Santorum warns of Satanic efforts in U.S.

Updated
 

While much of Rick Santorum’s recent campaign rhetoric has caused a stir – his Hitler analogies, his opposition to prenatal testing, his antipathy towards public education, etc. – it’s a 2008 speech that seems to be causing the Republican presidential hopeful the most trouble right now.

Four years ago, Santorum spoke to students at a controversial Catholic law school, Ave Maria University in Florida, and as Right Wing Watch’s Kyle Mantyla reported, he shared an unusual theological perspective.

The four-minute excerpt is worth checking out in its entirety, but this is the part that seems to be getting the most attention;

“This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies, Satan, would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country – the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that’s been the case now for almost 200 years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.”

Santorum, sounding a bit like the “Church Lady” from the “Saturday Night Live” skits of the 1980s, proceeded to explain his belief that Satan has been “attacking the great institutions of America,” including academia, Christianity, and politics.

What’s jarring for many is the inherent oddity of hearing a high-profile American politician – and now a leading Republican presidential candidate – talking about Satan in much the same way a crazed televangelist might.

But in this case, it’s Santorum’s thoughts on Protestantism that are even more important, especially in the context of his campaign.

Consider this portion of his 2008 remarks:

“[O]nce the colleges fell [to Satan] and those who were being educated in our institutions, the next was the church. Now you’d say, ‘Well, wait, the Catholic Church’? No. We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic. Sure the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestants. And of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”

It’s more than a little provocative for a Republican presidential candidate to be on record, giving a public speech, characterizing all of mainline Protestantism as being “gone from the world of Christianity” following attacks from Satan.

This is not an altogether unusual position for evangelical TV preachers to take, but it’s exceedingly unusual to hear such sentiments from a high-profile politician, and it’s a largely unprecedented perspective from a competitive major-party presidential candidate.

What’s more, Mantyla also published remarks Santorum delivered in 2008 at an Oxford Center for Religion and Public Life event, in which the former senator argued there is no such thing “as a sincere liberal Christian.”

Asked yesterday about his four-year-old remarks, especially about Satan, Santorum said the questions “are not relevant to what’s being discussed in America today.”

I have a hunch he’s going to need a better explanation than this.

Santorum warns of Satanic efforts in U.S.

Updated