Santorum Lies About Obama and Female Priests

Rick Santorum’s latest bizarre attack on President Obama is a flat-out lie. He’s actually claiming that Obama wants to force the Catholic Church to accept female priests, a complete distortion of his administration’s position in a recent Supreme Court case.

What they’ve done here is a direct assault on the First Amendment, not only a direct assault on the freedom of religion, by forcing people specifically to do things that are against their religious teachings. . . . This is a president who, just recently, in this Hosanna-Tabor case was basically making the argument that Catholics had to, you know, maybe even had to go so far as to hire women priests to comply with employment discrimination issues. This is a very hostile president to people of faith. He’s a hostile president, not just to people of faith, but to all freedoms.

This isn’t just a disagreement, it’s a blatant lie. The Hosanna-Tabor case involved a woman who filed a lawsuit against a Christian school for firing her as a teacher. It was one of dozens of cases where the courts have had to decide the limits of what is called the “ministerial exception.” It is a well-established principle, based on the First Amendment religion clauses, that the government cannot interfere in internal church doctrinal issues. A Christian church can’t be forced to hire an atheist or Muslim minister, for example, which is obvious and accepted by pretty much everyone.

But there are some close calls when it comes to how exactly you set the limits of this exception. What about a church-run school? Can they refuse to hire a woman or a black person based on their religious doctrines? That’s what this case was about, and the decision was 9-0 in favor of the school. Because this teacher taught a religion course at the school, in addition to teaching math and science, she was deemed a ministerial employee for purposes of the First Amendment.

And no, the Obama administration did not argue anything even approaching the idea that churches should be forced to hire female ministers. You can read the solicitor general’s brief here. Not only did the administration not argue that the ministerial exception should not exist, they argued explicitly that the ministerial exception should only be applied to actual ministers. You can disagree with their position, of course, and the court did. But to claim that the administration’s position is that churches should have to hire female priests is simply a lie.

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  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    I wonder just how many Catholics care about maintaining an all-male clergy to begin with. I was just hearing on the radio how 98% of Catholic women do not follow the church’s doctrine on birth control. I’m not sure there’s another religious sect on Earth that maintains such highly formalized, strictly patriarchal leadership. You’d start to think that if the average Catholic ignores what these old celibate dudes are saying anyway, then there’s not much use for them.

  • raven

    Santorum is looking a bit desperate here.

    And all he can think about is to jump up the craziness. Since he is already way far out crazy, that is a lot.

    Nothing to lose. I suppose next he will claim Obama is a Kenyan born Moslem terrorist who is also the antichrist and an atheist.

  • raven

    I wonder just how many Catholics care about maintaining an all-male clergy to begin with.

    There has been a huge gap between the Catholic clergy and the members for generations now.

    It’s done nothing but grow and grow.

    The vast majority of Catholics don’t much care what the priests think or say.

    One wonders why they even bother. In fact they don’t. In the last few years, 1/3 of the members have just left the church, an astounding 22 million people.

    The reaction of the priests has been…nothing. They are so out of touch they just don’t care how many Catholics leave. 10% of the US population are ex-Catholics.

  • Chiroptera

    On the other hand, if the Catholic Church wants to be exempt from the labor laws every other employer has to obey, they can always make their priests unpaid volunteers.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com holytape

    It’s ok. That statement was not intended to be factual. He was reading from his new fiction book, “Ricky Santorum and the Chamber of Google Secrets.”

  • d cwilson

    “Santorum Lies About Obama”

    It must be a day that ends in “y”.

  • d cwilson

    The reaction of the priests has been…nothing. They are so out of touch they just don’t care how many Catholics leave. 10% of the US population are ex-Catholics.

    Actually, they’ve started running TV spots urging people to “come home” to the Catholic Church. One features a smiling set of parents watching as their kids run up to a hug a priest.

    Pretty much tells you why they want families to “come home”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/connorbd BrianX

    dcwilson:

    The one they showed in the Boston area with a bunch of people watching guilt-inducing movies of their lives in an airplane hangar was one of the single most offensive ads I’ve ever seen.

  • M Groesbeck

    raven @ 3 —

    There has been a huge gap between the Catholic clergy and the members for generations now.

    It’s done nothing but grow and grow.

    The Catholic church seems to be a particularly top-down and anti-representative religious group. If actual Catholics had any control over the institution, the Church would be several large steps to the left of where it is today — and things like Liberation Theology would be mainstream rather than considered quasi-heresy.

    Of course, they’d still be a religion — but I’m of the school of thought that prioritizes stopping the militant right-wing theocrats over bringing the well-meaning but woo-hypnotized liberals into a more realistic frame of mind.

    In any case, if you look at Catholicism in its subcultural aspects rather than its religious-hierarchy aspects — the motto of the Catholic subculture has, for decades at the very least, been “When the Pope is full of shit, ignore him.” I wholeheartedly agree — I just differ from the Catholics in my estimation of how often the Pope is full of shit.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I wonder just how many Catholics care about maintaining an all-male clergy to begin with.

    And this matters … how? Do recall that we’re dealing with hard-core authoritarians here.

  • d cwilson

    The real irony is that, fifty years ago, evangelicals were afraid that Kennedy would turn America into a Catholic-led theocracy. Today, they’re flocking to Santorum in the hope that he will.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    “And this matters … how?”

    To the extent that Santorum and others on the right are lying about this shit in order to win votes, if the vast majority of Catholics aren’t up in arms about supposed threats to their rigid hierarchy, then Republicans are probably doing themselves more harm than good. Right-wingers are a paranoid lot who see enemies everywhere. Your rank and file Catholic, however, will dismiss claims that Obama is out to get the church as stupid, and then bemoan the fact that the church is so stubbornly against reform.

    Interestingly, I saw a graph showing support for insurance coverage of contraception, and Catholics were mostly indistinguishable from everyone else, with overwhelming majorities approving. The group that stood out? Evangelicals, where a majority disapproved. Ironically, I think all the recent dog-whistling in this issue to the evangelical right, who won’t vote for Obama anyway, and not to Catholics.

  • jws1

    Wait a second. Is he stating that it is a positive moral position to deny women equal access to privilege and power? That merit should not determine who should lead the flock but that gender should?

  • John Horstman

    @3: Oh, I though their response was to increase the rate of child-rape…

  • Big Boppa

    When it comes right down to it, is Rick Santorum anything more than Michelle Bachmann with a dick?

  • Michael Heath

    jwsi writes:

    Is he stating that it is a positive moral position to deny women equal access to privilege and power? That merit should not determine who should lead the flock but that gender should?

    It wouldn’t be prudent for liberal politicians to currently belabor this point, but the media certainly should. I think the media has an obligation to scrutinize the level of discrimination and bigotry inherent in Catholicism and conservative protestantism and ask members running for office how we can trust they will cordone their bigotry within their churches. Make them answer tough questions which reveals the systemic bigotry within these institutions. The onus should be on their convincing us they can govern, not that we should assume they’re bigots only in faith and within their faith community. I don’t think most can or will limit their bigotry to their religion. Sure they’ll point to having women and/or gay staffers, but their policy positions are predominately driven by holy dogma and the type of thinking necessary to believe such tripe is objectively true – to the detriment of all humanity.

  • http://www.rodlamkey.net reverendrodney

    Don’t you see, Santorum is speaking to his Catholic base and presuming they are stupid as Pat Robertson’s fans. Or he caught whatever brain affliction is bothering Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, and you know what happened to them. Goners!

  • typecaster

    I’m not sure there’s another religious sect on Earth that maintains such highly formalized, strictly patriarchal leadership.

    Are you talking about Christian sects? If not, then I’ll have to assume that you’ve heard something about recent trends in the Islamic clergy that have not yet been widely reported.

    Santorum is a vile little toad, but we shouldn’t let that distract us from the fact that other strict patriarchies do exist.

  • http://jadehawks.wordpress.com/ Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe

    I wonder just how many Catholics care about maintaining an all-male clergy to begin with.

    you’d be surprised how deeply ingrained Catholic traditions become when you grow up Catholic. I’ve been agnostic/atheists for years before I stopped experiencing female pastors and married pastors as somehow “not quite right”, and I grew up in a liberal Catholic home in Europe.

  • Pingback: Isn’t Lying Considered a Sin? « Foster Disbelief()

  • F

    Funny how he mentions Hosanna-Tabor and Catholicism in the same breath. He has to make it about priests instead of religious instructors, because in much Catholic instruction, the instructors are women.

    Lies upon lies upon lies.

  • exdrone

    Based on the Catholics I know, I get the impression that they treat their religion as belonging to a traditional, laissez-faire, slightly disfunctional family. You listen to the parents, but they’re old-fashioned, so you don’t have to heed them when their pronouncements and rules are dated. There are a lot of rules, but you only follow the ones with which you agree and you sneak out the bedroom window when you want to have fun. It’s all a bit of a farce if you think about it too much, but it’s comforting to belong. Do your own thing, but get together at Christmas and Easter.

  • Akira MacKenzie

    The vast majority of Catholics don’t much care what the priests think or say..

    Speaking as an ex-Cat-Lick, this is what I’ve always found hilarious about American Mackerel Snappers. They ‘ll use rubbers and pill behind Papa Ratzi’s back. Some think that abortion should be legal. Some think that married men should become priests and would even ordinate women. Some of them have a problem with their priests raping children. Some claim they don’t have a problem with homosexuals–but allow them to marry? Let’s not be crazy, here! When I point out to them that Holy Mother Church does not endorse their ‘progressive” notions they naively claim that they will one day change the church.

    Puh-lease! The RCC is NOT a democracy but a remnant of the Middle Ages. The celibate (with adults, anyway) old men who run the church are not going to listen to the peasants in the pews. Meanwhile, modern government with church/state separation is only thing keeping these liberal Catholic “heretics” from the tortures of a newly empowered Inquisition. (Ever wonder why the Pope rails against secularism? He and the right-wingers in the church want the “good old days” of the strappado and the stake back.) Yet, they still cling to their faith because they can’t bring themselves to shed their primitive belief in magic.

    Pathetic.

  • jamessweet

    IIRC, there’s a further thing that’s fucked up about this interpretation of the Hosanna-Tabor case. They didn’t want to fire the woman in question because she had the wrong beliefs or genitalia. Rather, she got sick, and they wanted to leave her out in the cold in a manner that runs contrary to disability laws. The school here was exploiting the ministerial exception so that they could get around laws designed to stop employers from firing people simply because, at no fault of their own, they became sick or injured.

    This woman was not fired for her beliefs. She was fired out of greed and a lack of compassion, and the school realized they could exploit an exception intended to protect their First Amendment rights in order to escape responsibility. Pretty vile stuff.

  • http://euroatheist.wordpress.com pelamun

    But there are some close calls when it comes to how exactly you set the limits of this exception. What about a church-run school? Can they refuse to hire a woman or a black person based on their religious doctrines? That’s what this case was about, and the decision was 9-0 in favor of the school. Because this teacher taught a religion course at the school, in addition to teaching math and science, she was deemed a ministerial employee for purposes of the First Amendment.

    Ironic, isn’t it, that in many European countries, religious institutions such as schools and hospitals are allowed to discriminate against employees on religious grounds, i.e. fire nurses getting a divorce, or living in sin, or coming out as atheist or gay. And it’s happening, and there is not much political will to change things.

  • slc1

    Laugh it up, according to recent national polls, schmuck Santorum is now nearly even with Romney amongst Rethuglican voters.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2012/02/13/gIQAD6Z9BR_story.html

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    Are you talking about Christian sects? If not, then I’ll have to assume that you’ve heard something about recent trends in the Islamic clergy that have not yet been widely reported.

    My understanding of the Islamic clergy is that it’s not “strictly formalized”, and that the religion itself deems clergy unnecessary. No doubt that conservative Muslim culture is very patriarchal though.

    Actually, a better counter-example would be the Mormons, whom if I’m not mistaken are definitely patriarchal, and have a formalized leadership even if it lacks the vestments and profound titles of the Catholic church.

    What I was really getting at though is that the strict Catholic hierarchy is completely out of touch with its parishioners, as others made explicit later on. The leadership of the Mormon church makes sense given Mormon culture. But the Catholic hierarchy appears to be a total anachronism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003562632872 rexteryalizerpaw

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    Oboma has NOT brought CHANGE, In fact ~! ~ THE ONLY real THING needing CHANGE !….Was Barack Hussein Obama II.

    HIMSELF

    Barack Hussein Obama II (

    Who hates American Values ) who is A ” SELF PROCLAIMED Enemy” ~of responsible, Morally Conscious HARD WORKING Americans.

    oBOMAS Irresponsible & DRUG MAFIA and reckless supporters KNOW~ that Barack Hussein Obama II, WILL FORCE YOU to paY THEM, out of your PockeT .{ FOR all of their UNCHECKED Vices and THRILLS/

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    | / At

    your COST & Sacrifice. …This UN~CHANGABLE fraud, has done His VERY BEST to Inspire VIOLENCE.

    THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. saying ……To his supporters.Saying “Get ready for hand-to-hand combat with your Fellow Americans” – Obama has ALSO DECLARED to his Supporters. “I want all Americans to get in each others faces!– Obama Demands !

    “You bring a knife to a fight pal, we’ll bring a gun” –

    THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. ANGER VIOLENCE And more taxes….. THIS IS OBAMAS Change for america /“Hit Back Twice As Hard”. He commands ! *Obama on the private sector: ~~ “We talk To these folks…~ / so I know whose a*$ to KICK.“ OBOMA wants to KICK your a*$ /“`

    Shouting THAT Republican victory would mean ~ “hand to hand combat” and HE IS EXPECTING people to be on Edge and ON BORDERLINE killing MODE, “ VIOLENT / and STAND and STOMP and MOB for their immoral CAUSES and THIS IS WHAT HE LIVES FOR ./ ./ ./ THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. !* Obama Tells democrats: “ I’m itching for a fight.” !

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  • dingojack

    SLC – intrade today

    2012 Presidental election by party

    Democrat: 60.2% [Obama leads by 21.5%]

    Republican: 38.7%

    other: 1.1%

    Head-to-head match-ups

    Obama/Romney: 66.89/33.11% [President leads by 33.799%]

    Obama/Santorum: 95.122/2.439% [ ” ” ” 95.122%]

    Obama/Paul: 96.039/1.961% { ” ” ” 96.076%]

    Obama/Gingrich: 98.361/1.639% [ ” ” ” 96.721%]

    Republican Party Canidates

    Odds of being nominated

    Romney: ca. 9 to 7

    Santorum: ca. 94 to 15

    Gingrich: ca. 93 to 3

    Paul: ca. 343 to 9

    Odds of being nominated and elected

    Romney: ca. 43 to 11

    Santorum: ca. 257 to 1

    Gingrich: ca. 11343 to 8

    Paul: ca. 15553 to 8

    If you wanna throw your money away, send to me instead. I could use it.

    Dingo