Rick Santorum, a devout Catholic, has recently been forced to defend his religious beliefs on the GOP presidential campaign trail. First he took flak for suggesting that "liberal Christian" is an oxymoron, then he had to deflect criticism this week over his 2008 warning that "Satan has his sights on the United States of America." Noting that Santorum's chief rival, Mitt Romney, has not faced similar grilling about his faith, a frustrated Santorum aide asked the Washington Examiner: "Why is Mormonism off limits?" Is it fair to make Santorum's religion a campaign issue, but not Romney's?
Santorum brought this on himself: Rick Santorum should stop "whining" about being persecuted, says Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly. "Mitt Romney is not on record suggesting that his campaign is part of God's Own Resistance to the takeover of America by Satan," or that President Obama is "trying to abolish Christianity in the pursuit of a secularist 'phony theology.'" If Santorum wants to attack Romney's Mormonism, he should do so at his own risk — and not expect the media to do it for him.
"Never mind Satan: How about the angel Moroni?
Actually, Team Santorum has a point: "Specifically religious questioning of Romney" has indeed been rare, says Byron York at the Washington Examiner. And that may be because he hasn't broadcast his religious beliefs the way Santorum has, but it's easy to understand why Santorum's advisers are "frustrated and angry." Critics used his Satan remark, for example, to cast him as a crank outsider, yet a 2007 Gallup poll found that 70 percent of Americans believe in the devil.
"Team Santorum: U.S. is with Rick on devil belief"
Hey, Romney has taken his lumps, too: Romney's rivals have mostly evaded the topic of his Mormonism, says David A. Graham at The Atlantic, but "the same cannot be said for pundits and voters, both Republican and Democrat." An erstwhile supporter of Rick Perry once flatly dismissed Mormonism as a "cult." But if Santorum's "picking a fight about Romney's faith," he'll regret it. He'll only taint his campaign, damage his party, and save Democrats "the trouble (and risk) of dog-whistling on Mormonism later on."
"Does Santorum really want to make a stand on Mormonism?"