So while stumping in Michigan today Rick Santorum was waving around his pocket constitution and telling the crowd “John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on the separation of church and state being ‘absolute’ made him ‘sick.’
But he went even farther than that in an appearance on a Sunday morning talk show. On This Week Santorum said this to George Stephanopoulos:
I don’t believe in an America where the separation between church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and visions of our country.
Maybe Mr. Santorum should actually read that pocket Constitution. The First Amendment is clear:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, “The establishment clause is ‘[t]he First Amendment provision that prohibits the federal and state governments from establishing an official religion, or from favoring or disfavoring one view of religion over another’…”
In other words the Catholic church has no constitutional right to impose their religious beliefs on their employees who aren’t Catholic. There is nothing in the contraceptive coverage rule that requires Catholic employees from using the coverage but it is arguably unconstitutional for Catholic organizations to deny that coverage to employees who don’t subscribe to their faith.
The Catholic church’s freedom of religon is not under attack. In fact, it’s the opposite. Santorum and the Catholic church are attacking the religious freedom of non-Catholics by seeking to impose their own religous canon on the rule of law in our land. If any government provision should be abolished, it’s the so-called conscience exemptions for any organization that accepts federal funding which derives from taxes taken from people of all faiths, or none. Even the anointed saint of conservatives, Ronald Reagan, understood that when he said, “we establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate.”