Rick Santorum Played His "Not A Scientist" Card Against Pope Francis, Of All People — Utterly Contradicting Himself In The Process

WAUKEE, IA - APRIL 25: Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian organization, hosted 9 potential contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nominations at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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Under normal circumstances, you'd expect GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum and the Pope to be pretty simpatico, or at the very least, you'd expect some deference on Santorum's end. After all, he's a very devout Catholic, and a conservative one. But this current Pope is a little more (in relative terms, a lot more) of a liberal reformer than Santorum might be used to, so this makes a little sense: Rick Santorum played the "not a scientist" card against Pope Francis in a Philadelphia local radio interview, and it's hardly the first time he's poo-pooed taking climate change seriously.

Make no mistake, there are a lot of fair-minded people who'd like organized religions of all stripes, Catholicism included, to back off from the scientific realm. For example, the Supreme Court's religious freedom-rooted Hobby Lobby ruling was a big blow to secular liberals, effectively concluding that if you think a contraceptive causes abortion, you don't have to provide insurance for it, regardless of the facts of the matter.

But therein lies the rub — Santorum has been all too willing to place his own dogmatic beliefs above sound science over the years. And in this case, Pope Francis isn't the one that's denying an overwhelming scientific consensus, he is.

It's not as though Santorum went in all that hard on Francis, but his disagreement was made plain — he told the interviewer, WPHT's Dom Giordano, that he thought Francis would be better off "leaving science to the scientists," according to CBS News.

The Church has gotten it wrong a few times on science and I think we’re probably better off leaving science to the scientists and focus on what we’re really good on, which is theology and morality. When we get involved with political and controversial scientific theories, then I think the church is probably not as forceful and credible.

To reiterate: this is the same Rick Santorum that embraces the decidedly unscientific view that human life begins at fertilization. He's also lambasted people concerned about climate change as being the modern-day equivalent of the "flat-earthers," and has controversially referred to climate scientists as "climate change's Pharisees." 

In other words, Santorum's preemptive retort to Pope Francis (who's expected to release an encyclical on climate change soon – essentially a Papal letter to Catholics) is some world-class doublespeak. Because:

  • Santorum doesn't respect the views of climate scientists, so suggesting other people defer to them is a somewhat meaningless misdirection.
  • Pope Francis is deferring to the views of an overwhelming statistical majority of climate scientists and researchers. Santorum is not.
It'll be fascinating to see how Santorum and other conservative-minded Catholics respond when Francis' climate change encyclical finally drops — while climate change is generally less-contested internationally, it remains an intensely polarized, politicized issue in these United States. In recent years, some Republicans have increasingly used the phrase "I'm not a scientist" to avoid stating a direct view.

Images: Getty Images (2) 

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