“The Jesus Candidate”: Rick Santorum’s Messiah Complex

ABC News reports a weird rally declaration made by Rick Santorum this week. He sees himself as the presidential “Jesus candidate”:

Santorum told the audience about a radio interview out of Boston he did earlier today [Thursday].

According to Santorum, the interviewer said, “We don’t need a Jesus candidate, we need an economic candidate.”

“My answer to that,” Santorum added, ”was we always need a Jesus candidate.

“We need someone who believes in something more than themselves and not just the economy,” he added. “When we say, ‘God bless America,’ do we mean it or do we just say it?”

Notice how Santorum conflates himself with the “Jesus candidate,” as if Jesus would approve his politics. Notice how Santorum also heretically conflates Jesus, the Prince of Peace, with militaristic nationalism (“God bless America”), implying that Jesus should be asked to bless, not just the economic well being of America, but its foreign policy. (Never mind that Jesus was not only radically nonviolent, but advocated poverty, not wealth creation, as a spiritual path.)

So, for Santorum, a presidential race is not about “the economy, stupid.” It’s about a form of religious self-exaltation alien to Jesus himself—conflating God, militarism, and nationalism into a mush of platitudes, and making a public display of it all, saying it like you really “mean it.”

Jesus, by contrast, told his followers to pray in a closet, not in view of others.

And to turn the other cheek.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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