Santorum explains 'phony theology' comment, says Obama is 'a Christian'

Rick Santorum said Sunday that he "wasn't suggesting the president was not a Christian" when he stated on the campaign trail that President Obama's agenda was based on "some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology." 

Rather, Santorum said, he believed that the president held the view of "radical environmentalists" who wanted to shape policy around "things that frankly are just not scientifically proven," like global warming.

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"When you have a world view that elevates the earth above man and says we can't take those resources because we're going to harm the earth by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, like for example the politicization of the whole global warming debate - this is all an attempt to centralize power and give more power to the government," Santorum said on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday. "This is not questioning the president's beliefs in Christianity, I'm talking about the belief that man should be in charge of the earth."

Santorum said that "radical environmentalists" like the president prioritized the environment over bettering mankind.

"We're not here to serve the Earth, the Earth is not the objective. Man is the objective. I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside down," Santorum said.

But despite his comments on the campaign trail Saturday - and earlier suggestions that Obama joined his church in Chicago because "faith is an avenue for power" and that 'the American left… hates Christendom" - Santorum insisted he did not intend to insinuate that the president was not Christian.


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"I wasn't suggesting the president was not a Christian. I accept the fact that the president's a Christian," Santorum said.

Robert Gibbs, the president's former press secretary and now an adviser to his reelection campaign, called Santorum's original comments "over the line" in an interview with ABC Sunday.

“I can’t help but think that those remarks are well over the line. It’s wrong. It’s destructive. It makes it virtually impossible to solve the problems that we all face together as Americans," Gibbs said.

The interview on CBS underscored some of Santorum's natural appeal to social conservatives who appreciate Santorum's willingness to candidly discuss his beliefs - and the political risk his nomination would carry.

Santorum went on to attack Obama over prenatal screening, arguing that the president's mandate that insurance companies provide amniocentesis testing free of charge was included in the healthcare reform package because health insurers would save money in the long term by encouraging the parents of children who would be born with a disability to abort.

"The bottom line is a lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in uteri and the customary procedure is to encourage abortion," Santorum said.


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"We're talking about specifically prenatal testing and specifically amniocentesis which is a procedure that actually creates a risk of having a miscarriage when you have it and is done for the purpose of identifying maladies of a child in the womb," the senator added.

Santorum later clarified that while he believed women should have access to the test, he thought the government mandating insurers provide it for free "is a bit loaded." Still, asked by host Bob Schieffer if Santorum was "saying that because of this the president looks down on disabled people," the senator did not disagree.

"Well, the president supported partial birth abortion and partial birth abortion is a procedure used almost exclusively to kill children late in pregnancy when they've been found out to be disabled," Santorum said.

Santorum also defended comments he had made about how he didn't believe the federal - or state - governments should be involved in setting the curriculum for public schools.

"I'm saying that local communities and parents should be the ones in control of public education, certainly not the federal government and as I said before. I think the state governments have not done a particularly good job in public education," Santorum said.

Instead, the former senator would try to repeal as many mandates as possible as president and ask parents and local school boards to create customized educational plans for each student.

"I'd get the federal government out, to the extent possible, with respect to mandates and designing curriculum and the like, I'd get the state government out. I think the parents should be in charge, working with the local school district to try to design an educational environment for each child that optimizes their potential," Santorum said.


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