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Rick Santorum’s Fantasy About Stewards of the Earth

On CBS Face the Nation, yesterday, Rick Santorum left host Bob Schieffer repeatedly incredulous as Santorum gave us what increasingly sounds like his own personal version of Catholic dogma.   He’s been hinting that mainline religion in America — read, Protestants — have led America astray, that while President Obama may claim to be a Christian, his governing “theology” was not based on the Bible, a line that draws applause from his equally dogmatic followers.

The reporting should now focus on Santorum’s thinly veiled religious intolerance, but his remarks about Obama’s non-biblical beliefs were referring to environmental regulation and to some concept about the relationship between man and the earth that he imagines other people have.

Santorum commented in Ohio Saturday that the president believes in “some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.” [applause]

Asked to clarify his statements on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, Santorum said that he was referring not to the president’s faith but to environmentalism.

“Well, I was talking about the radical environmentalists,” he told Schieffer. “That’s what I was talking about: Energy, this idea that man is here to serve the Earth, as opposed to husband its resources and be good stewards of the Earth. And I think that is a phony ideal. I don’t believe that that’s what we’re here to do – that man is here to use the resources and use them wisely, to care for the Earth, to be a steward of the Earth, but we’re not here to serve the Earth.

“The Earth is not the objective,” Santorum said. “Man is the objective. I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside-down.”

You see, Santorum’s dogma insists that man is at the center, and the earth is God’s gift to man, there to be exploited in our role as proper “stewards” of God’s bountiful gift.  Mr Obama, Saint Rick claims, insists on putting the earth at the center while man is subservient.  Never mind that there’s no evidence Mr. Obama has ever believed, said or suggested anything of the kind.  The GOP has invented a grossly distorted caricature of Mr. Obama, because the real one does not suit, and the one that repeatedly frustrates environmentalists is inconceivable to them.

In Santorum’s remarks, we see the basis of the corporate conservative attack on the EPA, most environmental regulation and any acknowledgment that global climate change is happening, that man is responsible, or that it might be a threat to humans.

If God put the earth here for our needs, and we are righteous, it’s inconceivable in Santorum’s philosophy that man could have abused his stewardship to a degree that abuse has become a threat to humans.  Obama and “environmentalists” have it backwards, he insists.

Santorum’s religious dogma is frightening enough, as views like his have, when taken to their logical ends, justified hateful intolerance, discrimination, inquisitions, torture, religious wars, and murderous crusades — and of course Santorum has already told us that the righteous Crusaders were unfairly maligned.   The First Amendment was added to protect us from zealots like Rick Santorum.  But his anti-environmental dogma may prove to be just as dangerous for humans.

It’s hard to understand how a politician in the 21st Century could claim that corporations should be left alone in their extraction and exploitation of nature’s bounty, because it’s all in furtherance of man’s God-directed stewardship.  There are millions of stories of environmental pollution and destruction that would teach genuine stewards otherwise and which would more than justify EPA’s efforts to at least limit toxic emissions that kill and sicken millions, even if you ignore the removal of whole mountains, the destruction of streams and wetlands and the obliteration of species

Did he not notice something incongruous to his beliefs when the BP oil disaster threatened much of the Gulf of Mexico, shutting down hundreds of miles of coasts and thousands of square miles to fishing?  Did he not see the clumps of oil on the beaches and beneath the sands, or the hundreds of miles of sickening oil slicks, or the reports of massive underwater plumes spreading across the Gulf?  Were there no dead sea creatures littering the beaches? And yet, that is but one of hundreds of such oil spills and thousands of other man-made environmental catastrophes from recent years.

That isn’t stewardship.  It’s plundering and abuse on a level that would warrant even Santorum’s God finding another steward.  And Rick Santorum is just another right wing idiot.

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley