What It Really Means When Santorum Attacks Obama's "Theology"

 Defenders of Rick Santorum are very angry that anyone would suggest his "phony theology" comments about the president represented an attack on a fellow Christian's beliefs. Turns out he was a bit more direct about it in an appearance in 2008, as reported at the time by Beliefnet founder Steve Waldman (who passed along a link to his post):

After he’d accused Obama and other Democrats of religious fraudulance for a few minutes, journalist Terry Mattingly of GetReligion.org asked whether it’s possible that rather than being fake, perhaps, Obama was sincerely reflecting a form of liberal Christianity in the tradition of Reinhold Neibuhr. Santorum surprised me by answering that yes, “I could buy that.” However, he questioned whether liberal christianity was really, well, Christian. “You’re a liberal something, but you're not a Christian.” He continued, “When you take a salvation story and turn it into a liberation story you’ve abandoned Christiandom and I don’t think you have a right to claim it.”
In other words, Obama’s faith is fraudulant in part because liberal Christianity is. I’ve come across this sentiment before. To a degree rarely discussed, many conservative Christians truly doubt both the theological truth and the spiritual authenticity of liberal Christians.

As it happens, the Santorum appearance Waldman wrote about occurred around the same time in 2008 as the Pennsylvanian's now famous speech at Ave Maria University when he regaled his audience with a narrative of the ongoing war for America between true Christians and Satan. He sadly concluded that mainline Protestantism, which was "gone from the world of Christianity," had already been lost to His Infernal Majesty. Clearly, the apostasy of liberal Protestants was on his mind at that time, perhaps because of the rise to national power of Barack Obama.

As Waldman noted, this is not that unusual an attitude for self-consciously conservative Christians to have these days, but it's unusual to hear it from a politician. Rick Santorum cannot have it both ways, though. If he feels so strongly that Christians who don't share his particular "world view" aren't really Christian at all, then he should be loud and proud about it, and stop pretending he's just this mild-mannered man of faith being persecuted by people who despise the very name of Jesus Christ.


Washington Monthly / By Ed Kilgore | Sourced from

Posted at February 21, 2012, 7:00am

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