Campaign Quotebox: Rick Santorum

McClatchy NewspapersFebruary 27, 2012 

Who: Rick Santorum

Quote: JFK's 1960 speech on separation of church and state made him want to "throw up," Santorum said on Sunday. Santorum, a staunch Roman Catholic, is appealing to social conservatives and evangelicals with strong pitches grounded in his own social conservative values. He insisted this weekend that "the idea that the church can have no influence in or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country."

Why this matters: JFK's 1960 speech as a Roman Catholic presidential candidate echoed a principle of separating church authority from civil government that dates back to Thomas Jefferson, who enshrined "a wall of separation" between church and state as a guiding principle of the new American republic. It is a bedrock principle of the First Amendment, that Congress shall make "no law" abridging freedom of religion. JFK's speech to Houston protestant ministers allayed fears that a Roman Catholic president might show deference to the Pope in presidential decision-making. Santorum's stand reopens a controversy that has periodically echoed through American history as to the limits dividing religion from civil government.

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