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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. CHRISTINE

    Why do all of you put him and people down for having a moral campus? I don't get it...would you rather be living with criminals? He is doing what his conscious is telling him....something most people have forgotten. People would rather tune in to TV or Facebook but nor turn on their own moral campus. Shame on all of us. You should read the story of Joan of Arc. Understand her role and what she sacrificed. In the end it was her own countrymen that that burned her at the stake....

    January 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • rlowens1

      We're not putting him down for having a moral compass. We're putting him down because he is an adult with an imaginary friend who controls him. We don't need adults with imaginary friends in power – just look at the mess they've made already.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Chrism

      Good for you Christine. I'm just thankful most posters here are the all too vocal minority with their hate, atheism and immorality. It disgusts me how our founders and men and women of many generations fought and died to make this a moral nation. Look what these people fight for – immorality. God forbid someone disturb their imagined "right" to all things immoral in this country.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  2. ThanxIamAgnostics

    Funny... Extremist Christians believe in Rapture and want all Jews in Israel so Jesus can come and convert all Jews to Xtianity and Jews want Israel as their G_d promised them the land. They both have their purpose and who is the enemy? The Arab/Muslims/Palestinians.

    Jews+Christians=Marriage of convenience. But idiots of US do not realize that they are both stabbing each other in their backs.... ha ha ...what a bloodthirsty bunch of idiots.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • JimInMI

      Dude, you put it crudely but you are right on the dot.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  3. cigarlover6

    What a nut job this guy is!! 7 children !! This 'xian fundamentalist is no better than those 'slam fanatics who produces innumerable children and those paranoid folks who home school their children in order to "protect" them from differing world views?. Imagine if everyone started having 7 children, what will this world would become with its scarce resources? Its like loser breeding losers.
    This is what wrong with America, that narrow mindedness and dogma based society would pull everyone down. I am so highly surprised that even after knowing his dogma oriented "conservative (read fanatic)" values, he is surging

    January 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  4. Stopthemadness

    Separation between church and state need I say more. I'm Catholic born and raised and still semi practicing. I would not ever want this farce in the office of the president. And I mean NEVER!

    January 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • go4it

      By semi-practicing, aren't you enabling the entire system, including the dogma you don't agree with? Shouldn't you then be honest and either find something you believe in, create somnething new, or just leave it and have a "personal spirituality".

      January 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  5. Patriotism

    Your morality is different than my morality. I don't give a damn if someone aborts their child. It's their right to. Catholics believe in moral absolutes, but mine differ from theirs. Is that a real absolute, then? I don't care about the Church's opinion's, and neither do most people in America. We hate being told what to do, so the chance to bind government and Catholicism is null.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  6. Robert Sager

    Santorum has no vision of today's world. If he were elected, and he never would be, he would continue to place his organized crazy religious values at the forefront of his administration. He is a religious crazy's idol. He is also very dumb, ignorant and doesn't have a problem denying equal rights to all citizens. He and people like him are the reason I am active in politics, to make sure nuts like him stay in their cages and never hurt the citizens of this country.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  7. Joe in NY

    I am a religious man myself, however I stand by the firm belief that mixing religion and politics is a big no no. It's a recipe not only for disaster but for loss of support among American citizens. There are many religions in this country and trying to cater to just one religion is a good way to get smack across the face at the polls and the international community. It's all good and well that you believe in a higher being, but don't count on him to hold your hand through every major decision you make. It's a big Universe. I'm sure they've got better things to do.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      If your god doesn't get involved, the isn't he irrelevent? And if so, why waste time with religion?

      January 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Joe in NY

      Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it isn't there. You can make an argument that there isn't any evidence of a God, but it doesn't prove that God doesn't exist. It's the basis of faith in religions. I view God as a parent except on a much grander scale, and like any sensible human you don't want your parents holding your hand all the time and you want free will. Simply because he gives you freedom doesn't make him irrelevant.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • go4it

      So now you say that God does sometimes get involved in your life. Can you tell me how this happened?

      January 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      I gave to you your premise that God existed. I just said that if he didn't get involved in your life, isn't he irrelevent?

      January 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Joe in NY

      Nowhere did I say he doesn't get involved in my life. I simply said to not count on him to help you with every major decision you make in your life.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  8. SafeJourney

    Santorum is just another crazy flavor of the week just like all the other GOP/TP candidates.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  9. Marge

    What I want to know is why it's okay for his wife to take a pill to speed up her labor so she can expel a defective fetus that gave her a life threatenin­g infection before it kills her, but its not okay for other women to get a life saving abortion to save thier lives? Maybe God would of killed her and the fetus. Didn't they possibly thwart God's plans? What's the matter? It's all good for other men to lose a wife or girlfriend­, or other kids to lose a mother, but not him and his kids? Shouldn't his wife be sacrificed too?

    January 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  10. LCSWquilter

    Rick, you better be aware that the person who is sitting highest on his moral high horse, will be the first one knocked down from it.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  11. George in Florida

    Santorum preaches the opposite of everything Pope John Paul preached for Catholics to follow.
    So that would make Santorum, the "anti-Christ-anti-Catholic candidate"?

    January 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Pro Life for all

      Rick is a solid Catholic. All of you need to study the Catholic Faith and read the Bible. Do you even know who JPII was?

      January 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Chrism

      Georgia, pardon me for saying but I find you're post particularly repugnant. It is one thing for you to not know what the Vatican says. It is another to deliberately post something false knowing that you don't know. Or worse yet knowing to the contrary. For your information the Vatican well encourages all nations to enact moral laws consistent with the teaching of the creator of all men. Santorum is entirely consistent. This is also consistent with our nation. george Washington, John Adams, John Jay, Abraham Licoln all affirmed that the law should be consistent with Christian faith. As Washington said you can't separate religion and politics needs to be guided by it. Separation of church and state is very misunderstood. It means not forcing worship on people nor prohibiting it. In no way is enacting moral laws consistent with the Christian faith contrary to the first amendment. I hope you'll bother to learn these things. It's so sad people ignore this and post misinformation instead.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  12. ERIC

    why do these mary worshipers want to force their beliefs on the rest of us.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • George in Florida

      I guess the same reason Atheists want to force their views on believers.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • cigarlover6

      No no.. no Atheist is forcing you to believe in a Atheist "god" 😉 get it? I guess u wont. Once again, no atheist god, get it?

      January 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Streetsmt

      Atheists are not the same. We will helplessly believe you if the evidence points that we. We are open minded. You can not equate the two.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  13. rlowens1

    "God" is merely a power play. It is an attempt to steal the authority of an all powerful being. It matters not whether that being actually exists. What matters is that people believe He exists and that certain people speak/spoke for Him. Don't fall for it.

    As for myself, if there is such a thing as a "God" and He has anything to say to me, I have FAITH that He knows where I am and how to say it so I know it is really Him. Therefore, I ignore ALL the clowns who pretend to speak for Him – especially, if they lived and died thousands of years ago.

    And, religion is for those who would have others tell them how they should act, think, feel, and believe, That is counterfeit spirituality. True spirituality is figuring those things out for yourself.

    As long as there are those who would have others tell them how they should act, think, feel, and believe, there will be religions – and, those exploiting them for their own agendas.

    God believers fail to realize that, regardless of whether "God" (whatever that is) exists, or not, "it" will ALWAYS be a construct in their imagination that they created for themselves. And, "God" doesn't have to be anything like that. So, it's just an imaginary friend.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  14. God

    This guy should be sitting in a asylum, not running for President.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  15. Danny12Lumy12

    This guy has 7 kids.... obviously he does not believe in family planning...lol...y'know there's something called a condom, sir....
    Bah! The radical Christians. They are much worse than some Islamist extremists ..... look at the hate these fanatical Christians and Jews are propagating....

    January 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  16. LCSWquilter

    I'm convinced after having all those kids, Rick Santorum is a Catholic priest wannabe. Too late.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  17. Tr1Xen

    I wish Republicans weren't so hung up on religion. I agree with their economic policies but I don't like having the Bible crammed down my throat.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • southside nike

      They refuse to believe that America was founded to get religious FREEDOM.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Pro Life for all

      Study the Catholic faith and quit listing to the media. We love everyone including the unborn, Moslems and Gays. It is the Christians that are being persecuted by the media by lies. All life is precious. I will pray that someday you will see the truth

      January 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  18. rlowens1

    God belief is either a lie or a delusion – and, neither are Presidential qualities, in my humble opinion.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  19. Jose

    I don't understand why us religious people care why people leave their religion. We're not the one who won't go to heaven, they are the ones' and one day they will realize their big mistake 🙂

    January 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • rlowens1

      Adults with imaginary friends are deserving only of ridicule – not the Presidency.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • go4it

      @Jose,
      The chances you are correct are almost 0. You, like everyone else, will die someday and that will be it.

      How can you honestly believe that gunk? Come on. A God that shows absolutely no evidence of his existance, gave us free will and a brain to think, and then condems the ones who use it bacause they don't believe without evidece? Really?

      January 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • jim atmadison

      So, the fact that people who disagree with you will end up in hell for eternity is worth a smiley face at the end of your post?

      Incredibly weird and cold-hearted. Doesn't seem particularly Christian, either.

      January 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  20. Dave in SC

    Santorum says “How is it possible, I wonder, to believe in the existence of God yet refuse to express outrage when His moral code is flouted?”

    Knock yourself out, Rick. It's a FREE country. Just don't force your beliefs down MY throat. You Republicans scream about government being too intrusive all the while hoping for the day you can use government as a weapon against gays, Moslems, abortion rights, etc. etc. etc.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • southside nike

      If it's government in the boardroom they are against it, but if it's government in the bedroom they are for it

      January 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
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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.