Santorum Has Got Hold of Some Bad Spirituality

Submitted by Ken Watts on Mon, 02/27/2012 - 15:32

When I first heard Rick Santorum's recent comments on Obama's "bad theology" I was ready to write a quite different post.

Here's what he said, on separate occasions:

President Obama believes in "some phony ideal, some phony theology...not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology."

“We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit.”

As most readers of the daily mull know by now I have a doctorate in theology from an evangelical seminary, and a core topic of my dissertation was the legitimate interpretation of the Bible. Hence all the posts about the meanings of various passages, such as this and this and this.

So, as odd as it might seem coming from someone who currently bills himself as a pantheistic atheist, my first instinct was to expose Santorum's unbiblical theology.

I envisioned a comprehensive analysis of what the Bible actually does say about protecting nature—which, it so happens, is a lot closer to Obama's position than it is to Santorum's.

It would be like shooting fish in a barrel. For a start, check out Genesis 2:15, Leviticus 25:23-24, Numbers 35:33-34, Deuteronomy 20:19, and Ezekiel 34:17-18.

But then I noticed something else—something more basic, and much more important.

Something that helps explains such diverse issues as Republican positions on taxes, worker's rights, voting rights, local democracy, and even contraception.

Look at that second quote again:

“We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit.”

Notice how it turns on his definition of the word "dominion".

The word itself simply means "the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority".

Dominion is the power or right to control something or someone. The word itself says nothing about how or for what purpose this power is to be executed.

But Santorum does say something about that.

In his view, dominion doesn't just mean power, it means power used for one's own benefit, to the exclusion of the benefit of the person or thing one has power over—unless, presumably, their benefit corresponds to the benefit of the dominator.

In the Republican world, as represented by Rick Santorum, the proper use of power is to wield it to one's own advantage, without any concern for those you have power over.

That's a pretty big charge, so let's put it to the test.

Is this how Republicans actually use power, once they get it?

  • Why do Republicans—the party of the 1%—invariably lower taxes on the 1% whenever they get a chance?
  • Why did Wisconsin's Republican Governor, whose campaign was largely financed by the 1%, and whose opponent's campaign was largely financed by unions, make his top priority the dismantling of unions in Wisconsin?
  • Why has one Republican-run state after another changed the voting laws in ways that decrease the number of eligible Democratic voters?
  • Why has the Republican governor of Michigan taken over the small poor city of Benton Harbor, ignoring their own elected officials, and grabbed prime city parkland to be used for an exclusive golf course?
  • Why did the Republicans in the House refuse to allow women any voice in their hearing on birth control?

All of these cases have one thing in common: the use of power without any concern for those the power is wielded over.

It also, of course, explains the case that Rick Santorum was making—the Republican willingness to destroy the environment for profit.

Among other things, it makes me wonder about Santorum's attitude toward marriage.

He's certainly aware of Genesis 3:14-16...

"And the Lord God said...to the woman...thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee"

So, according to his own definition, Santorum has dominion over his wife, to use her wisely, but for his own benefit, not for hers.

I wonder how she feels about that.

But of course he can probably explain that away.

After all, if there is anything a man has complete control over, it's how he interprets his Bible.

At least, that's what I think today.