Brother Daniel Horan at Dating God on how Rick Santorum's right-wing Catholicovangelical misreading of the foundational documents of the U.S. about religious freedom (and of John F. Kennedy and Catholic magisterial teaching) seriously distorts the concept of religious liberty:
As a matter of historical context, it is important to remember that the framers of the US Constitution (the so-called “founding fathers and mothers”) did indeed have a view that there would be a very clear distinction between the exercise of religion and the endorsement or prohibition of such free exercise by the government.
This is not the same thing as suggesting that religion cannot play a role in the public square. An equally absurd comment would be to suggest that science cannot play a role in the public square. Or that hollywood gossip cannot play a role in the public square. All of these things in fact to enter into the public discourse and contemporary social context of the United States. But what is meant by the structure of the US government as conceived at the end of the eighteenth century is that the office of the President of the United States would not be run as a theocracy, or scientific-fiefdom, or as some sort of celebrity-cult.
In Jefferson's mind, it's about freedom for religion and freedom from religion. At the very same time. Two sides of one coin.
The very last thing Jefferson wanted was theocracy. Not so for Santorum and the Catholicovangelicals.
On the Jeffersonian church-state sculpture I've chosen as a graphic, see the Artsology blog site.