In the race for the Republican presidential candidates to prove how blatantly partisan they are, unrelenting faith in Christianity has proven to be an especially distinguishable factor in determining the man who most embodies the radical conservatism that is the modern Republican party.
Theres no doubt that Rick Santorum most embodies this blind devotion, but until recently this was of little concern to those who believe in a separate church and state. After all, Rick's beliefs were considered one of the main reasons why he would never actually win a presidential election.
But thanks to the insistence of Republican voters to try every metaphorical chocolate in the allegorical box before finally settling for President Romney, Santorum's campaign has been given a second glance by Iowa voters who recently placed the ex-senator in a virtual tie in the Iowa caucus, only eight measly votes behind Romney, who many consider the one sane choice for the Republican nomination.
Sadly, this second chance for Santorum occurred due to the same thing that kept the politician from being a major contender up until this point. His unwavering belief that the United States of America can only truly succeed when all of it's laws conforms with that of the Christian religion. If you think this sounds like an over dramatization (I couldn't blame you if you did) then just read his speech at a November campaign stop in Iowa, in which he describes America as "a country that is given rights under the God, under God, not any God, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, and that God that gave us rights also gave us a responsibility, and laws, by which our civil laws have to comport with. A higher law. God's law."
Needless to say, this notion is not only controversial, it's downright unconstitutional. After all, the first amendment of the constitution explicitly states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" and you don't have to be a legal scholar to realize that forcing all of the country's laws to pass the merit of a 2,000 year old religious deity is about as directly opposite from that statement as possible.
Of course, this is of little concern to the religious right, Santorum's main voting block. To them, Santorum is a true social warrior who is only trying to restore America to it's family centered values of yore (whenever that was). But for those not as excited for America to become a Christian state not unlike the Islamic Republic of Iran, Santorum's promises strike a more ominous cord.
Besides his very public view of gay marriage being a sin, therefore justifying an amendment to ban it, Santorum also believes that abortion is never justified in any case, going so far as saying it only further traumatizes rape victims. What may be his most ludicrous stance though is his opposition to pornography (seriously). Last summer the politician signed "The Marriage Vow -- A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family" which, among other things, required signers to back a ban on pornography.
The irony of all this is that while Santorum fervently believes the nation needs to get closer to God (his God specifically), he is also one of the leaders in sounding the alarm bell against Sharia law, the moral and religious code of Islam. In other words, even though he is completely supportive of America being a religious nation, he will fight tooth and nail to keep it from being a religion he's not associated with, even if there isn't a shred of evidence of it's influence in the first place.
As Santorum explained it, his problem with Sharia law is that it is "not just a religious code. It is also a governmental code. It happens to be both religious in nature and origin, but it is a civil code." What makes this statement both horrifying and hilarious is the fact that in explaining his social conservative views Santorum regularly says things like "We have civil laws, but our civil laws have to comport with the higher law." It seems like Santorum is only truly afraid of a religious civil code running our lives only when said religion isn't his own.
This is not to say though that I am terribly concerned about Santorum actually being the next commander in chief. Yes, Iowa was surprisingly supportive of him, but New Hampshire has shown that when it comes to more moderate voters Romney has got it in the bag. And even in the unlikely case of Santorum winning the Republican nomination, he would just be providing Obama with an easy path to a second term.
My problem with Santorum isn't that he is just a couple steps away from creating a Christian theocracy; it's that there are so many people who are seemingly supportive of this idea. Call me naïve but I've felt like over the past 200 years the country has come to terms with the fact that America was not meant to be a Christian nation. People may still have problems with gay marriage or complain about a "war on religion," but overall there was a basic understanding that no good could come out of religious ideals interfering with the affairs of government.
Now though I'm not so sure. With Santorum's victory in Iowa, and what seems to be rather sizable support in South Carolina, it seems like more Americans than I thought are willing to completely forfeit the country's proud (if not well maintained) tradition of religious equality for the latest republican flavor of the month. Frankly, I thought the pornography ban would be enough to take him out of the race.