World

Rick Santorum Suggests That Only Muslims Are Violent

CREDIT: (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

120325_rick_santorum_605_ap

Ex-Senator and religious film producer Rick Santorum blasted practitioners of Islam at the Values Voter Summit this past week, contending that the current conflict in the Middle East is a product of an age-old fight between the West and those who see the world in a “fundamentally different” way — namely, Muslims.

During his speech to the assembly on Friday and a subsequent interview with The Daily Beast, Santorum drew a firm line between the Muslim world and the “Western world,” arguing that America’s current conflict with the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) represents “a very big clash [of civilizations].” He then went on to insist on a distinction between Islam and Christianity, implying that Christians have moved beyond the kind of violence exhibited by groups like ISIS.

“Christendom [once] expanded by the sword, that doesn’t happen anymore … you don’t have any Baptist ministers going on jihad,” Santorum, who is Catholic, said. “The Western world has come to terms with religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and that persuasion is the way to spread the faith.”

“[There is] a fundamental foundational problem in Islam of embracing issues of freedom of conscience and religious persecution,” he later added.

Santorum’s comments elicited applause from those at the summit, but appear to ignore recent examples of people who cite Christianity as justification for violence and hate. The Lord’s Resistance Army in Western Africa, which claims to pursue the teachings of Jesus Christ, regularly terrorizes villages and enlists child soldiers to do its bidding. Fighters who claim to be both Christian and Muslim continue to clash in the Central African Republic, where atrocities have been enacted by fighters on both sides. And while there likely aren’t Baptist ministers going on jihad — primarily because jihad is a Muslim concept, albeit one that doesn’t necessarily require to violence — the Westboro Baptist Church has certainly engaged in its own war of words with those who don’t share their views, and currently maintains a website entitled “God Hates Islam.”

Also, while Santorum casts the West as a region that has moved beyond religious persecution, many in the United States still struggle to freely exercise their faith. Religious minorities such as Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and many other believers throughout the United States regularly endure physical beatings and attacks on their houses of worship at the hands of those who disagree with them.