Friday, March 2, 2012

The gospel according to St Jack

The current issue issue of National Review notes that "Santorum continued his sometime role of making perfectly defensible views seem ridiculous through overstatement." Another of this magazine's editorial paragraphs illustrates the point:
Having said that John F. Kennedy’s famous speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association made him want to “throw up,” Senator Rick Santorum was asked to defend his statement. “To say that people of faith have no role in the public square?” he replied. “You bet that makes you throw up.” Kennedy, he said, had argued that “only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case” and that “the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state,” and had promised not even to “consult with people of faith.” Santorum got Kennedy’s speech wrong; but Kennedy’s speech, however celebrated, got church-state relations wrong too. Kennedy suggested that Catholicism would, and should, have no influence on his public acts. (“I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair”—and, it turns out, whose religious views did not interfere with his private affairs.) Kennedy’s argument implies that religious people are welcome to participate in politics so long as they act as though they had no religion. It is an argument without much in the way of constitutional principle or historical American practice to recommend it, as indeed the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was contemporaneously proving. Santorum can justly be criticized for rhetorical inelegance and analytical imprecision, but his irreverence toward the Gospel according to Saint Jack is amply warranted.
National Review, March 19, 2012, p. 4.