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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. _______________________

    CNN will print anything to give hate-theists the chance to spew their bigotry and hatred.

    January 8, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Taiping

      You sound jealous. How's that workin' for ya?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • JiminTX

      Anyone who takes a dead baby home to show his children is a wack job.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • jemzinthekop

      A secular news paper with an ongoing faith based section like this is hardly looking to fuel a fire of anti-religious sentiment.... that is simply the way things go when people try to explain how belief in mythology will help lead a nation.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • divi

      "Bigot" literally translates to "By God" meaning one believes their word is by God. So an atheist really can't be a bigot.....just sayin'.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • bob

      You cannot be a Christian or catholic and continue to support the Ayn Rand policies which they all embrace. What happened to this political party?They are now fighting each other to find who is the most religious and yet all support anti-Christian policies. They make me sick. I call countries governed by religion Iran .You do not follow the religion of the ruling party than you are in dead or in jail. Are republican supporters so ignorant they cannot understand where they are going with the-is Christian rhetoric? Oh and I am a practicing Catholic but that is a choice and I want it to stay that way.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  2. Steve

    Reading this story Rick seems more suited for working and helping the less fortunate. Staying with organized religion and it's ability to help serve the masses. His calling is not politics he would be to divided by his beliefs against the majority when making decisions this struggle would be a problem.

    January 8, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • perrrob

      There's probably not enough money in it for him. That guy is an hypocrit of the worst kind.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • What me worry.

      You make it sound like he would be the only president in history to have a belief in religion. You need to step back and read up on some history. Religion and Morality is sometimes a very good thing. Maybe you should try a little soul searching while you are at it.

      January 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  3. bubba

    catholics are the biggest group of child molesting animals in the world

    January 8, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • AK

      At least we don't marry our sisters like 'vangerlilercals.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • John

      Great! Thanks for calling Catholics animals – what can you expect from animals? BTW you must be keeping track of who is big, bigger and biggest of this so called group – you from the other 2 groups – big/ bigger and is jealous not being on the top?

      January 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Sophia

      Another sweeping IDIOTIC statement !

      January 9, 2012 at 3:23 am |
    • KMW

      You are a "bit" prejudiced I would say.

      January 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • josh

      you are offensive and need to grow up.

      February 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  4. Jim

    Where is the "occasional series" on candidates religion's installment this article claims to be on Obama's religion?

    January 8, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • mb2010a

      Who cares??? Obama's religion in the 2012 election is not an issue...

      January 8, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  5. bubba

    just dont leave your kids alone at the catholic church....

    January 8, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  6. Shawn Irwin

    Not everyone my know this, but since George Bush, the federal government has been funding churches. That's right, the clowns that pay no taxes in the first place can get funding from the federal government. Even while our deficit is soaring . . . . why the ACLU is not fighting this is above and beyond me.

    January 8, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • dtboy

      There are people who don't pay taxes and still get government funding, so what's your point?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Mirosal

      References, please?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Dave

      The pont is they have lot of money and don't pay taxes!! And they just keep getting more and more. I will never understand why churches are tax exempt.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  7. proshop

    ....."Catholic" you think Catholic is the problem.....try Italian Catholic as the problem....there has never been an Italian in the White House and now with that dead baby story going around there probably wont be an Italian Catholic in the White House.....

    January 8, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • perrrob

      All religions are the problem ... I don't care what invisible Sky Daddy you believe in, just keep out of government.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • bbq774

      The only President in United States who was Catholic was JFK. According to this record, it does look like it will be very difficult for Rick Santorum to win the GOP nomination. lol.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • mb2010a

      I think it has more o do with that mafia thing than being Catholic when it comes to Italians in the WH. What is more interesting is the fact that the Supreme Court now has six (6) Catholics and three (3) Jews and no protestants...hmmmm.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • KMW

      It would be great having an Italilan (he is also one-quarter Irish on mother's side) like Rick as president. Itallian Americans shojld be very proud of him.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  8. marc

    Hey, I'm a catholic, but I still do my own thinking on certain matters. I always like to hear that a person is a Catholic, especially a celebrity. Now a days it seems they are all some wacky religion.

    January 8, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • jemzinthekop

      Exactly! Like Catholicism!

      January 8, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • mb2010a

      Actually, I am more inclined to support Hollywood people and politicians that say they have no religious preferences...

      January 8, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  9. BD70

    Sounds like Santorum has done a wonderful job in congress. Keep him there.

    January 8, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • mb2010a

      Santorum is not in the Senate or House of Representatives anymore...he lost his seat in the Senate by a landslide in 2006.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  10. Taiping

    I see they fixed it. Well at least they do notice some things once in a while. An international news corporation should, you know.

    January 8, 2012 at 7:03 am |
  11. AckMon

    I live in Pennsylvania and hope Santorum wins the Republican primary so I have the opportunity to vote against him again. He's just a typical corrupt politician. Works for lobbyists when he's not in office. Accepts big money from anyone/everyone. Is totally sold out to big business. I honesty don't know how he can call himself a Christian with all the lies he tells.

    January 8, 2012 at 7:01 am |
  12. fred schumacher

    Re: "supreme: Thank you for sharing your liberal leftist..."

    Dear supreme,

    You consistently label anyone who has a criticism of Santorum or religion as a "liberal leftist," however, you have absolutely no way of knowing what the political/economic position of these commentators are. The only thing one can ascertain for certain is that they are critical of Santorum or religion. They could be "conservative rightist" supporters of Paul, Gingrich, or Romney.

    However, anyone who uses the label "supreme" to refer to himself/herself indicates a very high self image, not exactly the humility Jesus encouraged all of us to emulate.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  13. perrrob

    When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." – Sinclair Lewis

    January 8, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • SafeJourney

      Good comment

      January 8, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • snowyowl

      Amen

      January 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • realitybites

      This is an awesome statement and should be screamed from the rafters. I've posted it myself.

      Here . Let'd do it again.

      When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." – Sinclair Lewis

      January 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  14. Jt_flyer

    I'm a catholic. I want to catholic school. I've gone to mass much of my life. I don't want a religious leader in the white house. There's no place for religion in politics. I know this man believes he knows better than everyone else but it's not going to happen. Americans don't want to become the Christian version of the middle east.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • brian

      GOOD COMMENT

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

      Then stop calling yourself a Catholic . Bec in your mind, heart and actions, you are no longer ONE.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • KMW

      Sophia,

      You are so right.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • J.W

      What does this particular person do that makes you think they are not a Catholic? They said they are devout and go to mass every Sunday. I think they just think that there are other issues that are important, such as the economy, that a religious leader such as what Rick Santorum tries to be, may not be as qualified to handle.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • *

      So, obviously you have to be actively tyring to shove your religion down the throat of everyone else to be considered a Catholic?

      January 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  15. Jerad

    This man is an idiot. Religion should not be involved in state.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:56 am |
  16. SafeJourney

    "The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy." ~ George Washington

    January 8, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • perrrob

      "The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of right wing wackos." ~ Me

      January 8, 2012 at 7:07 am |
  17. Shawn Irwin

    To use his own idiocy against him, Insanitorum has about as much chance of being elected as a camel getting through the eye of a needle.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:52 am |
  18. dc

    religion has no place in politics. religion shouldn't even have a place in the world. religion is the source of many of the worlds problems. until we grow up and stop believing in childish ideas like a man living in the sky (i'm not talking about santa but people might as well believe in him to) we're not going to progress

    January 8, 2012 at 6:47 am |
    • bbq774

      I think you are too radical about it. I think regiligion does bring a good side to the world too. If people are only ruled by laws, this world will be much more chaotic. Laws will never regulate or practice people's moral character. People need to believe something, no matter it is god, dogma, religion, or destiny, in order to define their values for life. So they will regulate their behavior themselves. Nevertheless, if a person becomes too devoted into religion, and enforces his own belief to other people, it will not be a good thing. But I think Rick Santorum will not stress his personal religious belief as the the core agenda for his compaign. Economy and unemployeement should be the key issues in this country today.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • jemzinthekop

      Sorry bbq but I have yet to see any moral regulation in regards the the influence of religion. All I see is faiths trying to grow themselves so the collection basket grows larger and so there is is bigger army of minions that said religion can promise their respective endorsed candidates a specific amount of votes. Religion is just another cog in the wheel of business.

      I have no religion personally and have a very sound moral and social direction. But I also believe "morals" are very subjective and are based as much as geographic and historical precedent as any other social ideal.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • dtboy

      Sorry dc, but government's role is to protect our unalienable rights from the Creator, so God and Government go hand-in-hand. Also, you cannot disprove God more than anyone can prove its existence, so such comments are really a waste of time.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  19. Jason

    Combining politics and the Catholic Church has always worked so well in the past. No bloodshed at all. Why not try it again?!?

    January 8, 2012 at 6:47 am |
    • josh

      hey Jason – Combining atheism and politics has always worked so well. No bloodshed at all. Why not try again???

      See how that works? The Catholic Church hasn't came close to the murdering atheist. FYI – Stalin and Mao killed over 50 Million alone. Silly facts.

      February 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  20. jemzinthekop

    Great, another person who believes in fairy tales possibly being in charge of nuclear codes. There are 3 nations that immediately come to mind when thinking about the "marriage of faith and politics": USA, Israel and Iran.... the 3 most war hungry nations on the planet. So how about "no thanks" maybe we can finally elect someone that has evolved past the age of reason.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • o.k.

      Jem...you do realize that every single president since the nuclear age (if not beyond that), including Obama, has expressed a belief in God, right? Truthfully, I'm more comforted by someone who acknowledges a belief in an afterlife, where he/she would be held accountable for their actions (particularly the action of initiating nuclear war), then someone who has nothing to lose because they don't believe they will be held accountable.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:38 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.