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My beef with Rick Santorum’s 2008 speech before Ave Maria University is not that it was too Christian, but that it was not Christian enough.

I love my country, served happily in the military for eight years (full disclosure: in the National Guard), and the hair on my neck still stands up during the kick strain of the “Stars and Stripes Forever.” But as a Christian, I find statements like this one Santorum made in his 2008 speech at Ave Maria University sort of creepy:

This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war at all. This is a spiritual war. And the father of lies has his sights on what you would think the father of lies, Satan, would have his sights on. A good, decent, powerful, influential country, the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one else to go after, other than the United States.

There is really “no one else to go after” other than the United States? This is America’s leading Roman Catholic politician before what I would expect was about as thoroughly orthodox a Roman Catholic crowd as you’d get outside of a Mass (and perhaps including a fair number of typical Mass-attendees, as well), and there is “no one else” for Satan to go after other than the United States?

The church doesn’t even rank as a competitor here for Satan’s ire compared to the ire Satan has for the good ole U.S.A.?

Santorum adds that there being no one else other than the U.S. for Satan to go after has been “the case for now almost 200 years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great founding fathers.”

To be sure, Santorum discusses the Church (and the churches) later in his speech – but only as a part of the story of the decline of the United States.

My friend – or at least my friendly acquaintance – Peter J. Leithart ended last Friday’s “On the Square” column with the conclusions that Christians “can’t talk politics  without sounding like Rick Santorum, and we shouldn’t try to.” Well maybe. But I certainly hope we can do a lot better.

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