Ayatollah Santorum Excommunicates Obama, Mainstream Protestants

Rick Santorum attacked President Obama on Saturday for his theology. Although people assumed that Santorum was, like other conservatives, hinting around that Obama is not a Christian but rather a secret Muslim, Santorum denied this allegation. And, likely he meant instead to lump Obama with the 45 million members of mainline Protestant churches in the US who he considers to be pagans. You see, for Santorum, Methodists and Lutherans and Episcopalians may as well be Muslims, since he does not believe that they are Christians.

What is remarkable is that it is Santorum who sounds like a Muslim fundamentalist. And ultimately maybe what he is saying is that Obama isn’t Muslim enough.

Santorum told his audience in Ohio that Obama’s policy is “not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phoney ideal, some phoney theology — not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.”

Likely Santorum was condemning Obama for being a theological liberal. Despite the Obamas’ occasional attendance at African-American Baptist churches just before Martin Luther King Day, they also have gone to the Episcopalian church.

Rick Santorum does not think Episcopalians are Christians.

As Alan Seitz-Wald argues, Santorum has excommunicated Christian liberals. He said in a 2008 speech,

” We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic, sure the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestantism, and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. [...]

Whether its sensuality of vanity of the famous in America, they are peacocks on display and they have taken their poor behavior and made it fashionable. The corruption of culture, the corruption of manners, the corruption of decency is now on display whether it’s the NBA or whether it’s a rock concert or whether it’s on a movie set.”

Mainline Protestants make up roughly 18 percent of adults in the United States; Seidz-Wald estimates them at 45 million, roughly the number of adult adherents of churches belonging to the National Council of Churches. These denominations for the most part reject a literal approach to the Bible and accept a social gospel, the idea that Christianity mandates good works and care for the poor, needy and vulnerable. The scriptural bases for this belief are quoted here.

As I argued last Sunday, Santorum has his own weird social ideas not grounded in papal encyclicals or the teachings of the Roman Catholic church. (Thanks to James Downie at WaPo for providing further proof that Santorum is a cafeteria Catholic, holding views that directly contradict a raft of papal encyclicals).

So the most likely explanation of Santorum’s outburst is that he believes the social Gospel and non-literal approaches to the Bible are un-Christian, and he has thrown President Obama out of Christianity along with 45 million other mainline Protestants. Santorum does not believe that the Bible suggests you care for the poor and needy.

In fact, Santorum by declaring the social Gospel to be un-Christian has not only excommunicated liberal Protestants from Christianity, he has excommunicated the majority of American Catholics, along with the US Council of Bishops and the last few popes, all of whom speak of an “option for the poor.”

So if Santorum doesn’t believe in this sort of thing is Christianity:

Mt. 25:31-46. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on His left.

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

what does Santorum think Christianity is about? He thinks it is about moral puritanism.

Thus, he condemns fornication and adultery, but also implicitly revealing clothing. And he is against condoms and birth control pills because in his view they encourage sleeping around (though he doesn’t approve of them for married people either; go figure).

Rick Santorum does not adhere to any recognizable Catholic theology of the social. Rather, he is a Puritan in the Calvinist tradition, staying awake at night afraid that someone somewhere might be committing fornication at the same time that he takes worldly success as a sign of divine favor.

Moreover, Santorum’s approach to religion and social policy is reminiscent of Muslim fundamentalist parties such as al-Nahda in Tunisia.

Just as Santorum has excommunicated Obama and the other mainline Protestants, so Muslim fundamentalists such as Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966) in Egypt declared mainstream Muslims to have departed from the faith. In Islam this is called Takfir or declaring someone to be an unbeliever even if the person considers him or herself a believer. Sunni Muslim authorities, and even the Muslim Brotherhood, reject the practice of takfir. Thus, Santorum is more extreme in this regard than the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

And, for instance, the new fundamentalist government in Tunisia is prosecuting three journalists for reprinting in that country a German GQ cover showing Tunisian-German soccer player Sami Khdeira with his mostly unclothed German model girlfriend (Lena Gercke), and him providing her with a hand bra. Santorum? He wants to ban pornography. I presume that if it is banned, then publishing it will be prosecuted.

And, the minister of culture in Tunisia is refusing to allow Lebanese singers Nancy Ajram or Elise, or Egyptian performers Tamer Hosny and Shirin Abdelwahab, to appear at the Carthage music festival. He is excluding them because at one time or another they have made a music video he considers to be immoral, i.e. sexually provocative.

So Mahdi Mabrook of the al-Nahda Party agrees with Santorum about the decline of morals in mainstream society, “whether it’s the NBA or whether it’s a rock concert or whether it’s on a movie set.”

In fact, President Santorum might like to bring Minister Mabrook over to head our National Endowment for the Humanities, since the two of them see eye to eye so much about culture.

And, one al-Nahda member of parliament in Tunisia has equated unions striking to the sin of ‘wreaking corruption on the earth’ in the Qur’an, implying that the striking workers should be executed.

Many big capitalist bosses in the US have had striking workers killed over the decades, but they don’t mostly appeal to the teachings of Jesus to justify it. Don’t tell the Republicans about that Tunisian parliamentarian’s weird interpretation of the Qur’an, or the GOP will all convert immediately to Islam, and that religion already is struggling to deal with its own fringe of nut jobs.

27 Responses

  1. That Santorum is even a prospect for the primary is very telling of this nation. I love the non-voters, at least they possibly represent my beliefs, the people Santorum is catering to is not.

  2. Someday, the moral puritans amongst the Christians, Muslims, and Jews may recognize their similarity and unite against their common enemy (those who indulge in or tolerate any sort of fleshly pleasure). God gave us our bodies and our desires, but he doesn’t want us to enjoy them, they believe. Sexuality is their main concern. Puritans are more obsessed with sex than many liberals.

    • The unification has already happened. Pentecostals hate Catholics and Mormons, Baptists hate Pentecostals, far-right Catholics still reject the legitimacy of Protestantism, Zionist Jews know perfectly well that Pentecostals and far-right Catholics still hate “cosmopolitan” Jews. Yet they’re all falling over their feet to collectively worship whichever presidential candidate promises the most tyrannical Puritanism this week.

      Is this sincere? Have they truly renounced their long-term agendas to sink consecrated daggers into each others backs? How do they intend to work together once in the White House? I literally don’t see any way to do it but by actually starting World War III against the Moslems, which would give them the dictatorial powers to reorganize the government and economy to permanently subsidize their sponsors.

  3. I think it is likely that President Obama will win a second term regardless of who the Republican candidate is, but Obama’s reelection will be a certainty if Rick Santorum is the candidate. Not much to worry about there, thank goodness.

    • I think it is likely any Republican can beat Obama in November if any of the following occurs:
      1) Israel attacks Iran causing economic misery.
      2) Another ‘nation’ stages a false flag black ops that leads to numerous American deaths and eventually economic misery
      3) Economic misery.

  4. So Mullah Rick finally revealed his true colors as the would-be leader of the American Taliban, something I always suspected he was more attuned to, and aspired to, than the presidency. The Terry Schiavo disgrace, which he led when still in the Senate, was an early hint and yesterday’s speech is simply outright proof – for those who haven’t gotten the hint along the way.

    For anyone who just occasionally reads Right Wing Watch (www.rightwingwatch.org), this kind of vile bile is commonplace among the extreme religious fringe in America but, as Bill Maher has pointed out frequently, now it has taken over mainstream Republican policy. It led to an illegal holy war in the Middle East under Bush-Cheney, and underlies much of the clammor for yet another crusade in the region, this time against Iran. But much of it has to do with simple xenophobia, battling the Other while insisting that “real Americans” adhere to a religious purity test.

    If Santorum’s ideas weren’t so dangerous, they’d be a perfect Monty Python bit.

  5. what I find most appaling about Santorum that I don´t buy any of his “beliefs” as something that bears, in itself, any real importance for him. I think he is in love with Rick Santorum and he will say anything that makes manipulable people love him, too.

    Whatever religion someone believes in, if he truly believes, he´ll always hesitate to make people unhappy, marginalize and punish them, because every religion is about compassion, altruism and love. While different ideas about how is is best achieved this might make dealing with Jehova´s witnesses arduous, it´s still not as unpleasant as dealing with someone you suspect to be a pious impostor.

    His only genuine belief is that Rick Santorum will truly be good for his people. If you read biographies about the greatest dictator in German history, you´ll find that he held the same belief. The story ended with him musing about the unworthyness of the German people, hid securely in a cellar, while thousands and thousands of them died daily for his mistakes. He never even saw that he made any, he never saw even the pain he inflicted on his own people, he died sulking. While that´s of course another story, that´s exactly what people like RS really believe in – their own grandeur. Don´t go for it, America. Obama is as devoted to the US as Rick Santorum isn´t.

  6. I believe you feel strongly over this and so, we all should. There are in life those who want to tell everybody else what to do, and those who believe within the bounds of humanity and God’s teachings we should life our lives as best we can. The former are mentally ill, but being generous humanitarians, we let them live their lives as best they can.

    I only wish God could make them understand the damage they do to humanity.

  7. Rick probably has one of those fundamentalist Bibles.

    You know, the ones that stop at Leviticus and pick up again at Revelation.

  8. Professor you struck a note. Religious zealots!

    George W. tried to persuade everyone he was a born again Christian and look where that got us. Bush, the pious Christian, is today an unconvicted war criminal responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, torture, millions displaced,civilian and military lifelong injuries, not to mention the financial wreckage he left in his wake.Santorum is cut from the same cloth.

    President Santorum would not be out of character if he used the old televangleist con of ….”God spoke to me and said…You must protect Israel and that is why I am launching airstrikes against Tehran.”

    As you pointed out,Rick Santorum’s God doesn’t speak to him about a social safety net,health care, loving one another, or blessed are the peace makers. No, his God is the angry and vengeful Jehovah.

  9. Since we are quoting Bible versus I would like to share a few of my favorite. Consider Mathews 19:17-22. A young man comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to achieve eternal life. Jesus tells him to obey the commandments. The young man states that he has obeyed the commandments and asks what else he must do. To this Jesus replies:

    “If you what to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and then you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.”

    Note that the the young man is invited to follow Jesus only after he has given away all his wealth.

    Speaking of “riches in heaven” from Mathew 6:19-21 we have:

    “Do not store up riches for yourself here on earth … Instead store up riches for yourself in heaven. For your heart will always be where your riches are.”

    In addition (Mt.6:24)

    “You cannot not be a slave of two masters … you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot server both God and money.”

    Of course these are only words. What do they mean? In Acts of the Apostles we can read how the early Christians implemented these concepts. In Acts 3:44-47 we read that:

    “All the believers … shared their belongings with each other. They would sell their property and possessions and distribute the money among all, according to what each one needed.”

    There is also the curious case about a man called Ananias and his wife Sapphira. You can read about it in Acts 5. This was a wealthy couple who sold a piece of property they owned but only turned over part of their proceeds to the apostles and kept the rest for themselves. Peter confronted Ananias saying “Ananias why do you let Satan take control of you and make you lie to the Holy Spirit by taking keeping part of the money …?”. When Ananias heard this he dropped down dead. Shortly later Peter confronted his wife with the same accusation and she dropped dead also.

    It seems the the apostles interpreted Jesus words as meaning “wealth re-distribution” and they were deadly serious about it.

    I guess I am in agreement with Jesus and the apostles on this. I am for the wealthy paying paying their fair share. I am definitely not in favor of people who hold back “dropping dead” as happened with Ananias and his wife. This seems a little harsh. But I would be for a considerable tax hike on the rich. I think the apostles would agree.

    What is amazing in this county is that we can’t even raise taxes on wealthy people by a small amount. And the reason for this is that the Republican Party won’t allow it. What is even more strange is that significant elements of the Republican Party claim to be aligned with Christian teachings. What Bible are they reading? Is it the same one I’m reading?

  10. I honestly don’t think the US bishops or the current pope really care about succoring the poor, or illegal war, or capital punishment—it’s in the book, so they give it lip service, but it’s women’s control of their body that they really *work* on. The whole theological realignment of these people with the conservative Protestant denominations and megachurches, i.e. with the old Know-Nothing community, the denominations that were once the most virulently anti-Catholic, is really fascinating. The Catholics seem to be winning something out of it, too, if you consider what a remarkable proportion they make in the conservative power hierarchy, Supreme Court justices, ranking members of Congress, Republican presidential candidates. A 19th-century mind might smell a hint of a Jesuitical conspircacy!

    • Since Prof. Cole has been courageous in so many ways (including with this post) let me say something that opponents will call outrageous but needs to be said.

      The Bishops aren’t just interested in controlling women’s bodies. They want to control everyone’s bodies. Including those of young boys.

      I was deeply offended by now-Cardinal Dolan’s sanctimony in the face of the scandal, basically claiming “everyone does it” so attacking the church in particular is out-of-bounds.

      It’s not out of bounds.

      It’s all about control. It’s always about control. Doesn’t matter whether the zealot comes from a Christian, Muslim, Jewish or even Hindu or Mormom tradition, their goal is the same. To control the bodies of everyone else, to make people do as they say regardless of what they themselves do.

      Religious zealotry, no matter where it comes from, makes itself an enemy of free will.

  11. Perfect!!! Please write more on inhumanity of these kind of politicians who interpret religion to suit their own selfish views and their own entitlements and have no problem with human suffering and repression.

  12. One the one hand Rick Santorum worships at the capitalist altar of the “free market” and what’s good for capitalists is good for the US and the world. However, he fails to recognize that the culture he decries is capitalist culture.

    Capitalists’s primary concern is the exchange value (price including profit) of a commodity, not its use value (usefulness). Therefore, one explanation for the “decline in morals” is the capitalist’s profit priority. If commercial culture, e.g., objectification of women and men, pornography, etc., wasn’t profitable, then it wouldn’t be produced or used to sell commodities. Capitalists are indifferent to the use value and any effects of their commodities on morality or decency.

    Thus, there’s an inherent contradiction in Sen. Santorum’s glorification of capitalism and his condemnation of moral decline caused by capitalist culture.

    • You’ve made a point so important that I’ve been bedeviled by it for years. Why are fascists so willing to ally with libertarians when their agendas point in opposite moral directions?

      I’ve come to the conclusion that the fascist trick is to divide Free Enterprise into “good” capitalists and “bad” capitalists. The good are the patriarchs and oligarchs, who rule over happy, isolated peasants and support the dominant church in controlling their minds. Catholic fascism modernized Catholic love of feudalism into the relationship of private or family-owned industry with their workers. This was called vertical syndicalism, which allowed workers to only have relationships with their superiors, not with workers from other oligarchies. Hitler took this into an even more modern Germany. His good capitalists invariably were those he needed to control Germany and build its war machine: manufacturers and certain bankers (who had connections to right-wingers like Prescott Bush in the US).

      The bad capitalists, of course, are stereotyped as urban and Jewish. Their industries are hated for not producing hard goods: movies, music, and financial speculation. They also are accused of allying with Blacks to surround and destroy the righteous white Christian middle class and replacing their culture with a gutter culture with a danceable beat. Thus George Soros, Harvey Weinstein, and every Black rapper and NBA player who doesn’t know his place are today rolled into a big Limbaugh snowball of liberal permissiveness/socialism.

      It’s ridiculous, but perfectly logical if one wishes to protect the fundamental evils of capitalism from their consequences. Speculators are a welcome part of “productive” capitalism in the good times, but when the inevitable crash happens, the fascists provide the rich with cover by isolating a scapegoat among the elites. The fascist solution is a capitalism entirely dedicated to war and profitable conquest, with the loyal masses pressured to give up certain cultural contaminants but not others (thus rap and Harry Potter are burned, but gas-guzzlers and guns are raised to a sacrament).

  13. Don’t forget Santorum’s embrace of the Holy Crusades in front of a Protestant audience. That’s truly the road to Hell.

  14. RS scares me. Him and his followers. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household in the US — I know what it’s like to be forcefed a belief system, and brainwashed. And, to not be allowed to participate in “worldly” activities, to be physically punished when I “sinned” and to be excommunicated from the “church” and my family when I finally reached my intellecctual escape velocity and rejected it all.

    Fundie Christians, like all other fundamentalists I’ve ever met, adamantly know they are right and, if possible, will force others ( especially their children) to behave and think as they deem appropriate. In my experience there is only one language they understand, which comes in the form of an uplifted middle finger and a sincere “fuck you.”. For them, at least the ones I know well, their belief system is so deeply a part of their core, and the language they use is so violent ( “onward Christian soldiers”) — that I have lost all will to try to reason with them. —

    I think this election, more than most, will be a case of going in the booth, plugging my nose, and voing for the least offensive candidate. On one hand, we have BO, who continues to strip US citizens of their rights but seems to be reasonable enough to not abuse us too much, and RS who would take advantage of these rights-seizures to do who knows what?

    Why, oh why can’t we have a viable progressive presidential candidate who respects and bolsters individual constitional rights, isn’t a war monger, and isn’t owned by big business?

  15. The Sick Rants of this man show how far the “christian” influence has gone in the USA. Noam Chomsky in his speech on 27 Jan said that the US has religious extremists (from a world point of view) but they are not considered extreme in the US. This seems to be true. Here in France mostpeople are nominal Catholics, and churches and crucifixes abound, with saints’ names on every day on every calendar, but NOBODY interferes with others’ beliefs or lack of them. Crosses are not allowed in schools, any more than muslim signs (since 1905!).

  16. It is important never to forget that the millions of mainline Protestants in AMerica are heir to a heritage… and it was precisely that heritage that founded and nurtured America from the first day Englishmen arrived on these shores.
    Not only that, mainline Protestants are part of a world-wide community of hundreds and hundreds of millions of Reformed, Anglican, and Lutherans around the globe.
    Santorum sounds like the Counter-Reformation Popes. That kind of talk has no place in US politics.
    It is an outrage, a repulsive and repugnant thing for anyone running for any public office in the US to say, and for someone running for president to say it boggles the mind.
    It was threats such as those Santorum hurls at everyone that drove our ancestors to leave Britain and Ireland. And if Santorum wants to talk about guillotines, we can talk about Saint Bartholomew’s Day….

  17. So . . . we are going to base public policy on the New Testament which is based on the ministry of a man who spoke and taught in Aramaic, but the writers of which wrote in Greek and whose earliest canonical gospel was not written until a full thirty years or so after his death and after the region had gone through a horrific conflagration. Yup, I’m sure nothing got lost in transition there . . .

  18. Where are all those Santorum apologists who blasted Prof. Cole and Obama last week over insurance coverage for contraception?

    Maybe they see a little more clearly now which candidate is closer to a fascist?

    • My bet is that they are expending their energies someplace that is more likely to result in Victory for Their Side… Seeing that the choir here mostly sings a more rational tune.

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