Meanwhile, in South Carolina…

Republicans are gearing up for another caucus vote to determine who will be the Republican candidate for the 2012 election against President Obama, and the religious rhetoric aimed at the state’s zealous religious right is on and despicable. When I hear of comments like the ones Rick Santorum has made–and the applause he receives for them–I’m reminded that there is a lot at stake in a fight to keep America free and its government secular.

Candidate Rick Santorum received an enthusiastic ovation yesterday for saying that those who do not believe in the Judeo-Christian God (including Muslims, who, apparently unbeknownst to Santorum, believe in the same God) were not worthy of equality or rights. Not only is this an attack on the various ideological minorities–including atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and others–it’s an assault on America’s Constitution which guarantees the freedom of belief and speech.

“So don’t claim his rights, don’t claim equality as that gift from God and then go around and say, ‘Well, we don’t have to pay attention to what God wants us to do. We don’t have to pay attention to God’s moral laws.’ If your rights come from God, then you have an obligation to live responsibly in conforming with God’s laws, and our founders said so, right?” Santorum asked.

How could it be possible for such a poor candidate to come so far in the presidential race? The president is charged with upholding the Constitution, a document that guarantees rights to all, not just the people Rick Santorum agrees with. What happens to a nation if he or one of the other Republican candidates who think like him, are the only other option besides the incumbent president? What if someone like this were actually voted into office?

For one, I will not be conforming to Biblical laws nor anything from the Catholic canon that is against my good conscience. In Rick Santorum’s mind, this apparently makes me an extremist while he, the person who no longer claims to believe in the American ideals of freedom and equality, is merely a “conservative.”

“Someone who actually believes what they say, someone who actually when they are accused of being a conservative on an issue and being an extremist says, You’re darn right, I’m a conservative and you are the extremist, not me.”

When it comes down to it, this isn’t about one man. It’s about this one man garnering enough supporters to be as close as he is to competing for our highest leadership office. When I see atheists, moderates, or secularists tell their outspoken that speaking out on even the smallest of Separation of Church and State issues, I have to pause and consider the other side. They’re not going to stop attacking our Constitution. Their goal is to make religion a government entity. They have to be challenged philosophically, legally, and morally at every level.

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K. Mason

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01 2012