Although we disagree with Mohler’s rejection of science, we’ve always expressed our respect for the way he justifies his position solely on theological grounds, and never disgraces himself with the nonsense of creation science. In our last post we said:
We think he’s wrong to do so [reject science], but he keeps his views within his faith, and — unlike a certain Seattle think tank — his life’s mission isn’t to crush science and establish a theocracy.
Now we have to retract our remark that his mission isn’t about establishing theocracy. That’s because of a new column he wrote which appears at the CNN website: Santorum’s right, JFK wrong on separation of church and state. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Over the weekend, Santorum told ABC’s “This Week” that reading the text of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association made him physically sick: “I almost threw up.”
You can see a video of Santorum’s remark here, together with Kennedy’s speech. Let’s read on from the Mohler’s article:
Explaining what made him almost throw up, Santorum pointed to a statement Kennedy made early in the speech: “I believe in an America where separation of church and state is absolute.”
Santorum retorted, “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of 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 vision of our country.”
You can always spot a theocrat by hia position on the First Amendment. Mohler continues:
There can be no “absolute” separation of church and state. Such an absolute separation would, in theory, prevent any conflict or controversy between religious bodies and government. As just about any edition of a major newspaper makes clear, these conflicts occur over and over again.
It’s true that such conflicts continually recur, but that doesn’t argue against an absolute separation of church and state. Rather, it points out the problems inherent in mixing the two.
Now we will digress for a moment to remind you of one of our former posts, in which we gave James Madison’s position on this subject — which just might be more authoritative than Santorum’s or Mohler’s. Madison, as you know, was the author of the First Amendment. In a letter to Robert Walsh written in 1819, Madison said:
The Civil Govt, tho’ bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.
And in 1822, in his Letter to Edward Livingston, he wrote:
Notwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Govt. & Religion neither can be duly supported. Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst. And in a Govt. of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.
Okay, you know Madison’s thinking on the subject, and you know what Kennedy and Santorum said. Here’s more from Mohler:
That argument [for absolute separation] worked for Kennedy in 1960 when he was running for president against anti-Catholic prejudice. It does not work when we have to engage in the hard process of establishing public policy.
That depends on the policy to be established, doesn’t it? Moving along:
The secular left is deeply committed to their idea that public arguments must be limited to secular reason, with religious beliefs and arguments ruled out of bounds.
Santorum is surely right when he spoke of these things as “absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”
Again, that depends on the candidate’s vision for the country. If he wants it to be theocratic, then yes, the First Amendment (properly understood) is “absolutely antithetical” to that vision. Another excerpt:
The very fact that, in 2012, a presidential candidate from one party can create instant headlines by arguing against a speech made by a presidential candidate of the other party, more than 50 years ago, should be enough to convince any fair-minded American that we still have much work to do as we try to reason with each other about these questions.
Indeed, there is much work to be done. That work should start with teaching the proper meaning of the Constitution. Anyway, now you know that Kennedy’s position on church and state — which is also Madison’s position — makes Santorum throw up. And Mohler agrees with Santorum. That’s too bad, really. We used to respect Mohler.
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