When Al Smith, a Catholic, ran for President against Herbert Hoover in 1928, a good portion of the country went nuts - in particular the Bible Belt went stark raving loony predicting the end of democracy in our country if this "papist" became President. Smith would be little more that an errand boy for the Pope. Smith lost.
Thirty-two years later another Catholic ran for President and decided that it would be best to tackle the religion issue head on. John F. Kennedy knew the same religious forces that had fought Al Smith so bitterly and unfairly (Protestant fundamentalists) were aligning against him. Kennedy took the initiative and went on television to say his piece about the separation of church and state, a separation that he regarded as absolute. He said,
"I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant, nor Jewish - where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source - where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials - and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all."
That's what JFK said, and it was pretty damned eloquent - and it was pretty damned spot on.
Then this week along comes Little Ricky Santorum, who, like JFK, is Catholic, but who, unlike JFK, is in the Pope's pocket and looks upon himself as a moral crusader out to punish the sinful as he turns America into his vision of what a moral society should be. When asked to comment about JFK's defense of the "absolute" separation of church and state, Santorum skewed his interpretation of what JFK had actually said and responded with this bit of righteous wrath:
"To say that people of faith have no role in the public square. You bet that makes me want to throw up. What kind of country do we live in where only people of non-faith can come in the public square and make their case? That makes me want to throw up."
Which, of course, was deceptive in that nowhere did Kennedy say that people of faith could not be active in government. He just did not want them coming to the "public square" as emissaries of their churches and promoting their church's agendas.
(Interestingly, Santorum does believe in an absolute wall between state and church - saying that the government should absolutely never get in the church's business. Of course, JFK said that also - see above.)
But this year the churches are flexing their political muscle. If you don't believe me, just ask the Girl Scouts, or Planned Parenthood, or women using contraception, or gays, or undocumented workers, or...the list is damned near endless.
And if Little Ricky continues to feel that he might hurl, perhaps he should get one the agents of his new government-funded Secret Service detail to accompany him with a mop.
I must now quit typing and head to the bathroom - because typing the word "santorum" over and over has me on the brink of barfing!