Santorum’s sluggo campaign slogan is “Faith, Freedom, Family”—just not the Evangelical faith that most Conservatives prefer. In good faith, Santorum is actually a Catholic, and not the only one at play in the fields of the Lord in primary season: know-it-all Newt Gingrich is not only a god-fearing Catholic, but a fresh one minted in 2009 despite pre-existing marital peccadilloes of Biblical proportions.
Despite all this general kowtowing by Republicans to the Evangelical wing, the only old-timey evangelical Christian remaining in the race is Rick Perry, the all-hat cowboy Governor of Texas, and he went from sure thing to single digit faster than you could count to three, which he could not. The only verifiable evidence of the power of the Evangelicals is The Gov’s predeliction for speaking in tongues during Republican Presidential debates.
Catholics have got it going on, politically speaking. Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat from Delaware, is also Catholic, as are six of the nine United States Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts. Even Clarence Thomas, an African-American, is Catholic, God bless him. Of 111 Supreme Court justices total, 11 have been Catholic, including the aforementioned half-dozen in present times. Put another way, there are more Catholics on the Supreme Court today than in the entire history of the Supreme Court combined.
Catholics, of course, are not considered a cult by the Evangelicals, despite the existence of several cult-like cut-outs of the One True Religion. Santorum—the politico with a Latinate last name that only an altar boy could love—has taken a liking to Opus Dei, the wacko Catholic group featured in “The Da Vinci Code.” According to Elspeth Reeve in The Atlantic Wire, Santorum sent two of his sons to a Washington, D.C. school “affiliated” with Opus Dei.
“Santorum says he’s not a member of Opus Dei,” Reeve writes, “though he did go to Rome in 2002 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding, and he belongs to the St. Catherine of Siena Parish, ‘a favorite of Opus Dei,’ the Washington Post says.”
Mel Gibson? Meet Rick Santorum, a Catholic who just can’t seem to be Catholic enough.
As an apostate Catholic myself, I am nonetheless delighted that Catholics are doing so well on both sides of the fence. My Dad had a cousin who was Bishop of Vermont, and my mother’s sister was a nun for 38 years, eschewing her fortune before leaving the order to cash out at the very end. But I am also perturbed that the Evangelicals, unable to generate any support on their own, have glommed onto Catholics for a single hyper-political reason: like Christians, Catholics are pro-life and anti-abortion: you can’t be a Conservative candidate these days without embracing “the sanctity of human life.”
Being a pro-life Catholic is like being a little pregnant: it ain’t happening if you want to swing from the Right.
Santorum and sanctity go easily together, but the rise of Conservative Catholics in the Republican hierarchy means that Evangelicals have to overlook the cult-like tendencies of Opus Dei and even basic Roman Catholic theology. The next time you see a Christian conservative, ask them if they realized Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich actually eat the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ every Sunday—the same Christ that Evangelicals take as their Lord and Savior every day. Only a pro-life cult would eat their God whole every week—and then celebrate same with a kiss of peace.
See if it takes Evangelical Christians two hands to handle that whopper.
The fact that Santorum and Gingrich are bound to lose out to a Mormon, for God’s sake, makes the whole debate about religion and politics even more delicious for liberals who don’t much care what anyone believes. For Conservatives, on the other hand, believing Catholics can walk on water in the Republican primaries is much easier than admitting the Evangelical Christian movement is dead in the water.