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. peaceful guy

    Evangelical Christians are known Christian Radicals who believe in Violence and occupations. Most pro Israel lobby of America consists of these crazy people who are giving bad name to Christianity.

    January 1, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  2. joe

    What do Iowa evangelicals have so much political clout? What do this sentence mean?

    January 1, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  3. sean B

    Considering the record of born- again George W. Bush, the worst president in history- who has been pushed under a rock by current repubs, trying to forget that he existed and hoping the rest of us do the same- anyone who votes for one of these hypocritical bible thumpers is a world- class idiot.

    January 1, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • joe

      If you put every christian in a class with one that acted like George Bush, that woudn't be prudent.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  4. Say No To Nazi's

    There are over 300 million Americans,
    but these people want to tell the rest of us how to live.
    I dont think so.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  5. ChaeHun

    spell correction =>exdous/exodus

    January 1, 2012 at 6:35 am |
  6. jon

    How about a story on the Democrats athiests...how much influence do they have?

    January 1, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • SCAtheist

      No atheists in elected government or SCOTUS. That's how much.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:37 am |
    • G. Douglas Clarke

      I've heard way too much about evangelicals and their political influence. How about the influence of liberal, progressive Christians?

      January 1, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • sean B

      Jon: Name ONE democratic politician who identifies as an atheist- JUST ONE- and we'll all examine his "influence'. I'm waiting...

      January 1, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  7. Judicious_Crapaholic

    in response to a story on evangelical influence in the des moines register:

    January 1, 2012 at 6:33 am |
  8. gary

    Ancient myth has no place in our gov't. If practiced, it should be personal. But USA today is held back from progress by evangelicals. It's a primitive, ignorant belief system that is regressive and dangerous. It seeks to keep us ignorant of science and the realities of climate change, pollution, over population, etc.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • James in SC

      Just what the candidates from the TGOP want from an electorate..keep 'em stupid & tell them it's about keeping them safe from the atheists and gays. It has worked for them, so they continue to use it every chance they get.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      Nailed it! Nothing to add.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:02 am |
  9. Mike in Montana

    Before we go to the end the bridge, lets take another look or research at 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' or sometimes called the LDS Church and Mormonism. Of course, within our research, we have found, that the LDS Church and its members do NOT believe in the true Trinity. The LDS Church does not believe in the Trinity and in their doctrine and beliefs, believe that there are three (3) separate Gods, (e.g., God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.). With that said, they are not mainstream Chrisitianity in thought or doctrine. Where we believe that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit of God are one. Major christian faiths, do not believe that self-made prophet Joseph Smith was a prophet and saw and spoke to God and Jesus Christ in the living human flesh, not spirit. We also have a hard time, believing that an angel Moroni told Joseph Smith about the gold plates or tablets, buried in the ground and for which became 'The Book of Mormon' came from. I'm going to slow down here and give a brief description of some other doctrines and beliefs that mainstream christianity has a problem with.. The LDS Church doctrines and beliefs, at times, are hard to understand, (e.g., the rituals within the church and especially their temples, wearing secret undergarments is one, secret handshakes and code words and that anyone within the LDS Church can become a God or Prophet within their church as a member.., I'll stop there, because the list could get a little long..). I'll let you do some research and you will also find, that the LDS Church, does have many rituals, including the underwear business. Don't be shy, do your research on the LDS Church and their doctrines and beliefs, your in for quite a shock. The point is, they are NOT mainstream christianity in their doctrine and beliefs, and not as much family as you thought. With a slight smile on my face, I often have asked myself, does Governor Mitt Romney wear those secret sacred underwear that the majority of Mormons do wear and why.. My concern is, how much influence, does the LDS Church and its leaders and membership, doctrine and beliefs have over Governor Mitt Romney and especially from Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church members are told to obey the church doctrine and beliefs or your going to hell or worse. I'll stop.. Do some research, before you go to the polls and make a decision, if you really want Governor Mitt Romney in the White House and how much influence will the LDS Church have on him. Jokingly and with a smile.., does he really wear those secret sacred underwear, that the majority of LDS Church members wear and of course.., why ? Mike in Montana

    January 1, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • SCAtheist

      So what, you regular christians preach a bunch of noinsense that has nothing to do with what's in the bible. I mean you are all worried about abortion, and god murders babies for about any reason in the OT.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:31 am |
    • satan

      Don't attack mormons, they atleast believe in something. Both you and the mormons are EQUALLY gullible. Atleast the atheists are in an agreement. Christianity, like islam, is a house divided into many factions, and as such diminishes its own value.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • Rick

      satan: islam is divided into two factions, shia and sunni (as far as i know), christianity is divided into way more

      January 1, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • satan

      Mormons actually don't believe that anyone goes to hell. That is kind of a Baptist thing for 99.9999% of the people who ever lived but never even heard of Jesus, and as such were never saved.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      A person who believes in Christian doctrine has very little room to pillory the Mormons for having strange beliefs and inconsistent behavior.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • sean B

      Yeah, they're wacked. But YOU believe in eating the FLESH of the man sent to save you, and drinking his blood! "Let's cannibalize our god!" Talk about sick!

      January 1, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • ChaeHun

      Central element or what God tried to deliver to us from his holy spirit written in the bible wasn't really about incidence or fact finding (like how much money Jesus carried in spreading gospel and healing the sick, and going with his disciples), but was rather about sacrifice for others, and sharing his love with them.. So even as the old testament dictates in Exodus saying Moses, any that worship idols will destines harshy wrench and peril from God, the emphasis here isn't about the sin of differentiation but on the faith to God, and lack of it.. The bible says any of those that fail to accept God, Jesus Christ and holy spirit as one in trinity as their salvation will not enter thru the kingdom of heaven, however, i think it didn't intend to demonize Hinduism, Buddhism or any other religion in the same regard. Simply to put, the core concept of Christianity isn't exclusive but rather inclusive and compassionate.. as Samarian woman found one, whose origin got treated less the time, on the street and served him foods and put him into inn to spend the night there away from cold. The very reason God left us commandments to keep believers on right track, and one of commissions or responsibilities as Christians is to minister and evangelize others..who may not yet know of Jesus Christ..

      January 1, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • ronbry55

      Mike indicates, " they are not mainstream Chrisitianity." So what? Jesus Christ wasn't in a mainstream religion either.
      Why are you worried about the beliefs of this candidate (who keeps them private) when so many others are wearing their religion on their sleeves and asking people to vote for them because of their faith?

      January 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  10. Robert

    I think this whole article misses the big-picture point. When all is said and done, the evangelicals have mostly influenced who will be third in a state supposedly strongly influenced by them. Make no mistake – neither Romney nor Paul are the desired candidate for evangelicals. If choosing the third place candidate is the extent of their influence in Iowa, I think this is mostly a sign of their waning power.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • JohnR

      One can only hope!

      January 1, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  11. TJeff1776

    I can speak to one issue. One lie perpetrated by the anti-Mormon group is THAT Mormon's wear magic underwear. They speak without ANY knowledge about the issue whatever. The underwear is simply a reminder NOT to commit adultery and a reminder to conform to Christian principles. THATS IT and nothing more. I have been a Mormon for many years and ONLY from enemies of the church do you hear the magic underwear and "cult" stuff. When we hear or read about these things it becomes a LOL and keep on walking. I imagine Newt would have profitted from this type reminder.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:21 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Has anybody found Joe Smith's plates that the con man sold over and over?

      January 1, 2012 at 6:27 am |
    • satan

      I used to be a Mormon and you're exactly right. I don't believe in Mormonism or any other -ism, but the underwear is simply a reminder, Marriott was speaking for himself. Evangelicals are "experts" on everybody else's religion. Ironically they refuse to learn anything about it. They just take their pastors word for it in much the same way you accept everything ts monson tells you.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:31 am |
    • Mirosal

      Of course you only hear about "cult" from those who are NOT Mormon. Those who are in it are too deluded to know it. By definition ALL religions are cults. And if you need to wear a reminder to NOT commit adultery, your marriage isn't that stable to begin with, is it? Your 'Quorum of 12' will not run this country. They aren't prophets of any kind, they are businessmen. Take a look at just how many businesses, land and organizations the LDS has controlling interest over.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • Barnacle Bill

      How is fake underwear any different from fake mythology?

      January 1, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      Even with no mention whatever of underwear, magic or otherwise, the Mormon religion offers a plethora of far-out, zany beliefs to mock. Reading the history of Mormonism (as I have done) is like reading about crazy people led by a con man. EXACTLY like it.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  12. NoTags

    From the story;

    "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."

    Perhaps Mr. Finnegan and others in his "Bible study" need to do a little more studying. Although Mormons do believe in a higher power, the Mormon Jesus and the Mormon God is a different Jesus and God than Evangelical Christians believe in.

    To understand Mormon beliefs you must read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, the content of which is greatly different than Christian beliefs.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:10 am |
    • SCAtheist

      As long as they're not atheist? Thanks Iowa bigots. Check the stats on atheist vs. Christian behavior.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • satan

      Very interesting assessment of Mormonism. It does differ from most mainstream Christian theology, which, in and of itself requires a great deal of faith to accept at face value. Both groups offer very convenient explanations for their unobservable phenomena.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • IowaGuy

      Please don't associate the entire state of Iowa with these evangelical retards. I know they're a majority, but they're dying off pretty quickly, just like everywhere else.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Point well taken IowaGuy

      January 1, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      We can only hope! The fact that the average age of a Fox "News" viewer is 65+ gives me hope for the future as well.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  13. Eric

    Were it possible to determine in the womb that the child would be gay, would these people allow the birth to come to term?

    January 1, 2012 at 6:10 am |
  14. satan

    My plan is working perfectly!

    January 1, 2012 at 6:09 am |
  15. Tiger82

    Did the author of this piece actually write, "...marital infidelity, which many Christians consider a sin." Is he suggesting that SOME Christians think it's perfectly fine????
    Actually, we don't "consider" it a sin – it IS a sin. Ya know, that whole 10 Commandments thing and all. And it's not just a Christian thing; it's also a sin in the Jewish faith as well and don't even get me started on Muslims and their feelings on adultry.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:04 am |
    • Sam A.

      You hit it right on the head.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:12 am |
    • Gusto Revea

      Therein lies the hypocracy. These same individuals will cram one mention in the bible about marriage is between a man and a woman but you don't see them banning or denouncing things that they themselves do that are in direct conflict with the bible. Divorce being one of them. "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder." That's pretty clear to me. And the ban on certain foods? Hey, them there evangelicals like their bacon so they ignore that one too. And on and on and on.

      It's bad enough that they wave the bible at us. And considering that the Catholic Church put that bible together for them. No wonder they are so stringent in their beliefs... their heads would explode if they had to actually stop and think about it.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:12 am |
    • satan

      I thought the whole point of Jesus was so you could commit adultery, then ask for his mercy later on. Or in some Christian beliefs, born again, free from sin, the gift is an offer, once accepted, always covered. Don't tell me you haven't sinned, even just a little since you were saved.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:14 am |
    • SCAtheist

      The 10 commandments? I suppose that's why god told the Jews to smash babies heads on the rocks.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:25 am |
  16. Gusto Revea

    What really angers me is Rick Santorum's hypocracy when it comes to abortion. Especially late term abortion. When his wife became ill during the last stage of her pregnancy and her life was in danger, Rick and his wife asked their doctor to induce labor using Oxytocin. At 22 weeks gestation, this is considered a late term abortion because the viability of the fetus is close to zero. As expected in cases like this, the child was stillborn due to this induced late term abortion.

    There is no other way to define what Santorum and his wife did. And yet, he crusades against abortion for any reason and tells the story as if the miscarriage happened spontaneously. IT DID NOT. But Santorum grandstands on the horrors of late term abortion and espouses the Catholic Church's teaching that abortion for any reason, even the health of the mother, is wrong and evil.

    Except of course when Santorum and his wife did it themselves. Just shows that people who try to control other people's lives consider themselves above the laws that they foist upon the peons.

    I am so sick and tired of his baloney. And now he has a child who is dying and where is he? Out on the campaign stump while his wife is at home waiting for the child to die. And I am sure that he will tell us all that he sacrificed the remaining time with his daughter who is dying to do what's best for us. What a pathetic and sanctimonious and hypocritical joke. I get nauseous just looking at his demeanor.

    Iowa conservative evangelicals please WAKE UP. Santorum may not allow your wife to survive if illness threatens her in the last trimester... but Santorum and his wife had a late term abortion done. There is no two ways about it. It makes me sick that no one confronts him about this heinous, hypocritical act.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • Rob

      I just wish the American People would stop all this God nonsense all together. The Bible is just a fairy tale book.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:28 am |
  17. Robert Meyers

    It's very sad that with all the problems in the US, these Christian Evangelicals have so much clout because their views and candidates are always the ones that do the most harm. Born again George Bush for example. We always are fearful of Muslim based governments while here, these Evangelicals want their candidates and government to be Christian. They appear not to believe in the separation of church and state principal as it does not serve their interests.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • Rob

      100% RIGHT!

      January 1, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      The evangelicals are the American Taliban. They are hostile to the very idea of America, with its religious tolerance, gay rights, etc. If they hate it so much here, why don't they just leave? No single event could improve this nation more.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  18. Margaret

    I don't want a preacher for a president. I don't want someone who caters to born again right wing Christians, I want someone who listens and respects all the citizens. I don't care if they worship trees. These right wing Christians are afraid of Muslims, but in their own way they are much the same. God told me how you should live your life. If you really believe that we all will answer to God, then let him take care of it.

    January 1, 2012 at 6:00 am |
  19. BD70

    Ok...so you want a president that shares your religious beliefs. What about the rest of the country? Ever wonder why there are so many denominations of churches? Because they couldn't agree on any one set of beliefs. Religion has no place in politics. We need leaders who represent all citizens..not just a small group of people who decided their way is the right way.

    January 1, 2012 at 5:59 am |
    • ChaeHun

      haven't heard how Rick Warren's foursquare church in Lake Forest, where nearby saddlback college is located around Laguna Niguel as far as i know of..(my work place was near Alicia Pkwy at laguna Niguel) is doing, as i once got quite impressed and was a good chance to reflect on my own faith in Jesus Christ after reading Purpose driven life.. that today's Christians all look like congregation in their own rotary club..not bothering too much about those outside of their church affiliation.. and people are not doing something for God or what God wants them to be or do, while just demanding more and more to satisfy their own greed and desire, this 'Me First' mentality.. Then I had a much differing sort of assumption or reflection on what my life would be like, if I only had one month to live, as written by woodlands church pastor in Huston, TX.. Ordinary people can hardly put themselves in the shoe or those who actually got left less than a month to live due to their late stage, incurable diseases, since most people comfortably are used to think they'd live certainly more than a month..or thinking as if they are gonna live for ever..
      So i agree that today's churches has to come into a certain, minimum level of unity and harmony to authenticize the belief or legitimize universal Christian concept of belief in Christ and salvation upon their fleshy death.. No denomination, Church buildings, procedures in worship, fellowship..isn't any more important than the core inside the bible.. mostly love shared to neighbors as much as upon oneself, and service to God..

      January 1, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  20. Sanity

    What I can't understand is that these people believe the United States was found as a Christian nation. If you actually study history then you will find that this isn't the case at all. The founders intended for this country to have a secular government with freedom to practice any religion you want. That is, they didn't want the government to dictate any religion at all – they did not want a theocracy. This is the true history of our country, not some made up history invented by a preacher. As Dick Cheney once said in response to a question about gay marriage, "Freedom means freedom for everyone".

    January 1, 2012 at 5:59 am |
    • ChaeHun

      Once I read a book authored by a Chinese preacher who got severely persecuted by the Chinese authority for his religious practices one of which was to form his own congregation and spread the gospel of jesus without permission to do so from the authority..and later he made a successful exdous to foreign destinations and later to Israel's Jerusalem after escaping imprisonment (from miracle and mercy from God..as he writes about in his book). And then I felt sorry for what he had endured to save lives from sin in this secular world, as I also sympathized with his concern that (after his first visit to America) there're too many church buildings but too little of genuine love & sacrifice from church goers, too little faith. i guess the same applies to S.Korea where i'm currently living in, and people here demand ever greater freedom and democratic govt, however, not performing their fair share of responsibilites as law abiding citizens must be doing; by not observing traffic signals, cut lane to get ahead of other drivers, honking without any reason, and also not giving way for emergency vehicles and fire trucks to pass by.. There are many in this country(S>korea) who allegedly say they are Christian believers however, they really don't act like genuine Christians with faith in Jesus Christ.. But still I'm not any better than those live differently from what come out of their mouth..

      January 1, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • ChaeHun

      I also think the publicized and got popular AZ pastor's tested and failed threat or plan to burn Islamic holy book, Koran as he allegedly said His church and Christians' anger & protest against Muslim radicals, some of whom were planning to construct their prayer temple near gound zero site,,in sensitizing collapsed trade towers' victims he said.. well any one in America has their own rights to practice any religion of their liking but the decision to build the mosque wasn't a well thought decision.. Peoples' voice asking the mosque not be permitted to stand nearby the ground zero area was just reflecting the sensitiviy of the issue where the situation was in, but not overly, people say, intended to deny Muslims' religious freedom.. But still the seemingly radical pastor's canceled plan to burn Koran was a very in sensitive one too!

      January 1, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      I think the key is found in your phrase " If you actually study history". Conservatives, as far as I can tell, don't "study" anything except the Bible, Fox "News", and right-wing radio. They have an aversion to reading, learning, knowledge, and intellect, which causes them to reject scientific truths like evolution or climate change. When you combine the evangelicals' rejection of the intellect with their manifest lack of empathy for others (guess which group most wants America to torture its enemies!), you realize that these people stand firmly against both of the characteristics that distinguish humans and separate us from the animals.

      January 1, 2012 at 7:14 am |
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About this blog

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.