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Aaron Anson Headshot

The Savior Santorum: The Rise of White Male Religious Elitism

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It's difficult to imagine a politician or preacher standing to the right of Christ, but they're out there. In fact, there is a slew of them vying for the yet-to-be-named office of "Savior In Chief." After examining the current slate of Republican candidates and their surrogates on the side, will someone tell Bush, "I'm starting to miss him?" No pun intended.

Ironically, it is Santorum who has dragged every other candidate so far to the right. Poor Mitt Romney has had to reinvent himself every weekend, changing his stump speech to match the current rhetoric -- rhetoric that has gotten so appalling, a major religious group has called on the candidates to stop.

According to a recent poll from Quinnipiac University, Santorum's surging lead is built on the votes of Republican men, tea party supporters and white evangelical Christians. This election is no longer about Democrat or Republican, but about who is most superior. The main issue being discussed among the candidates is, "Obama is bad and the other sided is good." The only issue off limits in the debates is how to create jobs and how to make the world a safer place.

If that is not enough, we've got surrogates like the less-than-illustrious Franklin Graham feeling virtuous and elite enough to stand in judgment of the faith of the president, and others who don't subscribe to his subjective world view. Who are these religious elitists with the audacity to question the faith of others, based on their indoctrinated theology? These supposed leaders are waging battles outside the church they've not yet won inside the church.

I can only imagine their difficulty in reading the Bible in one hand, while reconciling the Constitution in the other -- let alone attempting to comprehend the two. The preachers who attempt the role of politician, with the intent of legislating human behavior, should cause one to question their ability to reason or lead. As a male, I lack the physiology and inclination to legislate women's health issues pertaining to abortion or birth control. I am also pretty certain that adding the title of "Senator" or "Reverend" to my name wouldn't embolden my qualifications any. Yet, older white males are the ones leading that conversation and proposing the legislation. This is the epitome of religious hypocrisy: poor women are ridiculed for having children they cannot afford, while others are admonished to not use contraception, or make personal choices about abortion.

Being a creature of habit, it scares me to think of the skeletons in the closet of those screaming the loudest, condemning others in the name of Jesus. In a 1917 paper, Sigmund Freud coined a phrase "the narcissism of small differences," to describe our tendency to react -- with aggression, vitriol, even hatred -- to those who resemble us the most. This seems to be what the Republican platform has been relegated to.

Freud argued that those with whom we have nothing in common cannot truly threaten us, for they are wholly "other." In contrast are those who share many, but not all, of our views. They threaten us, because they embody the possibility that we might be wrong. We've seen this theater play out repeatedly with politicians and preachers who outwardly and staunchly oppose, while often masking their own shameful desires and behaviors.

The bottom line is this: we give far too much credibility to ordinary people, fellow primates who grace their names with the title Senator or Reverend. It's amazing that in order to add that handle on a name, basically all one has to do is claim that God called them to be such. Unlike a position one has been called for, these serial preachers tend to breed based on their family hierarchy. Their opinions are immediately elevated above those who are possibly much more enlightened. We cannot substitute the ability individuals to reason and make their own choices, using the resources of their own minds. Until the day we see clouds criticizing, rain condemning, trees arguing, stars boasting, the moon molesting, or the sun despising, we should hold to a fundamental belief that everyone and everything God created is good the way it was created! It is those among us who've resolved to find fault in others that have opposed this natural goodness, and are incapable of being in harmony with the originating Source that created all.