Santorum Abuses ‘E Pluribus Unum’

Exclusive: In 1776, when America’s 13 colonies were uniting to fight for independence, they adopted a slogan, “E Pluribus Unum, from many, one.” Now, GOP presidential frontrunner Rick Santorum has hijacked the motto to mean that a diverse United States must live under a single Biblical code, notes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Americans get manipulated daily by the Right’s false references to U.S. founding principles, most recently by Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum and his misrepresentation of what “E Pluribus Unum” means.

The phrase, Latin for “from many, one,” was a motto of the 13 original colonies banding together in 1776 to demand independence from the United Kingdom. It has remained a national slogan for the togetherness of a diverse country ever since.

The motto "E Pluribus Unum" in the Great Seal of the United States

However, Santorum has transformed this motto of unity into the latest cultural wedge issue of division, claiming it means the United States, as “a moral enterprise,” must reject government secularism respecting religious diversity in favor of “traditional Judeo-Christian principles” based on the Bible.

At a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona, on Wednesday, Santorum said, “The greatness of America is we have such diversity, with the proviso — ‘E Pluribus Unum, out of many, one.’ Essentially we are going to need to hold together on some set of moral codes and principles.” The ex-senator from Pennsylvania then added, “And we’re seeing very evidently what the president’s moral codes and principles are about. We see a president who is systematically trying to crush the traditional Judeo-Christian principles in this country.”

In other words, Santorum believes that despite the wide-ranging differences in the United States regarding religious and moral issues, Americans must abide by one Biblical standard of “traditional Judeo-Christian principles,” Santorum’s version of “E Pluribus Unum, from many, one.”

Yet, America’s founding documents, particularly the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, created a secular system of government, one that guaranteed both freedom of and freedom from religion. Americans were free to practice their religious faiths but they could not use the government to impose their religious views on others.

The Constitution, which is as secular as any document could be, contains not a single word regarding the supremacy of Judeo-Christian religions or values. It makes no reference to God at all. Indeed, its singular reference to religion is that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

After the Constitution was ratified in 1788, a Bill of Rights was added in 1791. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That means the government can do nothing to promote religion or punish people for their religious views, the so-called separation of church and state.

However, it has become a central goal of the Religious Right to confuse Americans about these core principles, by insisting that – contrary to the governing documents that the Founders created – they really intended a form of theocracy committed to Biblical teachings and imposing religious tenets on the people of the United States.

Similarly, the Right has snatched a few quotes out of context to transform James Madison and other drafters of the Constitution into people who opposed a strong central government and favored a system of states rights, when the historical reality is nearly the opposite: the framers scrapped the Articles of Confederation because that original governing structure hamstrung the new nation with a weak central government dominated by “independent” states. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Inside-Out Constitution.”]

Now, Rick Santorum is using America’s founding motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” as if it meant that out of the Many differing views that Americans had then and have now about public religion and personal morality that One set of religious/moral standards, based on “traditional Judeo-Christian principles,” must be established for the United States and imposed on its people.

Presumably, a President Rick Santorum would be in charge of selecting which Biblical edicts must be followed.

[For more on related topics, see Robert Parry’s Lost History, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, now available in a three-book set for the discount price of only $29. For details, click here.]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

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8 comments on “Santorum Abuses ‘E Pluribus Unum’

  1. rosemerry on said:

    Not only is Sick Rant a weird sort of catholic such as I have never heard of before (and I was raised a Catholic), but his ideas or those of the “evangelicals” and “rapture ready”, Zionists/”Jews must be converted or be damned”/moral majority would condemn the USA to be far worse an extremist fanatics’ homebase than any islamic republic.
    No interest is taken in living humans from birth: public schools, health care, peace, freedom of thought, speech and action, women’s and racial equality, access to financial security, all would be pushed aside as the law delves into vaginas, gametes, foetuses, devils.This would not resemble the 21st century in the least.

  2. I don’t think it is reasonable to expect someone as ignorant as Mr. Sanitarium to understand anything in Latin or anything to do with global warming, etc. etc.

  3. Bob Loblaw on said:

    Well well,

    If indeed President Obama is, ” is systematically trying to crush the traditional Judeo-Christian principles in this country.”

    He certainly has my enthusiastic vote.

    Who am I kidding? He has my enthusiastic vote anyway.

    TPer cultists all agree, small powerless gummint but it must run womens’ lives, and keep evils such as sex, cannabis, and gambling at bay so’s that the LORD can return in glory.

  4. Fascist Theocracy…here we come!

  5. Larry Linn on said:

    Before Santorum continues his goal of becoming president, he should read the Constitution of the United States of America:
    Article Six: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
    The Second Amendment states: ““Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”.

  6. Hillary on said:

    Religious childlike minds are incapable of seeing basic realities and blinded by what they call faith.

    Jesus , God and Religion are the “Greatest Stories Ever Sold”.

  7. Kenneth Cole on said:

    @Larry Linn That is the First Amendment, the Second Amendment protects the right of the people to keep bear arms. :)

  8. plumbbob on said:

    First and last time logging in here…..
    From the comments and the article, I must assume that I’ve stumbled upon a far left website.
    You call the people that disagree with you Fascists, simplistic, “childlike minds.”
    You are so firm in your own beliefs that you cannot question them, much like a child.
    You are of a collectivist mentality, much like facsists.
    You prefer to keep your belief system simple, pretty simplistic.
    What you fail to see is the hypocrisy that comes from both Democrats and Republicans. The political struggle is not between conservative and liberal. It is between individualism and collectivism. The left is fond of “a womans right to choose,” but balks at the notion of one chosing whether or not to have health insurance, or wear a seat belt, or chose whether or not to join a union.
    The Republicans hang their hat on being anti-abortion, at the same time publicly denouncing “government encroachment in our lives.”
    Neither the party you support, nor the party you oppose has your interest at heart. They wish only to have power for the sake of power.
    As a test, look at how many of the Democrats currently in power had to resolve problems with the IRS before entering appointed office. Is this not the party that favors higher taxation to support public spending? It is not about you or me. It is about the elitists controlling us for their own benefit.
    Apologies if I offended anybodies sensibilities.
    For the record….I am a union member and was a Democrat before becoming a Libertarian.