Have things really changed so much in recent years, or have we simply forgotten the past? GOP candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are both parading as “conservatives,” and ironically, they often refer to their religion as “proof.” Both are Roman Catholics.
To those of us who have lived on this planet for more than ¾ of a century, the claim that Catholicism is “conservative” is ludicrous. Prior to this election year’s GOP presidential campaigns, Roman Catholicism has always been referred to as the most liberal religion, at least in the Western World, if not the entire planet.
Rick Santorum has gone so far as to suggest a unification of our government with religion and even said that Catholic JFK’s assurance to protestant fundamentalists that he would not be influenced by the Vatican in the late president’s administration, makes Santorum want to “throw up.”
Newt Gingrich likewise never misses a chance to equate his new religion with "conservatism." He is a recent convert to Catholicism, having previously been a member of the Presbyterian Church, and later the Southern Baptists. The media seems to give him a pass on his religious and marital flippancy, and they do not accuse him of political opportunism,--in spite of the fact that he blatantly panders to Catholics, and especially Hispanics who are predominantly Catholics.
Thomas Jefferson, our founding father who wrote the first draft of our Constitution, was strongly in favor of separation of church and state. He and the other architects of our Constitution were astute observers of the theocratic alliance of European governments called the Holy Roman Empire, which was still existent in Europe for decades after the writing of our Declaration of Independence—until after the French Revolution. In that theocratic alliance, the Church overrode the authority of the civil governments and could harbor enemies of the state and other criminals with impunity. They also held courts of inquisition against heretics and punishment include the death penalty of being burned at the stake. Anyone who doubts Jefferson’s fear of the consolidation of government with religion should read some of his quotes. They are found at many places in historical documents, but you can find them with ease at http://candst.tripod.com/tnppage/qjeffson.htm
(Scroll down to “Skepticism on Religious Authority.”)
The political alliance between Roman Catholics and American fundamentalist religions is of dubious validity, to say the least. The fundamentalists seem to have become victims of that old cliché: He who ignores history is bound to repeat it. Most of the fundamentalists cannot even tell you who Tomas de Torquemada was. He is not that old; he was still going strong after the Discovery of the New World.
A fundamentalist acquiescence to unify government with religion reared its ugly head in George Bush 43’s so-called “faith-based initiatives.” That set a new standard for American politics, forcing taxpayers to support religious schools. Bush’s religious radicalism helped bring about the loss of the White House to Democrats in 2008. After Bush, no true conservative--an Independent conservative--could have supported the GOP ticket in 2008.