Rick Santorum is facing some awkward questions after footage emerged of a radical evangelical preacher opening a campaign rally with calls for all non-Christians to “get out” of America.
In the footage, filmed at the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Louisiana yesterday, Pastor Dennis Terry told a crowd that anyone who doesn’t worship God should leave the country, before calling on people to “stand up” against” gay people, liberals and women who have abortions.
“Listen to me. If you don’t love America, and you don’t like the way we do things, I’ve got one thing to say, get out!,” he said. “We don’t worship Buddha, we don’t worship Mohammed, we don’t worship Allah. We worship God. We worship God’s son Jesus Christ.”
To a rapturous applause, Pastor Terry continued: “As long as they continue to kill little babies in our mother’s womb, somebody’s got to take a stand and say it’s not right. God be merciful to us as a nation. As long as sexual perversion is becoming normalised, somebody needs to stand up and say God forgive us, God have mercy upon us.”
Republican contender Mr Santorum was shown clapping approvingly in the background as the rightwing pastor delivered the ranting fire and brimstone address. He later received a personal blessing from the preacher who called on God’s will to be done in the upcoming election.
The comments raise some embarrassing questions for the evangelical candidate, who has previously said J F Kennedy’s notion of separating the Church and state made him want to “throw up”.
Last night he was forced to clarify his stance over the pastor’s opinions and whether he agreed with the comments.
Insisting he supported religious freedom, Mr Santorum said he “wasn’t quite listening” during the speech but had not clapped at the parts where their opinions clashed.
Adam Curtis has a fascinating blog post comparing the 1970s revival of the religious/political complex in both the US and Iran which is well worth a look.