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Santorum: No Absolute Separation of Church and State Santorum: No Absolute Separation of Church and State

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / Sunday Shows

Santorum: No Absolute Separation of Church and State

February 26, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday said the Founding Fathers did not intend for an absolute separation of church and state, and he defended a statement he made last fall that after reading  John F. Kennedy’s now-famous 1960 speech on religion, he “almost threw up.”

He explained on ABC’s This Week that he almost vomited “because the first line, first substantive line in the speech says, ‘I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute.’ I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”

He continued: “This is the First Amendment. The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion. That means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square. Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, no, faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate. Go on and read the speech. I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith.  It was an absolutist doctrine that was abhorrent at the time of 1960.” 

 

Later on NBC’s Meet the Press, Santorum said an absolute separation of church and state was "not the Founders' vision" for America, arguing that religious values had shaped much of the country's history.

"We're seeing the Obama Administration…imposing the state's values now on churches," he said, calling that "a bigger affront to the First Amendment" than bringing religious views into government.

Santorum pushed back against critics who argue that he's trying to tell Americans how to live, saying that he discusses social issues because of their relevance to the economy.

"These are my personal-held religious beliefs," he said. "There's no evidence at all that I want to impose those values on everybody else.”

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