What Was The "Santorum Amendment?" Rick Santorum Has Long Been The Religious Right's Politician

When you spend two terms in the Senate and run for president more than once, you're bound to have a track record that political foes can point to and dissect. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who is now officially a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, is an outspoken conservative Catholic capable of rallying the religious right. In his 2012 campaign, Santorum came in a surprising second to Mitt Romney, but he also has a long history on Capitol Hill pushing forward debatable bills, mostly tied to his religious faith. So what exactly was the "Santorum Amendment?"

In addition to his stance on abortion (against) and birth control (also against), Santorum has expressed his skepticism about evolution. In 2001, Santorum introduced an amendment to then-president George W. Bush's landmark No Child Left Behind act, a piece of education reform that would have included teaching of theories of creationism in schools. It became known as the "Santorum Amendment" and was based on his belief in so-called intelligent design, the theory that rather than evolving from a common ancestor, as the theory of evolution posits, that life is the work of a creator, as detailed in the Bible.

In a 2002 opinion piece for The Washington Times, Santorum wrote the theory of intelligent design "predates ancient Greece" and made his argument for why it should be taught in American classrooms. Intelligent design presents an alternate viewpoint to Darwin's theory of evolution, Santorum wrote, and was "a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."

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In 2005, a Pennsylvania school board sought to allow its schools to teach intelligent design and to explore "gaps" in evolution teachings. But the teaching of intelligent design theory was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in Pennsylvania, according to NBC News. Judge John E. Jones wrote in his opinion the theory amounted to "a religious view ... and not a scientific theory." Santorum, who advocated for the creationism curriculum, told The Washington Post he wanted to introduce the idea of creationism into schools so students could discuss "the full range of scientific views that exist."

That belief proved to hold strong over the years. In a 2011 interview with Nashua, New Hampshire, newspaper The Telegraph, Santorum explained he believed teachers should be able to instruct students about the "controversy" around the theory of evolution.

What I was advocating was teaching the intellectual debate in a classroom that most children would love to have. Where do we come from? How did we get here?
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On his current campaign website, Santorum is critical of the Common Core education standards, but there is no mention of whether he has changed his views on intelligent design. The "Santorum Amendment" ultimately failed, but a 2012 BuzzFeed article suggested Santorum was proud of his attempt to introduce this teaching method into schools. There's no doubt of Santorum's commitment to his faith, and that probably means his belief in creationism is still going strong.

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