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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. America is a Christian nation

    Being Anti-God is being Anti-American. Atheism is NOT healthy... stay away from us!!!

    January 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • TrueBlue42

      The Founding Fathers brought about separation of church and state in this country, which means we can choose any religion or none at all. If you want us Atheists to "stay away from you", you should leave the US. We Atheist aren't going to leave, and we certainly will not be forced out. This statement brought to by an active-duty USAF sergeant – are you sure you still want to question my Americanism?

      January 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      I would hope we Americans aren't all as delusional as the primitive god believers. They remind me of the volcano worshipers.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • bnb42

      Freedom of religion also includes freedom FROM religion....

      January 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • brandonj

      Just because you say America is a christian nation doesn't mean that it is. Jefferson and many of the founding fathers were skeptics who absolutely DID NOT want state sponsored or endorsed religion. That would eliminate the possibility of America being founded as a "Christian Nation" and is historical fact, though it appears that many "christians" aren't interested in facts, science or anything that doesn't support their narrow world view. As for being "Anti-God", I for one am not "Anti-God," nor am I "Pro-God." As a Buddhist, I find the notion of a big daddy deity in the sky who rules our lives through conflicting and contradictory books of tribal myths and legends absolutely ridiculous. Though many"christians" seem to think we worship Buddha (there were several Buddhas actually), the Buddha is not a God or deity at all. Rather they serve as spiritual teachers for us to emulate in finding enlightenment through compassion-something most "God" worshippers seem to lack. However, if you choose to believe in scriptures which were written by men and which have been used to subjugate women, gays, and entire races of people-that's you're choice. Where I (and a great deal of other Americans) draw the line is when you attempt to use your beliefs to control others, which is what Santorum seeks to do.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Greg

      No, being anti-intellectual is being anti-American. And people who believe in religion are not intelligent, ergo, they are all anti-American.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  2. J R Brown

    The hystrionice about Santorum and his faith only demonstrate the !gnorance of the governing process...a President can't make laws. There is no way Santorum could impose his faith on anyone...Congress makes laws. Santorum could make policy decisions about foreign affairs and even decisions on domestic policy which my reflect his personality...the EVERY President has his personality reflected in his decision making. There is no way a President could impose a "sharia" anything in the United States and !ignorant political fear-mongering rhetoric doesn't change that.

    Comparing conservative christian values to islamic sharia law is, regardless of the mental meanderings of liberals, not a viable comparison at all. Conservative christian values are not enforced at the point of a sword, with the sting of a whip, the blade of a knife or a gunpoint. Sharia law is not, nor will ever be, comparable to American civil law in any way, shape or form in any credible way to anyone with even the most basic of intelligence.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Darfur

      In Matthew 10:34 Jesus said "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." ...

      Christianity, Old Testament , Jewish Talmud and Halacha LAws are worse than Sharia. You just hide that fact.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • J R Brown

      As an atheist, I am not afraid of the religious. I also have the intellectual integrity to understand that those who would follow the teachings of Jesus COULD make the world a better place if they were to love their neighbors as themselves, turn the other cheek, be honest and faithful in all things and worry about rewards in heaven more than on earth. However, very few...and I mean, VERY few....christians actually life their lives in such a manner.

      The teachings of Jesus, however, are complete and utter opposites of the teachings of a mass-murdering mysoginst arab tribal warlord with a penchant for ped0phila.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • J R Brown

      Christianity is not Judeaism...I don't address the comparisons between Islamic sharia and judaic law because that's not what we're talking about in discussing CHRISTIANS and islamic sharia law.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Christianity has a long, sad and violent history when it has been combined with the power of the state. And Santorum very, very badly wants that combination to become reality once again. He is a foundational threat to the Republic. He is also an odious excuse for a human being.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • brandonj

      JR, the president is able to do a great deal regarding policy without congressional approval and one who believes that his/her religious beliefs should be forced through law upon the public as a whole is someone that most Americans do not want. Whether Santorum would actually be able to change the nation into a Catholic Theocracy is beside the point-the point is this man is incapable of fulfilling his public duties-to be a president to ALL the nation, not just ones who agree with him. Sure, every president has biases, but we're not going to elect someone who is so completely obvious about his. As for comparisons between Sharia and Christian Theocracy, while violence may not exist (though that could change), the taking away of freedoms and oppression of the population based SOLELY upon religious belief is what both have in common and they most certainly ARE comparable. What it comes down to for me (and for most from what I can see) is that it's fine if you have faith, but keep your religion to yourself. You DO NOT have the right to force your religious views, be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Pastafarian, etc on others.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • J R Brown

      The President does not have the power to make policy or laws which take away peoples' rights....it simple doesn't exist. Congress makes laws.

      At best, he can temporarily trample on them...not take them away. Take President Obama, for example: our federal drug laws, enacted by Congress, have been ordered to be ignored by the Justice Dept by President Obama. The 14th Amendment requires that federal laws be enforced equally among all Americans...yet, President Obama ordered the Justice Dept to not enforce our federal laws in states where "medical marijuana laws" have been passed. It is a CLEAR violation of the 14th Amendment to order that federal drug laws are in force here, but not there, within the borders of the United States. But, he is getting away with it because no one is challenging him on it.
      If a President were to try to enact religious "laws" through policy, every left wing civil rights group in the country would be pitching a tent in his ah0le. It would never happen...so there's not point in making an issue of it.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  3. hal9thou

    This jerk will never be president. Thank God for that.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  4. America is a Christian nation

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsl6a0N5LdI&w=640&h=360]

    January 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      PalinDeAzz..

      What a wacko she is..

      January 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • bnb42

      My usual response when I see this 'Christian Nation' Garbage

      The Treaty of Tripoli
      Signed by John Adams

      "As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] ... it is declared ... that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries....
      "The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
      - Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams

      January 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Treaty of Tripoli ! You and your silly historical facts. Facts clearly have no place in "Christian Nation" arguments.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  5. Holy Sunday

    Atheism = Nazism. Stalin killed millions of people and was an Atheist

    January 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      weren't Nazis christian? I thought so, thanks..

      January 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Holy Cow!!

      Stalin was a nazi?! lol

      January 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Mei

      Actually Nazi's were NOT Christian. They followed a made-up idealogy that Hitler expanded upon. They made up their own idea of God and what they thought God would want. Even atheists do that. They make up their own idea of what is right and wrong and then follow it, then discriminate against everyone else who doesn't agree with them. Ex: gay activists who get Christians fired from their job because they won't agree to gay marriage.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Roguey

      Stalin and Hitler had moustaches , therefore men with moustaches are atheists.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • bnb42

      But Stalins' armys killed many Nazis!

      January 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      You're confusing atheism with "state religions." There was to be no God before Stalin and the state.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Mei

      Sunday is correct. If you look at the dictators in the world who ban religion, you'd see the great evils done in the name of atheism or "no religion". Historians can give you statistics or just look them up.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      Stalin was to be a minister.. Another product of religion.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • brandonj

      The problem Holy Sunday, is you're trying to make atheism into a set of beliefs. It is not. Atheism is, simply put, a lack of belief in a deity or deities. Many seem to think that atheists don't believe in life after death, or in a spiritual dimension or soul. Yet others believe that atheists are opposed to the existence or practice of religion. None of this is true. While there certainly are atheists who fit these descriptions, they are not descriptive of Atheism, as Atheism has NO set of beliefs-that's the whole point. One could argue that as a Buddhist, I am an Atheist. I do not believe in a deity who wants us to worship him/her/it. The Buddhas were role models for enlightenment. I believe in life after death, reincarnation and the principle of Karma. These do not require belief in a deity, but simply a spiritual dimension of the universe-a part of our existence that transcends the physical. This is atheistic, but many who identify as atheists don't share my beliefs. So, your bringing up Stalin really has no point, as those who do not believe in a God are greatly varied-atheism is not a religion. However if you want to start making comparisions, let's look at all the brutal dictators and mass murderers who WERE religious. Far more have been killed by the religious followers of a deity, often in the name of said deity, than have EVER been killed by those who lack belief in a deity. The real question today is whether leaders should be seeking to enforce their religious beliefs (including belief in a deity) on others through public policy and law. This notion was rejected by the founding fathers, yet it has not stopped Theocrats from continuously trying to impose their beliefs on others.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  6. Carol Vickstrom

    I hear "Catholicism" and I hear "pedophile haven, abusive control in the bedroom, subjugation of women, royalty disguised as a pope or a cardinal or an archbishop (complete with thrones and palaces), money and power," all on the backs of ordinary people who trusted. Undo this disgusting destructive reality and maybe we can get down to belief in God.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      catholics keep women barefoot and pregnant. They even convince the woman that they are worthwhile, but not as leaders in the church as pope.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Mei

      If that's what you see in Catholicism, then you don't know the Catholic Church AT ALL. If it wasn't for the Catholic Church there wouldn't be charities helping the poor (like welfare: which was brought about in England when the nobility ignored the needs of the poor), or hospitals, most schools, etc. The Church does more charity aid in the world today than ANY OTHER organization. True there are priests apparently USING the Church to harm people (and not priests at all if they don't follow their vows) but the percentage is very few even in comparison to the general population. The MAJORITY of PRIESTS are good.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      there has always been charity. BTW,, catholic charities is run primarily off our tax dollars (grant money). It is a money maker for the vatican. Just like churches, schools and hospitals, they'd shut it down if it didn't make enough $$ for them.

      Now get the facts straight - the largest 'do good' is the USA.. More than all religions combined and geuees what?? The good works includes atheists too.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Mei

      Actually the greatest saint of all is a woman: Mary. The Church even has female Doctors of the Church. True, the priesthood is reserved for men, but that is because the Church recognizes the vocations of men and women to be slightly different. Women, however, can be saints, can be Doctors of the Church, can be spouses of Christ (nun). Each gender compliments the other in their particular vocation, just as men and women do in marriage.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Stan

      Carol, you're just one of these people with relatively low IQ level, who reads an article about an individual and then immediately associates that with all people representative of that individual's association.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      Mei.. you are the victim of a con. How to make women cheap and then use logic surrounded with to deceit to soothe

      January 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  7. Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

    Aren't there halfway houses for cathaholics?

    January 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • recovering cathaholik

      you betcha baby..I run one

      January 8, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      think they are called bars or saloons.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  8. CJEH

    And this is different from Sharia law how?

    January 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Chrism

      Because its not Muslim. The US was founded andes a Christian nation.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Holy Cow!!

      Chrism, the US is a FREE nation, not a christian one.
      To impose any one religion's idealogy on others is just plain wrong, especially in the US, a free nation.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      are they the same christians that massacred 11 million indians?

      I treat religions as p-o-r-n and keep them away from children.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Sheikh Abdul bin Bari bin Tari bin Jaari bin Maari

      Old Testament, Deuteronumy, Marlk,luke , Mathew, Jews' Talmud, Halacha Laws are WORSE than Sharia laws. Please do some authentic research, not from extremist Xtians and Jewish sites.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Bob

      "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

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

      January 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Mary

      because Catholics don't chop of your heads if you don't believe as they do! THAT'S HOW!

      January 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      Correct, Bob.. But they have been brainwashed since childhood.

      Remember, without fear religion would fail. Deny it's fear and you have the makings for a terrorist.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • achepotle

      really? Is that a new policy the Catholics have adopted?

      January 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • nympha

      So, you are saying that murder, stealing, etc...should be welcomed and allowed? Shariah law metes out death, limb removal, etc... for simple infractions. No Christ ian in the world would ever condone such a law. To liken basic moral standards to that law is the epitome of ignorance.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:00 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

      “As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him.” – John Adams

      It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.- Patrick Henry

      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

      January 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Chrism

      In his speech on May 12, 1779, George Washington claimed that what children needed to learn “above all” was the “religion of Jesus Christ,” and that to learn this would make them “greater and happier than they already are.”

      – George Washington, speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs, May 12, 1779.

      “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 2:13 pm |
    • Chrism

      “And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God … and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

      – Abraham Lincoln

      January 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Bob

      for chrism: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

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

      January 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  9. Cleareye

    Santorum represents what is the worst about Catholics to everyone who is not a Catholic, intolerance, narrow-mindedness, archaic thinking, repressive of women coupled with unbelievable arrogance. In the end, he does a great disservice to his church. He certainly is no Kennedy.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Stan

      What you just wrote in bullshi t. Wrong religion i think.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • jnpa

      I am a Catholic,and I have no desire to listen to what Santorum has to say concerning social/moral issues. He should rethink his strategy and remember that he is not running for bishop, cardinal or pope. Leave the religious issues in church....

      January 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  10. Bee

    Even the Catholic Church recognizes the truth of evolution, which Mr. Santorum apparently questions. Anyone who thinks that creationism should be taught in the public schools is not fit to be President of the United States.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • bnb42

      ++1

      January 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Chrism

      Theistic evolution which is consistent with creationism,

      January 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • just sayin

      Should not all knowledge be made available to students? Just what books would you burn to keep out of schools?

      January 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Holy Cow!!

      Chrism, anything with a "Theistic" bent needs to stay out of public schools.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Holy Cow!!

      Just sayin' .. overplaying your hand a bit with the whole "book burning" approach?! Keep religious books out of public schools, just leave them at home.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • brandonj

      Don't worry Bee, though I often question the intelligence of much of our population, the American public is not stupid enough to make this theocrat president.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Yes, justsayin, all knowledge should be available in an educational system, but that would have to include every creation myth from every culture on earth. Can you imagine teaching an astronomy class where you gave equal time to the "theory" that the sun and moon are the eyes of a giant child that were plucked out and thrown into the sky by her twin brother (Guam creation myth)? I'm all for teaching comparative religion, but not in a science class.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  11. Chrism

    This is such stupid fear mongering. You can be an atheist and believe life begins at conception. If you're a doctor or a biologist you know that's when life begins. And anyone else here can go look it up in any textbook. Every single one of you by arguing for or against abortion is no different than Santorum and no more and no less violating the first amendment. You practice or don't practice whatever you choose. And you vote for laws based on whatever you believe is right. Most presidents have been Christian and you can thank God for that because they fought to make this country moral. I support a president who doesn't send my tax dollars to planned parenthood. You should too. Do you know what planned parenthood is? Look it up rather than ranting here. It was founded by Margaret Sanger, who just like hitler wanted to use eugenics to stop minorities from breeding. Look it up. Abortions were to limit blacks, mi orities and the poor. And guess what that's still where many of them are. And you in all your self-righteousness scream how Santorum is a catholic. Oh who cares? It's the issue. Deal with the issue. Electing a catholic or Christian who supports particular issues in particular ways has nothing to do with the first amendment. The first amendment is so you go to the church you want and so the government is funding one church. It has boing to do with whether a value is true or not. A value is no less good for the country if it is a Christian value. And to the contrary, it so happens Christian values are necessary and important for the country just as Washington, Adams, Licoln and others have said clearly.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Bob

      Your statement that most presidents have been Christian is like prior common statements that most scientists have been religious. The reason for those cases is simple, and it is that there has historically been huge pressure for such people to be religious. In the case of science, the pressure was even threats of torture. For most politicians, it is merely unelectability.

      Fortunately, as people see through the sheer silliness of beliefs such as the Christian ones, we might one day see a non-religious president. That would be a great day for our fine country.

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

      January 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Hey Dr. Chrism. Explain, please, when, (EXACTLY), is the "moment" of conception ? 😈

      January 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Chrism

      Bob, historically Presidents have been men of deep intelligence and faith, who thought through their beliefs and values. scientists deeply and openly examined their faith. Unfortunately today, peoplyogi story the truth and intentionally make strong pressure against religion. Leaders in government are put down just like here with Santorum for expressing their faith. And scientists are ridiculed by colleagues and can't publish in a peer review journal if it even remotely sounds like it is connected to religion. I hope you take the time to not be pressured by what you think is more socially acceptable. God bless you.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Chrism

      Buckey ball, thanks, you don't have to call me Dr. though I appreciate the recognition. The moment of conception refers to the fusion of the sperm and egg. Don't try to distort it, please, by imposing some literal and narrow definition of moment. K? 🙂

      January 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Chrism

      Oh and bucket all, where did you get "moment" from either? I don't see it in my post. I simply said conception. I didn't say how long that event took.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Sorry Doc. "Fusion" is not going to cut it here. May it could have 50 years ago. Now we know that could mean anything. So you don't really know, or can't be precise ? 😈

      January 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Oh, and BTW, seems to me that the folks who are trying to "impose" a narrow definition are the ones who state "life begins at conception". I simply want the terms defined for this little game. THEY are the ones who thought they were trying to be precise, and I just pick up the ball and run with it. And since when is precision "distortion" ? One begins to wonder about some things here .....hmmmmm...... 😈

      January 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Bob

      Your statement that most presidents have been Christian is like prior common statements that most scientists have been religious. The reason for those cases is simple, and it is that there has historically been huge pressure for such people to be religious. In the case of science, the pressure was even threats of torture. For most politicians, it is merely unelectability. Hopefully in time more people will see through sick supersti-tions such as Christianity, and such supersti-tions will become a political liability rather than an asset.

      Fortunately, as people see through the sheer silliness of beliefs such as the Christian ones, we might one day see a non-religious president. That would be a great day for our fine country.
      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      January 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    A life under the guidance of God
    Is a life that can strengthen a nation
    Prayer makes a good leader great
    Pray without ceasing in 2012

    January 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Holy Cow!!

      LOL .. not again!!

      January 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • bnb42

      2 hands working will get more done than thousands clasp in prayer.....

      January 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Cleareye

      You're from Comedy Central aren't you?

      January 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Prayer has changed the course of human history from the dawn of time. Without God civilization as we know it would have long since ceased to exist. Two hands working without inspiration,without a plan,without direction, without Truth are two hands destined to fail.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • bnb42

      so you're saying if you're not religious you cant be inspired???

      I think there would be many people who would disagree !

      January 8, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • JT

      Is this a bot that posts this at the top of every hour or does a human actually take the time to post this nonsense in every blog and every hour?

      January 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      The "you" doesn't matter. All knowledge comes from God.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • bnb42

      I do not think it is necessary to believe that the same God who has given us our senses, reason, and intelligence wished us to abandon their use, giving us by some other means the information that we could gain through them

      January 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  13. Zen

    US killed millions and still kills in the name of ISRAEL and OIL.
    Now you will get what you enforced upon other peoples. That's nature's way.
    What goes around comes around. It's called KARMA, baby!

    January 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Holy Sunday

      What about the Jews that kills millions of innocent Palestinians (Christians & Muslims) ?!

      January 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  14. authorsnote

    The most religious people I have encountered in life did not profess it. They didn't try to persuade people one way or another, or repudiate other religions, and they definitely didn't try to force their agendas via political means. Santorum's desire to enforce his own form of Sharia law is scary, and any true Christian should see that. Keep religion where it belongs in your own home and heart.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  15. Holy Sunday

    Sunday is the Christian sabbath. Monday is the first day of the week of going back to school and work. WeekEND is Saturday & Sunday. Don't get fooled by the U.S. calendars showing Sunday as first day of the week because Jews makes the calendars, that's why they put Jewish holidays on U.S. calendars too when only being 2% of the population.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • bnb42

      My calender also recognizes Ground Hog day

      January 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      ... and April Fool's Day.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      My calendar has Boxing Day on it. And Chinese New Year.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  16. truthintheear

    Santorum and his wife had themselves a little abortion about 10 years prior. What was it that they used to say when they were burning witches that were reciting the lords prayer (that apparently they weren't supposed to be able to do if they were in cahoots with the devil)? "The devil is no more the devil as when he appears as an angel of light."

    January 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  17. Phil

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

    "Sharing" isn't quite the right word here. "Impose" would be somewhat more accurate.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  18. MorningStar333

    American Christians and especially Catholics suck! They are bigots and duplicit to principals (which they never speak of in Sunday Church) that have no integrety in the work force in America - it is apparent isn't it; the U.S. economy.

    Moreover, they use *Jesus* as some "Get out of Jail Free Card" when they know they are doing wrong. It is my opionion that they should be driven back into the catacombs from whence they came from and feed to the lions!

    January 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Holy Sunday

      May God lead you to the truth.... too bad you're an animal and should live with the pigs

      January 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Holy Cow!!

      Fact is the followers aren't evil, the business end of their church is. The followers just don't know better & won't fight their church for the truth because that would mean they followed the wrong church.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Bee

      MorningStar333 has a real problem with spelling and grammar, not to mention a head full of misconceptions about Catholics. For one thing, of course, Catholics did not "come from" the catacombs. The posted message is laced with ignorant claims. The writer needs to do some research before spouting all kinds of untruths.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  19. keep your theology out of my democracy!

    hmm i coulda swore there was a seperation of church and state for a reason. like we need more priests banging kids anyways. also anyone who votes for this guy needs to remember that this guy's ruler is the pope and that effectively the pope will then become the ruler of our country. oh and for all you females enjoying your freedom of contraceptives ya thats gone as well. btw this guy has also said he doesnt believe in a right to privacy. oh and this guy backed everything bush said about the wars in iraq and afghanistan as well. one can only hope if hes elected that there will be thousands jumping ship

    January 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • karrie johnson

      completely agree..Separation between Church and State!

      January 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Bee

      We saw in the case of John F. Kennedy that a Catholic can be President without the Pope's becoming involved in any way with our government. The issue with Santorum is that he wants to take away the Freedom of Religion and the separation of church and state, two basic principles upon which our country was founded. His goals are more than un-American. They are anti-American.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Bee – Well said.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  20. Kessi

    So... I guess Mr. Santorum isn't aware that the Pope & Catholic Church support universal health coverage. Being Catholic is so much easier when you ignore the Pope.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:22 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.