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Monday, February 20, 2012

Would a President Rick Santorum sell the country to the Catholic Church?
Posted by Jill | 5:54 AM
It doesn't seem like all that long ago when people wondered if John F. Kennedy would be taking his marching orders form the Pope instead of his obligation to uphold the Constitution. Most voters wouldn't have those kinds of concerns a contemporary Roman Catholic who ran for President, but Rick Santorum is no contemporary Catholic. Santorum's Catholicism has more resemblance to that of Mel Gibson than it does to that of Jack Kennedy.

The most disturbing aspect of the whole foofarah about insurance coverage of contraception is the way the right has embraced the notion that opposing the bishops is somehow a "war on religion." Note also how the framing is "war on religion", not "war on Catholicism." I always find myself wondering if Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca, and worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are included in the Republicans' all-embracing arms (though I think we know the answer to that). We've come a long way since the days when people were concerned about a particular religion creeping into policy, and it's not a positive one. Santorum can tack the prefix "Judeo-" in front of the word "Christian" all he wants to, but you know as well as I do that "Judeo-" has nothing to do with his agenda.

But Santorum's fealty to the Vatican goes beyond social policy, as Andy Kroll reveals in Mother Jones:
The Armed Forces Retirement Home, which is run by the Department of Defense, bills itself as the "premier home for military retirees and veterans." The facility sprawls across 272 acres high on a hill in northern Washington, DC, near the Petworth neighborhood. The nearly 600 veterans who now live there enjoy panoramic views of the city—the Washington monument and US Capitol to the south, the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to the east. At its peak, more than 2,000 veterans of World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War lived at the Home.

But with the rise of the smaller all-volunteer military, the Home began to run into serious financial problems. It was clear that one of its primary sources of revenue—a 50-cent deduction from the paychecks of active-duty servicemembers—wasn't enough to keep the Home operating fully. In the 1990s, the Home scrambled to find ways to avoid insolvency, trimming its staff by 24 percent and reducing its vet population by 800. Still, the money problems began to show, with its older historic facilities slipping into disrepair and decay. To grapple with its worsening shortfall, officials running the Home eyed a valuable, 49-acre piece of land worth $49 million as a potential financial lifeline.
Under one scenario, by leasing the parcel of land and letting it be developed, the Home could pocket $105 million in income over 35 years for its trust fund, David Lacy, then-chairman of the Home's board of directors, told Congress in 1999. Lacy stressed that the Home wanted to keep the property, and not offload it to a buyer. "Once land is sold," he said, "it is lost forever as an asset."

Enter Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.). At the behest of the Roman Catholic Church, and unbeknownst to the Home, Santorum slipped an amendment into the 1999 National Defense Authorization Act handcuffing how the home could cash in on those 49 acres. The amendment forced the Home to sell—and not lease—the land to its next-door neighbor, the Catholic University of America. Ultimately, the Catholic Church bought 46 acres of the tract for $22 million. The Home lost the land for good, and by its own estimates, pocketed $27 million less than the land's value and $83 million less than what it could've made under the lease plan. Santorum's amendment sparked an outcry from veterans' groups and fellow US senators, who barraged his office with complaints.

Of course none of that mattered, and if you read on in the article, the Church didn't care much about running the running the place; it was all about the land. So you have to wonder what other parcels of Federal property a President Santorum would hand over to the Vatican just because they want it.

If the money guys who run the GOP and almost always decide the nominee decide that they can live with a Santorum nomination and allow him to snag that particular prize, the GOP will turn any attack on his sleazy record in Washington as an "attack on religion." Of course the subtext of this pearl-clutching of any criticism of anyone who who self-identifies as a Christian is, of course, the idea that the incumbent President, Barack Obama, is not a Christian (another reason for Santorum's ludicrous referring to "...a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic". Santorum can use that prefix all he wants to, but it's clear that Jews have no place in his worldview, and neither does anyone else who doesn't see the world the way he does. That Obama is a member of Churh of Christ is immaterial; the subtext to Santorum's positioning of himself as representing "true" Christianity (and allowing the evangelicals to join with him because they share his obsession with gay sex and the female reproductive system), is that Obama is somehow "other" -- the Kenyan Secret Muslim Terrorist Antichrist that far too many of Santorum's frothing (sorry) minions believe he is.

And therein lies the problem for the President, should Santorum be the nominee: how to deal with some of Santorum's more lunatic beliefs, plans, and pronouncements without being branded as conducting a "war on religion", or more specifically a "war on Christianity". Santorum is, of course, allowed to practice his religion freely (despite his protestations that Christians are somehow under siege in this country). But with a history of facilitating the sale of federal property to the Catholic Church, it is a legitimate question just how much of this country he would let the Vatican have. The question is who will have the guts to ask it.

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2 Comments:
Blogger stanchaz said...
I'VE HAD ENOUGH! In this Holy War on Religion, of Religion, and by Religion. I SURRENDER! I’m a lover, not a fighter.  Instead... I’m gonna start my OWN religion, and get in on the good stuff: tax exemptions, and lots of taxpayer money to do what I want, in the name of religious liberty. Most definitely! Hey NEWT -wanna join? We’re gonna have open marriages and multiple wives and all SORTS of neat stuff that you’re just gonna love! But don’t you worry your little head Newt: we’ll have no -I repeat- NO nasty stoning of adulterers. None of that stuff. I Promise! As for SANTORUM, he just LOVES to tell other people how they should live. He’ll make us a REAL fine preacher-man. In fact, we’ll make him Saint Santorum. AND fix his Google search results! As for Mr. Obama,  obviously, we’ll need to (severely) demonize him, even further. And his dog Toto too. Last but not least: MITT and RON. Hmmm. Hey, I know. Just for you two guys: if you join we’ll insist on NO TAXES AT ALL for church members…AND human sacrifice of illegal aliens. Out with their hearts! Televised! Live! Whoooppee! WHAT A COUNTRY!  :-)
By the way, please don’t mention the REASON that Mitt Romney’s dad was born in Mexico (i.e. The fact that Mitt’s Mormon grand-dad left the United States in the 1880’s. He went to Mexico BECAUSE laws against polygamy were passed in the U.S. ; Being a Mormon back then, Mitt’s grand-dad wanted to keep his multiple wives. Hey, who wouldn’t?) Bottom line: if we follow the “logic” of the people crying crocodile tears about a non-existent “war on religion”, then the U.S. should have allowed polygamy (and who knows what else) just because a particular religion claimed it as their cherished belief. GIVE ME A BREAK!
Absolutely NO ONE is coming into our Churches or places of worship and trying to tell parishioners what to believe.....or forcing them to use contraception. BUT If the Bishops (and other denominations) want to continue running businesses that employ millions of people of varying faiths -or no "faith" at all- THEN they must play by the same rules and rights that other workers have and enjoy...especially if their businesses use our tax dollars (and skip paying taxes) in the process. This is not a “war on religion”. It’s a war on women and men who simply want to plan their families and control their future. Now that’s REAL religious liberty!
p. s. I come from a religious background. I know that their are MANY good people out there, in various faiths (and outside of those faiths); many good people searching for answers, for community, for a way....in this all-too-harsh world. There's only one thing I can say to you: think for yourself, be yourself, trust yourself. Don't just accept something because it comes from a "voice of authority". That’s why you have a conscience: to choose, not just to follow....

Blogger Susan Dress said...
Of course, everyone else who voted for the bill without reading the amendments is equally culpable. That's why we need [or need to enforce] a constitutional amendment to completely prohibit this practice of adding unrelated amendments.
Think there's any chance of getting it passed?