Monday, December 22nd, 2014

In Context: Santorum on Satan

At a speech in 2008, Rick Santorum said, "Satan has his sights set" on the United States of America.

This is the latest installment in our In Context series putting controversial statements in their full context.

Here are the comments by Rick Santorum on Satan attacking American institutions, from a talk he gave at Ave Maria University in Florida in 2008:

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. And that’s been the case for now almost 200 years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great founding fathers.

He didn’t have much success in the early days. Our foundation was very strong, in fact is very strong. But over time that great, acidic quality of time corrodes away even the strongest foundations. And Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity and sensuality as the route to attack all of these strong plants that have so deeply rooted in American tradition. He was successful. He attacks all of us and he attacks all of our institutions.

The place where he was, in my mind, the most successful and first -- first successful was in academia. He understood pride of smart people. He attacked them at their weakest. They were in fact smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different -- pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it because they’re smart. And so academia a long time ago fell.

You say, well, what could be the impact of academia falling? Well, I would make the argument that the other structures that I’m going to talk about here had the root of their destruction because of academia. Because what academia does is educate the elites in our society, educates the leaders of our society, particularly at the college level. And they were the first to fall. And so what we saw, this domino effect, once the colleges fell and those who were being educated in our institutions.

The next was the church. No, you’d say, well wait, the Catholic church? No. We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic, but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic. Sure, the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic. Mainstream, mainline Protestantism, and of course, we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is a shambles. It is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.

And so they attacked mainline Protestantism, they attacked the church. And what better way to go after smart people who also believe they are also pious, and to use both vanity and pride to go after the church?

After that, you start destroying the church and you start destroying academia, the culture is where their next success was. And I need not even go into the state of the popular culture today. But whether it’s sensuality or vanity of the famous in America, they are peacocks on display and they have taken their poor behavior and made it fashionable. The corruption of culture, the corruption of manners, the corruption of decency, is now on display whether it’s the NBA or whether it’s a rock concert or whether it’s on a movie set.

The fourth -- and this was harder and I know you’re going to challenge me on this one -- but politics and government was the next to fall. You say, well, you would think they’d be the first to fall as fallible as we are in politics. But people in political life get elected by ordinary folks, from lots of places all over the country where the foundations of this country are still strong. And so while we may have had examples, the body politic held up fairly well up until the last couple of decades. But it is falling too.