“You’re a liberal something, but you’re not a Christian.”
Apropos of Cathleen Kaveny’s post below regarding crucial social justice issues and their role in the campaign–versus charges of false messianism and the like–Steve Waldman at Beliefnet recounts a talk by former GOP senator Rick Santorum, who is seen by many as an uber-Catholic because of his fierce claims to orthodoxy and his attacks on those who do not agree with him. At the talk to a gathering of foreign journalists, Santorum rather predictably called Obama’s faith “phony,” but continued:
After he’d accused Obama and other Democrats of religoius fraudulance for a few minutes, journalist Terry Mattingly of GetReligion.org asked whether it’s possible that rather than being fake, perhaps,Obama was sincerely reflecting a form of liberal Christianity in the tradition of Reinhold Neibuhr. Santorum surprised me by answering that yes, “I could buy that.”
However, he questioned whether liberal Christianity was really, well, Christian. “You’re a liberal something, but you’re not a Christian.” He continued, “When you take a salvation story and turn it into a liberation story you’ve abandoned Christendom and I don’t think you have a right to claim it.”
Perhaps Santorum thought he’d score some points by channeling Joseph Ratzinger, but he didn’t do a very good job. Needless to say, this idea that one is a Christian only by belief and not by any works–a quietism that conveniently plays into GOP conservatism–is a longstanding one obviously, but also a theme, I think, behind the noxious anti-Christ propaganda on Obama…That he is promising paradise here on earth.