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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. SK-B

    When I see the "photo op" images of this candidate with his sanctimonious head bowed, I cannot help thinking of Jesus warning not to pray in the marketplace and synagogue for public display like the hypocrites.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  2. AlMac

    Please !!! Rick Santorum is no JFK !

    January 8, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • AK

      For which his wife is eternally grateful.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • jim atmadison

      Thank you, Senator Bentsen. I thought you were dead.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  3. Jew

    FUUUUUUCK NONBELIEVERS.......... PS! IM JEW

    January 8, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  4. Gelfling

    "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
    It was true then and is true now. Isnt Obama a Christian? There seems to be venom spit at politicians whether they have an R or a D next to their name. There seems to be 0 civil discussion about issues. Time to grow up or watch America fall.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • jim atmadison

      President Obama has never said that he plans to have the US Government monitor what we do in our bedrooms and with our own bodies based on his interpretation of Scripture. Rick Santorum has.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  5. Shanika

    Christmas is banned in Israel and by Jewish people

    January 8, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • go4it

      Ummmm. No

      January 8, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • buhloney

      "Banned"???? Do you have the slightest clue what you're talking about? (That's a rhetorical question).

      January 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Grog Says

      When you "make up" stuff, its called lying.
      See what your bible says about that.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  6. Rajeev G

    A politician who depends too much on God and Religion will never get my vote. To me, God is omnipresent and He does not treat someone specially nice or bad. There is no room for religion/God in politics and a country affairs! We need someone who uses knowledge and intelligence and experience to run this country and not someone who tells us that God talks to them.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • buhloney

      You just got my vote.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  7. mike from iowa

    History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
    -Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • LH

      Will you stop telling the truth , please. I agree 100%

      January 8, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Grog Says

      Good Mike !

      Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers,
      read the bible, and the quran, and rejected both as a way to run
      this country.
      Both Christians, and Republicans wouldnt like that fact.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  8. streetsmt

    You know, every Catholic that goes to church yet doesn't believe all the Catholic dogma, is just giving cover to people like Santorum. They are enablers for the continuing of this type of thinking to the next generation. With their help, this religion is not given the label I think it deserves, cult.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  9. mike from iowa

    Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
    -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

    January 8, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • LH

      Shame on you for telling the truth. People dont want to here or believe that fact.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  10. hustlenflo

    K-Y Jelly is contributing millions to the campaign to push Santorum.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  11. Shanika

    Did you know that Stalin was an Atheist...... just to let you know 🙂

    January 8, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • jim atmadison

      ...and Hitler was a Catholic. He wrote about it and discussed it often. So?

      January 8, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • streetsmt

      Is your point that he killed 20 million people because he was atheist? That's like saying he killed 20 million people because he didn't believe in Zeus. This argument has been debunked for a long time now.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • mike from iowa

      "... opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians. "
      -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789

      January 8, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • buhloney

      Oh, no kiddin.....Did you know that Charles Manson was a Republican? Your logic (?) escapes me.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Grog Says

      Jeffrey Dahmer was a christian, whats your point ?

      January 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  12. Rae

    IIt's all a slippery slope. We must stop this from happening!! If Religion and Politics are allowed to marry, then why can't a guy marry an animal or something? Where do we draw the line!?!?

    January 8, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • jim atmadison

      Funny. Nice spin on the Santorum line.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  13. treblemaker

    For all those who are conservative Catholics, the apostles were Jewish, and so was the first Church. Even St. Paul was Jewish.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • liberalguy

      Don't forget that Jesus was a Jew too!!!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • jim atmadison

      And the people who oversaw and carried out the Crucifixion were Romans, and Rome is now home of the Papacy.

      It all kind of goes around in circles.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Grog Says

      Jesus....

      Wore a robe (toga) and sandles,
      had long hair (hippy)
      drank wine (alchoholic)
      had no job (bum)
      hung around with 12 other guys (gay)
      saw visions (stoned)
      healed the sick, raised the dead (witch)
      spoke in tonques (demon)

      And his heavenly father (god) sacrificed him on the cross
      for our sins ?
      Sounds like Jesus had enough sins of his own.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  14. Hypatia

    theocracy is not a possibility ever.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • jim atmadison

      Wrong. It's entirely possible. That's why people like Rick Santorum must be stopped before they get a foothold.

      Iranians didn't expect to fall into a conservative theocracy after the Shah, and the events leading to WWII show just how messed up modern Western civilizations can become if people don't stand up for what's right.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  15. Nonita

    Jewish people......... = Cheap, dirty, scammers, killers, Christ haters, Arab haters, big nose, loves money, steal money

    January 8, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • JC in Western U.S.

      Were you hoping to encourage people to vote for Santorum? I'm sorry. You just gave people a very good reason not to.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  16. KTom

    Its funny how people are so offended by someone who believes in God and uses it as a motivation to try and make the country better. Not to say legislating religion is a good thing. But if someone believes in something greater than themselves (i.e God) and it motivates them to try and do some good in this world, its suddenly a bad thing? Every president we ever had was religious in one way or another and to think that believing in God is stupid and it disqualifies you to run for office is something that closed minded individuals only think and they are hypocrites. We all have something that motivates us to try and great things, and some people use God both in a good way and bad. Oh and I'm a agnostic and couldn't give a hoot about religion... so to those who would say this is a religious man talking, nice try

    January 8, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • B Jones

      Nice Try - really. Just look at Grandma's post below.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • mike from iowa

      Because the bible thumpers using god always have ulterior motives, because religion is diametrically opposed to freedom and this country was founded on freedom, the land of the free. Those who want atheocracy can move to Iran.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • mike from iowa

      "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes. "
      -Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • KTom

      A: Grandma must be senile. B: I remember I used to think everyone of faith had secret motives to take away my freedom and expression, then I grew up and realized their are a**wholes out there of faith like people without faith. And as long as the first amendment exists, my freedoms are safe in my opinion. To discredit a person because of their faith is just as ignorant as someone with faith calling out someone without faith. Thomas Jefferson was a very secular man and one of my favorite founders because he recognized the importance of people having the freedom to believe in something without the fear of being ridiculed or persecution from the government. And also that he believed in this government being secular.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • kevin

      The problem with electing people who intend to use their religion as a guide for policy is that they are incapable of changing their minds about anything, even in the face of valid evidence. They already believe they have all the answers through their religion, and cannot adapt to reality. They also believe that to change your mind is to deny faith and deny god. And that their ideas are "messages from god". Just like the radical Islamics. Religious fanatics are dangerous no matter what religion it is. Let's face it, many of the Christian/Judeo teachings are demonstrably false, and Christians tend to ignore the good parts about generosity and respect. If Jesus were alive today, he'd be part of the Occupy movement, be fighting poverty, and be pushing for stronger social programs. He'd be a socialist. He sure wouldn't be saying that lowering the taxes for the rich is the way to make a great society.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  17. Chrism

    CNN gives this to follow up the "sharia law" by the Palestinian-American "comedian.". Pure fear mongering. Throw violation of church and state in people's faces so they cry foul. And then dwell on Santorum's PRIVATE faith as if it were relevant and deliver it to exactly that audience that CNN is aiming for to revile in horror at how religious Santorum is.

    Nearly every conscious person has moral beliefs . Morality happens to be a good thing. There have been countless Christian presidents including Obama who attend church, speak openly about God and let their morals be informed by their beliefs. So do others openly talk about their atheistic beliefs. That's exactly why abortion has been a big issue in this country. And there's nothing wrong with having it be an important issue. It's not talking about the issue that's the problem. It's the handful of people who aren't there to talk about it but to insult others and argue in a nasty way until everyone is sick of it. It's not a violation of church and state to be against abortion. For God's sake for the first 200 years of this country abortion was illegal. And by the way the woman in roe v. Wade now totally regrets her role in it and campaigns to overturn it. There is nothing wrong with giving the basis for ones belief either. I believe life begins at conception and I believe in God. And you know what 85% of this country believes in God. I'm for exceptions to abortion. But otherwise it simply ought to be recognized that life begins at conception. That's a medical and biological fact. You can look it up in any textbook.

    So quit with this fear mongering. And you vocal handful of atheists go prove God doesn't exist before telling the 85% of this country that is a Christian nation to prove anyone to you. Quit acting like Santorum would somehow change church and state. He wouldn't. He'd just do what every other politician and person does which is fight for what they believe is right for this country.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Hypatia

      The country has enshrined separation of church and state in its founding principles. Attempting to sugar coat a return to theocracy is not only disingenuous, it is treason.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • LH

      Are you sure he wouldn't install religion in his presidential mandates. Iam not willing to take that chance.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Chrism

      Hypatia, you are flat out disingenuous, you're the one sugar coating your anti-religion and outright disingenuous to call morals informed by Christian values a theocracy. Go look up the term theocracy. Then go look up the founding of this country. George Washington, John Jay, later Abraham Lincoln have all recognized this Christian nation is founded on Christian values. The first amendment in no way bars morality that happens to coincide with Christian values. And you are no less in violation of the first amendment for your specific anti-religion is a religious belief and you use it just as loudly to clamor for the anti-morality you profess. So don't point a finger at me, hypocrite.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • mike from iowa

      "... And you vocal handful of atheists..." – just because one is against conveting this country into a Theocracy does not make one an Atheist. Keep your religion out of my government. "Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law. " -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

      January 8, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • mike from iowa

      Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.
      -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

      January 8, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Chrism

      LH , lol no what Santorum would do is uphold good moral values, that's all. The people who instill beliefs are those like you who specifically attack Christianity which is a violation of the freedom of religion protected by the first amendment. No, Santorum won't change separation of powers. Don't worry your head about it.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • mike from iowa

      Chrism,by your logic we would outlaw divorce, have stonings for those who commit heresy and for woman adulterers, have everyone kill a sheep on an alter once a week for god.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Chrism: You're an idiot!! The burden of proof is not on the non-believer but instead on the one one making the claim...so where is your proof? The country is not a Christian Nation, it was founded on secular standards and thus freedom of and from religion apply.
      As for the abortion issue...conception is not the beginning of life as is clearly stated by SCIENCE. Go and look up Gregory Paul's Holocaust of The Children...it clearly debunks your thoughts and puts to rest the god delusion of life beginning at conception. It points out the number of miscarriages that occur...that apparently your good and not so loving god allows to happen. Btw: in most cases abortion is not legal past the end of the first tri-mester and who the hell do christards think they are to speak for women on what they should do with their bodies? Don't spew your buybull myths in public and we won't think in your churches!!

      January 8, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Chrism

      Mike, you're just confused and wrong. No theocracy is rule by religion. You confuse separating church and state with a man internally separating his values and morals. As I said, every president and most people have morals. They're connected to their beliefs and that has nothing to do with separation of government. We vote for those representatives who's morals and values we agree wih. It would be no less a violation for you to impose your atheistic creed as it informs your moral beliefs. Again, wrong, that's not theocracy and it's not violation of church and state. It's called just what's always been a president who's moral values are informed by their beliefs. And you have no right to try to pretend anyone should change that to suit your disingenuous mantra.

      As far as you're quote it's out of context. We've always been a Christian nation and government absolutely needs to remain informed by religious values.

      “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

      – George Washington

      “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”

      – George Washington

      “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable.”

      – George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation 1789

      January 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Chrism

      “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”

      – John Adams

      “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

      – John Adams

      January 8, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Chrism

      John Jay, First Chief-Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

      Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is their duty – as well as privilege and interest – of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.

      – John Jay

      The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.

      – John Jay

      January 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Chrism

      Mike quit lying about me. It's only your confusion and misunderstanding of logic and the bible that thinks such false things. Quit besmirching the name of my logic with your false confusion. You obviously lie. Sheep sacrifices? Lol speak for yourself, mike. Don't try to tell others what they think when you don't know. It's ugly dude.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Chrism

      TP, I thank God for whatever intelligence He gave me and disagree with your assessment. No, the Declaration of Independence already states rights are from a moral, intelligent Creator. Obviously the legal burden of proof is squarely on you to overturn this.

      Medical and biology textbooks concur a new living organism begins at the moment of conception. Your opinion to the contrary doesn't in the least change it.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Hypatia

      Don't know history or Christianity at all, do you?

      January 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  18. Grandma

    THOSE WHO DON'T BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST SHOULD BE HANGED TO DEATH !!

    January 8, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • bnb42

      Grandma:
      I'm glad to see Christians have enhanced their execution methods from STONING

      January 8, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Hypatia

      How Christian you are! What a pity for your family.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • ryan

      This a troll post. It's probably a bored 14 year old.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • B Jones

      I like the spectacle of an Auto da Fe, myself.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • LastSaneMan

      WOW!! How totally unchristian of you.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Grandma: HYPOCRITE!!! Ever heard of judge not lest ye be judged?? You just sinned!!! Looks like your god (not that it exists) will be sending you to hell (not that it exists either). You're a bad christard...it's your mythical belief...you go there!

      January 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • JC in Western U.S.

      Grandma is a Troll. I fell for one of his/her posts, but there have been a series of increasingly irrational ones. At this point, I'm pretty confident in agreeing with "ryan" that Grandma is probably a bored 14 year old ( or somebody older with the emotional maturity of a 14 year old) in the basement of his mother's house, dreaming up ways to stir the pot. Replying to Grandma is just giving him/her the satisfaction of keeping score to see which statement gets the most replies.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  19. Concerned and confused person of faith

    Suppose four people were running for a nomination and all of them said it was God's plan for them to do so. How do you distinguish between all of God's supposed choices?

    January 8, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • _____________________

      Very simple. God doesn't support public sector union thieves. Crooked Democrat politicians who say they're all for the working man but really aren't do.

      The choice is yours.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  20. LH

    Religion must always be kept seperate from politics. There are some evangelicals who would welcome a christian state religion. If that ever happens, were no better than Iran or other religion controlled governments. Religion is and should always remain a private issue for people..

    January 8, 2012 at 11:36 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.