We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief. – Ronald Reagan, 26 October 1984



If John F. Kennedy had said what Rick Santorum said, highlighted on “This Week”, Kennedy wouldn’t have been elected president.

From today on “This Week”:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You have also spoken out about the issue of religion in politics, and early in the campaign, you talked about John F. Kennedy’s famous speech to the Baptist ministers in Houston back in 1960. Here is what you had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: Earlier (ph) in my political career, I had the opportunity to read the speech, and I almost threw up. You should read the speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That speech has been read, as you know, by millions of Americans. Its themes were echoed in part by Mitt Romney in the last campaign. Why did it make you throw up?

SANTORUM: Because the first line, first substantive line in the speech says, “I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.

First question is, who’s going to define “the church”?

As we found out recently, the Catholic Church and other conservative religious Americans, including Democrats, don’t believe the First Amendment protects individuals equally as it does “the church.”

That’s a very negative modern day development for free-thinking individuals.

It gives you an idea of just how far right we’ve gone since 1960.

But even as Reagan spoke the words he did above, it was Ronald Reagan himself who emboldened religious conservatives after what they saw as defeats in Griswold and Roe v. Wade, which is why Rep. Henry Hyde struck back with the Hyde Amendment before the Reagan era.

Democrats have contorted themselves to try to prove their righteous worth, as seen by religious conservative standards, which Pres. Obama validated when he codified the Hyde Amendment into the Affordability Care Act. Before Obama, it had simply been part of the budget, voted on yearly; with help from Speaker Pelosi, Democrats changed that.

When the political self-loathing class of Democrats comes up against attacks by self-righteousness Republicans, that’s when we get wild statements by elite cable yakkers like Joe Scarborough, because no one ever holds them accountable. It’s nothing to suggest, as Scarborough did, that mandating female deacons in the Southern Baptist church is the equivalent of Obama’s contraceptive mandate, because as Santorum, Gingrich and Romney have all charged, Obama is attacking religious freedom itself. The implication and framing of the argument against Obama’s policy is what’s important, right? Why argue the facts and the false statements being used to tip the truth on its head?

In fact, Pres. Obama is upholding religious freedom, not government intervention as Scarborough falsely claimed, but as Reagan himself said, as did John F. Kennedy, that no American is required to choose any religion and I would add, be second to the interests of any.

It’s fitting religious conservatives would miss the beauty of the First Amendment swinging both ways.

Rick Santorum is the embodiment of George W. Bush’s calamitous “crusade” language made manifest in political flesh. He is the polar opposite of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and any number of the other French loving American founders.

Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVII

[…] By our own act of assembly of 1705, c. 30, if a person brought up in the Christian religion denies the being of a God, or the Trinity, or asserts there are more gods than one, or denies the Christian religion to be true, or the scriptures to be of divine authority, he is punishable on the first offence by incapacity to hold any office or employment ecclesiastic al, civil, or military; on the second by disability to sue, to take any gift or legacy, to be guardian, executor, or administrator, and by three years’ imprisonment without bail. A father’s right to the custody of his own children being founded in law on his right of guardianship, this being taken away, they may of course be severed from him, and put by the authority of a court into more orthodox hands. This is a summary view of that religious slavery under which a people have been willing to remain, who have lavished their lives and fortunes for the establishment of their civil freedom. The error(1) seems not sufficiently eradicated, that the operations of the mind, as well as the acts of the body, are subject to the coercion of the laws. But our rulers can have no authority over such natural rights, only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. If it be said, his testimony in a court of justice cannot be relied on, reject it then, and be the stigma on him. Constraint may make him worse. by making him a hypocrite, but it will never make him a truer man. It may fix him obstinately in his errors, but will not cure them. Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error, and of error only. Had not the Roman government permitted free inquiry, Christianity could never have been introduced. Had not free inquiry been indulged at the era of the Reformation, the corruptions of

—(1) Furneaux passim.—

Christianity could not have been purged away. If it be restrained now, the, present corruptions will be protected, and new ones encouraged . Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now. Thus in France the emetic was once forbidden as a medicine, and the potato as an article of food. Government is just as infallible, too, when it fixes systems in physics. Galileo was sent to the Inquisition for affirming that the earth was a sphere; the government had declared it to be as flat as a trencher, and Galileo was obliged to abjure his error. This error, however, at length prevailed, the earth became a globe, and Descartes declared it was whirled round its axis by a vortex. The government in which he lived was wise enough to see that this was no question of civil jurisdiction, or we should all have been involved by authority in vortices. In fact, the vortices have been exploded, and the Newtonian principle of gravitation is now more firmly established, on the basis of reason, than it would be were the government to step in, and to make it an article of necessary faith. Reason and experiment have been indulged, and error has fled before them. It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature. […]