Just as the Taliban movement was created to serve the political interests of the Pakistani state, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is promoting his own perverse religious ideology to further the agenda of the Western empire’s ruling corporate elite (i.e., rich white men) by spewing a hate-filled un-Christlike gospel at every stop along the campaign trail.
The Taliban rise to power in Afghanistan was fueled by a puritanical strain of Islam formulated in Pakistani madrassas — a combination of the most extreme elements of the Wahhabi and Deobandi schools of thought mixed with more than a touch of the Taliban’s own sadistic twists. Likewise, Santorum has concocted his own version of Christianity by selectively patching together precepts from his Roman Catholic faith with certain Evangelical beliefs to buttress a misogynistic, homophobic, racist and militaristic worldview — one Mullah Omar would in some ways respect.
It’s true Santorum is nowhere near as ruthless as Mullah Omar, doesn’t force his wife to wear a burqa and isn’t in favor of banning music, yet the former Pennsylvania Senator doesn’t seem opposed to living in the Dark Ages. If Santorum had his way contraception would be illegal, children would be home-schooled, women wouldn’t work and a Christian form of Sharia law would rule the day.
The Taliban and Santorum’s fringe ideologies betray the entire spirit of their respective religions. For example, Taliban suicide attacks run counter to traditional Islamic teaching and, in fact, taking one’s life for any reason is considered a sin by most Muslims. Political Islam has hijacked a religion of peace and by motivating violent jihadists to commit atrocities in the name of Allah, has caused irreparable harm to Islam’s global reputation. Meanwhile, right-wing political leaders like Santorum have sullied the Church’s good name by eschewing basic Christian principles and values such as peace, love and tolerance. While Santorum claims liberals practice “phony” theology, the belief system he adheres to violates many of the Catholic Church’s core teachings.
Santorum justifies stances against abortion and gay marriage by claiming all civil law must comport to God’s natural law as interpreted by the Catholic Church. Yet via papal fiat and/or bishopric mandate the Church has expressed unambiguous moral support for universal healthcare, welfare for needy families and the protection of worker’s rights, all of which Santorum proudly opposes because they amount to nothing more than liberal “entitlements”. There are countless pious right-wingers like Santorum who espouse a half-assed belief in “the Word” and disingenuously describe themselves as fully “pro-life” when they are really just “pro-birth”. These so-called Catholics seem to stop caring for life once the fetus sprouts into an actual human being that needs to be fed, clothed, sheltered and given an equal opportunity to pursue happiness.
Many of Santorum’s beliefs do seem as archaic as the Taliban’s relative to the teachings of the modern Catholic Church. The Church has become more progressive over the past nearly two thousand years, especially post-Enlightenment, and it now accepts things like science and metaphoric readings of scripture, unlike Santorum and his flock who prefer the literal take.
For starters, Santorum is against public education. The Christian Brothers, one of the Catholic Church’s most respected religious orders, launches public schools. Santorum’s stance against global warming based on the belief the Earth was gifted to man by God for exploitation and dominion stands in diametric opposition to the Church position calling for reductions in emissions in order to protect “the whole of creation.” Santorum doesn’t believe in evolution. The Catholic Church does.
Even a literal reading of the Bible doesn’t support Santorum’s Taliban Catholicism. Mike Lux, CEO of Progressive Strategies, in an article entitled “What Bible Is Santorum Reading?” posits that the Judeo-Christian Bible overwhelmingly supports progressive values. Lux found hundreds of Gospel verses with Jesus telling people to show mercy to those in trouble, not judge, help the poor, spurn the wealthy and treat others the way they would want to be treated, but was challenged to find a single verse supportive of Santorum’s brand of conservatism. Jesus never condemns abortion, never preaches against homosexuality, never asked the Romans to lower their taxes or lessen regulations on over-burdened businesses. Jesus also never celebrated the invisible hand of the market nor did he ever emphasize the virtues of selfishness.
As far as killing and violence goes the Catholic Church, unlike Santorum, is unequivocally opposed to the death penalty. Though the world can thank St. Augustine for the Just War doctrine the neoconservative concept of preventive war doesn’t pass muster according to the Holy See’s standard. The Vatican has ruled that no moral justification ever existed for the invasion of Iraq, with or without WMDs, and the Church is staunchly opposed to preemptive strikes against Iran — an Israeli fantasy Santorum and his ilk are more than willing to indulge. And while Rome has called upon Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestine, Santorum doesn’t even believe Palestine exists.
Santorum’s unabashed hatred for Muslims is not only bad foreign policy, it’s apparently bad theology. Santorum deems the “War on Terror” a misnomer because he feels the U.S. is really at war with Islam and a few weeks ago said Christians and Muslims have two different conceptions of God and justice. According to papal edict such a claim is patently false as outlined in the Nostra Aetate, the Church’s declaration on relations with non-Christians.
What is most disturbing about Santorum’s demagoguery is that, if Taliban Catholicism continues to gain traction, it could threaten America’s precious separation of church and state. This is yet another illustration where Santorum’s beliefs conflict with those of the Church, considering Christ Himself recognized the value of a secular legal system. As Jesus was quoted as saying in Matthew 22:21:
“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”