I was cleaning out a drawer over the weekend and found old index cards on which I had written quotes I liked. These two seemed all too relevant in light of the recent goings on in politics and the presidential race.
“Civilization is a race between education and disaster.” H.G. Wells
“Beware the man who seizes the levers of Caesar to usher in the Kingdom of God.” Mark Hatfield
Hatfield was a Republican governor from Oregon, serving two terms, from 1959 to 1967. He then served as a US senator from Oregon from 1967 to 1997, five terms. He died last August at the age of 89. If he were around and running today you have to think he’d be facing a tea party challenge in the Republican primary. I agreed with him on some things and disagreed on others, and he was a Republican politician who I respected. Of course, he was in office in a much simpler time, BB (Before Bush), when it was still possible for politicians to talk and work together across the aisle. I thought this quote very apt given Mr. Santorum’s utter lack of understanding of the separation of church and state that is so much in the news this week. I heard him say today that the president and pundits have it exactly wrong, and that the separation idea is only to protect the church from the state and not the other way around. Strange that a politician would wear a badge of ignorance so proudly. Of course, he is also speaking out against education, so maybe it makes sense. Santorum wants American to be run by what he sees as the law of the Bible.
He needs to go back and read some history and be reminded that many of the early settlers came to America precisely because they wanted to escape a state that was controlled by the church in Europe. They wanted to worship as they saw fit, not as their government (which had been taken over by a particular sect of religion, which is why the separation idea must also protect the state from the church) told them to.
It’s worth quoting at length from the Library of Congress website:
The religious persecution that drove settlers from Europe to the British North American colonies sprang from the conviction, held by Protestants and Catholics alike, that uniformity of religion must exist in any given society. This conviction rested on the belief that there was one true religion and that it was the duty of the civil authorities to impose it, forcibly if necessary, in the interest of saving the souls of all citizens. Nonconformists could expect no mercy and might be executed as heretics. The dominance of the concept, denounced by Roger Williams as “inforced uniformity of religion,” meant majority religious groups who controlled political power punished dissenters in their midst.
(And really, you could say Santorum wants to do that. He wants to punish those who do not believe the Christian or Catholic precepts to have to go without insurance benefits they would receive if the whole system wasn’t required to follow the Catholic guidelines.)
Whenever someone like Santorum shows that he is so afraid of any kind of pluralism and longs to live in a society where everyone is just like them, and his religious beliefs are followed by everyone…whenever I hear that, I just think their faith must be so shallow and so weak that it cannot withstand any difference of opinion, and difference of world view, and still hold. Maybe I just think that Christianity is much stronger than Mr. Santorum does. And in any case, we only work our way towards truth by living in a pluralistic society. Only when we examine and try all the ideas in the marketplace will the strongest and truest win out. Another way of saying the same thing is that you will never make anyone a Christian by force. The crusades showed us that. Mr. Santorum seems to want to try that again, and again shows us his ignorance of history.
I was going to just give the quotes and stop. See what you’ve got me into Senator Hatfield!