In 1492 Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand completed the conquest of Spain from the Islamic Moors and were proclaimed Catholic Kings and heads of the Church in their country. This began the reign of the Catholic Church as an indivisible part of government and national policy.
It was the Church and its missionaries that led the way when Spain came to the Americas and the rest of the colonies throughout the world. In many ways, their authority was absolute. They went about doing God’s work as well as being prominent members of the hierarchy, which represented tyranny especially for the people the conquerors marginalized along the way toward political control.
This country’s founding fathers would have none of that, as they made sure that our constitution was written to preclude the religious zealots’ temptation and their political lackeys from acting to impose a theocracy to rule the people. This is very important today as the immigrant nature of our society has created a super diversity of people, their religious practices as well as their belief in God.
In a sense, the Constitution’s language also helped save the people from themselves as Protestantism became the predominant orientation since early in America’s history and has lurked at the edge of becoming a special supremacy in the land. So much so that John F. Kennedy had his troubles as a Catholic candidate for the presidency of the United States.
On Sept. 12, 1960, Kennedy addressed the Greater Houston Ministerial Association and among other things said: “I believe in an America that is neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish — where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source — where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials — and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”
Evidently Kennedy’s words fell on the deaf ears particularly religious conservatives who are seeking to equate church belief with political power to rule the nation. National organizations such as Focus on the Family have been in the position to influence national legislation especially with regard to the sensitive issues on women and their bodies and their relationship to their children.
Rick Santorum has gone further in his effort to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney by conducting a campaign that has resulted in his Catholic faith becoming an instrument of projected national policy. The irony is that he is resonating with Protestant conservatives and Christian evangelicals who he, in 2008, branded as “gone from the world of Christianity.”
Santorum specifically said on MSNBC: “We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic. But the 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 in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”
So according to Santorum, the Protestant era is gone and it is the Catholic Church’s turn to rule the country with perhaps a special dispensation of the Pope. That would make Santorum the new Catholic king of the United States.