Rick Santorum has been in the headlines lately, after throwing heaping handfuls of red meat to the Republican base to try to solidify his lead in the Michigan polls. He said he believes that Obama adheres to “some phony theology. Not a theology based on the bible. A different theology.”
Santorum is using one of the oldest tricks in politics. You paint your opponent as “not one of us” to light up the primitive part of a person’s brain that triggers instinctive fear of someone who is from outside your tribe. No matter how civilized we think we are, this fear of the “other” has led to countless genocides and wars throughout history, and it’s also a handy tool to help politicians win elections.
Santorum later walked back his remarks, saying he was talking about Obama’s environmental policies that oppose greater use of the country’s natural resources, because “Obama believes man is here to serve the earth.” He also suggested that Obama practices one of the “different stripes of Christianity.”
He said this because Rick Santorum follows a fundamentalist version of Christianity called Dominion Theology, which teaches that society must be controlled by biblical law, and not by secular laws or mores. Dominionists believe that the sole purpose of nature and its resources are for the use of mankind only, and that there are enough resources to last until God destroys the earth again and “raptures” his chosen ones up to heaven.
This theology seems to work pretty well for the large corporations that are intent on shearing the tops off of mountains to strip mine coal, fracking underground for natural gas and possibly polluting water supplies, drilling for oil everywhere, cutting rain forests to grow palm plants for cheap oil, and dozens of other insults to the environment. The officers of those companies may only worship the almighty dollar, but they still fit pretty well inside Rick Santorum’s tent.
Now, as to the question of President Obama’s faith: The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines faith as “A firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” I’ve always wondered, why do Americans want the person who has the ability to launch nuclear weapons and destroy the world to believe in things for which there are no proof? If we learned anything from George W. Bush’s presidency, it’s that we want the president to be someone who leans a little more to the factual side of things.
Rick Santorum and the Republican Right have been intimating that Obama is not a true Christian, although no one can really know what is in another’s heart. But whatever he is, he’s smart enough to know that it’s almost impossible in America to get elected without professing a belief in Jesus and attending church. Even if he does that just for show, and I don’t think he does, Obama is still a good hearted, intelligent guy who is trying to do his best for our country, despite the derogatory remarks from fundamentalists like Mr. Santorum.
And Rick Santorum, since he believes life on earth is just an inconvenient temporary stop on the road to heaven, should never be given the opportunity to press that red launch button in order to see his God a little bit sooner.