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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. Angela

    Santorum is acting exactly as he should as a Catholic. What you all don't understand is Santorums practice of putting everything in God's hands and not worring if things don't work out. It is an excellent way to live. May God have Mercy on us all.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • fda

      I agree. Something about having a nice hair cut, dressing in a classy way, having a faith in the creator and fathering 7 kids that just makes marijuana liberals scream, look HE'S 3VIL!!!!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • jim atmadison

      Actually, Rick Santorum wants to put what Americans do in their bedrooms and with their own bodies into the hands of the US Government, based on his own interpretation of Scripture.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • happy jack

      You have got to be kidding, right?

      January 8, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • cigarlover6

      why not all the other religions included in his faith based policy, why only catholic?

      January 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Larry L

      Nothing like putting several thousand nuclear weapons in the hands of a man who "puts things in God's hands". Maybe putting "things" in the hands of somebody who has shown his face around within the last two thousand years might work out better?

      History is filled with stories of religious zeolots who lived and died in worship of their mythical gods. Many were a crazy as today's Christians and too many of them killed for their god. I wouldn't choose to arm one of them with today's weapons.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  2. jasonda

    There is no religion more imposing and restricting on peoples' lives than the religion of LIBERALISM. (with the exception, of course, of Islam). OBama is the grand priest of his liberal dogma.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • fda

      liberalism is clearly a mental disorder. CLEARLY

      January 8, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • go4it

      Objective people read statements like these and immediately label people like you as non-relavent. Then you can go off and spout this stuff as much as you like, with little effect.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • jim atmadison

      Righties manage to be extremely funny despite having no sense of humor whatsoever.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Ray

      Go4It is right. Your comment is meaningless. If you were at all honest like the ninth commandment demands...then you would have just admitted that you can't make a fact based arguement to support your beliefs. But instead, you toss out baseless insults.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Larry L

      Jesus would have been the absolute poster child for liberalism. I've heard your rich preachers say otherwise but the words ring hollow. Anybody who ever read a page of the story of Jesus would recognize him as a liberal. Good luck with fooling yourself...

      January 8, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  3. Harry Baxter

    Santorum is the Poster Boy for almost everything (I won't blame him for the pedpohile Priests) that is wrong with the Catholic Church. As a faithful Catholic of over 70 years, he scares the h*** out of me. His wish is that we return to the dark days of the Reformation, when the Church was burning Jews at the stake if they refused to convert to Catholicism. He would ban all Contraception in this country because he opposes it. Our current Pope will most likely agree with everything that Rick says. I, and millions of other Catholics, fear this man.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  4. fda

    so just because a mans beliefs contradicts that of abortion and gay marriage he is suddenly imposing his religion into politics? Man you libs would say ANYHING to get your way.
    By the way the separation of church was done so that States laws could not be imposed on the Churchs, therefore protecting and preserving them.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  5. John

    Just what America DOES NOT NEED, an American Taliban!

    January 8, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Midwestmatt

      So true. Santorum is a bigot who, if given the chance, would legislate Catholic values into our daily lives. He's toast because middle America may go for the right wing more than they should but they'll never go for this type of piety in the WH.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  6. GeeEmCee

    HOW MANY ITALIAN-AMERICANS ARE REQUIRED TO RUN A NATION?
    I know Rome thinks it is "conquering" the United States by dominating our politics in Washington – what with Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito on the United States Supreme Court, as well as Janet Napolitano at the helm of Department of Homeland Security.

    So...I think that there are many other cultures that require represenation here in the role of president of the United States, don't you?

    After all...America represents a diversity and we are not all Italian-Americans.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • jim atmadison

      Lame. Nobody cares about that crap any more.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • GeeEmCee

      use of "represenation" intended.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Skibum

      Sorry James, no body should care, but believe me, there are still some that do. Sad but true.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • For AChange

      If he is Italian, then he is LATIN! And it's about time America had a President with LATIN roots for a change instead of only having Anglos! We're so done with that group!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  7. sami

    Oy Vey. Who's a nice Jewish girl to vote for?

    January 8, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • The Answer

      You vote for a *Latin* presidential candidate for a change of course! Don't you like people with True Latin Heritage?!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • It's Time

      The Answer, I was reading your comment and you're so right about that! America is a country with great diversity in heritage, ancestral backgrounds, and extractions. We can't always expect to keep having only Anglo presidents. It's time to give Latins, that is, people with ancestry from South America, Italy, Spain, France, Romania, Portugal, Mexico, etc. a chance at the job!

      January 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  8. JC in Western U.S.

    I have no problem with Rick Santorum's faith. I'm sure he's a good husband and father. I just wish he had no problem with my version of spirituality and didn't want to shove his faith down my throat. I wish he truly and sincerely loved people unconditionally and non-judgmentally as he says God does. But he doesn't. He is judgmental. He is is conditional with his acceptance of others. He aspires to be President of all the people, but openly has disdain for a great many of them. I don't worry, however, about him becoming President, because I know that the large majority of Americans are more open-minded and that they are not willing to vote for a man who would never vote for them.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • jasonda

      kind of like obama, huh? Who actively discriminates against Catholic organizations and promotes his religion of liberalism on every one else. What exactly has Santorum done to you lately that imposed anything on your life? Once again, a liberal reacting on emotions as they've been brainwashed into stereotypes about Christians– by the same media that seems to adore Islam, which imposes their religion and lifestyle on others at the edge of a sword.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • John

      Here's hoping you're right!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • MICKY

      OBAMA 2012!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • norman

      No, we live amongst them, they take every opportunity to tell us we better find Jesus etc, with no care for what we believe in. Rick Santorum believes I will roast in a pit of fire for eternity if I dont follow his cult. The pope can bite me.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • JC in Western U.S.

      Jasonda – What makes you so sure that I'm liberal? I actually would like to see Huntsman win the GOP nomination (and I don't have a problem with his faith either).

      January 8, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Kelly

      Superb Post!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  9. longshot

    When will the GOP move into the 21st century (or even the 20th century) and embrace science, tolerance, equal rights for all and separation of church and state?

    January 8, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Kelly

      Another superb post!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  10. Mike Breen

    Not to be too religious, but didn't Jesus say "Render unto Caesar the things that are Ceasar's , and unto God the things that are God's."...In this case I am Caesar, and I want my elected officials answering to ME, for the laws that secular society implements, and NOT to "God"....

    January 8, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  11. ratickle

    With Obama the country is going nowhere. Santorum wants to take the country in reverse. Can we please have a candidate who wants to move forward?

    January 8, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Ray

      Under Obama...we have gone from losing 750,000 jobs a month before he took office...to a gain of 200,000 jobs last month. You think that's the wrong direction?

      January 8, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  12. John

    So... the Founding Fathers had it wrong about "Separation of Church and State?" That was a pretty big deal in the formation of America! Remember the concerns with JFK's election?

    January 8, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • MICKY

      Separation of state and religion are STILL a big deal!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  13. Justinstl

    What will Cristians and believers in all other faiths do .. when the truth of mans existence is revealed?

    January 8, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • MICKY

      Deny it!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  14. Rainer Braendlein

    @OuttaHere223

    I will never tolerate your lousy Catholicism. The pope is like a virus, which infects the whole mankind with greed for honor, power and reaches. This is what he represents. It is the exact opposite of Christianity, which means humbleness, being low and modest life. Justly the pope is called the Antichrist, because he indeed preaches anti-Christianity.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • MICKY

      Organized Religion is as corrupt as our government! All these politicians are doing is telling you what they think you want to hear! If you are that stupid, then go ahead and vote for them! I will stay with the liar we have now!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  15. Kevin

    If you admire Afghanii and Pakistani politics, you'll love Santorum. They are doing such great things mixing religion and politics.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • cigarlover6

      well said Kevin.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • John

      Yes, well said!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Skibum

      Exactly!!!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • MICKY

      Truthfully ALL OF THE CANDIDATES are not fit to be president!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • bnb42

      ....+1

      January 8, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  16. stjdsj

    True Christians have everything to gain (eternal life) and nothing to lose (except the pleasures of sin in this short life), while unbelievers have everything to lose (eternal torment in Hell) and nothing to gain (except the pleasures of sin in this short life).

    If Christians are wrong, they will only rot in the grave as unbelievers do; but if Christians are right, they will live forever in a painless, righteous world with eternal bodies, while unbelievers suffer forever in torture.

    Eternity is a long, long time to be wrong!

    January 8, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • cigarlover6

      hey, be happy that you are going to be "right". W t f you are barfing in here? Some insecurity? heh?

      January 8, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • streetsmt

      You are as likely to be wrong as an atheist. There have been hundreds, maybe thousands of religions before and after christianity. Your chances of picking the correct one are almost 0. Consider further that if there is one correct religion, it may not be any of the thousands of religions mentioned above.

      So if you are banking on christianity, you better start worrying!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • jim atmadison

      'Believing' in Christ as an insurance policy against damnation won't get you anywhere good in the end.

      It is NOT the same as embracing the power of the Holy Spirit to bring the salvation of Christ into your life.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Matt

      This is a false argument. You're actually an atheist as well, I just believe in one fewer gods than you. You reject hundreds of other religions that believe they are the "one" true religion, many other sects of your own religion. We have almost identical risk of being wrong. Also, hedging your bets isn't a sign of true belief, it's a sign of a fear based response. In actuality, in the absence of an after life, your one real life becomes scarcer and thus more valuable, and it should spur you to do more with your life, because that's all you've got. Religion is divisive, charges you a weekly fee for guilt and judgment, when you could go out on a weekly basis and do some good in the world for free.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • cigarlover6

      Matt, excellent reply. But what I have come to conclude is that presenting logic to these tools have no effect. They need to be shamed each time they try to trumpet their ignorant and absurd thinking

      January 8, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Matt

      I like to try logic first before you follow through with a hitchslap. You have to give someone the chance to be a rational human being. Luckily, I think the trend is moving in our direction anyway, especially as the older generation *ahem* fades away. Hopefully within the next 50 years we'll have enough of a majority that society will be able to be productive again.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • derp

      Anoher dooshebag spewing pascals wager.

      Nothing to see here. Move along.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  17. Skibum

    Well, I know Santorum's problem now. From above: He argued that Kennedy “sealed off informed moral wisdom into a realm of non-rational beliefs that have no legitimate role in political discourse.” He is clearly going with a false premise. Kennedy did no such thing, Clearly Santorum believes ONLY Catholicism offers "informed moral wisdom" . That is the reason he is so frightening. While there is no denying it offers many good things, it is NOT infallible. Witness its history. Kennedy's pledge simply said that church doctrine would not be expected public policy. So, no meat on Friday did NOT become national policy. Other examples abound. That is has it should be. BTW, I was raised Catholic, spent 8 years in Catholic school. But I certainly don't think my Muslim American Friends, My Baptist American friends etc should have to believe what I do. I think old Rick is about to find out that Catholics aren't going to be rallying to him just because he is an extremist, any more than they would they would with Mel Gibson

    January 8, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  18. jaintn

    Sorry, don't need a president who is that easily led and weak minded. Yes folks, weak minded. Let him mix kool aid somewhere else.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  19. derp

    Rick Santorum shoukd scare the daylights out of all Americans.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • John

      Sure scares me!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  20. Bob

    A Belief blog???? Is this garbage for real? CNN Must be desperate for readers........

    January 8, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • jim atmadison

      It's been out there for a long time. I think it's useful and entertaining. I suspect you'd also complain if they ignored people's faith lives as well.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:34 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.