Rick Santorum makes me want to throw up. Is that overly dramatic? Perhaps, but it's a paraphrase of what this man himself is saying about an important aspect of our American political system. He willfully lies when he says that the separation of church and state bans religion from the "public square." Not satisfied with the Judeo-Christian principles that naturally influence our government because of its representative nature, he wishes to enforce his personal brand of Christianity on us all.
He's whining in interviews about how horrible it was that JFK had the gall to believe in the separation of church and state that is a basic tenet of our Constitution. He cherry-picks a single line in a long speech, ignores the real meat in the rest of the paragraph (to say nothing of the whole speech) and generally puts a deceptive spin on the whole thing.
JFK essentially said that he wouldn't use church doctrine over US law in governmental decisions. The only thing in that's even mildly off is the line that no "minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote" when of course the minister can say anything he wants.
Our representative democracy is by its nature affected by the mores of its citizens, at least of those who fulfill their responsibility to participate in it. Those who do not trouble themselves to participate (by voting, campaigning, contributing, etc.) should at least acknowledge the cognitive dissonance they exhibit in complaining about a system in which they don't participate. The effect of our collective mores is precisely the influence that religion is supposed to have. We choose our representatives based on our expectation that they will represent our moral and political convictions within the framework of our republic.
Read JFK's speech. All of it, not just the one line Santorum takes out of context and trusts that lazy Americans won't call him on. Here's the paragraph that I think really troubles Santorum:
"I would not look with favor upon a President working to subvert the first amendment's guarantees of religious liberty; nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so. And neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test, even by indirection. For if they disagree with that safeguard, they should be openly working to repeal it."Santorum only wants us to be "free" to observe HIS religion his way, because he considers any other theology "false" and dismisses it. His is the kind of absolutism that prompted the founders to carefully form a union in which such religious tests and strictures are specifically prohibited. You are free to believe as you wish, to discuss and promote it WITHOUT the force of government, but you simply cannot compel others to change theirs for your benefit, convenience or comfort.