February 19th, 2012
07:27 PM ET
8 years ago

Santorum clarifies 'theology' remark

(CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum on Sunday denied he was questioning President Barack Obama's religious values the previous day when he said the president had a "different theology."

"I wasn't suggesting the president's not a Christian," Santorum said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I accept the fact that the president is a Christian."

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He added he was referring to what he called the president's "radical environmentalism" when it came to mining for resources in the United States.

"I just said that when you have a world view that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can't take those resources, because we're going to harm the Earth by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven," he said. "The politicization of the whole global warming debate, I mean, this is just all an attempt to centralize power and to give more power to the government."

He later added: "I am talking about his world view or his - the way he approaches problems in this country. And I think they're different than how most people do in America."

At a tea party event on Saturday in Ohio, Santorum suggested Obama leads based on a "theology" different from that in the Bible, leaving some wondering whether he was implying that Obama subscribes to a religion other than Christianity.

Speaking to reporters later in the day, he was asked about the comment and attempted to explain his remarks.

"You may want to call it a theology, you may want to call it secular values," he said. "Whatever you want to call it. . . it is a different set of moral values that they are imposing on people who have a constitutional right to have their own values within the church."

The president's re-election campaign has since pounced on his comments. Top campaign adviser and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Sunday told reporters in Washington that Santorum's remarks "don't belong in our politics."

"I don't think that's what the American people want from either of the potential Republican nominees," Gibbs said.

- CNN's Chris Welch, Gregory Wallace and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Also see:

Gay sheriff resigns Romney role after allegations

Bachmann: GOP is extremely 'pro-women'

Paul: Santorum has an 'atrocious voting record'


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama • Rick Santorum
soundoff (174 Responses)
  1. Valentina

    What? That's not the first time he says one thing and then tries to twist things by saying that that's not what he meant to say. Can't be man enough to admit what you said is what you meant, Ricky?

    February 19, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  2. Brian

    How many comments does this guy have to "clarify" before it becomes apparent he doesn't know what he's talking about.

    February 19, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  3. Bill Peeler

    First, in the early 1960s, the atheists and the ACLU combined to convince the Supreme Court to ban both formal prayer and Bible reading from the public education process. (Now bear in mind, as recently as 1892 the Supreme Court had specifically cited the "mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation." So their 180-degree change of course to require "separation of Church and State" 70 years later was truly a reversal of historic proportions — not to mention a legal proposition theretofore unheard of in all of American history.) Once liberals had successfully kicked God out of school, the Liberal secular humanists went after God's laws in the public square. Look at the Ten Commandments — a perfectly good set of morals and values that just so happen to have been the cornerstone of Western Civilization and jurisprudence for 2,000 years or so — yet for 40 years Liberals have fought religiously (oxymoron) to remove all reference to these God-ordained decrees from schools and courthouses across the land.

    February 19, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  4. Conrack

    And another one self destructs. Does this mean that we start over with Bachmann and everyone gets a second shot at it?

    February 19, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  5. windrider2

    Every time this guy opens his mouth to 'explain', he just makes it worse.

    MEMO TO RICK

    1. Theology, by definition, is religious in nature, not scientific.

    2. You weren't talking about environmentalism or global warming or eco-unions, whatever those are, when you accused Obama of having a different theology, a theology not of the Bible. Because theology only has one meaning, and that is religious, yes you were, in fact, claiming that Obama is not a Christian, that he follows some other religion, one that is different from the theology of the Bible (Christo-Judaic theology).

    3. Environmentalism is not a religion. It is a collection of sciences geared toward understanding and preserving the environment for ourselves and the millions of other life forms for which this planet is our one and only viable habitat.

    4. If there is any religious component to environmentalism, it is that it is sinful to commit slow self-extinction by destroying the only habitable planet we have. Not to mention, stupid.

    5. For a so-called Christian, you spend a lot of time denying that you said the things you did, in fact, say. This is called lying, and you have become adept at serial lying. According to the theology of the Bible, lying is a sin, and repeated lying is very serious sin indeed. Why don't you just man up and tell the truth of what you meant. Your fans will love you for it. Otherwise, you keep telling them things they love to hear, and then deny that you said it at all.

    February 19, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  6. mil8778

    and yet the bible clearly states that god is going to destroy those ruining the earth. i would think, that as fundamentalist as Santorum is, he would see global warming and the destruction of our planet as a sign that jesus will be returning soon. he may have given the earth to the sons of men, but that did not mean that we could do whatever we wanted with it. we were to care for it and a clear sign that things were coming to a close was the misuse of our planet. but, then, i think he probably takes that scripture in some sort of metaphorical way, as all religious nut jobs do when something or another doesn't agree with their world view.

    February 19, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  7. PuzzledInPeoria

    President Obama is a Christian, not a pantheist or Wiccan. He is a student of Reinhold Niebuhr, a theologian who was widely respected in his time and is held in high regard today. Mr. Santorum clearly does not know what he is talking about. Environmentalism shows respect, first, for fellow human beings by not fouling our living environment. Where there are weak environmental regulations, like China, people breathe poisonous air. Greed and profit may be popular with Republicans, but respect for the earth and the people who inhabit it is NOT a different theology from the Bible, which encourages us to love our neighbor.

    February 19, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  8. Ramse

    Next, Santorum claims gravity to be a conspiracy created by liberals and lesbians..stay tuned.

    February 19, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  9. larry

    He thinks obama has a different theology because of enviromental issues.His base will by that excuse of course it will be with a wink.But WE all know he wasn't talking about the enviroment.Look at rick's track record do you really think he was equating theology and enviroment

    February 19, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  10. independent

    Say anything to stir up the base, say anything to calm the middle class.
    No one will pay attention.

    February 19, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  11. Matthew

    Maybe I am just crazy but somewhere I know it says that there will be a CLEAR SEPARATION of CHURCH and STATE. The President belongs to STATE so therefore none of the polices he drives should be motivated by CHURCH. Just a though.

    February 19, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  12. ruemorgue

    Mr. Back-pedaller ... beginning to sound just like "Walter Mitty" Romney.

    February 19, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  13. James Baker

    Santorum was clearly questioning President Obama's religious views. If he wanted to question the president's world view, he could have used that phrase rather than using words like "theology" and "the bible." Santroum is a right wing demagogue and a disgusting one at that!

    February 19, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  14. Chitral Cheetah

    Talk about an obsession. Paraphrasing VP Biden, – The only thing that comes from Santorum is religion, sex , homosexuals a noun and a verb.

    February 19, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  15. Karl Jonas

    Radical environmentalism? Really? What universe does Santorum live in?

    February 19, 2012 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  16. Surfer George

    "I just said that when you have a world view that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can't take those resources, because we're going to harm the Earth by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven," he said.

    CLASSIC misrepresentation and head fake.
    Making sure that we don't make the earth uninhabitable for humans is the concern of environmentalists. Either he's that dumb or he thinks that we are.

    February 19, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  17. fekt

    spineless. if you can't stand by your words shut your piehole. we know what you meant. you were trying to imply he's not christian but not going as far to call him muslim. perhaps atheist. but your explanation is weak. and don't try to bring science in on it. because you don't like what it says.

    February 19, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  18. Edwin

    I think Santorum's comments certainly DO belong in politics. He is showing a way he differs from Obama. It helps clarify ways I disagree with what Santorum plans to do with our country.

    February 19, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  19. mbjrp36

    Sorry santourm, but humanity has a duty to protect our home, the earth is the cradle of life and its the only one we have. I base this on a little book called the bible, maybe your should read it instead of blindly quoting stuff you hear in church.

    February 19, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  20. MikeH

    Santorum blowing a dog whistle, nothing more. What did you expect from this Hitler-in-waiting?

    America needs to have Santorum become the Republican candidate for President. This country needs to come face-to-face with the biggest threat to it's existence, theofacists like Rick Santorum empowered by a Republican Party gone mad, that no longer serves the interest of the nation and the people.

    February 19, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  21. A CANADIAN CATHOLIC AND PERENNIAL STUDENT OF THEOLOGY

    This Santorum person obviously does not have a clue what he is talking about when he uses the word "theology" so flippantly. He generally has no clue about most things. SAD, VERY SAD. It will be even better FOR OBAMA if this guy is the GOP nominee, rather than "Myth Romoney"

    February 19, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  22. connieb

    Wow. So I guess he gets to sit on His left side and his job is to decide whose Christianity is the best, who is a good Christian, who isn't the right Christian values. Just who does he really think he is telling people what they should believe. He has confused his podium with a pulpit.

    February 20, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  23. Ron

    What Santorum doesn't understand, is that having respect for the earth (which is a part of the creation) is not elevating the earth above human beings. What growing numbers of Christians (including evangelicals) understand is that everything we do to the earth, we do to ourselves (and to our children and grandchildren).

    February 20, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  24. Bob

    No one is questioning Santorum's right to have his own values within the church. Churches can believe what they want. The constitution guarantees it. Churches cannot, however, make their religious views the law of the land. The constitution also guarantees that. If the religious right can't live with the idea of other people being able to believe differently than they do then they should follow the example of the Pilgrims. They should go somewhere else and try to establish a country governed by religious law. The majority of Americans don't want it here. The founding fathers didn't want it here. Let's stick with the separation of church and state and refuse to vote for candidates who reject it.

    February 20, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  25. Charles

    Santorum should save his breath. To those those who truly follow the Jesus Christ of the Bible, he is stating what is obvious. To those who are not Christians, he is simply igniting another useless round of reader comments and political analysis.

    February 20, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
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