Liberals, Democrats, statists, pagans and other instinctive allies and usefully idiotic tools of Satan are all in a snit these days because Rick Santorum had the temerity to let Baudelaire’s black cat out of the proverbial bag. (It was the French writer Charles Baudelaire who once said that “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”) You see, modern sense and secular sensibility demand that we reject the actual existence of a fallen Cherub named Lucifer and accept, instead, the existence of a vague thing called “evil” that is defined according to the prevailing weltanshauung.
Thus the wailing and gnashing of teeth after the content of a speech given by Santorum at Ave Maria College in 2008 made its way into the hands of the Drive-By Media, which is now falling all over itself in an effort to tar Santorum as a religious fanatic and a Catholic bigot because he made an observation of supernatural reality anticipated by C.S. Lewis in his classic novel The Screwtape Letters: that Satan exists and he targets not only individual souls but churches and sovereign nations. In particular, Santorum notes, the Devil long ago set his sights on the United States and targeted both academia and the Christian Church in America because they presented the greatest obstacles to the progression of evil.
For this he is labeled a religious fanatic? Seriously? By that standard, fundamental Christianity – Mere Christianity as Lewis called it - is an off-the wall cult that is substantially no different than, say, the Heaven’s Gate crowd. Insofar as our good friend Allen Fitzhugh will deal with this issue at some length later today, I’ll leave it at that for the fanatic aspect.
There remains the matter of Santorum as a Catholic bigot. Here is the allegedly offensive text:
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 these strong plants that have so deeply rooted in American tradition. He was successful. The place where he was, in my mind, the most successful and first successful was in academia. He understood pride of “smart” people. He attacked them at their weakest, that they were in fact smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different, pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it, “because we’re smart;” and so academia a long time ago fell.
The next was the church. Now, you 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.
I can see where some people will construe Santorum’s words to mean that while Satan ravaged the Protestant churches in America, somehow the Catholic Church remains unscathed. This isn’t what he said, and although he could have been more artful in expressing himself, Santorum was essentially correct: the United States was founded by Protestants and its national character therefore indelibly imprinted with a Judeo-Christian ethic of a decidedly Protestant nature.
Protestantism was and remains the dominant Christian religion in this country and all of our institutions were shaped by its influence. This much is evident in the character of Americans as a group: for the most part, they are decent, God-fearing people who believe in the Ten Commandments and do their best to reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ regarding the virtues of charity, temperance, fortitude and justice. While largely Catholic Europe began its journey to hell in a secularist hand basket over 200 years ago, largely Protestant America clung (bitterly so, in the opinion of Mr. Obama) to its religion and held fast – at least until the advent of theological Modernism in the early 20th century.
The result? A hundred years later, mainstream Protestantism is a spiritual train wreck: long gone are the fundamentals of Christianity (as enumerated in the Nicean Creed) in the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Methodist churches. In their place stand strange new gods who, by a curious dint of coincidence, command that we embrace the totality of the secularist/statist/Liberal agenda. It is a religion that deifies the world and rejects Heaven above for Utopia on earth; political activism is the new religion and politicians are the pastors. No wonder so many spiritually starved Protestants have turned to the evangelical churches for sustenance – and membership in liberal mainstream churches declines while membership in conservative denominations grows.
This is the essence of Santorum’s comments and I suspect that while liberal Protestants will howl in righteous indignation, conservative Protestants will nod their heads in sad agreement.