JOHN F. KENNEDY: I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President — should he be Catholic — how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him. I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all. MORE
RICK SANTORUM: In an escalation of the sometimes fiery language that he has used throughout the race, Mr. Santorum declared that colleges were no longer a “neutral setting” for people of faith and described how he had become sickened after reading John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech calling for the rigid separation of religion and politics. “What kind of country do we live in that says only people of nonfaith can come into the public square and make their case?” Mr. Santorum said on the ABC News program “This Week.” “That makes me throw up,” he said, adding later, “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” MORE
WASHINGTON POST: It gives me no pleasure to rap Santorum, a man I know and respect even if I disagree with him on some issues. Not that he minds. He’s a scrapper who loves a fight — and he forgives. Bottom line: Santorum is a good man. He’s just a good man in the wrong century. This doesn’t mean he’s wrong about everything, but he’s so far out of step with most Americans that he can’t hope to win the votes of moderates and independents so crucial to victory in November. The Republican Party’s insistence on conservative purity, meanwhile, will result in the cold comfort of defeat with honor and, in the longer term, potential extinction. Increasingly, the party is growing grayer and whiter. Nine out of 10 Republicans are non-Hispanic white and more than half are highly religious, according to Gallup. […] Republicans may sleep better if they nominate The Most Conservative Person In The World, but they won’t be seeing the executive branch anytime soon. It’s too bad this election season got lost in the weeds of religious conviction. It wouldn’t have happened if the Obama administration had simply taken one of several other routes available for providing birth control to women who want it. Instead, Obama aimed right at the heart of the Republican Party and, one can only assume, got exactly what he wanted: a culture war in which Rick Santorum would be the natural point man and, in the broader public’s perception, the voice of the GOP.