Posted by Matthew Rothschild on February 27, 2012

Rick Santorum’s true colors are really coming out these days, and they are the colors of the Ayatollah and Savonarola.

On Sunday, Santorum told George Stephanopoulos that JFK’s famous speech delineating the wall between church and state made him want to “throw up” and should make every American want to “throw up.”

Well, here’s what JFK actually said:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute -- where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote . . .

He added: “I believe in an America . . . 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 that’s precisely where Santorum has a problem with JFK’s statement—and with our Constitutional system.

For Santorum believes that it’s OK for a religious body to try to impose its will upon us, and upon the public acts of its officials.

In fact, he himself wants to impose the Catholic Church’s doctrine upon the rest of us as it relates to abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and sexual pleasure.

Santorum didn’t cop to that, though. Instead, he distorted what Kennedy said, claiming that JFK said “that people of faith have no role in the public square.” He said no such thing. But what he did say was that religion should be private, religious institutions should not endorse candidates, the government shouldn’t establish religion, and that there should be no religious tests for elective office.

That’s also what our Constitution and our laws say. But it’s not what Santorum and other zealots want them to say.

If the race this year ends up between JFK and Rick Santorum, I’ve got a feeling Kennedy is going to win hands down.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Ron Paul Pummels Santorum in Debate."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter