02/27/2012 05:34 pm ET

Washington Post Editorial: Rick Santorum Is 'Wrong Man' For Presidency

The Washington Post weighed in Monday on Rick Santorum's recent comments about the separation of church and state, arguing in an editorial that "he’s the wrong man to be president."

The Post's editorial board took issue with Santorum's comments Sunday that John F. Kennedy's famous 1960 speech on the separation of church and state "makes [him] want to throw up." In discussing the speech on ABC's "This Week," Santorum said he doesn't "believe in an America where the separation of church and state are absolute" and claimed that Kennedy urged people of faith to stay out of the public square.

The Post's editors responded Monday:

But Mr. Kennedy wasn’t telling people of faith to stay out of public life. He was restating the constitutional principle that has helped make America a great and resilient country: No faith should be able to dictate government policy, and government shouldn’t dictate theology to any faith. From Martin Luther King Jr. to Jerry Falwell, public figures have drawn upon their religious beliefs while in the “public square,” and no one has ever kept them from doing so. Churches are thriving from coast to coast: Where is the freedom to practice religion under attack?

The Post editors closed by writing "that Mr. Santorum believes he has the standing to declaim on the rightness of Mr. Obama’s faith, and whether it is sufficiently Bible-based, is in itself disqualifying."

While the Post didn't mention Santorum's three Republican rivals, the strongly worded editorial -- which appeared Monday online and will be in Tuesday's paper -- suggests the editorial board wouldn't consider endorsing the former Pennsylvania senator in the primary. But editorial page editor Fred Hiatt told The Huffington Post that he wouldn't call the editorial "an endorsement or a non-endorsement."

"I think it is what it is: we feel very strongly about the importance of a correct understanding of the separation of church and state," Hiatt said in an email.

Santorum appeared to walk back his controversial comment on Monday, saying he's actually in support of the separation of church and state.

The Santorum campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the Post editorial.