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January 7th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Reversing JFK: Santorum’s bid to marry faith and politics

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories looking at the faith of the leading 2012 presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. We also profiled the faith journey of Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign.

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors

(CNN) - It was election night in November 2006, and Rick Santorum had organized a private Catholic Mass in a room at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. The senator from Pennsylvania had just lost his re-election bid.

The Mass, held just before his concession speech, included a priest and Santorum’s close family and staff. Though the occasion was somber, the soon-to-be-ex-senator aimed for a celebratory mood, said Mark Rodgers, then a top Santorum aide.

“Life is if full of what can be perceived as disappointments or hardships,” Rodgers said, “but Scripture tells followers of Jesus that we approach those situations with joy because there’s ultimate redemption.”

Santorum’s younger brother, Dan, remembers that many attendees - including the senator’s children - were weeping over Santorum’s landslide defeat at the hands of Democrat Bob Casey Jr.

But not the senator.

“You’d think he would have been crushed,” says Dan Santorum. “But he wasn’t even bitter. He didn’t complain. He just said it was God’s plan.

“That’s when I knew he was going to run for president of the United States,” Dan continued. “Because I think that God had another plan for him.”

It’s unclear if Rick Santorum, whose strong finish in the Iowa caucuses has breathed new life into his presidential campaign, interpreted his Senate loss the same way.

Santorum concedes his Senate seat in 2006.

But the hotel Mass, and Santorum’s apparent placidity in the face of an overwhelming defeat, illustrate what confidants say is the key to understanding him as a person and politician: a devout Catholic faith that has deepened dramatically through political and personal battles.

“When I first met him he was an observant Catholic but a fairly privatized one,” says Rodgers, who ran Santorum’s first race for the U.S. House in 1990 and served as a key Santorum aide in Congress for 16 years.

“The journey I saw him on was a gradual awakening to the importance of faith at an operational level within a democracy, the idea that free people need to have a moral foundation.

“The journey was also personal - growing in faith and sharing it with others,” Rodgers says.

Many politicians have ideological concerns about issues like abortion or gay marriage, but “in Santorum’s case, it’s fundamentally religious,” says Richard Land, public policy chief at the Southern Baptist Convention. “That’s the genetic code of his life.”

It’s also the part that most inspires his political backers - among them the Iowa evangelicals who helped fuel his stunning Iowa finish, eight votes behind winner Mitt Romney - and most enrages critics, who take deep offense at Santorum’s views on divisive issues like homosexuality, which he once lumped together with bestiality in a discussion of legal rights.

“I think it’s fair to say that he’s sometimes harsh in the way he makes those arguments,” says Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush.

Indeed, even Santorum’s own party is seeing a faith-based split around his presidential campaign, with evangelicals who dominate the primaries in states like Iowa on one side and more establishment Republicans in states like New Hampshire on the other.

As he works to convince skeptical voters he has a real shot at winning the White House, Santorum’s religious faith has emerged as both his chief political asset and his biggest liability.

Kennedy's ‘sealed off’ wall

His Catholicism may have deepened as an adult, but Santorum also has deep Catholic roots.

“Three pictures hung in the home of my devoutly Catholic immigrant grandparents when I was a boy,” he said in a speech last year. “I remember them well: Jesus, Pope Paul VI and John F. Kennedy.”

Santorum attended Mass with his brother, sister and parents virtually every Sunday. “You basically had to be on your deathbed not to go to church,” says Dan Santorum.

Both parents worked in a VA hospital in Butler, Pennsylvania. As teenagers, Rick and Dan would push the wheelchairs of patients to Sunday Mass in the hospital’s interfaith chapel. Rick would serve the Mass as an altar boy, wheel patients up to receive Holy Communion, then help his brother wheel them back to their hospital rooms.

Other than that, it was a conventional American Catholic upbringing in the 1960s and ’70s: The Santorums said grace before meals, sent their kids to Catholic grade school and spent absolutely no time discussing how religion influenced their public policy views.

American Catholics at the time were living in the shadow of John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 speech in which he insisted that neither his faith nor his church would have any influence on his presidency.

Santorum would spend his political life trying to reverse the effects of Kennedy’s pledge. He argued that Kennedy “sealed off informed moral wisdom into a realm of non-rational beliefs that have no legitimate role in political discourse.”

During college and law school at Penn State, Santorum wasn’t especially observant; neither did his religious faith factor much into his political views.

After college he served as an aide to Doyle Corman, a moderate Republican state senator in Pennsylvania. Religion seldom came up.

“My husband and I are both pro-choice,” Corman’s wife, Becky, told The New York Times in 2006. “One of the interesting things about Rick is, the whole time he worked for us, we didn't know what his views were on that issue.”

Dan Santorum says a turning point in his brother’s faith life was his marriage to Karen Garver. They met in the 1980s while Karen was studying law at the University of Pittsburgh and Santorum was recruiting law students for the Pittsburgh firm where he worked.

“There was just a bond between them,” Dan says. “Part of that was that they shared their faith.”

That bond was on display last Tuesday during Santorum’s speech after the Iowa caucuses.

“C.S. Lewis said, ‘A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.’ My best friend, my life mate, who sings that song when I forget the words, is my wife, Karen,” Santorum said before embracing her in a long hug.

Santorum bows his head in prayer during an Iowa campaign rally in January.

Sometime after arriving in Washington following his 1990 House victory, Santorum began attending daily Mass before work.

The Rev. Eugene Hemrick, who frequently leads Mass at 130-year-old St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill, says Santorum led Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback - who served with Santorum in Congress in the 1990s and 2000s - to the church.

“Santorum was always dressed up,” Hemrick remembers. “Brownback was in sweats a lot from running.”

The evangelical Brownback wound up converting to Catholicism, and the two were often joined in the pews by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

“When you know these people are out there, you do a little more homework before you preach,” Hemrick said of his high-profile flock. “You try to make it a little more meaningful to them.”

Moral codes and absolutes

The 1990 GOP freshman class, a small group that managed to win in a poor year for Republicans nationally, took a confident line in airing grievances to congressional and party leaders.

Santorum was part of the freshman “Gang of Seven” that exposed the House banking scandal, and he kept up his penchant for bold, against-the-grain gambits after his election to the Senate as part of the 1994 Republican Revolution.

Soon he was taking aim at the overriding culture-war issue of our time: abortion.

Santorum helped lead the effort to impose the first federal restrictions on abortion that could survive court challenges since Roe. v. Wade - a ban on the procedure critics call partial-birth abortion.

Faith and politics may have been separate in Santorum’s childhood home and the homes of other American Catholics at the time, but by the 1990s abortion had become the symbol for the infusion of conservative faith into American politics. The issue forged a powerful political alliance between conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants.

On the wall of his Senate office, Santorum kept a picture of William Wilberforce, the British parliamentarian whose evangelical faith stirred him to lead the campaign that ultimately ended the British slave trade in 1807.

The senator saw his campaign for the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act as his “Wilberforcean effort,” says Rodgers, now a senior adviser to Santorum’s presidential campaign.

Santorum’s comfort with using his faith to shape his politics was partly a reflection of Catholic intellectuals he had met since arriving in the capital, including Richard John Neuhaus, a priest who edited the Catholic journal First Things, and George Wiegel, a theologian.

For Santorum, such figures and books by Catholic writers like St. Augustine instilled the sense that free societies need citizens who are governed by strong moral codes.

“How is it possible, I wonder, to believe in the existence of God yet refuse to express outrage when His moral code is flouted?” Santorum said in a ’90s-era speech at the Heritage Foundation. “To have faith in God, but to reject moral absolutes?”

For Santorum, legalized abortion represented the ultimate flouting of that code.

The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act passed Congress in 1995, but President Bill Clinton vetoed it the following year. Santorum led a failed Senate effort to override the veto and helped revive the bill after the election of President George W. Bush, who signed it into law.

Such campaigns helped make Santorum a national hero to the anti-abortion movement and a bogeyman for abortion rights supporters.

“On the morning after the Iowa caucuses, there were millions of pro-life voters who woke up pinching themselves that one of their very own had emerged at the top rank of candidates, making sure it wasn’t a dream,” said the Southern Baptist Convention’s Land.

Around the time of the Clinton veto, Rick and Karen Santorum confronted a tragedy that added flesh-and-bone experience to their anti-abortion stance, which had up until then been intellectual and religious.

By that time, the Santorums had three children. While pregnant with her fourth, doctors told Karen her fetus had a fatal birth defect. In his 2005 book “It Takes a Family,” Santorum writes about Karen turning down the option to have an abortion.

“Karen and I couldn’t rationalize how we could treat this little human life at 20 weeks’ gestation in the womb any different than one 20 weeks old after birth,” Santorum writes. “So instead of giving our child a death sentence, we gave him a name: Gabriel Michael, after the two great archangels.”

The premature baby died two hours after birth. The next day, in a move that has widened the public opinion gap over Santorum, he and his wife took the dead body home so their children could spend time with it before burial.

“Gabriel died as a cherished member of our family,” Santorum writes in “It Takes a Family.”

Karen captured the episode in a 1998 book, “Letters to Gabriel,” describing to her late child the reaction of one of his sisters: “Elizabeth proudly announced to everyone as she cuddled you, ‘This is my baby brother, Gabriel; he is an angel.’”

For Santorum, who now has seven kids, holding Gabriel was a lesson about the fragility of human life.

Santorum, wife Karen, and his seven children.

“At that moment, eternity became reality,” Santorum writes. “After Gabriel, being a husband and father was different, being a legislator was different. I was different.”

Conservatism and the common good

Santorum has received a glut of media attention for how his religion shaped his culture-war stances, but allies say his faith has made him a compassionate conservative.

As a senator, Santorum was known for his work on poverty and combating HIV/AIDS. He says such efforts are rooted in the Catholic notion of working for the “common good.”

“Just as original sin is man’s inclination to try to walk alone without God,” Santorum writes in “It Takes a Family,” “individualism is man’s inclination to try to walk alone among his fellows.”

Santorum and those close to him say that impulse motivated his work on welfare reform during the mid-1990s.

Many conservatives “would have taken a fairly harsh view of welfare reform as a waste of taxpayer dollars,” says Rodgers. “Rick’s view was that publicly funded programs are justified when it’s for the least of these, which comes from Catholic social teaching.

“There’s a compassionate side of the Catholic faith that says you prioritize the poor in public policy, and there’s also the side that says work should be a component of that care, that not working strips you of your dignity.”

Santorum championed welfare-to-work programs in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that Clinton signed, as well as the idea of charitable choice, which gave states the ability to partner with religious institutions to address social problems like poverty and addiction.

Success on welfare reform provoked Santorum and a handful of other religious Republicans in Congress to begin discussing conservative solutions to poverty and other social problems that had mostly been the province of liberals.

Among the participants in those sessions was Gerson, who would join Bush in Texas as a speechwriter in the run-up to his 2000 presidential campaign and bring some of the ideas of the congressional group with him.

One was a plan to start a federal program to help level the playing field for religious groups applying for government money to address social problems.

For Santorum, employing faith groups in such a campaign was partially grounded in the Catholic idea of subsidiarity, which calls for addressing problems closest to where they are. In many troubled communities, the thinking goes, the strongest local institutions are churches, ministries and other religious organizations.

The notion of outsourcing government programs to religious institutions also appealed to Santorum’s beliefs about government’s limits.

“The problems currently afflicting us reflect an impoverishment of the soul more than the pocketbook,” Santorum has said, quoting conservative education scholar Chester Finn. “Government is simply not equipped to address problems of the soul.”

The idea for a government faith-based program had critics on the left and right, who feared government-backed religion and a welfare system for churches.

“A lot of people have a hard time getting Rick Santorum because they’re used to a debate between liberalism and complete free market approach and he’s not either of those things,” says Gerson, now a Washington Post columnist.

Bush created the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships via an executive order days after his 2001 inauguration. Santorum helped organize a conference to tell religious leaders from across the country about the new program.

“It was on that day that I decided to swallow my constitutional concerns about it,” says Richard Land, who attended the conference despite reservations.

“Seventy-five percent of the people attending the conference were either African-American or Hispanic,” Land says. “They wanted people who lived where the problems were making decisions about what should be done. They were in a lifeboat situation.”

Santorum was also a key Bush ally in creating the president's $15 billion global AIDS initiative, with the senator’s staff sometimes lending office space to rock singer Bono while he was lobbying for the program on Capitol Hill.

President Barack Obama has continued support for both the faith-based office and the global AIDS initiative. The programs are evidence that Santorum can be more than a culture warrior, and their staying power suggests he's gone a long way breaking through JFK’s sealed-off wall between religion and politics.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Politics • Rick Santorum

soundoff (2,874 Responses)
  1. Jim

    There are far more Hindus, Budists, and Muslims in the world than christians.

    What makes christians right and those other religions wrong? And "faith" is just another way of saying "I don't know".

    January 8, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  2. jim atmadison

    Most of my ancestors came to America in the mid-1800's in part to escape the Rick Santorums running Europe at the time. Their denominations weren't what was preferred by the politico-religious leaders at that time and place.

    I will never allow somebody like Mr Santorum to undo what our Founding Fathers set out to do.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • ya no

      Agreed. Count me in.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • bnb42

      +1

      January 8, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Muri

      /agree

      January 8, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  3. stjdsj

    "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." Matthew 7:21

    January 8, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • bnb42

      God orders child sacrifice

      God did tempt Abraham, ... And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest ... and offer him there for a burnt offering...
      - Genesis 22:1-2 (AV)

      January 8, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • bnb42

      Kids killed for mocking hero

      Some small boys came out of the city and jeered at [the prophet Elisha], saying, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" And ... he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.
      - II Kings 2:23-24 (RSV)

      January 8, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • TrueBlue42

      "Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:32

      Glaring contradiction, and from your own previous post! LOL!

      January 8, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • bnb42

      Execute stubborn kids

      If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son ... Then shall his father and his mother ... bring him out unto the elders of his city ... And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die.
      - Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (AV)

      January 8, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • ya no

      true: With the "LOL" you lose by definition.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Bob

      The will of your sick Father apparently includes animal sacrifice and ra.pe of family members, and then eternal torture if you don't get your Nasty Guy In The Sky's will just right. No thanks, you can keep your sick Christian supersti-tions to yourself. Quietly, please.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      January 8, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  4. Joe citizen abroad

    Can anyone tell me what high-school debates about abortion and gay marriage have to do with any of the most pressing problems facing our country today? Can anyone point to anything that might indicate the founding fathers intended a theocracy? Rick Santorum is the most dangerous kind of fanatic, no different from radical Muslims who think their religion should define the laws of the land for everyone. Meanwhile, real problems go unsolved. Unity dissolves. The country disintegrates. Enough already.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Muri

      /signed

      Well stated.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • ya no

      "...no different from radical Muslims who think their religion should define the laws of the land for everyone." Pretty tough to deny – although there are no end to the 'yeah, but's". Seems that most of us can't get past 'mine's better than yours' and somehow reach objectivity

      January 8, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • jim atmadison

      Republicans can't govern. They prove it over and over again. That's why we're cleaning up the current GOP Bushsaster.

      So, the Republicans invariably fall back to the old favorites: God, gays, and guns.

      Santorum is making his entire push based on the first two of those.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  5. booboo

    I'm deeply disturbed by Santorums 7 chikdren. Imagine a cage, full of rabbits, milling about and mating 24/7, continuously producing litter after litter. Also imagine that the supply of food and water available to the rabbits is actually diminishing as time goes on.

    That's, basically, a little metaphor of people here on earth. Is it rational to support a "pro life" stance in those conditions? Is it really "pro-life" or "pro-starvation and death"?

    January 8, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Jim

      Boo Boo – I have considered this myself many times.

      How is infinite procreation in a limited space with limited food good. Human arrogance is the only thing that distinguishes them from animals in the wild. When the population exceeds the food supply starvation results.

      This infinite procreation stance is totally ridiculous if anyone gave it serious and logical thought.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  6. Veritas

    Frothy Santorum is an idiot and dangerous to America. We need to keep religion out of the government; how many times do we have to reiterate the Jeffersonian wall of separation between church and state? It is especially concerning with this guy who is also blasting Obama for urging kids to go to college. Science and reason, not delusional religions.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  7. NM

    Let me get this straight – this guy believes in sky fairies and wants to run the country? When are we going to see somebody rational to vote for?

    January 8, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  8. jk

    Someone with a strong moral code would not have seven children in an overpopulated, post-agrarian world. Like most religionists, he is simply a narcissist. He will live forever, his moral code is absolute, blah blah blah.

    "Belief" is a nice term for "irrational." Morality is not the sole province of people with imaginary friends, and Santorum's morality is mean, short-sighted and naive. Butler, Penn., is a nasty, ignorant place, an Appalachian mountain town isolated and insulated from diversity and complexity. Religion often means nostalgia for one's upbringing, and that is what Santorum most clearly reflects.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • booboo

      Couldn't agree more. Not so surprisingly, we both thought about it at about the same time. See my statement above.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • 4mercy

      This world is over-populate (only in certain areas) because people do not follow God's instructions to us to care for each other and allow natural law to take its course. Overpopulation is a lie. The populations of the western countries (who abort millions of children each year) are in great decline and it will eventually lead to their economic collapse. Stop drinking the overpopulation kool aid...and find out the facts about the "demographic winter" that is coming. Google the program of the same name.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • ya no

      Or the 'Olduvai Theory'.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  9. Carlo

    Should leave religion out of politics or you risk the same fate of the Roman Empire !

    January 8, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  10. fastball

    That's why America is in the dumpster right now. You've got problems at home, problems in the economy, problems in the world....and all you people do is yak about who's more religious, and who should get married.
    PEOPLE – THERE'S STUFF HAPPENING...YOUR ECONOMY IS IN THE TANK...and all you seem to care about is voting in the most pious guy – not the smartest guy, or the the guy with the best plan.
    I swear, it makes me want to fence off the USA until you people join the 21st century.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • booboo

      There's actually no problem with the economy, just a mild downturn. Why be so alarmist?

      January 8, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • yuri pelham

      No problem with the Santorum phenomenon. It's just media hype. In 3 more weeks he will be as insignificant as balloon boy and Weiner. Regarding the entire process you are right on. They run it like an American Idol contest instead of the serious event it should be.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • fastball

      I know it'll NEVER happen with the GOP, but I'd love to see a candidate come up and say "Hey, I'm not a religious guy. What you do on Sunday mornings is your business. Don't bug me about God stuff, I'm working on the country's problems".

      January 8, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Dave in Portland

      fastball – That would be awesome. There is no place in government for faith-based agendas.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  11. Dotonenomo

    Whatever happened to separation of church and state? Don't shove your god down my throat.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Shan

      Same reason why Christmas & Good Friday & Easter are federal, state & flag days in the U.S., why our national motto says In God We Trust 🙂

      January 8, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Muri

      Congrats on naming the holidays the roman's added to keep the pagans in check.
      But we get it, it's not about actually knowing about your own religion so much as it is about pushing it onto everyone else.

      How about you stop espousing for just ONE day and go practice. Be less Christian and more Christ like....please.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • in god we trust

      if you actually read the bill you would know that there is no reference to Christianity. Get educated or get left behind.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Muri

      If you actually looked into the candidate beyond what's been fed to you by some sweaty old talking head you'd quickly see it's a means to an end.

      I like your line, I think you should heed it soon.....or you know, get left behind and such.

      ....dolt.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Larry L

      Really?
      1. "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man"- Thomas
      Jefferson
      2. "The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs." -Thomas Jefferson
      3. "It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one- Thomas Jefferson
      4. "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be clas.sed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."- Thomas Jefferson
      5. "There is not one redeeming feature in our supersti.tion of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites."- Thomas Jefferson
      6. "Lighthouses are more useful than churches."- Ben Franklin
      .
      7. "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."- Ben Franklin
      8. "I looked around for God's judgments, but saw no signs of them."- Ben Franklin
      9. "In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it."- Ben Franklin
      10. "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in
      it"- John Adams
      11. "The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.'- Thomas Paine
      12. "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst."- Thomas Paine
      13. "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."- Thomas Paine
      14. "Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies."- Thomas Paine
      15. "All national insti.tutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."- Thomas Paine
      16. "It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.”- Thomas Paine
      17. "Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."- George Washington
      18. "The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession."- Abraham Lincoln
      19. "It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on
      one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfence in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. Trespa.sses on its legal rights by others."- James Madison
      20. "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."- James Madison

      January 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  12. booboo

    There's no god. It's not a belief, it's an inevitable, rational conclusion. It's just as strong a conclusion as saying that the earth is round, gravity acts down, the earth revolves around the sun, and the earth is billions of years old. If one claims otherwise, he's a fool. Santorum is a fool not fit to be a president.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • TrueBlue42

      Couldn't agree more.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • yuri pelham

      I'm only certain of your last sentence.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • cigarlover6

      he is nuts, agree!

      January 8, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  13. Terrance

    Keep religion out of politics.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  14. Muri

    Riddle me this.
    We go ahead and set the precedent that religion can dictate law in this country.
    In 10-15 years we have a DFL push to make a non-Christian president....you know hope and change stuff
    That POTUS leverages this precedent to push a non-Christian religion as the new American religious law

    How will you defend THAT decision?

    January 8, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Muri

      I'll elaborate for the obtuse:
      We allowed Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, and Rove to implement warrant less wire taps under the Patriot Act
      The DFL pushed a completely different type of person into office.....hope and change stuff
      Warrant less wire taps are up 400% under Obama

      Make sense now?

      January 8, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  15. T.C. Couhig

    No offense, Rick, but NFP doesn't work! You and your wife are the perfect speakers at a pre-cana retreat. Every Catholic couple I know went to pre-cana–the speakers at the retreats had no LESS than 4 kids–often 6 or 7. That is irresponsible. We cannot continue population growth at this rate or the earth will not sustain us. "Be fruitful and multiply" was for times when the infant and mother's mortality rates were astronomically high. It's not 1750, Rick. Try marrying that with your politics.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  16. Mown

    What are chances that we will ever get Non-Christian president ?! Needs lots of replies 🙂

    January 8, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • achepotle

      100% if you are an evil freak...they think Obama is a "Muslim".

      January 8, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Shan

      Zero chance. Since 80% of the U.S. are Christians, those 80% will keep voting for Christian ones' only

      January 8, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • be

      I think it has the same chance as if the same question had been asked 20 years ago as to whether or not we would have a black president. I hope we would always have a spiritual, moral and reflective president.........regardless of his religious affiliation.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • JT

      If there were a choice between an atheist candidate that would prove to drop unemployment to 2% and pull the US completely out of the economic crisis and a christian candidate who would sink us into 3 concurrent wars and plunge us into a depression the christian candidate would win. Sad.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  17. be

    There is a difference between letting religion form your spirituality and assist you in becoming a reflective and moral individual versus letting religious dogma close your mind. A perfect example is the Catholic Hospital in Arizona who did what was morally and ethically right for a pregnant woman at risk of dying even though it meant them loosing their "official" Catholic status. The nuns and leadership there would be the type of people I would elect to office. Even Obama – who said that his views on gay marriage were in evolution – showed him to be a reflective person, open to new ideas and on-going revelation. Go back to Galileo who always remained a good Catholic spiritually – despite his excommunication. The problem is, Santorum has shown that he would allow the dogma of his religion to close his mind to reflectively considering the merit of other views. That is not a spiritual man.....that is a closed minded zealot.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • ya no

      You sound like another one of those "liberals" – the ones defined by Encarta as being "tolerant of different views and standards of behavior in others." Don't want any of that nonsense here in the US. After all, 'tolerance' is the enemy of dogma.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  18. achepotle

    I'm sorry, but there is no longer a place in America for evil freaks like this and his supporters. Thank goodness for the FEMA camps. The U.N. will be by to collect you shortly.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  19. stjdsj

    "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." Mark 8:38
    "Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:32

    January 8, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • JT

      Psalm 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • galespoint

      does it also so say to bomb thy enemies when we percieve a threat.
      Rick Santoram does not know Jesus!

      January 8, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • bnb42

      Whom... bible quotes.... How about this one....

      "Have you allowed all the women to live?" he [Moses] asked them.... "Now ... kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."
      - Numbers 31:1-18 (NIV)

      January 8, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Muri

      That's the best part about "you" people. You continually grasp to the writings of man in the book of god. Why don't you start dropping some of the lines that were the actual word of god?

      Might have something to do with the fact that the message tones down pretty significantly when it isn't one of the 12 desci...cronies writing love letters back and forth.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  20. OldMo

    Time to throw this guy under the bus so the Dems, establishment GOP and MSM can get a BOzo vs Mittens contest. Mittens is a Dole/McCain type candidate, he's as electrifying as a cup of "recycled" beer. Oh well, gotta follow the script and the next election is very important. The next guy sitting in the chair, be it BOzo or Mittens, is going to preside over the end of the US as we no it. If you've been paying attention and are equipped with half a brain you'll know that isn't hyperbole.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:12 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.