Santorum Backs First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) on EWTN News

Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) appeared on the third episode of “Candidate Conversations 2016” on December 27 on EWTN News. This was the third of several interviews with 2016 candidates conducted by Robert P. George, Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and founder of American Principles Project, and Dr. Matthew J. Franck, Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute.

“Candidate Conversations 2016” is the first program of its kind — a series of televised one-on-one interviews with presidential candidates, specifically targeted to Christian voters. Professor George and Dr. Franck sat down for one-on-one discussions with the candidates on important topics including religious liberty, marriage, life, the dignity of the person, restoring prosperity and economic opportunity, education, immigration, and the struggles facing everyday Americans and their families.

You can watch a key part of the interview with Senator Santorum below:

Franck and Santorum discussed religious liberty at length. The full transcript of their conversation is below:

FRANCK:  You’ve mentioned the First Amendment Defense Act, and I’m glad you did. The Catholic bishops, our bishops, have expressed deep concerns—

SANTORUM: They’re my bishops too.

FRANCK: I meant to include you in that, our bishops, yours and mine. And most of our viewers—many of our viewers here on EWTN. The Catholic bishops have expressed deep concerns over the future of religious liberty, especially an emerging attempt to punish those of us who believe that marriage is the union of husband and wife. It’s not just us Catholics though, it’s Evangelicals, Mormons, Orthodox Jews, Eastern Orthodox Christians and others have been penalized or fired from government jobs; Or whose adoption agencies have been excluded from working to help find orphan children new homes; this has happened not just to Catholic Charities but also to Evangelical Lutheran Children’s Services as well. And small business owners, as we know, have faced bankrupting fines by the government for declining to facilitate same-sex ceremonies; bakers, photographers, and so on…

SANTORUM: And there are legions of others who are violating their conscience, and going through a very difficult time personally. Going along with the decision even though it creates a real moral dilemma for them, so you’re not even hearing the cases of people who bow to the state, but do so with a very heavy moral consequence to their own emotional and spiritual being.

FRANCK: Driven by fear of penalty.

SANTORUM: Exactly.

FRANCK: Now, in his very powerful Obergefell dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts, of the Supreme Court warned, and I quote him, “the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage.” He went on, “There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.” Now, given the seriousness of these religious liberty threats, recognized even by the Chief Justice, what would you do, as president to protect the rights of Christians and other dissenters from the new normal on marriage—specifically would you seek passage or the First Amendment Defense Act in your first 100 days?

SANTORUM: Yeah, I think that’s probably the best short term answer. Which is to create some space, and create some—stop the federal government from pursuing through its regulatory structures or even through litigation, or prosecution, anybody in the business community, or anyone who receives government service or government dollars for providing, for example adoption services and the like. Creating that space to allow people to exercise their religious freedom in providing these services. And I know that’s been twisted and turned by many in the media that we’re legitimizing bigotry. But that goes to Roberts’ point, which is, there’s nothing in this opinion that gives you any sense that you’re protected. Because what the court found was is that there’s no rational basis for you to have an opinion that you believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. So, the only reason, again according to the court, is that you hate gay people. In the end, they said it specifically in DOMA, but they alluded to it in the second case. So, if you believe in traditional marriage, if you believe in man/woman marriage, you simply do so because you hate, because there’s no other reason you can support it. That’s the real problem here—is that we’ve eliminated thousands of years of history as to what—cultural norm, natural law, everything you can think of. And said none of those things are real. They’re all imagined, they’re all constructions to protect—can you imagine, thousands of years ago, when marriage was instituted, that it was only instituted because people hated gay folks. I mean that’s the only reason that marriage was instituted.

FRANCK: Yeah, it’s risible on the face of it. So, if there’s no rational basis to believe in man/woman marriage, then the new dispensation of reason, which is to embrace same-sex marriage as equal to man/woman marriage in law. That new dispensation of reason is now being used as a way of trumping the religiously grounded but altogether rational belief in man/woman marriage. So we who believe in marriage and have rational grounds for doing so, and are bolstered in our belief by our faith, and compelled by conscience to regard marriage in that way, we’re now up against a new theory of what reason commands—

SANTORUM: You’re outlaws, you’re outlaws.

FRANCK: So in a struggle between the new dispensation of reason and the ancient dispensations of our faith, how’s this going to come out?

SANTORUM: I don’t know. I fear how it’s going to come out. I mean, if you look at how some of the cases are coming out right now, it’s not, it’s not encouraging. You see businesses being put out of business, you see catholic charities, and others, who have been excluded. And I suspect, as Justice Roberts noted, that non-profits are going to be—

FRANCK: They’re next.

SANTORUM: They’re next. And the nonprofit status, and eligibility for grants, and all those things, and particularly if—depending on what happens in this next presidential race, if the party that’s in power now, stays in power in the white house. I don’t think there’s any question that this ball will start rolling. I think the president and his people, now within a year of the election are not going to push this very hard. I think they realize that if they push this right before an election that this issue will flare up again. And probably not going to be—it will validate all of the concerns that, I think, a lot of the American public has, even—there are thoughtful people on the left who say ‘wait a minute, we can’t’— even some gay and lesbian activists who say ‘wait, we can’t go this far, if we’ve been arguing tolerance all these years, we have to be tolerant also.’ But that’s not where the left is, that’s not where President Obama is. That’s not where Hillary Clinton is. I just don’t think they’re going to do anything particularly dramatic between now and the election, But if they’re successful that will definitely happen. Definitely come.

FRANCK: Very worrisome, thank you.

In the first episode of Candidate Conversations 2016, Professor George interviewed Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas). You can watch the interview with Senator Cruz here.

In the second episode of Candidate Conversations 2016, Professor George interviewed former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.). Watch the interview with Governor Huckabee here.

Jon Schweppe is Deputy Director of Communications for the American Principles Project.