Largely forgotten by the conservative voters who propelled him to an unexpectedly strong showing in his 2012 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Rick Santorum made a bid for renewed relevance at the religious conservative Awakening conference Saturday, where he implied that educators should defy a Supreme Court ruling against school-sponsored Bible readings.
“We are on a crossroads in American history, a crossroads that looks like we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from,” Santorum intoned.
The former Pennsylvania senator -- who asserted last year that the separation of church and state is a communist idea -- went on to argue that the left's political survival depends on secularism.
“The left cannot be successful in a country of God-given rights,” Santorum said. “It can’t. Because they want to be the purveyor of rights, and if God is the purveyor of rights, then they lose. We have an obligation to educate, to form, within our churches to preach, within our families to educate, and to fight within our schools. Why are Bibles no longer in public schools? Don’t give me the Supreme Court. The reason Bibles are no longer in the public schools is because we let them take them out of the public schools.”
The Supreme Court ruling by which Santorum is wholly unperturbed is Abington School District v. Schempp, a 1963 case in which the Court ruled eight to one against public school Bible readings. Writing the Court's majority opinion, Justice Tom C. Clark noted that such readings "require religious exercises," in violation of the First Amendment. Clark proceeded to conclude that study of the Bible and religion was permissible if such topics were "presented objectively as part of a secular program of education," although the context of Santorum's comments make clear that that's not what the former senator has in mind.
Though Santorum came close to derailing Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign, he's unlikely to be much more than a sideshow in his expected 2016 bid. RealClearPolitics' average of recent surveys of finds Santorum in 11th place in a crowded GOP field, garnering just two percent support.
Watch Santorum's remarks below, via Right Wing Watch: