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My Take: Santorum’s evangelical surge is about more than Christian Right
Rick Santorum speaking in Iowa this week.
January 3rd, 2012
10:23 AM ET

My Take: Santorum’s evangelical surge is about more than Christian Right

Editor's Note: Chris LaTondresse is the Founder & CEO of Recovering Evangelical, a nationwide movement of next-generation evangelicals, post-evangelicals and those outside the church who still like Jesus, and author of the forthcoming "Recovering Evangelical." Follow him on Twitter @latondresse.

By Chris LaTondresse, Special to CNN

Rick Santorum’s surge in the polls in the days before the Iowa caucuses has been interpreted by some as evidence of continued relevance and staying power of the Religious Right.

I disagree. I believe it signals the end of the Religious Right as we know it.

As a younger generation evangelical who voted for George W. Bush twice but who supported Barack Obama in 2008, the story of my political evolution offers clues for understanding the current presidential race and the changing face of the evangelical movement in America.

I grew up in a conservative evangelical home, the son of missionary parents in Russia. When my family returned to the United States so I could attend high school, I threw myself into sharing my faith and promoting conservative causes. By the time the 2000 election rolled around, the first I was old enough to vote in, I had become a poster child for the Religious Right.

I’d often wear my George W. Bush tee shirt with Bible in hand. But not all things stay the same.

Why are Iowa's evangelicals so politically powerful?

Like many of my peers, I eventually became disillusioned with a version of Christianity that had seemingly lost its soul: too politicized, too associated with just one party, and too unconcerned with, irrelevant to, and even on the wrong side of the biggest issues facing the world in the 21st century.

As a result, the past decade has seen a precipitous decline in young evangelical identification with the Republican Party. My own story follows this trajectory.

My generation of evangelicals is just as pro-life as our parents' generation (some studies say we’re more so), but for us, any serious conversation about “life” has to extend beyond polarized, protracted and hyper-politicized debates about abortion.

We believe “pro-life” is more than a bumper-sticker slogan; it’s an ethic rooted in the biblical idea that all human beings are created in the image of God, and are, therefore, of immeasurable and equal worth in the eyes of their Creator.

Though we believe that 3,000 abortions a day in America are exactly 3,000 too many, we are just as concerned about the 20,000 children who die every day worldwide because of hunger, lack of clean drinking water and preventable disease. We also view human trafficking and exploitive labor practices as fundamental violations of people’s God-given rights and dignity.

And when it comes to “family values,” we’re weary of battles to “protect” marriage from gay couples, when so many young evangelicals have grown up in broken homes, witnessing our parents divorce and remarry at rates just as high as in the non-evangelical world (more than 33% of marriages among born-again Christians end in divorce, the same as in the general population).

In response, we believe in building strong marriages with our spouses and children as we start our own families, but wonder what this has to do with fighting against equal protection for gay couples.

So when young evangelicals see Republicans ripping pages out of the political playbooks of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the Religious Right, it’s more likely to induce eye rolling than shouts of “amen.”

The worst offenders in the Republican primary? Look no further than Rick Perry’s commercial promising to "end Obama’s war on religion", or Michele Bachmann’s speech at Liberty University appealing to the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation.

Perry virtually launched his campaign with a large prayer gathering, while Bachmann claimed last summer’s earthquake outside Washington was God’s attempt to send a message to Washington politicians.

Perhaps more than any other candidates, Perry and Bachman have staked their campaigns on winning social conservative voters. In spite of their early successes and willingness to wear their religion on their sleeves, however, both have plummeted in the Iowa polls.

This could be one of the most important “religion and politics" storylines of 2012. In the end, it hasn’t been the GOP’s most strident culture warriors or shameless religious panderers who have finally endeared themselves to Iowa’s social conservative caucus-goers, or who give my generation reason to take a second look at conservative candidates in spite of our flight from the GOP.

Instead, the story is Rick Santorum.

Of course, there’s no questioning Santorum’s social conservative bona fides. Throughout his career he has been at the vanguard of conservative battles against abortion and gay marriage. But that’s only half the story.

More than any other Republican candidate (and even more than some Democrats), Santorum speaks openly and passionately about his concern for poor and vulnerable people in the U.S. and around the world. These commitments are firmly rooted his Catholic faith.

As Senator, Santorum was one of President Bush’s key Republican allies in securing congressional funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Bush’s signature initiative aimed at combating HIV/AIDS in Africa. At the most recent CNN Republican primary debate, Santorum was one of the few candidates to defend the U.S. foreign aid budget, leading to a nod of approval from the ONE Campaign.

Earlier, Santorum came out against Herman Cain’s “999” plan because it would shift the tax burden to low income Americans and eliminate the earned income tax credit.

Santorum’s Iowa surge echoes Mike Huckabee’s in 2008. The two have much in common. Both have bucked their party’s conventional wisdom on winning the evangelical vote, offering a more compassionate approach to immigration (Huckabee) and making the case that poverty is a moral values and family values issue (Huckabee and Santorum).

Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa victory and Santorum’s surge suggest that, in spite of the dominant stereotypes about evangelicals, they value religious authenticity more than rhetoric and care about more issues than gay-marriage and abortion.

Those in the mainstream media who ignore these trends, or who simply place conservatives like Huckabee and Santorum in the traditional Religious Right frame, are missing a big story about the Republican Party, the evangelical movement in America, and my generation’s response to both.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Chris LaTondresse.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Iowa • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (451 Responses)
  1. ricktwit santorum... America's favorite frothy one

    Ricktwits favorite movie is Deliverance. He calls it an accurate portrayal of conservative christian life in America

    January 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Adam

      The writer is suggesting that we overlook his gay bashing because his has altruistic intentions toward the poor. The writer harps on the religious pandering but overlooks Santorums history of religious pandering. While he may not be pandering in this election, he certainly is the historical poster child of pandering. The writer seems to think that Santorum just recently showed up on the political radar map, but this politician was doing cruel things to gay Americans before the writer was probably ever born. Look at the 104 and 105th Congresses for his footprints and fingerprints.

      January 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Nancy

      This writer is grasping for any possible inkling of light. He makes a fool of the conservative social agenda, then embraces it in the end. He doesn't know whether to sh _ _ or go blind.

      January 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Joseph

      This was a giant failed attempt to paint Santorum with a different brush than Perry and Bauchmann. It won't work. Santorum's history is too long.

      January 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Eartha

      How old do you think this writer is? He was still wearing diapers when Rick Santorum and Bill Frist was interfering in the lives of Terry Schaivo and all gay Americans.

      January 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  2. Ricky Bobby

    Santorum lost my respect many weeks ago following a question/answer session at a religiously conservative college in which he questioned student's questions, so as to challenge their intelligence and the legitimacy of them even being in higher education. No class whatsoever.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  3. sharoom

    Wonderful...a surge of santorum from behind.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • ricktwit santorum... America's favorite frothy one

      LOL

      January 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • sharoom

      I'm not kidding, it's grounded on rigorous poles erected in Iowa.

      January 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • ricktwit santorum... America's favorite frothy one

      Ha ha

      January 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  4. Rich

    Santorum is a hypocrite who only cares about his career. Just ask his 7 kids how much face time they get with their dad. And how much less they would get if he were president. Apparently for Rick his career is more important than spending time raising his children.. Oh and I can almost garuntee he will continue to have more. He obviously does not think the us is becoming over popluated, nor does he think he needs to spend time with his kids... All he can see is the glory of becoming POTUS.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  5. David

    That ANYONE would support this clueless gay-obsessed nitwit is beyond me. The GOP really have lost what little minds they have left. You can't run a country legislating "morality" ( or little Ricky's version of it) and anti-gay hysteria.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Rich

      Well with having 7 children so-far, chances are at least one will grow up and let his father know he is gay.. At that point Rick will probably say, no your not.. your confused.. And the kid will reply, well if you had been a father instead of a politician, you would have seen who I was earlier and would accept me for who I am, not denounce me because your side of the rope doesn't like it..

      January 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  6. Debbie

    You accused me of leaving a duplicate response which is untrue. I haven't left one yet. I stand by what my opinion of Rick Santorum. He was hated in Pennsylvaina where I live. He hasn't a brain in his head and is a phony. He did absolutly nothing for the state of Pennsylvania. People don't vote for this man.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  7. Ricky Bobby

    I could understand this article if the author didn't identify as Evangelical or Christian, but that just seems to reinforce the idea that Santorum's surge IS and HAS BEEN more of a Christian right. First, it was Perry, then it was Cain, then it was Newt, now it's Santorum. He's just the next "Not-Romney," which most Evangelicals (on these boards) won't touch with a 10 foot pole. I'm not sure why, he's the best candidate.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  8. Truefax

    The article uses the word s__torum 11 times... This kind of filthy language is unacceptable, especially on a religion blog... The author needs his mouth washed out with soap, you kiss your mama with that filthy mouth?

    January 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  9. claas

    America the beautiful and confused ...

    Santorum claims the USA is the shining star on the hill, but while in Europe gays can enter civil unions which are providing the same legal protection and rights as normal weddings the USA is fighting over this and call this an attack on family values.

    Much more interesting and sad is that the first settlers escaped Europe because of financial or religious reasons only to create a country which today is like Europe was.

    You are Mormon, a Muslim, Catholic, you have no chance winning the election because the conservative evangelicals only want to vote one of their own kind as president.

    I think no other country has voters being so paranoid and biased as the USA. In Germany your political skill counts and not your social life. In France you can have some affairs but still be a politician if you are good.

    I think the USA needs a second Mayflower and this time all those religious fundamentalists which cry out loud about Sharia law but are discriminative on their own should leave this country so the rest of us can have a normal life.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      The Religious Right won't vote for Romney because he is not their flavor of Christian.

      Social conservatives, including the Religious Right, will not vote for Paul because some of his beliefs are too open-minded and cosmopolitan.

      The kind of conservatives who support a libertarian like Paul will not stomach an evangelical candidate.

      Sounds like a trainwreck on the Right.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      A second Mayflower . . . that's a great idea!

      Where should they go? I know, how about sending them where everyone is religious and determined to make their religion the law of the land. Send them to the Middle East!

      January 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  10. Jim

    The fundamental flaw with this articles argument is that Santorum's (google it) "surge" didn't happen until after Bachmann's, Perry's, Cain's, etc. Santorum wasn't selected because he cares about the poor across the world; he is just the latest not-Romney.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  11. DKM

    Seriously it's imperative to keep State and Church totally separate issues or you'll wind up with a country dictated by brainwashed evangelicals who think their way is the only way... and the rest of us are just misguided. They can believe in whatever they want but it doesn't belong in politics. It's a free country...and let's keep it a free Country and start respecting ALL Human Rights and beliefs.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      W was a self-described evangelical, and look what it got us – unjust wars, secret prisons, torture, and a severe reduction in constitutional liberties. All of which the evangelicals supported.

      Give a Christian power, and disaster will follow.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Allen

      DKM please do some research on separation of church and state, you are using the argument but do not understand the reason why we wanted a separation.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  12. Nonimus

    "Editor's Note: Chris LaTondresse is the Founder & CEO of Recovering Evangelical, a nationwide movement of next-generation evangelicals..."

    Just curious but, how can one be the CEO of a "movement"?

    January 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      He is CEO and founder of a bowel movement.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  13. RP713

    there is no santorum surge. cnn created this surge and has been pushing santorum over the last few days. just look at santorum's crowds. nobody goes to his speeches. this is just like the newt gingrich "surge". no real support, just a lot of hype from the media to get the attention off viable candidates with real support. i.e ron paul and romney. everyone knows its a 2 person race for the gop nominee. romney the establishment-status quo-plastic man vs ron paul the consistent conservative-tea party-grassroots supported candidate. may the best man win.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • truth will out

      true....

      January 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Rich

      I agree. This Santorum "surge" is fabricated.. IMO

      January 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Debbie

      I am from PA and let me tell you that the people of Pennsylvania hated this man and lost the election big time. He was just a Bush A-s kisser. Hate to say it that way but he has no brains at all. He know where to make money and that is in politics, bottom line.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  14. Ralph S.

    Ever notice that whenever you hear about evangelicals, the subject is always politics? That would seem an utter perversion of what Jesus wanted.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Wow!

      Gotta agree with you on this. Christianity isn't about politicizing beliefs and forcing them on people. This isn't what Jesus taught. All people have a choice to believe or not believe. To get an abortion or to not get an abortion, etc. Christians don't have to think what other people do is right, but accept that other people have freedom to make their own choice.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  15. God is a Fraud

    So this guy thinks that his personal life mirrors evangelicals as a group? Really? Does he actually think that the rest of the Christian borg voted with him for Obama? Does he actually think that Christians now don't care about gay marriage?

    Wow! His delusions are even worse than just believing in his invisible friend!

    January 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  16. Incontinentia Buttocks

    Well, there are many errors in this article, but the absolute worst is "it signals the end of the Religious Right as we know it." Nope. Not even close. The Religious Right will remain, for the same reason the religious commenters here continue their absurd blither "about lakes of fire" and "prayer works" – when you are stupid, there is nothing that can be done.

    For thousands of years, religion has been the last bastion of morons who are desperate to somehow not be seen as the fools they are. 4,200 religions, not a scrap of evidence, and they keep on going. Look at their demographics – less educated, less effective economically. Does their religion make them more moral? No – crime rates prove conclusively that atheists are the best behaved.

    Religious nutters will always be amongst us, because you can't fix stupid.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Isaac

      I give that an AMEN!!

      January 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • NoName

      As an atheist much like yourself your arrogance only promotes/encites anger, not educated thinking or reasoning. Dont assume you are smarter or better off then someone that is religeous. Everyone was has a religeon...being atheist does not mean abstention from religeon. You could be a devoted ...... and worship ..... I am tired of the minority of atheist thinking you represent.

      January 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Julnor

      Good to see that you are so open minded. I am an atheist, but I have known very many devoutly religious people who's opinion and knowledge I seek out and value. Sorry that you can't see past people's religion and use ignorant stereotypes to make yourself feel superior.

      January 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Mark

      Please don't paint all religions with such a broad stroke. They are not all created equal. You will see for example that the LDS (Mormon) religion are higher educated and generally more succesfull in business and life in general. They have the longest life-expectancy, generally the best health, most charitable (According to the IRS) and are heavily recruited by the CIA, FBI etc because of their honesty and knowledge of foreign languages. They often are ambassadors (See John Huntsman) and are a very moral people. Yes, they have some goofy beliefs but their religion makes them better people.

      Jesus overall message is simply "Love one another". If everybody followed that advice instead of being selfish – what problems could our world not overcome? We do need to end religious extremism though – in all religions.

      January 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  17. Reality

    Only for the "newbies":

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Newton Leroy Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)
    (The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.)

    January 3, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  18. DamianKnight

    I was listening to the radio the other day and found this interesting. In a poll, if you put Obama vs. a Republican, the Republican wins.

    But if you start naming the Republican candidates, Obama wins. So like if you say, "Obama vs. Perry", Obama wins.

    Interesting thing that the GOP needs to recognize is they need to start putting forward good candidates. McCain was definitely a good contender in the last election and was neck and neck with Obama until McCain brought in Palin. That was pretty much campaign suicide.

    January 3, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Chuckles

      @Damian

      That is interesting, but keep in mind that a specific candidate running with specific views and a track record will most likely always lose to the abstract idea of a political party. For one, the party means something different to every person and so it gathers a lot more people to be in favor of it for completely different reasons. That's part of the issue here with Obama beating the candidates actually tossed into the mix, because those candidates might be running under the repub ticket, but also have their own track records and views that sometimes completely contradicts the party itself. The real interesting poll is if they asked if it was a dem vs. repub, who would win, or if Obama had to go through another primary and nomination against, say Hillary again, or someone else within the party itself.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      DamianKnight, what's sad, is that these are the best of the lot. We have Jindal, (about as bright as door knob) and it goes down from there.

      I don't know if I should be singing or crying.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Chuckles, I agree, I don't think President Obama will when against the Gov. from Maryland. (But O'Malley is looking for 2016)

      January 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Spiny Norman

      The personalities only matter this year if the economy continues to stumble on. If the economy finally improves (as it eventually must), then Obama wins. If it gets worse, the conservative wins.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Spiny Norman
      Dinsdaaaale....

      January 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Spiny Norman, I don't see how Pres. Obama can lose against these guys, They are not the brightest bulb in the building. BUT I said the same thing about Bush v Gore and Bush v Kerry, although I still don't think they were fair I accept the outcomes.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Here's my thing. I tend to be a fiscal conservative and a social moderate.

      I'm registered Republican, but I consider myself more of a moderate with conservative leanings. That said, there is not ONE good GOP candidate. There is no one I can get behind. So I'm either relegated to vote for Obama, or throw my vote away by voting for an independent.

      Of course, being where I am, if I don't vote Democrat, my vote is wasted anyway due to the Electoral College stupidity.

      January 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Damian

      I personally think the whole party system is incredible flawed to begin with. First and foremost, gerrymandering basically slices up the states so that dissenting people's votes get lost within their district and their vote doesn't really matter. You also have people who can register as a specfic party and run on a ticket to strengthen their careers and yet they only espouse one or two things that could count them into the party in the first place.There's also a huge issue of people really thinking that a vote for a 3rd party candidate is a waste, If the only way you feel your vote matters is by voting for one of 2 parties (even if you are unsatisfied with both) does it actually matter? I honestly wish that candidates could run without having to affiliate with parties and run just on their ideas alone.

      January 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • J.W

      I do not really understand why we still need the electoral college. Maybe someone here knows more than I do. It seems to me though that voters today can obtain enough information to make an educated decision on who to vote for.

      January 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Chuckles

      I agree with you. I think both sides have some SERIOUS flaws. The Democrats seem to want to make everyone equal. They want it so if you work hard and bring yourself up, you should have to care for those who don't want to. The Republicans want to tell everyone to bring themselves up and if you don't, well you get cast aside. Why do we need parties? I'd love to see a system where everyone gets up and just states their opinions on the issues and we make a decision that way.

      @JW,

      I don't get it either. We have computers now. Tally up all of the votes and boom, that goes into deciding who is president. It's really not that complicated. The problem with the electoral college is that it's all or nothing. So like in California which has only voted Republican once (when Reagan was in the running, because he was our governor) the rest of the time, it votes Democrat. So if I want to vote for a Republican, it doesn't matter because the electoral college will give its support to the Democratic Candidate. It's maddening.

      January 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @JW

      Damian is right, the electoral college doesn't make much sense anymore after being able to tally votes a lot easier, plus, what does it mean when a president wins the electoral college but not the popular vote? How does that make any sense and yet somehow through that loophole we had GWB. I can understand the idea of a party as a unifier and people can group together, but the way parties are set up now, it just fuels fringe elements who don't speak for the moderates who are forced to affiliate with one of two parties in order to feel at least sort of relevant.

      @Damian
      That's sort of my problem right there, Dem's don't really think that a society where everyone is equal and the people who work should, out of the kindness of their hearts, help freeloaders. The basic democrat message is that it wants to create an environment where people have the opportunity to climb the ladder in a fair way and regulate the people who are already at the top who would want to game the system and maintain the status quo. Republicanism ostensibly supports this except that they believe we don't need the regulation and we can work it out ourselves with authority intruding and forcing us to play nice. As the thinking goes, if you're smart enough to find the loophole in the system and take advantage of it, then you have as much right to be at the top as the person who worked hard and played by the rules.

      Clearly my bias is showing, and there's obviously a lot more nuance to both partiest, the main issue though is that parties can be hijacked and have been on both sides which leaves the large majority of moderates voting for the lesser of two evils and hoping that the candidate that they vote for will drop the pandering they did to the fringe and go moderate.

      January 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Chuckles,

      Oh I can totally see the ideals of the Democratic Party. They really make sense to me. It's about making it fair across the board. And that's great. Where I draw the line is the Dems want to create this huge over-arching government where they want to be involved in every minute of my life. I certainly think the government needs to be involved in some things, but does McDonalds really need to be legislated into not putting toys in their happy meals in an effort to fight childhood obesity?

      I find it highly amusing, along that vein, that so many liberals want to, on one hand, legalize marijuana but criminalize smoking tobacco. But I digress...

      My other big issue with the Dems is this idea of "share the wealth." They want to take from the rich and give to the poor. They want to be the modern day Robin Hoods. But here's the problem. They don't take from the rich. They take from the middle class. So you have people like my wife and I, who after we pay all of our bills for a month have a few hundred bucks left over. And the Dems always seem to want to take that and give it to someone else. "Oh you're not netting out to $0 at the end? Then you have it to give it to someone else!"

      Of course, the GOP are just as bad. Their philosophy is, "Don't have enough to make it? Sorry. Guess you're gonna have to starve until you learn to work harder!" That's not any better.

      January 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Damian

      Fair enough, I mean, you make a valid point that one of the biggest things about the democractic party is trying to legislate so many different things when there are certain aspects of my life that the government should have 0 say over. I think childhood obesity however is not one of those things and is actually a pretty good reason why it IS the gov's responsibility to legislate McDonalds on something like this. I mean think about it from a government standpoint, there's a company out there that's knowingly selling products that contribute (and sometimes the main cause of) to childhood obesity which in turn contributes to more medical bills, global warming (from all the use of cars in lieu of biking or walking) and other consequences. Not to mention, larger people generally die sooner and contribute less to overall society. Because of all of this, it makes sense that the government would want to at least regulate the amount a company is actually attacking its citizens while still perserving their right to do it.

      The real issue with big government is its misuse and when it's used to target and help a specific group of people instead of leveling the playing field. this is where I get off the democrat train because you make a point that a lot of democrats see themselves as modern day robin hoods who would rather give to the underdog and punish the sheriff of nottingham rather than create an environment where the underdog, through hard work, can work his way to the top.
      (as an aside to the legalization of mary jane, it's one of the most confusing things I've ever seen. It's effects are a lot less than cigarettes and the penalty for possession of it is so great that you would think find a joint is tantamount to hiding c4. In this case I can see why dems would want to legalize, not only from a financial standpoint, but also this is an area where I think dems have even identified that this is not an area where government needs to regulate so tightly. What confuses me the most however is that repubs are so big on regulating and outlawing it when a repubs main idea is to keep government out of their personal lives)

      Here's my main shtick though, I want my vote to count but right now I identify with dems because I'm socially very liberal, but fiscally I'm moderate to conservative. The hijacking that's taken place means I absolutely have to identify with dems in order for my idea of social justice to stand a fighting chance. I wish I could make a party that had as much weight as the dems and repubs that espoused both ideals. C'est la vie.

      January 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • LinCA

      The electoral college is about much more than tallying votes. It is in essence designed to give the less populous states a bigger voice in the Presidential election. By awarding each state an number of electoral votes equal to the number of congressional delegates, the smaller states get more sway.

      To take two extremes as examples, California has 37,253,956 people (2010 Census) and 55 electoral votes (EV) for 677,345 people per EV, and Wyoming with 563,626 people and 3 EV for 187,875 people per EV. The people of California have only ~28% of the voting power as those in Wyoming when it comes to electing a President. (Representation in the Senate is even worse at 1.5%)

      A big reason the Electoral College isn't going anywhere is because the smaller states have so much to lose.

      January 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Chuckles,

      Here's my viewpoint on the idea of childhood obesity. It's the parents' responsibility. We have become a society of blamers who blame everything on someone else and try to avoid taking personal responsibility. We see parents screaming about magazines, movies, television shows, video games, and the list goes on. Look, it's not McDonald's fault that children are overweight. It's the parents fault. No one believes eating McDonalds is healthy. But the parents are the ones who control the purse strings. They are responsible for everything their children eat. McDonalds is a business and have no social responsibility. Their sole purpose and their sole concern is to increase profits to make their shareholders happy.

      Let's blow this into the absurd level, just to prove the point. Let's put blame where blame is due. The schools will supply only healthy meals. But at the beginning of each school year, each student will submit to a scale and a BMI test. If the student fails both of those tests, then the parents will be fined...say $500 per student who is overweight. People will scream and say it's an infringement of their rights on how they feed and take care of their children. And I'm not actually advocating this as a resolution to childhood obesity, I'm just pointing out how parents don't want to take responsibility for their children's dietary habits, but want private businesses to pay the toll.

      As an avid video game player, I feel the same way about games like Grand Theft Auto. The video game industry is under no law to rate their games (unlike the movies MPAA ratings) but they do it to help parents make responsible choices. But you still get dimwits who buy Saint's Row and think it's about Christian morals despite the fact it says "Excessive violence, gore, partial nu.di.ty, overt se.xua.l themes, and language" and then have the audacity to go after the video game industry for creating adult themed games. It's not my job, nor the job of any company, to regulate what your children do or do not see/experience.

      As to the standpoint about marijuana, I really don't have a strong feeling on it. However, I see no good reason to legalize it. Alcohol and tobacco have created many problems in our society, including health effects, secondary effects to other people, etc. We're just now in a place we can't get rid of them. It would destroy a lot of our economy and, at least, with alcohol, we'd have to write ANOTHER Consti.tutional Amendment. So why would we want to legalize yet ANOTHER thing that is bad for people? That's like saying, "Well I hit my thumb and forefinger with a hammer and it hurts, but just to be fair, I'm gonna hit my middle finger too." It's just dumb. I like in CA, that if you are caught with less than an ounce, it's considered personal use and you get just a fine. The people who we are really spending money on are the traffickers and the pushers. And they're not out there because they are all about the freedom to smoke pot. They're out there because it's a commodity people are willing to pay for and if you legalize marijuana, they'll just get another drug to sell, like cocaine.

      Oh I am totally with you regarding the party lines. I'm like you, don't stand firmly on either side. I think both sides have good ideas. But you're right, if I agree more likely with Republicans, I now have to hate gays, condemn people who have an abortion and want to give big businesses the right to treat people like they're expendable. Those aren't my beliefs and like you, I kinda want the "Common Sense" party which stands in the middle regarding a lot of issues.

      @LinCA,

      I totally see why the electoral college was originally created, but to me, it's obsolete. Let's just go pure democracy and everyone votes. We tally up the votes. Viola. We know who the president is. We have the technology...we can rebuild him...

      January 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @LinCa

      Very good points, but do you not think there's some flaw there when you can win through the electoral college and yet not the overall popular vote? It protects the smaller states, but at what cost?

      @Damian
      Per McDonalds: You are absolutely right in pretty much everything. The onus is completely on the parents to regulate their childs diet, understand what they can and can't eat, however their are two things at play here that's harder to just leave it and say "buyer beware". first is the effect children have as the gatekeepers to their parents wallets. A child na.gging as such extreme power over their parents that they can force parents to make bad decisions because they don't want a fight. McDonalds not only counts on it, but they encourage it to a ridiculous degree, not to mention adding in addi.tives to hook 'em while they're young that people go through an almost withdrawl like moment if they try to stay away from fast food. So yes, parents should be able to control their children, but is it fair to the millions of parents out there that a company can bypass the parents and man.ipulate their children into na.gging their parents into su.bmission?I'm not saying that the go.v should be able to regulate exactly what goes into a big mac and do the math on what is the most nutri.tious meal they can do, but McDonalds should not be able to run ramp.ant while the gov sits around shac.kled and made to watch a company like Micky D's stea.mroll over helpless parents.

      As an avid gamer myself I agree that no company should be forced to rate their games and if an idiot buys "saint's row" because they think it spreads a christian message, that IS a situation of buyer beware. The company did all their du.edil.ligence to make sure that if the buyer was going to buy the product, they should know whats in it. McDonalds however is different because they try to be as va.gue as possible and put more work on the consumer to do research when it should be readily available.

      As for mary jane. I've heard the argument before, Alcohol, cigarettes, guns, they're all bad and can be obtained legally, why introduce another element like this? Here's the deal, first and foremost, mary jane is so much better than any of the legal substances, the sheer hypocrisy of allowing something more lethal to be on the market while the lesser substance can result in a felony and jailtime is just madness. I won't necessarily say that pot is good for you, but it does have medicinal properties that alcohol and cigarettes don't, which in itself should be the best reason for legalization. As for abolishing the black market and getting rid of growers and pushers.... well I don't think anyone thinks that legalization would immediatly end drug traffiking or even slow it down, the most legalization would do would put a dent in it. I mean, all the people who sell only weed would be out of business and might turn to harder drugs but also might actually go and find a legit job instead, heck, they could just work at a dispensary and put their skills to use. I think mary jane needs to be legalized not necessarily because of the hypocrisy and that we should have the "freedom" as much as the windfall of cash from growing it, selling it and taxing it, the medicinal properties it can be used for, the huge amount of space available in prisons that would open up and house criminals doing really bad things instead beng caught with a pound of a specific plant.

      I love the "common sense" party idea, I just wish I could actually take off and become real, but sadly I already have pretty much made up my mind that Obama is getting my vote later this year.

      January 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Chuckles,

      You'll forgive me, but a child's nagging should not be convincing parents to ruin their child's health. When you have a child, you are responsible for everything they do, both morally and legally. Whatever happened to what my parents used? "No, and if you ask again, X will happen!" (X being something detrimental to my enjoyment of life, i.e. loss of video games, television, hanging out with friends, etc) And then a follow through. You wanna scream and cry about it? Go to your room, close the door and do it. I find it absolutely ridiculous that parents actually admit to being manipulated by a seven year old’s temper tantrum.

      McDonalds does use powerful marketing techniques, and that's good for them regarding profits. But they're not the decision makers. You at one point called them "helpless parents." They're not helpless. They control everything! Children rely on parents to not only fund the McDonalds purchase, but also transportation to said McDonalds. Parents need to grow a pair and stop complaining. Raise your children, don't expect anyone else to do it for you. The nagging thing is once again, parents trying to pass the blame off onto someone else for their inability to parent. If your child asks you for a gun, do you give it to them? Alcohol? Cigarettes? Cocaine? You have the willpower to say absolutely not to those, so why not have the willpower to deny them some clown trying to sell them terrible food?

      I think we're in agreement regarding video games, so I don't think I need to further comment.

      You stated, "...the sheer hypocrisy of allowing something more lethal to be on the market while the lesser substance can result in a felony and jailtime is just madness." See, and the thing is, in most places, merely possessing marijuana is not going to result in a felony or jail time. It's not like other drugs, like heroin or cocaine. The only people really getting hard time for marijuana are traffickers and pushers. You know, the guy where driving across the border, they find 27 bricks of marijuana in his trunk? He's going to get jail time. Marijuana does have some medicinal purposes, but I feel it should be controlled, like morphine or valium. Sure, it can help with relieving pain issues and if you can get a doctor to prescribe it to you, then by all means use it in a safe manner. But overuse, like anything, has serious negative effects, like any drug.

      Drug traffickers are not going to suddenly go legit because marijuana was legalized. They're just going to move on to some other drug because selling drugs and living an illegitimate lifestyle is far more profitable than living a legitimate lifestyle.

      I reject the idea of it being "just a plant." Cocaine, at it's core, is "just a plant." So is opium. Should we legalize those as well?

      I just don't see a good, solid reason for it's legalization other than "It's no worse than cigarettes and alcohol" which is really a sad argument. Ok, so it's better than cigarettes and alcohol. So? What does that have to do with anything? That doesn't mean we have to legalize it, just because it's better than other choices, but still bad for you.

      We've already established (not sure when and for what reasons, but really it's irrelevant) that marijuana is illegal. It is the onus of those who want to legalize the drug to show what value it will bring to society, and so far, I have yet to see a good reason to legalize marijuana to the general public. I don't have a problem with medical marijuana laws (though I think they're abused a -lot-), as there are medicinal purposes. But why should people just be able to hop down to the liquor store and buy joints?

      January 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • LinCA

      @DamianKnight

      You said, "I totally see why the electoral college was originally created, but to me, it's obsolete. Let's just go pure democracy and everyone votes. We tally up the votes. Viola. We know who the president is. We have the technology...we can rebuild him..."

      @Chuckles

      You said, "Very good points, but do you not think there's some flaw there when you can win through the electoral college and yet not the overall popular vote? It protects the smaller states, but at what cost?"

      I'm not defending the Electoral College. I agree that it is outdated, even undemocratic. I was just pointing out why there may be some issues to overcome before we can do away with it.

      I feel that the way representatives are elected in the US (at virtually every level), causes a lot of the problems we see today. By dividing the area to be governed, be it a state, county or a city, into districts with a single representative, a two-party system is almost guaranteed. This is caused by any third party candidate siphoning votes from the most like-minded candidate in the race, causing both to lose.

      Having, in effect, only 2 parties to choose from, will leave a large part of the voters without a candidate they feel comfortable enough with to vote for. I suspect that this is, in part, driving voter turnout down. Only those that align with the main party philosophy will bother to vote.

      A two-party system will by necessity be fairly one-dimensional. To win the district, a politician only has to convince enough of the people that bother to show up. In US politics this will drive the choice to left of center or right of center (with the location of the center somewhat variable by region).

      The two-party system causes deadlocks as each party can block the other party's agenda.

      An alternative system, where the voters are asked to vote for a party platform and where seats in the governing body are assigned to those parties based on vote share, will yield a much more diverse body. Voters may then no longer have to pick between least of two (or in a primary race, multiple) evils. They would be able to select a party that more closely aligns with their own political views. Minority voices will be represented. As a consequence it will be unlikely that any party would garner enough votes to have an absolute majority, forcing cooperation. Alliances may shift, depending on the topic of the debate.

      To more fairly elect a President, there are multiple options available that would be more democratic than the current one. A direct election by popular vote would be one, but would require a run-off mechanism. An indirect one where a representative elected body (like the US house of Representatives) selects the President would also be an option.

      January 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  19. Chuck Anziulewicz

    In Rick Santorum's America, the hundreds of thousands of Gay couples have been allowed to legally marry or obtain civil unions would be forcibly DIVORCED by the federal government. I can't imagine how anyone who supports their Gay friends, family members, and co-workers would support Santorum.

    January 3, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • fred

      You do not know that and I have never heard him say that. What I do know is that Rick is correct in that had people simply honored their marriage committments to begin with and put the supposed love of their life first rather than adopt the Hollywood lifestyle of divorce families woud be stronger and kids healthier.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Yossarian

      That's absurd. Divorce occurs because couples cease to love each other. Forcing them to stay together artificially is NOT a healthy environment for children: it is totally disfunctional.

      People do not divorce because they are mimicking Hollywood . . . what a stupid idea that is!

      January 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      fred, I think you are wrong (unless you can convince me that before "Hollywood" the majority of families were stable and healthy) but what does that have to do with Gay Marriage?

      January 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  20. David Johnson

    Evangelicals make me want to puke. I'd rather see Romney win. Neither one is Christian, but at least Romney isn't part of the Christian Right.

    Cheers!

    January 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • A Little Help

      Neither is a true Christian?

      January 3, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • fred

      Yes David I noticed you have great bias and hate towards anything related to God. This explains why you continue with your attacks on Jesus and Christians. Once again atheists reflect the truth of the Bible by confirming what Jesus said "they will hate you because they first hated me".
      Next you make a 4 page post that purports to show Jesus never existed I suggest you look at where your deepseated hate has brought you.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Isaac

      hooray for myths and fairy tales fred!!

      January 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Wow!

      Love to see the 4 page post on how Jesus never existed. The Romans were excellent record keepers. According to them, he existed. Most people including other religions don't argue that he existed, they argue that he taught, died and that was it.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @fred,
      "they will hate you because they first hated me"

      Since it only takes 2 or more people to be a "they", the only way this could be untrue is if everyone, or all but one, loves all of "you". That sounds pretty weak to me, prophetically speaking anyway.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      I believe Jesus was probably real, but don't lie about him to try and prove it. There is no official Roman record of Jesus Christ.

      January 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • OhPlz

      "Yes David I noticed you have great bias and hate towards anything related to God. This explains why you continue with your attacks on Jesus and Christians."

      You can't hate something that doesn't exist. DUH! The disgust comes from seeing and hearing from brainwashed people like you.

      January 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Wow!

      Anomic, I should have said that He is mentioned in Roman records, but there is debate over when (date) He was mentioned. Pilate wasn't the greatest leader or administrator.

      January 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Anomic,

      -sigh- I hate this argument because I have to post about this repeatedly. So I'm going to simplify this and give you the Wikipedia link. There are Roman records of Jesus' existence.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

      January 3, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
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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.