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Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

Santorum: Obama Doesn't Stand Up for Religious Liberties

  • (Photo: Reuters/Matt Sullivan)
    Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum speaks during a Tea Party Rally in Columbus, Ohio February 18, 2012.
February 21, 2012|5:40 pm

President Obama is "particularly weak" on religious freedom issues, presidential candidate Rick Santorum said at a Monday campaign stop in Michigan. In particular, Santorum pointed to Obama's record protecting Christians from persecution around the globe and his use of the phrase "freedom of worship," rather than "freedom of religion."

"You can see why [the Obama administration doesn't] stand up for religious liberties. It's pretty obvious that they don't think religious liberties are particularly a high priority," Santorum said. "When you have the president of the United States referring to the freedom of religion and you have the secretary of state referring to the freedom of religion, not as the freedom of religion but the freedom of worship, you should get very nervous, very nervous."

Santorum said there are "a lot of tyrants around the world" who also use the phrase "freedom of worship," but avoid saying "freedom of religion."

"Freedom of worship is what you do within the four walls of the church. Freedom of religion is what you do outside the four walls of the church. What the president is now seeming to mold, in the image of other elitists who think that they know best, is to limit the role of faith in the public square and your role to live that faith out in your public and private lives.

"This is a very dangerous thing, so it's not surprising to see that the president has done virtually nothing in calling out China in its repression of religion."

There is a "real contrast" between former president George W. Bush and Obama on the issue of religious freedom abroad, according to Michael Cromartie in a Tuesday interview with The Christian Post.

Cromartie is vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and chaired the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom under Bush.

When Bush met with Chinese officials, religious freedom would be the first issue he would talk about, Cromartie recalls. Also, Bush talked about "religious freedom," rather than "freedom of worship." The distinction is important, Cromartie believes.

"Religious freedom is a much broader concept. It's a concept that means I can not only worship in a church, but I can take the values and principles I have from my faith and exercise them in the public arena."

The civil rights movement, for instance, brought values and principles from religious teaching into the public arena to oppose racial discrimination.

"Imagine saying to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., you have the right to worship in your church in Birmingham, but you don't have a right to bring all that stuff outside the church building?" Cromartie analogized.

Cromartie recalls Obama raising the issue of religious freedom in his 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt, but on the whole, believes that Bush spoke out in favor of religious freedom much more often.

Obama "has not been using the bully pulpit, whereas President Bush seemed to always go out of his way to talk about international religious freedom."

One of the controversies over Obama's birth control mandate (requiring coverage of contraception, abortifacients and sterilization in employees' health care plans) is that the exemption for religious groups narrowly defines religion. Religious groups that only serve fellow adherents are exempt. Those that seek to serve others are not. A worship service, therefore, is exempt. A soup kitchen is not.

Obama's use of the phrase "freedom of worship" is consistent with this narrow view of what religion is.

"If you have this cramped view of what religious freedom is, which is, just stay in your church building, you can worship, you can sing, you can preach, whatever you want. It's very inhibiting," Cromartie commented.

Contact: napp.nazworth@christianpost.com, @NappNazworth (Twitter)
Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/santorum-obama-doesnt-stand-up-for-religious-liberties-69991/