly had a single, solitary vision of what marriage means.

By family, FRC naturally means only that “family” derived from the conjoining of specific sets of gonads or at least recognized by the secular state (see: adoption) in a manner solely consistent with the views of one group of religious radicals. No gay adoptions. No gay partner Social Security benefits. No gay “rights” to hospital visitation.

By sexuality, FRC naturally means that only one type of sexuality has divine sanction. Clearly they must be right because the Bible makes it clear, specifically in the New Testament, which is, after all, the cornerstone of Christianity, right? Thank goodness there is simply no debate over the intent of Scripture on this fine point so a good Christian must share their perspective. Never mind this excellent article, What the New Testament Says about Homosexuality, by William O. Walker, Jr., Jennie Farris Railey King Professor Emeritus of Religion, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas.

But what about Jesus? Surely he had much to say for FRC to wrap the word Christian around themselves so smugly in defense of God-made-flesh’s intentions? I give you The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, and visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress:

What Jesus Says about Homosexuality:

That’s right. Jesus is not recorded as having said anything related to intimate sexual relationships between people of the same gender. One has to wonder, if homosexuality is such a heinous sin against God, why does Jesus himself never refer to it? One cannot extrapolate affirmation of such relationships from that silence, but still, why no mention of an issue now causing entire churches to split?
What did Jesus say about homosexuality? December 8, 2010

And then there’s Matthew Vines.

On the subjects of life and bioethics, it should be no surprise that such a bundle of biblical blunderers would hold fast to pro-one-kind-of-life-and-only-as-they-see-it. All I’ve said on the matter in the past will neatly summarize all I have to say about it now…ultimately, any such claim from the religiously inclined boils down to the concept of ensoulment at conception. However one cares to bandy words about, I have yet to find a claim for personhood on any other account that couldn’t be passed by something, if only as a though experiment, that is distinctly not currently accepted as a person. Last I checked, souls are the province of religion. These folks are free to practice that as they see fit, but dammit. See that next bit of About? Religious Liberty?

If there is one thing I would absolutely love for the so-called Christian far-right to get, other than the meaning of Christianity, to wit, Christ-like, ergo, MORE LIKE THE DUDE WHO SPOKE IN RED LETTERS and less like Jonathan Edwards (of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God fame, or even the ghost whisperer (John Edward, sans s) or the philanderer (John Edwards), it’s this: they have the freedom to practice as they will. So does everyone else, even if that means no practice at all. Or practice in service to other gods. Or practice in service to spiritual qualities absent a deity. Freedom of religion is freedom FROM religion.

And spare me the hogwash about government intrusion into religion when it comes to exemptions, or lack thereof, when it comes to insurance. The conduct of commerce in civil society, in and of itself, is not a right. It is a privilege, a privilege one, or one’s agents, applies for in order to secure permission from civil society. Civil society sets the rules and bounds on conducting commerce in the public square, and the rules must be constitutional. The religiously persuaded are not required to participate in a particular form of commerce that runs counter to their faith, and neither are they prevented from participating in commerce based on the nature of their faith. They are, however, (or at least should be) prevented from operating with all the privileges afforded to permitted and licensed and regulated business in a manner that is religiously discriminatory. A person of faith who believes that medicine is immoral (they exist) does not have the right to become a pharmacist and then refuse to fulfill orders for medication at all on religious grounds. How the hell would it be any different for a subset of medicine? Want to engage in a regulated trade, like medicine, and inject your peculiar religious beliefs into the mix? Pick a different trade. Want to run a business that offers benefits but only the kind of benefits of which you approve on religious grounds? Tough. The United States is not a theocracy. It’s also not a nanny state dedicated to holding your hand when you’re feeling butt-hurt because the bad man makes rules you don’t like.

So. Yes. Back to Santorum and the pronoun we.

Addressing the Values Voter Summit makes a rather damning case that he does indeed address a group of people who feel they have a strangle-hold on not just truth, but capital-T Truth, the only Truth, their Truth.

In effect, by saying they will never have the media on their side, he claims, perhaps rightly, that the media is not the propaganda arm of the radical sectarian right. Insofar as media fulfills its mission at all, of which I have my own doubts, it accomplishes this much rather well.

He continues with, “We will never have the elite, smart people on our side.” Now, we know when he uses the word elite in this manner he means it as a pejorative, not as a superlative, as when, for instance, discussing elite military units. No, the elite, those damned “smart people,” being devoid of truth, abjectly them as opposed to his minority us, will never take the side of the narrow-minded religious bigots he prefers to target with his cynical pandering.

As usual with Santorum, he’s wrong. I’ll be audacious enough to speak for the elite, smart people on this occasion, and invite the real elite, smart people to correct me if I’m mistaken. We are on your side, Values Voter Summit attendees, FRC members, Santorum, radical wing-nut Christians who want to hi-jack our country and turn it into your own little playground for whatever new form of Inquisition you care to invent. While my (our?) words may seem to you horribly insensitive, even cruel (when you merit them at all), they reflect two unyielding values we cherish in America…your right to practice your faith as you see fit, and our right to speak freely on your abuses of language, of truth, of Scripture, of political power, in short, of so much that makes America America.

“If just a few people make decisions about what this world looks like, what this country looks like, then you have people sitting in offices at major media outlets and Hollywood who think they can deal with a small group of people, to get them to jump through the hoops they want you to,” Santorum said.

Truly, either irony is lost on this butt trumpet or he is actually every bit as full of manipulative shit as I maintain he is. Let’s take a look at one possible meaning of “just a few people.”

From the Association of Religion Data Archives, US Membership Report, Religious Traditions, 2010:

Evangelical Protestant: 50,013,107
Catholic: 58,934,906
Subtotal: 108,948,013

US Population: 311.5919 million

The above figures rendered as percentages:

Evangelical Protestant: 16%
Catholic: 18%
Together: 34%

Let’s be clear, here. We’re talking about wee, little minorities. Each group, by itself, is fewer than one out of 5 people. If you take a look at the list of denominations comprising “evangelical protestant” (linked), it beggars the imagination to think that every person so affiliated would agree with Santorum on much, if anything. The same can be said for Catholics. So, in reality, we’re talking about an even smaller minority than is reflected by these percentages. That minority shrinks even more if one discounts the children included in the statistics, but that population isn’t broken out.

Not quite 34 out of 100 people want to dictate to the nation at large what policy should be on religious grounds, and Santorum has the temerity to make the claim about media that it represents the few when nothing could be farther from the truth. Taken at face value, stripped of reference to media in his context, and his statement is more astutely to be taken as a brazen truth when it is a reflection of him and his audience.

Last, but not least, Santorum once again evidences his failure to either a) understand words, b) utter them truthfully, or c) both:

Santorum also criticized the libertarian wing of the Republican party for not supporting what he sees as the pillars of conservatism: religion and family.

“When it comes to conservatism libertarian types can say, oh, well you know, we don’t want to talk about social issues,” Santorum said. “Without the church and the family, there is no conservative movement, there is no basic values of America.”

Maybe he missed the libertarian memo. Granted, I’m no libertarian, but I think I am quite safe in simply summarizing libertarianism as, at least authentically, a political creed that espouses both economic and social freedom. “Conservative libertarian” is an oxymoron. What he doesn’t quite come out and honestly say is, “you other usurpers of the GOP, get out of the party we’re usurping. You’re screwing it up for all of us.”

When people like Santorum weigh in on values, I get mad. They speak of values as though they have the sole claim on them. What makes me even angrier? When other people with values don’t take at least a moment out of their precious time to take back their claim on values. When Christians who walk a walk much closer to that of the Biblical Jesus let these pretenders do the loudest and most dominant talking. When people of all faiths sit silently by and fail to point out that, in their own ways, they hew closer to the message of the Beatitudes than these hypocrites ever can or will until such time as they change their ways.

As I have stated clearly elsewhere, I am an agnostic. I embrace no particular faith. Yet I can still submit the following from Matthew 5:3-12 as an outstanding code by which anyone should be able to live without sacrificing one iota of their faith or their reason.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.

10 Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye when [men] shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.

If one is walking this walk for the sake of the reward, one is not walking the walk. For the rest, the promises of reward and who made the promise is a moot point. For believers, the promises are the icing on the cake.

Humility.
Desire for righteousness.
Mercy.
Purity of heart.
Peace-making.
The courage of one’s truly righteous convictions.

Forget the “elite, smart people.” People on this walk are not on Santorum’s “side” any further than recognizing his right to be so wrong. Now, will the people on this walk please pipe up and show the courage of your convictions? My lack of meekness makes me a rather lousy candidate to be your spokesperson.

—-

Image credit: Photograph of Rick Santorum by Gage Skidmore, licensed under Creative Commons.

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