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On Meet the Press today David Gregory played a clip from John F. Kennedy's magnificent speech from 1960 on the separation of church and state, which provoked a strong reaction from Santorum.  He was later asked again on ABC about JFK's position on upholding the US constitution rather than Biblical doctrine.  Rick's reaction was predictable:

   Presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Sunday that the notion of religion not playing role in politics “makes me want to throw up."

    "To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes me want to throw up. What kind of country do we live in where only people of non-faith can come in the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up. And that should make every American [throw up]," said Santorum on ABC's "This Week."

    The former Pennsylvania senator was referring to John F. Kennedy’s famous 1963 (sic!) speech that argued religion should be separate from politics.

    "I don't believe in an America where the separation between church and state is absolute," he said.

Re-reading Kennedy's great speech makes one believe in the great potential of the American experiment.  It also, by contrast, highlights the total inadequacy of the current line-up of GOP candidates.  None of them could ever come close to JFK's eloquence or moral clarity.  

Unlike Santorum, who demands perpetual war but never served, Kennedy actually experienced the horrors of war and knew the meaning of sacrifice:

I want a Chief Executive whose public acts are responsible to all groups and obligated to none--who can attend any ceremony, service or dinner his office may appropriately require of him--and whose fulfillment of his Presidential oath is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation.

This is the kind of America I believe in--and this is the kind I fought for in the South Pacific, and the kind my brother died for in Europe. No one suggested then that we may have a "divided loyalty," that we did "not believe in liberty," or that we belonged to a disloyal group that threatened the "freedoms for which our forefathers died."

Aware of the Vatican prohibition of contraceptives, Kennedy dealt with the issue of birth control head-on in his speech:
Whatever issue may come before me as President--on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject--I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.
These clear principles, which stand at the core of our democracy, are what Santorum would puke all over if he ever makes it to the White House.

Originally posted to DowneastDem on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 09:07 AM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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