Political Animal


February 24, 2012 10:16 AM Satan’s Indoctrination Camps

By Ed Kilgore

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that Rick Santorum has “grown” in the last year or two that he’s been running for president. Let’s say he’s right in whining about media coverage of his campaign—that reporters should focus on his not-terribly-unique message of wanting to cut taxes and spending, instead of the vastly more interesting things he was saying about the metaphysical order of the universe and the direction of human history way, way back in 2008, in the virtual infancy of his political career.

But if that’s how Santorum wants to play it, why is he going onto Glenn Beck’s show for a whole hour and saying stuff like this:

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Thursday that President Obama wants more young adults to go to college so they can undergo “indoctrination” to a secular world view.
In an hour-long interview with conservative television host Glenn Beck, Santorum also defended his record on abortion and his vote in favor of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind education law.
On the president’s efforts to boost college attendance, Santorum said, “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.”
He claimed that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it,” but declined to cite a source for the figure. And he floated the idea of requiring that universities that receive public funds have “intellectual diversity” on campus.

Hard to imagine, isn’t it, that anyone would think Santorum’s engaged in a culture war after reading comments like that! In one fell swoop, he’s accusing hundreds of higher education institutions of consciously warring against religion; accusing the president of the United States of consciously attempting to exercise mind control over millions of young people; accusing the parents of said young people of stupidly putting themselves into deep debt in order to secure the intellectual and moral corruption of their children; and proposing to end academic freedom in favor of some sort of vague “diversity” standards that he’d be denouncing if the subject was admission of minority students.

It is impossible to make any sense of Santorum’s thinking on higher education without going back to that Ave Maria speech—again, delivered just four years ago, not in prehistoric times—he doesn’t want us to look at, and reading this key passage:

This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country - the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age….
He didn’t have much success in the early days. Our foundation was very strong, in fact, is very strong. But over time, that great, acidic quality of time corrodes even the strongest foundations. And Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.
He was successful. He attacks all of us and he attacks all of our institutions. The place where he was, in my mind, the most successful and first successful was in academia. He understood pride of smart people. He attacked them at their weakest, that they were, in fact, smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different. Pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it because they’re smart. And so academia, a long time ago, fell.
And you say “what could be the impact of academia falling?” Well, I would have the argument that the other structures that I’m going to talk about here had root of their destruction because of academia. Because what academia does is educate the elites in our society, educates the leaders in our society, particularly at the college level. And they were the first to fall.

So “long ago,” academia (other than brave enclaves like Ave Maria, and presumably evangelical fortresses like Liberty or Regents or Patrick Henry or Bob Jones) fell to Satan, is the platform from which Satan has also conquered mainline Protestantism and is besieging every other institution. Is it any wonder that Santorum is now suggesting that Barack Obama—again, a product of “academia” and a mainline Protestant—is utilizing Satan’s great American beachhead to further its infernal role of “indoctrinating” Americans in the “phony theology” of secularism? Or that Santorum sees what most of us consider “academic freedom” as nothing more than a license for evil to mock and subvert truth?

Seems pretty obvious that for all of Santorum’s imputations of hidden agendas and infernal motives to Barack Obama, he’s engaged in a not-so-hidden agenda based on a Christian Nationalist “worldview” that is, after all, hardly novel in conservative politics these days. Those of us who are contemplating the possibility of this man becoming President of the United States have a choice of willfully ignoring his “worldview” and blandly reporting the “message” he wants to send to voters who are not initiates in his very special way of understanding American history and current events—or taking Santorum seriously enough to think he says what he means and means what he says. But he cannot have it both ways, telling one group of voters he’s engaged in a millenia-old “spiritual war” against enemies deployed by Satan on battlegrounds from Congress and the White House to every “indoctrination” center on nearly every college campus—and then expect everyone else to accept that he’s just a nice, inoffensive pol who happens to think the federal government is too large and expensive.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • stormskies on February 24, 2012 10:26 AM:

    If anything this essence of stupidity, Santorum, was actually true then how is it exactly that we are in a country in which 50% of the population 'believes' the that Earth is less than 10,000 years old, and that humans co-mingled with the Dinosaurs ? Or that 20% of our population 'believes' the the Sun revolves around the Earth ?

    The stupidity that this demonstrates perfectly mirrors the stupidity of Santorum himself where stupidity is defined by the nature of 'beliefs' themselves.

  • Hedda Peraz on February 24, 2012 10:32 AM:

    " indoctrination mills"

    Ab-so-lutely! Why, it is outrageous; taking young and impressionable children, and teaching them all sorts of nonsense. Like Talking Snakes and Burning Bushes and Immaculate Conception.

    The latter, of course, does take care of all our modern sexual "problems". . .

  • Rick Massimo on February 24, 2012 10:35 AM:

    "62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it ..."

    98% of people who have gone through medical school believe that smoking is bad for you!

    Even more shockingly, 62% of kids who enter pre-kindergarten believing there are monsters under their bed no longer believe that when they leave for kindergarten!


  • Diane Rodriguez on February 24, 2012 10:37 AM:

    This is straight-up cult leader talk. Perhaps he fancies himself as the Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada, because his thinking is commensurate with that era. What an ignorant, bigoted and dangerous individual.

  • SYSPROG on February 24, 2012 10:39 AM:

    I went thru public education and then onto a state university and never lost my faith. However, MY faith has nothing in common with the 'thumpers'. In fact, when I think of the claim how people are 'falling away from faith' I think people like Santorum are to blame. Or how about 'good Christians' like Ralph Reed? Frauds like Franklin Graham? Bigoted old men like Pat Robertson? I'm not so sure that people don't 'believe' as they don't want to be anything like these people who profess Christianity while publicly lying and stealing and then professing their Christianity as if that makes every rotten thing they do OK. Or excuse it as 'taking one for the team'.

  • Danp on February 24, 2012 10:40 AM:

    And he floated the idea of requiring that universities that receive public funds have “intellectual diversity” on campus.

    What does that mean? Can't have all the professors believe in empirical evidence? Every Economics department needs someone to advocate for returning to the gold standard? Or a meteorology professor who specialized in caterpillar predictions?

  • T2 on February 24, 2012 10:43 AM:

    George W. Bush went to the same Ivy League universities that Barack Obama went to. But I didn't hear Santorum making those "indoctrination" comments when Bush was prez. I suspect that underneath all of Santorum's Holier than Thou preachings, he's just a super-partisan Republican hack.....everything is fine and dandy when a GOP is president, and everything goes to Hell when a Democrat is president. Sure seems like that to me. Oh, and he's crazy too.

  • jcricket on February 24, 2012 10:45 AM:

    ...because nothing says indoctrination like cloistering your children apart from all other social groups and teaching them a narrow dogma just like what is happening in American universities. Jeesh.

    Until recently, I cynically thought Santorum was pandering to the very paranoid, Christo-maniacal, Rapture-obsessed who willingly turned off the rational part of their brains.

    Now, I understand that he is one of them, and this alone disqualifies him from leading any population of mixed heritage, mixed classes, mixed generation, and of mixed religious viewpoint.

    He would never care about anything other than 'the rapture', and it would adversely effect everyone.

  • Daniel Kim on February 24, 2012 10:47 AM:

    @Danp on February 24, 2012 10:40 AM:
    Kind of makes me all misty-eyed with nostalgia about the old Soviet "political officers" who were part of any organization or team.
    Or, for that matter, the Spaniards always carrying a Jesuit Inquisitor on their conquests.

  • $2Bill on February 24, 2012 10:47 AM:

    If Rick Santorum were president his press secretary would be Mel Gibson.

  • T2 on February 24, 2012 10:51 AM:

    I wonder how long it will be before Santorum suggests rounding up all the "indoctrinated" citizens and putting them in camps? Then the "purification" of the population can begin.

  • Bernard HP Gilroy on February 24, 2012 10:54 AM:

    I think you're missing the key part. Santorum is saying that universities should strive for diversity. Why isn't anyone asking him why he supports affirmative action? Doesn't that by itself disqualify him from a Republican nomination?

    Oh, wait. He means "diversity" as in "pay more attention to white guys". Affirmative action can help non-Caucassians, of course, and is therefore invalid.

  • biggerbox on February 24, 2012 10:56 AM:

    There are probably a lot of people at Notre Dame and Baylor who would be surprised to discover they are actually a secular indoctrination mill.

    I'd also like to point out that 95% of those who enter college in love with a girlfriend/boyfriend leave without them. (I mean, if we're pulling numbers out of our butts, I can too.) A surprising number who enter college with a tradition of living at home with their parents also leave college believing in living away from their parents. Shocking, but true!

    But buck up, Rick. At Penn State, a secular school took a page right out of the Bishop's playbook. So maybe you're having an effect in your home state, at least.

  • tina on February 24, 2012 10:56 AM:

    A case of the pot calling indoctrination black. *cough*

  • T2 on February 24, 2012 10:57 AM:

    Bernard...he means that professors should put a Wizards hat on and teach Harry Potter as seriously as Einstein....Actually, he means professors should put Grand Wizard's hoods on.

  • schtick on February 24, 2012 11:00 AM:

    If he can't accept Americans of other faiths and/or other ideas, he can't lead people of other faiths and/or other ideas.

  • jpeckjr on February 24, 2012 11:08 AM:

    @T2 10:43 The Ave Maria University speech was given in 2008, while GWB was still president. If pressed to name a date when Satan was victorious, he would probably name the Senate election of 2006 when the voters of Pennsylvania, under Satan's control, drove him from office. That Satan! Such a scamp!

  • Ron Byers on February 24, 2012 11:09 AM:

    I am stunned that any national politician is selling this snake oil.

    By the way I was indoctrinated as a Catholic just like Mr. Santorium. I went to college and emerged less than convinced about the value of Catholicism. Forty years later I still find the New Testament teachings (you know "do unto others...,let those of you who are without sin cast the first stone, etc")foundational. I guess that is why I am a progressive.

    If the fundamentalists would forget the old testament and focus on what was taught by Jesus, we would all be better off. By the way, Jesus didn't actually teach nearly any of the crap advanced by Rich Santorium, Glen Beck or any of the host of popular Elmer Gantry rip offs.

    By the way you notice he is really calling for a dumbing down of America. As the Catholic Church and its flunkies have known for ages, a dumb population is far easier to control than an educated population. That is why the Catholic heirarchy was horrified by the printing press and resisted reading the bible in anything but Latin until just recently.

    What Mr. Santorium is really saying is that America's best days are behind us. We need to be satisfied with a Mexican sort of existence. All heil the Bishops and their rings.

  • scott_m on February 24, 2012 11:09 AM:

    Projection, pure and simple. Christian conservative parents are doggedly determined to keep their kids in a cultural bubble to make absolutely sure they are not exposed to "Things of This World" -- why would they want to throw all that away and send their carefully indoctrinated kid off to a public university, where he might see that not everyone lives like that?

  • Ron Byers on February 24, 2012 11:11 AM:

    I seem to be into 'by the way' today. This site needs an edit feature more than it needs captcha.

  • TCinLA on February 24, 2012 11:15 AM:

    Actually, the Spaniards carried around Dominicans as their culture-destroyers after they'd gotten through the bloody part of conquistadoring - the Jesuits didn't exist till the Counter-Reformation of the 17th Century. Small point, but we are the fact-based community here....

    "intellectual diversity," I suppose this means having the oxymoron of "conservative intellectuals" (one can be one of the other of those two things but not both) on campus? I remember having a conservative professor of political science as an undergraduate. As the designated Vietnam vet in the class, I would regularly take on his defense of the war (this was in 1970) and rip him a new one every time. He never admitted it but everyone else saw it. And when he was particularly boring, I would fall asleep in my seat at the front of the class, and when he would wake me to embarrass me by asking a question, I always answered. It used to drive him nuts, but then, poking and prodding and kicking these people when they're down is what gives some fun to this existence. Eventually, though, it became as boring as blowing up fish with hand grenades, which is what usually happens when you try to engage a brain made of basalt.

  • Ron Byers on February 24, 2012 11:16 AM:

    It occurs to me that in the case of Rick Santorium we really have to ask if a President Santorium would take orders from the Pope.

  • qwerty on February 24, 2012 11:16 AM:

    Interesting article by Chris Mooney suggesting that Republicans might actually get more stupid as they get more educated.

  • R on February 24, 2012 11:19 AM:

    This site has the best commenters ever. Yeah, what about the Catholic colleges and universities? How would Santorum feel about this mission statement -- http://offices.holycross.edu/about/president/mission -- with all of its pesky references to justice and even "our special responsibility to the world's poor and powerless?"
    Of course the Jesuits are probably too liberal for him (cf $2Bill above).

    So when will the MSM report on Santorum's wackier statements? I for one am not holding my breath.

    Captcha says "lizrenc Locke." Would it be okay with Santorum if people read John Locke, or is that indoctrination?

  • Bob on February 24, 2012 11:31 AM:

    Come on Ed, Ricky knows what he's talking about. After all he himself survived not one, not two but three stints in such indoctrination camps when he received his BA (Penn State), MBA (Pitt) and JD (Penn State). ;-)

  • June on February 24, 2012 11:55 AM:

    It occurs to me that Santorum is his own "Rev. Wright."

  • Josef K on February 24, 2012 12:02 PM:

    This isn't very funny. In fact its f*cking horrifying this guy is considered Presidental material by the GOP.

    I don't know if its occurred to anyone that some nutjob will take this interview as permission to go ahead and start physically attacking these "indoctrination mills"? Given who ginned up the rhetoric has been of late, I see this as a distinct (possibly growing) possibility.

  • jhm on February 24, 2012 12:07 PM:

    Is it not an obvious observation that it is precisely the exposure to "intellectual diversity" which is responsible for any loss of faith that occurs in university or elsewhere?

    At any rate, as the man's lunacy has long since failed to surprise me, my main reaction to the speech quoted here was whether calling satan "the father of lies" was at all commonplace. Now I'm certainly not au courant on these matters, but I thought that the devil could not tell lies, but had to trick the unwary by leveraging their natural tendencies.

  • gregor on February 24, 2012 12:12 PM:

    “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it,”

    I did not know that as many as 38% of college students waste their time drinking beer.

  • Chuck on February 24, 2012 12:15 PM:

    I'm not stunned that there is a national candidate selling this snake oil. There have always been fringe candidates on the national scene -- some even make a name for themselves (c.f. Ron Paul).

    No, what stuns me is that there is an audience for this snake oil. That a significant number listen to this guy and say "Yeah. I want someone who thinks like that to be my president."

    There's a line that keeps repeating in my journal: "I can't believe that anyone can be a Republican today." Clearly, people buy this stuff, but I'm don't have enough of an imagination to figure out why.

  • Marko on February 24, 2012 12:17 PM:

    That's right, folks. Don't send your kids off to college. That may find out the world is not flat, and that the worldview you tried to impose on them is a load of bull.

    Of the other hand, if you raised your kids to be intellectually curious, to follow the truth wherever it may lead, you will take as much joy in their growth and learning as they do.

  • bdop4 on February 24, 2012 1:01 PM:

    You beat me to it, Marko.

    It amazes me how little authoritarians think of their children (and by extension themselves). To them, it's a given that if a child goes to college, he/she will submit to whatever curriculum is taught without challenge.

    When I went to college, the surest path towards an A would be to take an opposing position and back it up with logic supported by evidence.

    I think deep down, they know their positions can't withstand scrutiny, so they do what comes naturally: demonize it.

  • exlibra on February 24, 2012 1:07 PM:

    All this yammering about "intellectual diversity" is simply a long whine because he knows none of the reputable schools will accept his "hom skoolt" brood. He needs to level the playing field for them and the best way would be if he were a president.

    "word ounciple". not an ounce of a principle; word.

  • Mitch on February 24, 2012 1:16 PM:

    Frothy Mix is just preaching to the choir ... or, rather, the congregation. Listening to him reminds me more of the Southern Baptist Fundamentalist churches I attended during my youth than of any Catholic service I have ever attended.

    At least three times each week for the first 18 years of my life, I would sit in the pew listening to this garbage. THE WORLD is out to get you. SATAN lies with science and sex. GOD will strike down this sinful nation as surely as he did Sodom and Gomorrah. GAYS and ABORTION and DRUGS and SIN SIN SIN. It is a sin to even question these things in your own mind.

    They never question anything, they never wonder about anything. They simply believe what they have always been told. It's comfortable, and it's what their families expect. They live in constant fear. Fear of the THE WORLD, fear of themselves. Fear of rejection (by their friends, families and God) if they ever question anything. And they hate - HATE - anything that does not conform to their belief system.

    The only difference between Fundies in the Bible Belt and the Taliban (now raging over burned Korans) is the level of violence they exhibit to acheive their goals. And the peacefulness of American theocrats is a product of our secular history of Western Humanism stretching back to the Renaissance; it has nothing to do with their faith or goodness.

    As I've mentioned before, my own father has told me that, in his opinion, athiests should not even be citizens and should certainly not be allowed to vote. When I ask if that means that he would be willing to throw me, his firstborn son, out of the country and abandon me forever, his response is always, "If that's what we have to do to serve God's will. It would break my heart, but the Lord is all that matters."

    Please understand that my father is a decent man, kind and generous, soft-spoke and hard working. Loyal to friends and family alike, and always willing to help his neighbors. But if a good, sensitive, quiet and humble man like my father could say that about his own son, then what could the theocrats do to total strangers?

    Santorum is right about one thing: there are plenty of indoctrination camps in America. But he ignores the fact that these indoctrination camps are not universities - they are churches.

    I think of a song (based on a verse in Proverbs) that was sung at Youth Rallies and Revival Meetings, it goes like this:

    "Raise up your children in the way they should go,
    Show them the lessons of the heart.
    Teach them the truth that they all need to grow,
    And when they are old, they won't depart."

  • Cybrguy on February 24, 2012 1:25 PM:

    I have generally been encouraging rethugs I know to vote for Ricky, just to make it easy for the President in November. I'm starting to think that may be a bad idea. Not that I think Ricky might have any chance of winning, but there is a danger. What if, after the rethug nomination is complete, what if, God forbid, the President should be hit by a truck or his helicopter crashes or something horrible like that were to occur. Ricky could be elected by default. That is a VERY scarey idea. Maybe we should let them have Romney just in case? At least with him we might still recognize the country after.

  • Kathryn on February 24, 2012 1:38 PM:

    @Mitch.....good comment.and frightening also. WHat's that quote about when fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a bible? Well I see Bill Maher gave the Obama super PAC. 1 million dollars today, so for myself, I will give as much as I can spare and work my butt off to re-elect a sane president.

    Notice Gulag has been missing for a couple of days, not good news I fear, thinking of you and family C U N D.

  • Mitch on February 24, 2012 2:05 PM:


    Santorum always makes me think of that particular quote as well. Theocracy has always been the most insidious enemy of human freedom. Believers honestly think they are doing the correct and good thing.

    "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. "

    - Steven Weinberg

    I, also have noticed gulag's absence. I miss the wit and candor of my favorite WaMo regular. Hope everything's okay, gulag, wherever you are.

  • Cal Gal on February 24, 2012 2:16 PM:

    I know Sanitorium home-schooled his kids ... but all the way through COLLEGE!

  • CharlieM on February 24, 2012 2:23 PM:


    If (as he claims) 62% of students who enter college with a faith commitment leave without one, I'd say that's a pretty good indicator of that "intellectual diversity" he claims he's looking for.
    And as for "indoctrination to a secular world view", I thought that's what university was all about - broadening your horizons and all that.

  • T-Rex on February 24, 2012 2:23 PM:

    As far as I know, only one methodologically sound survey has been conducted, by a politically conservative academic, to test the hypothesis that conservatives are treated as pariahs and their views stigmatized in academia. His own experiences in academia had been quite positive, but he assumed that he must be anomalous, until he did a survey of students and faculty at a representative sampling of institutions, and found out that they weren't. He found that very few people changed their political outlook even after taking a course from a social scientist with a strong leftist ideology. He found that there was no discernible discrimination in hiring or promotion. The one legitimate complaint he found from conservatives in the social sciences was in getting their works accepted for publication by peer review. But for the most part, he found that the low number of conservatives on university faculties owes more to the contempt with which conservatives have regarded academics for decades than to liberal discrimination against them. Here's a link to his recent article in Academe magazin:

  • jsjiowa on February 24, 2012 2:35 PM:

    I think Santorum's "intellectual diversity" comment is about getting more conservative professors on campus. There's been a big issue at UIowa's law school over a lawsuit filed by a anti-abortion activist who claims that her exercise of her 1st amendment rights is why she wasn't hired as a professor; that the dean asked the faculty if she should be hired, and because they were all democrats save one, she was not. The court said her discrimination suit could proceed. I hope she does not prevail, or we'll be seeing extremists of all stripes start filing suits like that.

    I think in Santorum's mind, the only reason that someone would reject all the conservative ideas he believes in is if they were under the influence of Satan. And so he and his ilk feel persecuted, by evil. It was like the interview where he said he didn't think there was such a thing as a good liberal Christian. He simply is not willing to admit that there are other ways of looking at the world, and they may be even be right. Bush had a black-and-white view of the world, but it wasn't as severely restricted as Satorum's view. It is scary to think of what he could do if he was elected.

  • JM917 on February 24, 2012 2:47 PM:

    Santorum for Pope! (Subject to the Republican primaries.)

    By the way, there is no requirement that the Pope be unmarried and celibate. All it takes is being a male Roman Catholic.

    Santorum would make a wonderful Pope, and he'd certainly reign good and long.

  • Mitch on February 24, 2012 3:21 PM:


    "I think in Santorum's mind, the only reason that someone would reject all the conservative ideas he believes in is if they were under the influence of Satan."

    You hit the nail on the head, my friend. Theocrats like Santorum are unable to walk in the shoes of others, and they usually believe that anyone who holds a different view is touched by the devil. They also feel like they are targets of unreasoning persecution from a hostile world (never mind that the vast majority of Americans, and very nearly ALL elected officals proclaim faith in Christ). Of course, that's what they are taught to believe, so it is to be expected. It is no different than the beliefs of Islamic extremists, save for the lack of violence. If they had permission to persecute "nonbelievers and heretics" then they certainly would.

    I shudder to imagine a Dark Age individual like Santorum with his finger on the Big Red Button.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on February 24, 2012 4:25 PM:

    SYSPROG on February 24, 2012 10:39 AM: when I think of the claim how people are 'falling away from faith' I think people like Santorum are to blame... I'm not so sure that people don't 'believe' as they don't want to be anything like these people who profess Christianity while publicly lying and stealing and then professing their Christianity as if that makes every rotten thing they do OK."

    So true it's really sad (seriously, emotionally sad). If there is one qualm that I have against organized religion, it's that I (unfairly) assume that people who are religious are bigoted, which is so unfair to people of faith, whether Christian or Muslim. And I think that's because of liars, bigots, and megolomaniacs like Santorum who've hijacked religion. These cretins do organized religion no favors. Growing up a southern Free Will Baptist--or, Free To-Do-As-You Will, my father used to say--I've seen my fair share of fraud and bigotry, and I couldn't fathom willingly associating myself with people like that.

    The only thing that surprises me more is that the civilized elements of religion haven't received a platform to challenge people like Santorum or the Westboro Church hate-mongers. But that's MSM, for you.

  • John Dillinger on February 24, 2012 4:55 PM:

    For a native PA Catholic, who went to 19 years of Catholic school (parochial, HS, college and law), it is quite curious that Santorum, who obtained undergrad and law degrees from state-supported PSU and Pitt is making these points. His lack of self-awareness never ceases to amaze.

  • MassachussettsLiberalinDC on February 24, 2012 5:15 PM:

    Santorum told Beck that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it”, but is this true??

    Santorum does not cite a study nor a source for this statistic so I took a few minutes on Google and found no links to any such study or source, but Google did point to a study by Mark Regnerus, “How Corrosive is College to Religious Faith and Practice?”.

    The study relied on data analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of adolescent Health (Add Health), a massive survey project which first spoke with teenagers in the early 1990’s and continues to track respondents (now young adults) into their mid-20’s.

    The study debunks Santorum's claim, and notes that 20% of non-college-bound young adults renounced their religious affiliation, a rate 50% higher than the 13% of college students to renounce affiliation.

    The study does find that 64% of college students curtail their church attendance, but this is not what Santorum claims, and btw, 76% of young adults who did not attend college curbed their church going.

    I consider the most important and relevant finding to be that only 19% of college students say the importance of religion in their life has declined while 25% of young adults who did not attend college report the same trend.

    Santorum's claim is not only insulting and hyperbolic, it is mendacious, unsupported, and contrary to other findings. It would be nice for a major presidential candidate who makes such a wild claim to be able support his assertion with a demonstrable fact.

    study link: http://religion.ssrc.org/reforum/Regnerus_Uecker.pdf

  • Ron Pokraka on February 24, 2012 5:55 PM:

    I was one of Jehovah's Witnesses for over 25 years and this is something they taught too-that post secondary education is 'The Devil's Tool' and strongly discourage their members from pursuing it. Education is the enemy of religion. Look at religous groups and communities that keep their people uneducated-the Amish, different 'closed' communities.

  • Rick B on February 24, 2012 6:09 PM:

    Emile Durkheim, the great French sociologist, explained the misunderstanding that Santorum suffers from in The Division of Labour in Society. The social process of maintaining order depends on the population density and the type of economic production of the society you live in.

    Rural agricultural societies (normally low population density) demand that people act and think alike and operate from a "common" conscience. Crime is defined in such a society as that "offends strong and defined states of the collective conscience." Religion is the form of transmitting the common conscience, so everyone has to belong to the same religion. He called the form of control "mechanical."

    Industrialism changed that by creating high population density cities and by creating specialized jobs which call for a very narrow range of difficult to learn skills. People get jobs based on merit rather than family and society is regulated by economic markets. Most of us need specialists to keep our life styles functioning, and we don't know how they do their job, nor do we care what their religion is. The guy who sells me my morning coffee is from Nepal, but I trust him because I know I get reliable coffee each time I buy a cup. Social order is maintained by "organic solidarity." I trust the people who supply me because they are reliable and are known by those who deal with them to be reliable, not because they profess to believe anything resembling my religion.

    The important difference is not the rural agricultural vs. urban industrial environment. It's the social culture that is required to make each of the two social environments work. People trust those around them based on the culture they grew up in. That's why the conservatives demand that everyone follow their explicit religious teaching and look and dress similarly. People who have grown up in the urban industrial culture trust others based on their proven behavior in history. Their religious beliefs and even their gender identity is unimportant.

    Santorum and his brand of conservative religion is very much based on rural low-population density cultures. The recent split in the Episcopal Church is over this cultural difference. It is only symbolized by the question of whether the church should ordain women or appoint gay bishops. Since the US population is now over half urban, the conservatives are losing badly and have no chance of doing more than delaying the social changes in American culture.

  • TMGLost on February 24, 2012 6:11 PM:

    "62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it"

    Cut him some slack. Obviously, it wasn't meant to be a factual statement.

  • JPFrankenstein on February 24, 2012 6:24 PM:

    How was this guy ever elected? This says a lot to the weakness of the GOP field. Wow.

  • Rick B on February 24, 2012 6:42 PM:

    Public education and post-secondary education for the masses are both products of the industrial revolution. Both really grew up in the 19th and early 20th centuries as necessary to train the workers and managers in industrial society. Neither was necessary in a low population density agricultural-based society.

    Read the stories of rural people telling how immoral the people of the cities are. This goes back at least into the Old Testament and is the basis of the the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Emile Durkheim also described the origins of organized religion.

    Essentially the totems like the wolf or eagle or whatever were adopted as symbols of the tribe. Since it is easy to visual a totem the worship centered on that totem, but the overall society was the actual source of social control. Then agriculture was adopted about 5,000 years ago and towns grew up for trading purposes. Kings were required to control the towns, so the hierarchy of control developed. The kings coopted the shamans to provide legitimacy to the existing royal family and thus we got organized religion.

    This part is my addendum. The shamans became priests and began writing down the stories they told to the flock. Remember, before writing it was bards who were the long distance transmitters of social intelligence. That's why the bard could say anything to the king without retribution. The king did not dare p. o. the bards because they were the only source of information about their neighbors.

    The training for the priesthood is what perpetuated writing, which was also quickly adopted by merchants and professional armies after Sargon. But the clerks were trained for religious reasons. Thus you got organized religion based on written documents which cannot be argued with the way a story-teller can be argued with. Thus the priests provided legitimacy to the institution of the king, and the written stories provided legitimacy to the priests.

    The rural people have never trusted the urbanites because of the very different culture, and both public education and the American secular university system are creations of the industrial society in cities. Of course people like Santorum consider members of the urban and the industrial cultures to be the spawn of Satan. That has always been true.

  • SYSPROG on February 24, 2012 8:23 PM:

    "When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
    -Sinclair Lewis

    and Sgt. Gym Bunny? As Ron Byers said, I think progressives that believe in God tend to follow the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus. The Old Testament is more fire and brimstone and myth. But those frauds that pretend to be MORE RELIGIOUS than anyone want to scare you and dumb you down. I was lucky to be raised Catholic by actual thinking Catholics and when we finally parted they understood. They understood that I was not giving up my faith but giving up the Church.

  • gocart mozart on February 24, 2012 11:48 PM:

    "When facism comes to America it will be wearing a sweater vest and waiving a vaginal probe.�
    -Sinclair Lewis (updated for 2012)

  • RatGov on February 25, 2012 3:18 AM:

    Doesn't this go against the Murray book (which is very popular in conservative circles)? My understanding it that book says that the educated class goes to church MORE than the uneducated and that they should be encouraging the uneducated to go to church more.

  • Jeff Johnson on February 25, 2012 6:59 AM:

    Who could have ever guessed that if you educate people with a bunch of facts and empirically rationally analyzed interpretations of nature and society that they might stop believing in biblical lore?

    Indoctrination into reality is liberation for the mind. Welcome to the reality based community Mr. Santorum.

  • Bob.klingle on February 25, 2012 7:51 AM:

    Ron Byers on February 24, 2012 11:16 AM:

    It occurs to me that in the case of Rick Santorium we really have to ask if a President Santorium would take orders from the Pope.

    Ifyou read the Pope and Santotium you would not know they belong to the same church. Mr. Rick has gone against the pope more than Martin Luther.

  • tom on February 25, 2012 12:53 PM:

    OMG I live in Canada and I am shocked at the level of intelligence as I watch from afar the GOP race and the debates interpreted by Tweeters.

    College and University do a very good job of educating people and that is why they transcend old religious concepts of what it means to have faith.

    Post secondary school also is the only place where one can still hold an ideal about a world where no child starves to death. It is DISGUSTING that we, as global citizens hold values that not only ignore suffering but ENCOURAGE war.

    If there is a Satan or an underworld where Hades resides (as the ancient Greeks thought) then I truly hope there is a hill and boulder for members of the GOP to roll half way up for all eternity in punishment for their lack of humanity.

  • Marc on February 25, 2012 4:39 PM:

    As a Western Pennslyvania native, it is rather amazing to see Santorum's transformation in to this right wing loon. When he was elected back in the '90s, I don't recall him being ths much of a zealot. He was, perhaps, a moderate, which is the type of Republican that plays best in this mostly Democratic area. He also was responsible for bringing much money into the region. (Yes, I am talking about those dreaded earmarks, which, of course, he so dearly despises now.)

    As the years went on, Rick became more and more of a extreme right winger. He rallied against gays, abortion, and even created some controversy by showing his kids the dead fetus of his wife's miscarried baby. (I kid you not - look it up.) Sadly, what we have now is Santorum pandering so hard for the Christian vote, he doesn't even remember the idea of being a moderate. We in Western, PA did our part to boot his ass out (by nearly 20 points). Let's hope the rest of the country takes up the mantle.

  • pbasch on February 27, 2012 4:24 PM:

    When my daughter went to college, there was a parent orientation, where they told us that there would be changes, and we might as well be prepared. If our child used to eat meat, they'd become vegetarian. If they used to be vegetarian, they'd start eating meat. College is a time when kids become adults and stake out personal, social territory to distinguish themselves from their parents. Perfectly healthy.

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