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December 31st, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Why do Iowa’s evangelicals wield so much political clout?

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) – At first blush, it’s just another standard-issue political rally.

Inside Mitt Romney’s Iowa headquarters – a former Blockbuster store on a commercial strip outside downtown – Romney and his wife, Ann, are introduced by former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty and his wife, Mary.

“It is an honor to be supporting Gov. Romney and Ann,” Mary Pawlenty tells the crowd of a couple hundred, a silver cross dangling from her neck. “They are good people, they share our values – these are people that we are delighted to call friends.”

How Mitt Romney's faith shaped him

A few moments later, Mitt Romney mentions his five sons and hands his microphone to 36-year-old Josh, who calls his dad “my hero.”

“He taught me my great love for this country,” Josh says, “and my great love for my family.”

Sounds like typical political posturing, right? Many Americans wouldn’t give such gestures a second thought.

But experts on religion and politics say the message to one particular subculture – evangelical Iowans – is clear: Mitt Romney may be Mormon, but he shares evangelical Christian values, including a rock-solid commitment to family, and counts high-profile evangelicals like the Pawlentys as friends and supporters.

“It’s less an attempt to create a trust among evangelicals and more to defuse a distrust,” says Dennis Goldford, a political science professor at Drake University in Des Moines.

Mark DeMoss, an evangelical PR specialist and Romney campaign adviser, puts a more positive spin on the strategy: “A number of evangelicals are really enthusiastic about him and have endorsed Romney, and for the same reason that I like him – he shares my values.”

Romney’s Mormonism and his past social liberalism have fed doubts about him among some evangelicals. But with the first-in-the nation Iowa caucuses just days away, the former Massachusetts governor is hardly the only candidate honing his message for evangelical Iowans.

Newt Gingrich has met with hundreds of evangelical pastors in the state, talking policy but also about past marital infidelity, which many Christians consider a sin. Rick Perry has given Sunday morning testimonials from the pulpits of Hawkeye State megachurches.

Newt Gingrich's faith narrative

And Rick Santorum, who is riding a late-breaking surge in Iowa polls, and Michele Bachmann have all but staked their candidacies on winning big among evangelical Iowans, claiming to be more conservative than the rest of the Republican field on hot-button issues like abortion and gay marriage.

How did one faith-based demographic come to wield so much power? The answer is basic math – and passion.

“Relatively few people participate in the Iowa caucuses, so it’s ideal for a group of highly committed activists to have a big influence,” says John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron.

Unlike conventional primaries, Iowa’s caucuses, scheduled for Tuesday, require voters to attend what are essentially community get-togethers at which participants can speak publicly for candidates. It’s more cumbersome than pulling a lever in a voting both, and a relatively small minority of registered voters attend.

“Evangelical churches and interest groups have been able to generate that kind of activity,” Green says. “They’ve been active in Iowa for a long time, so a tradition has taken hold there.”

Rick Perry's long faith journey culminates in White House run

In 2008, evangelical Christians accounted for 60% of Republican caucus-goers. With just 119,000 Iowans participating in the GOP caucuses that year – high by historical standards – the bloc helped propel Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, to a first-place finish.

In previous election cycles, evangelicals accounted for a more modest share of the Iowa GOP electorate, but their ranks have nonetheless hovered around 40%.

That makes evangelical Iowans unusually influential even by the standards of the national Republican Party, in which evangelical Christians have constituted the base since Ronald Reagan was elected president.

From Carter to Bush

Despite the modern GOP-evangelical alliance, it was a Democrat who first tapped that power base in Iowa.

Jimmy Carter was the first presidential candidate in modern American politics to call himself a born-again Christian, and he spent long stretches in Iowa during his 1976 campaign. Finishing ahead of every candidate (“uncommitted” took first) there lent early momentum to a candidate who’d been virtually unknown nationally.

Before Carter, says Drake’s Dennis Goldford, “evangelicals didn’t participate in politics because it was seen as this “worldy, corrupting, evil thing, and you stayed away from it.”

Modern American evangelicalism emerged in the late 19th century, built around biblical literalism and an emphasis on human sin and redemption. The movement was largely a reaction to Darwin’s theory of evolution and questions that modern science raised about biblical authority.

The 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, which struck down the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools, turned the evangelical movement into a national laughingstock and provoked an evangelical retreat from politics.

Carter, a Baptist Sunday School teacher, brought them back together.

But many evangelicals wound up feeling betrayed by Carter’s liberalism, and Reagan’s courtship of first-generation Christian right leaders, as well as his conservative rhetoric on issues like abortion, sent hordes of evangelicals to the GOP.

In 1988, televangelist Pat Robertson finished second in the Iowa caucuses, ahead of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, putting Iowa evangelical power on the national map. Says Goldford: “They came out of nowhere.”

In the 1990s, with the rise of Robertson’s Christian Coalition, many evangelicals landed positions of power within the Iowa Republican Party. Catholics and other religious believers also became more active in the state GOP, raising the profile of issues like abortion and marriage, but they could not compete in number with the evangelicals.

Since then, Republican presidential hopefuls have tailored their messages to evangelical Iowans. When George W. Bush was asked which political philosopher had most influenced him in a debate before the 2000 Iowa caucus, he responded “Jesus.”

A diluted role?

In this election cycle, all the Republican presidential candidates have spoken deeply about their personal Christian faith while in Iowa, except for Romney and Jon Huntsman, both Mormons.

After spending considerable time in Iowa in 2008, much of it courting evangelicals, Romney placed second, far behind Huckabee. This time around, Romney has spent much less time here, skipping some major evangelical cattle calls and unleashing the ire of some powerful Christian activists.

Huntsman, for his part, has ignored Iowa to focus his efforts on New Hampshire, which votes a week after Iowa.

A CNN/TIME/ORC poll last week found that Romney had the support of 16% of likely evangelical caucus-goers in Iowa, compared to 22% for Santorum, 18% for Ron Paul and 14% for Gingrich, who had much higher evangelical support in earlier Iowa polls.

“Romney’s campaign has a very deliberate plan to snub social conservatives,” says Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, a key conservative group in the state.

“If Romney becomes the nominee,” Scheffler says, “95% of his volunteers will need to come from the conservative base. If he’s dissed them through the caucus process, it’s going to be challenging for him to get these people to campaign for him to become president.”

Scheffler is a testament to evangelical influence in the caucuses; his group has hosted caucus trainings in churches across the state in the run-up to January 3.

Most evangelical leaders insist their skepticism of Romney is born of his past social liberalism. But some in-the-pews evangelicals, interviewed at a pair of Iowa evangelical churches on a recent Sunday, admitted to an anti-Mormon bias.

Many believe that Mormons – who, unlike traditional Christians, believe in holy books beyond the Bible and practice customs like posthumous proxy baptism – belong to a cult.

“A growing number of people are afraid to vote for him because they are not sure how his Mormonism will affect his presidency,” says Jonathan Meyer, a pastor at Grace Church in Des Moines. “And because he doesn’t talk about that.”

Other Iowan evangelicals say Romney’s Mormonism isn’t a deal-breaker. “We talked about it in my Bible study,” says Patrick Finnegan, 27, who attended a recent Romney rally wearing a blue “Romney supporter” T-Shirt. “And we said as long as he believes in Jesus Christ, and as long as he’s not an atheist, we support him. I just want someone who shares my belief in a higher power.”

Other Iowa evangelicals echoed that view, calling Romney a Christian.

One complicating factor in the evangelical equation is that the main alternative to Romney as a viable national candidate appears to be Gingrich. The former House speaker has strenuously courted evangelical leaders and aided last year’s successful campaign to unseat three pro-gay marriage Iowa judges but has admitted to personal moral failings, including an affair with his current wife while married to his second wife.

Many Iowa evangelicals say Gingrich has redeemed himself. “I appreciate Newt acknowledging that he needs forgiveness,” says Meyer, who speaks with a Bible tucked under his arm in the Christmas-tree bedecked lobby of Grace Church. “He didn’t have to address that.”

Others are less enthusiastic.

“There’s not enough attention being paid to Newt’s fall from grace,” says Beverly McLinden, 55, an Iowa evangelical who works in association management and attended the Des Moines Romney rally. “Romney’s family exemplifies family values, and you can’t discount that just because he’s a Mormon.”

Evangelical angst over Gingrich and Romney has helped fuel Santorum’s surge, with the former Pennsylvania senator receiving 16% support in the most recent CNN poll, putting him in third place, behind Romney and Paul.

No candidate had even 25% of evangelical support in the most recent poll, raising the possibility that Iowa’s evangelical vote will be pretty diluted this week.

“This vote is terribly critical,” says Ralph Reed, who leads the national Faith and Freedom Coalition. “But the irony is that with this many candidates all appealing to this constituency at the same time, the vote is likely to get spread out.”

‘Democrats are trying to strip God out’

If Iowa’s evangelicals disagree on whom to support, interviews with dozens of them reveal a striking consistency in the role their faith plays in shaping that decision.

Even as the economy and jobs consistently rank as top issues in the presidential race, many evangelical Iowans say they’re weighing the personal faith of the candidates and that they still care about social issues and honoring the country’s Judeo-Christian heritage.

“Most of the folks I’ve dealt with in the evangelical community always care about the economy and spending and taxes,” says Santorum, who has spent most of his time as a presidential candidate campaigning in Iowa. “But the priority issues that have always been up front are the moral, cultural issues.”

“They want to make sure that it’s someone who is comfortable in their skin to fight those battles,” says Santorum, a devout Catholic who has nonetheless landed on TIME’s list of America’s 25 most influential evangelicals.

Gail Johnson, a dentist’s assistant who was heading into Grace Church – a megachurch whose sanctuary is hung with giant Christmas wreaths and a back-lit cross – agrees.

“I have no clue who I’m voting for, other than that it will be a Republican,” she says. “Smaller government and no abortion are the two big issues for me.”

Grace Church is the kind of congregation where worshippers take notes during the sermon, which on this Sunday focused on the importance of believing in Jesus’ virgin birth.

Sue Cornelius-Leibrand, an accountant who also attends Grace, says she would prefer “a president who believes in the same things that I do.”
“I know they won’t agree with everything,” says Cornelius-Leibrand, who wears diamond earrings and carries a stylish black bag and a leather-bound bible with a pink strap. “But the main things, like life beginning at conception and marriage between a man and a wife.”

Many evangelicals cite what they see as religion’s shrinking role in the public square as another concern. “This nation was founded on Christian ethics and that’s what made the country great,” says Sue Raibikis, a pharmaceutical sales rep and an evangelical Christian who attended the Romney rally. “Democrats are trying to strip God out of the country.”

Republican candidates are addressing those concerns in different ways. Gingrich talks about stopping a secular war on religion. Perry gives Christian testimony, telling worshippers at Des Moines’ Point of Grace Church on a recent Sunday: “There’s a hole in one’s heart that can only be filled by one thing.”

Santorum and Bachmann are emphasizing their voting records on hot buttons like abortion, saying other candidates just talk about these issues.

The jockeying introduced a major shot of religion to the presidential race from the very start, a contribution that some political experts argue threatens to curtail Iowa’s influence in the nominating process.

“The strength of evangelicals in the Iowa Republican Party could turn into a weakness if they are seen as so strong that Republicans around the nation begin to discount the results of the caucuses,” says Drake University’s Goldford.

“You’re beginning to see some of that – McCain chose not to campaign here last time,” he says. “And Romney hasn’t been here much this time.”

The state’s track record for picking Republican winners is mixed. Huckabee, for instance, won big in Iowa but lost his party’s nomination. But George W. Bush and Bob Dole won Iowa and went on to the GOP nomination.

The Republican primary calendar, if nothing else, will strengthen the influence of Iowa and its evangelicals, argues Green, of the University of Akron.

New Hampshire, with fewer evangelicals, follows Iowa in primary voting. But the next in line is South Carolina, where 60% of voters in the last Republican presidential primary identified as evangelicals.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Iowa • Michele Bachmann • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Rick Santorum

soundoff (837 Responses)
  1. tony

    EV-angel-I-ca-L. An angel immersed in evil.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • RogerThat

      Are you a Sith Lord bro?

      January 1, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Wakey Wakey ! ! ! Time To Get Up And Shake The First Century Out Of Your Head

      Nah, they're just dumb-asses who want everyone else to become invisible-friend-believing dumb-asses like themselves. You see, it makes them feel insecure and stupid when others think they are insecure and stupid and deluded, so they are trying to force everyone into the intellectual tyrrany of ultra-conformism to their dumb-ass belief.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • tony

      With science instead of religion on our side, yes soon.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Da King

      Actually it means "good news". Spread the good news of Jesus Christ. It's happening all over the world. The Spirit of God can't be stopped. You are invited to know the love of God and to be born of the Spirit of God.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Wakey Wakey ! ! ! Time To Get Up And Shake The First Century Out Of Your Head

      And Da King jumps in to prove the dumb-ass theory correct

      January 1, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  2. Steve9337

    Hey, let's keep voting for our leadership based on their religion. Seems to be working great so far, huh?

    January 1, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Da King

      Yep.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • RogerThat

      Obama sucked, and he had no evangelical appeal...look at the mess he's made.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Da King

      Yea RT. Obama didn't even start a needless war yet. What's gonna happen to Halaburton now?

      January 1, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • The ole BS detector is going off again.

      Actually, Bush made the mess. Remember? The economic collapse, the first huge bank bail-out? Those happened under W. Bush. Nobody could have pulled the U.S. (and the world) out any faster. The situation has to run its course, simple as that.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  3. scientificpoetry

    The religious right wants to turn the United States into a theocracy. What ever happened to the separation of church and state? It seems that in the last 25 or so years, religion has creeped into the political process. I say "Stay out"! Contrary to what many evangelicals say, the united states government was not founded on Christian ideals.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • .......

      it's crept ..."creeped out" is slang.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Da King

      No they don't. They just believe in the Bible and will vote that way.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Nice Thinking, King

      Just as Muslims believe in the Quran AND WILL VOTE THAT WAY

      January 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  4. Tom

    The headline on the main page reads "What do Iowa evangelicals have so much political clout?" Apparently employing people who proof read an article before posting it is as unimportant as balanced non-partisan reporting seems to be on ANY of the US news channels these days

    January 1, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Steve9337

      Dude, it's a religious blog. Accuracy is not relevant.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  5. gravis

    Followers of evangelists used to be considered a dull-witted fringe. Then Karl Rove figured out you could win elections by pandering solely to them. The stupid (i.e. red) states have too much electoral power. And there are too many people unwilling or unable to think for themselves.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Da King

      Yea, they decided to believe and trust in God. That actually work out better for them.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • tljnsd

      No, they figured out how to use God to conform to their bigotry.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Da King

      tl, It's the love of God and you are invited.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  6. Jake

    I am a religious fanatic as I believe MY religion is the real truth. Having said that, I do engage in maritial affairs, I steal like other CEOs of big corporations and Wall Street, I invest money in companies that make all kinds of weapons, some that not only kill people in huge numbers, but maims many more. I enjoy all this wealth I have while others have little or none, I enjoy paying less while getting more, while others pay more and get less. I enjoy the finer wines and dinners, while others share rations of food. Traveling first class and hotels on the dime is something I truly enjoy. Of course, there's Florida for those not so fortunate, but that's ok for them. Yeah, nothing like seeing my investments making a killing (no pun intended), making a million here, a million there. But as a religious man that I am, I will sometimes drop a buck or two in those "help the needy" boxes. Of course, it's tax deductible you know. Anyway...I'm running for President, please remember I am a deeply religious man/woman and it's important to have religion in the WH. Suckers....

    January 1, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • RogerThat

      Jake, don't forget you're extremely judgmental and hypocritical. Oh, Oh! and don't forget you haven't looked in the mirror in like, forever.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  7. bigfoot

    It truly saddens me to know that it was my father's generation that was great and understood you needed to keep religion out of politics and government but my own generation that is weak and has backslid to ignorance.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  8. tony

    never underestimate the power of stupid people in large religious groups to destroy the world.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • RogerThat

      Are you saying religious people are stupid? Your weakness is that you underestimate others and think you are superior to others...major FAIL

      January 1, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Da King

      Underestimate the power of God is stupid.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Smashing Illusions

      Study after study has indeed shown that the more religious you are, the less educated you are.

      Very few of the top scientists in the world are religious. These are the people who discover cure to diseases, and create the things that keep the world advancing.

      Almost none of the worlds prison inmates identify themselves as atheist/no-religion. These are the people who bring crime and misery to the world.

      January 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  9. xnay

    Why not? Obama was raised a Muslim

    January 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Peppermint Patty

      and you were raised a retard.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  10. Gracko

    Today's Christians are *not* the same Christians who founded Harvard, who advanced education, medicine and science in the 1600s and 1700s, just as today's Republicans are not the ones who fought for social rights and freedoms in the 1800s. To justify today's Christian agenda based upon how Christianity looked back then is disingenuous.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • RogerThat

      Says who?

      January 1, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • bigfoot

      Today's Christians would shut Harvard down in a heartbeat given half a chance.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  11. SurRy

    Why is religion a factor? We don't live in a theocracy. We have become such a backward nation; no wonder those from true industrialized nations think we are foolish.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  12. bigfoot

    In 2004 in a Baptist Church in Waynesville, NC during the Sunday worship service sermon a preacher told his congregation that they weren't true Christians if they didn't vote for George W. Bush. True story.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • SurRy

      Did the church lose its non-profit status? Violated federal laws. Bunch of filthy hypocrites. They truly believe they do not have to follow man's law, only some mythical god's law.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • bill

      BS – old rumor

      January 1, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • bigfoot

      Folks, Bill is FOS. Google it and see for yourselves.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  13. SurRy

    Bunch of hypocrites. It is ok to be religious. As long as one believes the "correct" fairy tale.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  14. Joe citizen abroad

    We live in a democratic republic, not a theocracy. But apparently it's a country where good moral people can be manipulated by self-serving politicians into being distracted from the larger issues by high-school debate questions like "when does life begin" or "should gays marry," or even "is being gay a choice." If you're an evangelical who is unemployed, underemployed, underinsured, or your mortgage is underwater, you may be more open to what I am saying. Regardless, do not let yourself be used by these cynical campaign strategists. You have a duty to God and to your country to consider the greater good of the people when you cast your vote. An honest person who openly disagrees with you on a few things is a better choice than a dishonest person who claims they believe everything you do, and secretly disagrees with you...or even disdains you for your gullibility. Keep your eyes wide open when you cast your vote, and choose a leader. Not a manipulator.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  15. bill

    i suppose iowa christians, especially evangelicals will have to decide whether the mormon cult are christians worthy of leading a chriatian nation. if so, then they will have a lot of explaining to do. one can find a bucket with rocks in it in new york, claim jesus or god spoke to them and told them they are themselves gods and should form their own religion is a bit too much for this christian. i suppose we can just throw in any muslim sect that wants to say they've seen jesus and he spoke to them. will then iowans recognize that sect as christian although they have and follow muslim religious practices. like i said, iowa christians must decide what they consider a christian come tomorrow, and consider the consequences of what other christians may have to think anout how fluid christianity has become and what their place in it should be – if iowa christians are so arbitrary.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • GTA

      A Christian nation? Really?
      So, are non-Christians are second-class citizens? Or, do they even count at all?
      America was founded largely by people wanting to be free from this type of thinking. Where have you been for 200 years?

      January 1, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • bigfoot

      Yeah, GTA. He is quite FOS.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • kevin

      Dude, Iowans are choosing a nominee–not a freakin' Religious leader of whatever religion you belong to. Get over yourself.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  16. Jesus occupied!

    Delusional people

    January 1, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  17. Aezel

    Two quotes by Barry Goldwater, "Godfather" of the modern Republican party:

    "Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them."

    "On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom."

    January 1, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • SurRy

      The Teaba$$er-Republican-Taliban that has taken over wouldn't let Goldwater or their alleged patron saint, Reagan, anywhere near their party. And neither Goldwater nor Reagan would want anything to do with these nutjobs.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • tman

      Aezel...Barry was so right. he was the only republican my dad ever voted for..

      January 1, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • bigfoot

      Their nature is not to compromise on principle. If they get in control, we will be no better than Afghanistan under the Taliban.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  18. Rainer Braendlein

    "Other Iowan evangelicals say Romney’s Mormonism isn’t a deal-breaker. “We talked about it in my Bible study,” says Patrick Finnegan, 27, who attended a recent Romney rally wearing a blue “Romney supporter” T-Shirt. “And we said as long as he believes in Jesus Christ, and as long as he’s not an atheist, we support him. I just want someone who shares my belief in a higher power.”"

    OMG!

    Mormonism has nothing to do with Christianity and must be rejected at any rate!

    One of the first revelations, which Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormons) received, was:

    "All creeds of the established churches are an abomination in God's eyes!"

    A group, which was founded by a man, who regards all previous Christian creeds as abomination, cannot be a Christian and his "church" cannot be a Christian Church, but must be a cult.

    The creeds rest on the decisions of the Ecu-menical Councils, which represented the whole worldwide Christian Church, which was founded by Jesus Christ. These creeds are valid and according to the Holy Bible.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Peppermint Patty

      Rainer, the third commandment tells you not to take the name of the Lord in vain. Now go repent for saying, OMG, or you'll go straight to hell.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • sdabby

      I have great respect for your view point but I ask that you keep your views private. Please reconsider calling Mormons or any other religious group a cult. In Egypt, there are 10 million Coptic Christians at risk because their religious views are not respected by the Islamic population. Churches are being burned in the name of “true religion”.
      I feel all religions should be respected and that we should strive to be a better person within our religious beliefs without tearing down the religions beliefs of others.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Sid

      Christianity is nothing more than supersti-tion, a collection of fanciful stories with a few bits of history put in there such that it doesn't immediately get put aside for being the nonsense that it truly is.

      Only the ignorant, stupid masses actually believe in Christianity, and as such, it is a useful political tool.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • GTA

      "A group, which was founded by a man, who regards all previous Christian creeds as abomination, cannot be a Christian and his "church" cannot be a Christian Church, but must be a cult."

      So, Christianity was not founded by a man?

      January 1, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • SpringBranch

      Right...Christianity was not founded by a man. Jesus was God that came to earth as a man.

      January 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  19. Hypatia

    Fundies, Xian wingnuts, whatever you choose to call them have far too much influence with their hate and terror-mongering.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  20. sdabby

    For readers who may not be aware of it, the nightmare scenario is when a husband OR wife is born again after many years of marriage. The other partner is isolated and viewed as a sinner. This creates great strife in marriages causing some long term marriages to fail.

    Another view of evangelicals and family values.

    January 1, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Hypatia

      and isn't it funny how that spouse is usually replaced by a younger/richer one. Odd that.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:14 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.