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TACOMA, WA  - FEBRUARY 13: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum greets a crowd of supporters during a rally  February 13, 2012 at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, Washington. Washington state TACOMA, WA - FEBRUARY 13: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum greets a crowd of supporters during a rally February 13, 2012 at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, Washington. Washington state's caucuses will be held March 3, 2012. Santorum, in Washington campaigning, answered questions about marriage equality legislation signed by Governor Chris Gregoire earlier in the day. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)  

Santorum in 2008: Mainline Protestantism ‘in shambles … gone from the world of Christianity’ [AUDIO]

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David Martosko
Executive Editor

A speech former Senator Rick Santorum delivered at a Catholic college in 2008 began burning up the left-wing blogosphere Friday afternoon. At Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, Santorum argued that Satan was using the national debate over abortion as a tool to destroy the institutions of American culture — including universities, the government, popular culture, and mainline Protestant churches.

“This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war at all. This is a spiritual war,” Santorum said during his August 29, 2008 speech. “And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies, Satan, would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country, the United States of America.”

The portion of his remarks that have attracted the most attention — including scorn from the liberal People for the American Way, which identified the university’s podcast of Santorum’s speech on Friday — concern his view that Protestant churches have been compromised by that “spiritual war” over the question of when life begins.

Santorum is a devout Roman Catholic.

(LISTEN: Excerpt from Santorum’s 2008 speech at Ave Maria University)

“Once the colleges fell, and those who were being educated in our institutions,” he said during the speech, “the next was the church. Now you’d say, ‘Well, wait, the Catholic Church?’ No.”

“We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic, but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic. Sure, the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic. Mainstream, mainline Protestantism.

“And of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is a shambles. It is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. So they attacked mainline Protestantism, they attacked the Church, and what better way to go after smart people who also believe they’re pious — to use both vanity and pride to go after the Church.”

Santorum also insisted that Satan has cheapened American pop culture.

“The corruption of culture, the corruption of manners, the corruption of decency is now on display,” he said, “whether it’s the NBA or whether it’s a rock concert or whether it’s on a movie set.”

(LISTEN: Santorum’s complete 2008 speech at Ave Maria University)

In 2008 Santorum was on the outside of the presidential race looking in, criticizing then-Senator Barack Obama for telling Pastor Rick Warren during a candidate forum that determining when life begins is “above my pay grade.”

He also slammed then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for telling NBC’s Tom Brokaw on “Meet the Press” that “the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition … We don’t know.”

Pelosi described herself during that August 24, 2008 interview as “an ardent, practicing Catholic.”

Santorum, speaking less than a week later, leaned on day-old comments from Bishop Sam Aquila of Fargo, N.D. Catholics who support “so-called abortion rights,” Aquila said, referring to Pelosi, “support a false right, promote a culture of death, and are guided by the ‘Father of Lies.’”

Aquila also said pro-abortion Catholics should refrain from taking Communion at church.

Speaking to Ave Maria University students one day later, Santorum picked up on the bishop’s “Father of Lies” rhetoric.

“That great acidic quality of time corrodes away even the strongest foundations,” Santorum said. “And Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America.”

Reached for comment late Friday night, Santorum deputy communications director Matt Beynon referred questions to communications director Hogan Gidley, who was not immediately available.

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