Santorum: Church/state separation not absolute

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum continued to make controversial statements Sunday. The latest is about the separation of church and state, which Santorum says prohibits people of faith from the "public square."

"I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute," Santorum said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

He was referring to a 1960 speech by then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy on religion and governance, which Santorum said "makes me throw up."

"Because the first line, first substantive line in the speech says, 'I believe in America where the separation of church and state is absolute," the former Pennsylvania senator said. "You bet that makes you throw up."

Santorum said Kennedy "was trying to tell people of faith that you will do what the government says, we are going to impose our values on you."

Kennedy gave the speech during his campaign for presidency because of concerns about his Catholic faith. He assured the public, including concerned Protestant leaders, that he would not be "the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic."

Santorum, who is Catholic, has made his faith and religion a tenet of his campaign, and promised he would do so as president, too.

He said Kennedy meant that "people of faith have no role in the public square."

"This is the First Amendment. The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion," Santorum said.

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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