Graham Not Sold on Obama’s Christianity, Santorum Warned of Satan in 2008

Feb 21, 2012 4:13pm
ap santorum 120218 wblog Graham Not Sold on Obamas Christianity, Santorum Warned of Satan in 2008

Eric Gay/AP Photo

The 2012 race turned to God, Satan and religion when Franklin Graham said he’s surer that Rick Santorum is a Christian than President Obama and a 2008 Santorum speech surfaced in which the top GOP candidate told a religious audience that Satan is attacking U.S. institutions.

Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, said on MSNBC Tuesday that he could not verify that President Obama is a Christian. “I just have to assume that he is,” Graham said.

But he has no question about Rick Santorum. “His values are so clear on moral issues. No question about it. … I think he’s a man of faith.”

Santorum’s faith was in the news for another reason, too. The Pennsylvania Republican said in 2008, two years after losing his Senate seat and four years before seeking the presidency, that Satan was attacking U.S. institutions in government and religion.

The comments, not before mentioned during the 2012 election cycle, were the lead item on the Drudge Report Tuesday. Santorum has surged to even or even ahead of Mitt Romney in opinion polls, including in Romney’s home state of Michigan, where Republican voters cast their preference for the GOP nominee next Tuesday.

Santorum, speaking at the conservative Catholic Ave Maria University in Florida, praised the Catholic Bishop Samuel Aquila for pledging to deny communion to politicians who support abortion rights and said the matter went beyond politics and was a symptom of Satan’s reach in U.S. society.

“While we all see all this as a great political conflict in warfare between the Obama camp and the McCain camp and culture wars, what Bishop Aquila put his finger on and what I think, I suspect those of you who are here understand, this is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war,” Santorum said in August of 2008.

“And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country, the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case now for almost 200 years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.”

Santorum said Satan’s reach in U.S. society has grown.

“He didn’t have much success in the early days. Our foundation was very strong, in fact, is very strong. But over time, that great, acidic quality of time corrodes even the strongest foundations. And Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.”

The Republican presidential contest that has so far focused on the economy has taken a definitive swing toward social issues with the emergency of Santorum as a major contender. And where Republicans and candidates had attacked President Obama for his stewardship of the economy, they today are focusing more on his social positions and even the religious underpinnings of his policy.

Even Mitt Romney, the Mormon front-runner, who has by and large shied away from including religion in his campaign, today argued that Obama has a “secular agenda.”

Santorum has never been shy about his faith and its effect on his policy.

Rick Santorum went after President Obama in Ohio last week for “exercising his values and trumping the values of the Church,” but less than two years ago, the candidate wasn’t so opposed to letting theology into the presidency.

During a speech at American University in November 2010, Santorum told the College Republicans, “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”

Santorum went on to say, “It has allowed politicians to say, ‘I am privately this way, but publicly that way.’ ”

Santorum spoke last week in regard to the president’s controversial mandate requiring employers to provide insurance that offers co-pay-free birth control. Santorum argued that this imposed a way of thinking on religious people that ran counter to their beliefs.

Santorum continued on that vein this weekend, saying, “It is imposing his ideology on a group of people expressing their theology, their moral code, and saying the government will force you to do what your faith says is gravely wrong.”

There have been exceptions to the rule.

Santorum has said that while he personally opposes contraception and believes that it contributes to societal degradation and “the whole sexual libertine idea,” he would not seek to outlaw it as a policy matter. And he pledged in 2006 not to curb access to contraception.

Likewise with homosexuality, he has said he would not vote for a law to outlaw homosexual behavior. But Santorum opposes  the landmark Supreme Court decisions that overturned such laws on contraception in 1965 and homosexual behavior in 2003.

ABC’s Sarah Parnass contributed to this report.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus