Santorum’s Bizarre Notion of Liberty


Rick Santorum spoke at a prayer gathering this past weekend and made one of the most bizarre statements I’ve ever heard about the founding fathers and religion. He actually claims that when the Declaration of Independence says that we have an unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, they only meant that we have the right to do God’s will.

And when they said pursuit of happiness, go back and read the dictionary definition of happiness in the time of our founders. What will you find? You will find that our founders understood as the people of that time did that true happiness comes from doing what you ought to do, doing what God has called you to do, and that’s what they meant — to use the freedom God has given you to do what you ought to do, to pursue God’s will.

And black is white. Up is down. Peace is war.

Comments

  1. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    Christianity loves this sort of paradox. In the words of the old hymn, “Make me a captive, Lord, and then I will be free!”

  2. busterggi says

    If only all mind-slaves were so loyal!

    Oh, and please insert a Godwin for me about blindly obeying leader & such.

  3. Ben P says

    Not to mention just plain false. Oxford’s unabridged dictionary is always good for looking up things like this.

    Happiness –
    1. The quality or condition of being happy
    (a) Good fortune or luck in life or in a particular affair; success, prosperity.
    1530 J. Palsgrave Lesclarcissement 229/1 Happynesse, prosperité.

    1614 W. Raleigh Hist. World i. v. i. §1. 311 This also..was a part of her happinesse; that shee was neuer ouer-laied, with two great warres at once.

    1616 Shakespeare Two Gentlemen of Verona (1623) i. i. 14 Wish me partaker in thy happinesse, When thou do’st meet good hap.

    1704 T. Brown Ess. Satire Antients in Wks. (1730) I. 24 Whether..we follow them by the only force of natural happiness, or instinct.

    1705 tr. W. Bosman New Descr. Coast of Guinea xv. 277 It is a very great Happiness, and particular Providence of God, that the Sea and Rivers here seem..to contest.

    1898 N.E.D. at Happiness, Mod. When in Switzerland I had the happiness to meet a friend whom I had not seen for many years.

    2. The state of pleasurable content of mind, which results from success or the attainment of what is considered good.

    1591 Spenser Ruines of Time in Complaints 357 Like beast [that] hath no hope of happinesse or blis.

    1616 Shakespeare Cymbeline (1623) v. vi. 26 To sowre your happinesse, I must report The Queene is dead.

    1667 Milton Paradise Lost viii. 621 Let it suffice thee that thou know’st Us happie, and without Love no happiness.

    1725 I. Watts Logick ii. v. §3 Happiness consists in the attainment of the highest and most lasting natural good.

    1734 Pope Ess. Man iv. 1 O Happiness! our Being’s End and Aim! Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content! whate’er thy name.

    1851 H. Spencer Social Statics Introd. 5 Happiness signifies a gratified state of all the faculties.

    1868 A. Bain Mental & Moral Sci. iii. i. §8 Each one’s happiness may be defined as the surplus gained when the total of pain is subtracted from the total of pleasure.

    3. Successful or felicitous aptitude, fitness, suitability, or appropriateness; felicity.

    1600 Shakespeare Much Ado about Nothing ii. iii. 176, Claudio He is a very proper man. Prince He hath indeede a good outward happines.

    1604 Shakespeare Hamlet ii. ii. 211 How pregnant sometimes his replies are, a happines that often madnesse hits on.

    1630 R. Norton tr. W. Camden Hist. Princesse Elizabeth iii. 131 The charge of the whole fleete she committed to Charles Howard of Effingham..of whose happinesse she had a very good perswasion.

    1668 Denham in Guardian No. 164. ⁋3 There being certain graces and happinesses peculiar to every language.

    1779 Johnson Cowley in Pref. Wks. Eng. Poets I. 41 He..reduces it from strength of thought to happiness of language.

  4. Ben P says

    I wonder what he thinks about the fact that initial drafts said “property”?

    Not much I suspect, but that’s probably the closest to what was meant, although both “Happiness” and “property” in context mean something closer to “Prosperity.”

  5. D. C. Sessions says

    I’m surprised that y’all haven’t run into this before. It’s pretty standard fundie political theology: “freedom means you’re free to do as God commands you, happiness means you have the joy of obedience, life means the Life Eternal”, etc.

  6. den1s says

    I am not surprised at all. Santorum leads his listeners down the empty hallways of his twisted and horribly deluded mind. I don’t believe he prepares for, or think he has to prepare for speaking engagements. He thinks he’s just that damn darn good. He just looks around at the people he is supposed to impress, and proceeds to spew nauseous fundagelicalities (can that be a word?) all over his totally credulous audience.

  7. Michael Heath says

    So in order to optimize happiness via the Bible’s New Testament, we need to pass laws which has treating the ‘least among us’ as if they’re God himself? And start loving our enemies? Even if we accepted Santorum’s premise as an arguable position, you still end up in a place totally the opposite of where this fascist bigot wants to end up.

  8. d cwilson says

    That’s actually pretty boiler plate nonsense from Santorum. He’s used that definition of “liberty” several times before. Alan Keyes has also used it, too. It’s part of the dominionist view that the Founding Fathers inserted a bunch of code words to signal that we’re supposed to be a theocracy.

    Because overtly stating that we’re a theocracy would have been too easy, I guess.

    Ironically, as a Catholic, Santorum would have been one of the first people driven out of the government if the prevailing flavor Christianity of the day had been enshrined in the Constitution.

  9. iknklast says

    “So in order to optimize happiness via the Bible’s New Testament, we need to pass laws which has treating the ‘least among us’ as if they’re God himself? And start loving our enemies? Even if we accepted Santorum’s premise as an arguable position, you still end up in a place totally the opposite of where this fascist bigot wants to end up.”

    Not necessarily. It sort of depends on which of God’s premises we follow, since it’s logically impossible to follow them all when they contradict each other. So he, Santorum, will tell us which ones God really meant (kill gays, but eat all the shellfish you want).

    And God certainly wasn’t very good at loving his enemies, so if he chose to lead by example, well, Santorum is willing to follow. And Jesus was only better sometimes – again, you have to ask Santorum which of the passages he really meant – loving or smiting.

  10. raven says

    I am not surprised at all. Santorum leads his listeners down the empty hallways of his twisted and horribly deluded mind.

    That is a good way to put it.

    Not to mention dark.

    Santorum wasn’t running for president. He was running to be a new Dark Ages Pope. I’ve gotten the strong impression that in centuries past he would be burning heretics at the stake…and smiling.

  11. raven says

    they only meant that we have the right to do God’s will.

    And that is what? No one knows. No one even knows if the gods exist much less have any orders for us to follow.

    Plenty of people do claim to know however. It usually involves sending them money and cute teenage boys and girls.

  12. billycarson says

    How convenient that Archive.org actually has a scanned copy of Samuel Johnson’s “Dictionary of the English Language,” 6th edition (1785):

    “HA’PPINESS, n.s. [from happy]
    1. Felicity ; state in which the desires are satisfied.

    2. Good luck ; good fortune.

    3. Fortuitous elegance ; unstudied grace.”

    This seems pretty damaging to Santorum’s argument, but I predict he would retort that Samuel Johnson was British and not American and therefore did not speak English.

    http://archive.org/stream/dictionaryofengl01johnuoft#page/n927/mode/2up

  13. imthegenieicandoanything says

    Rick S. makes “God” look like a piker. Not only does Rick know what “God” desires of each and every human being alive today, but he also knows what was in the innermost hearts of men who died lond ago.

    Even more impressive, he is able to change the past, whether moments before when he seemed to have made a mistake, years before he was born, by changing the intention of the Constitution, or thousands-millions of years ago by moving the dinosaur age and cosmic history so that it matches up with the confusion expressed in the so-called “Bible”.

    Mold cowpies dressed in a suit would make a far more intelligent and compassionate man that Rick Santorum. Should I ever hear someone speak well of him in my presence, I’ll know I’m dealing with a truly stupid, ignorant, unbalanced bigot and react accordingly.

  14. dan4 says

    Sounds like a variation on the fairly common viewpoint/philosophy held by by religious rightists that engaging in behavior that is legal ( viewing of pornography, gambling,etc.) but (in their eyes) wrong represents “license, not liberty.”

  15. blf says

    As others have pointed out, the claim is totally absurd. Another reference, the Online Etymology Dictionary:

    happiness (n.)
    1520s, “good fortune,” from happy + -ness. Meaning “pleasant and contented mental state” is from 1590s. Phrase greatest happiness for the greatest number was in Hutcheson (1725).

    For this word, not as comprehensive as some of the previously-cited references.

  16. dingojack says

    Further to billycarson above:

    “The various and contrary choices that men make in the world, argue that the same thing is not good to every man alike: this variety of pursuits shows, that every one does not place his happiness in the same thing.” – Locke.

    Dingo

  17. says

    “and proceeds to spew nauseous fundagelicalities (can that be a word?) all over his totally credulous audience.”

    The “money shot”?

    Is it GOD’S WILL or just GOD SWILL?

  18. says

    The concept behind Santorum’s bizarre statement is sometimes referred to as “Christian Hedonism.” It’s the idea that humans all want to be happy, but the only way to truly be happy is to follow God. The more obedient to God you are, the happier you are. A book on Christian Hedonism was part of my curriculum at the Christian high school I attended back in the day. I found it bizarre even when I was a believer.

  19. netamigo says

    Although Santorum says “pursue God’s will”, he means follow Santorum’s definition of God’s will.

  20. jbrock says

    “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”

    That’s usually attributed to Pope John Paul II, but if he said it he was probably quoting Lord Acton.

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