Some of the critics of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have recently gone well beyond Catholic bashing.

On the blog site of the New York Review of Books, Garry Wills called Santorum a modern-day Torquemada, a man who “equates contraception with the guillotine.” On, Michael Hughes compared Santorum to the Taliban, arguing he wants “a Christian form of Sharia law.” Mark Morford at the San Francisco Chronicle said that Santorum reminds him of a molester, someone who is trying to save “the dying Catholic church.”

Larry Doyle at Huffington Post went beyond the candidate to slam all Catholics for participating “in a barbaric ritual…a ‘mass’ in which a black-robed cleric casts a spell over some bread and wine…[resulting] in a cannibalistic reverie.” Sexpert Dan Savage said that when Newt Gingrich was married to his second wife, he was “still f***ing the consecrated host out of his ‘devout Catholic’ mistress.”

The Catholicism of these candidates only explains some of the hatred. John Cassidy in the New Yorker said that Santorum “with his seven kids” (which he notes first and foremost) is radically different from the magazine’s readership. He is right: those for whom abortion is the most precious right can’t figure Santorum out. Neither could Ivan Strenski at Religion Dispatches. While he said photos of Santorum and his daughter who suffers from Trisomy 18 “touched his heart,” he also wondered, “Why would one choose, in effect, to take the risk of bringing a doomed child into the world?”

These people may be threatened by Catholicism, but what gives them the chills are babies. And they really flip over couples like the Santorums who don’t abort their disabled children.

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