FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2021
Manisha Sunil, West End Strategy Team
[email protected]; Phone: 202-417-0171
Religious Freedom Advocates Denounce Sen. Santorum’s Anti-Indigenous, Christian Nationalist Comments
WASHINGTON—Former Senator Rick Santorum’s comments on religious freedom and American culture at this past Friday’s Young America’s Foundation event are deeply concerning in its conflation of American and Christian identity, and complete erasure of Native American history. Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, released the below statement on the true meaning of religious freedom, and why all of us should be speaking out against this blatant show of bigotry.
“Undoubtedly, religious freedom is at the core of our nation’s founding. That is where my alignment with Senator Santorum ends. His comments this past Friday were not only deeply antithetical to the true meaning of religious freedom laid out by the First Amendment, but also horribly violent toward Native Americans and ignorant of the oppressions they have faced on account of this nation’s founding.
“The Mosaic laws, ten commandments, and morals and teachings of Jesus Christ are not, in fact, embedded in our nation’s ‘DNA,’ as Santorum suggests. True religious freedom in the United States does not recognize the predominance of belief over law; indeed, it is the law that protects personal belief. To conflate American identity with Christianity tarnishes the basic tenets of our democracy.
“Adding insult to injury, to claim there was ‘nothing here’ during our nation’s founding – and that ‘there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture’ – erases the very real pain that, frankly, American colonists caused Indigenous people. Time and again, the United States has failed to live up to the promises enshrined in our Constitution. That includes the systematic extermination of Native Americans carried out by our forefathers. Papering over our failures will only comfort the privileged while denying others their history and healing.
“Statements from public officials like Senator Santorum do not exist in a vacuum. Violent words all too often beget violent actions. Living up to our promise of true religious freedom for those of all faiths and none requires we speak out against this blatant bigotry, so that we are not once again offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ down the road.”
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.