Feature:Video

Santorum: ‘I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute’ [VIDEO]

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

Sunday morning’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” found former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum defending his belief in the intersection of religion and politics.

Stephanopoulos pressed Santorum on comments he made about former President John F. Kennedy’s 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, in which Kennedy strongly affirmed his belief in the separation of church and state.

Stephanopoulos pointed out that earlier in the campaign, Santorum said Kennedy’s speech made him “almost throw up.” Stephanopoulos asked why.

“Because the first line — the first substantive line in speech says, ‘I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,’” Santorum said. “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.”

Santorum explained that the First Amendment does not mean people of faith should been out of the public square, but rather very much a part of it.

“This is the First Amendment. The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion. That means bringing everybody —people of faith and no faith — into the public square” he said. “Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, ‘No, faith is not allowed in the public square, I will keep it separate.’ Go on and read the speech, ‘I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith.’ It was an absolutist doctrine that was foreign at the time of 1960.”

Santorum explained that his goal is to encourage and make people of faith or no faith feel comfortable coming into the public square.

Stephanopoulos further pushed Santorum on his comment that Kennedy’s speech made him “want to throw up.”

“Absolutely,” Santorum said, “To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live in that says only people of non-faith can come in the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up and it should make every American.”

Santorum added that the Obama administration is imposing their values on people of faith, “the next logical step when people of faith — at least according to John Kennedy — have no role in the public square.”

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