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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. Sheikh Abdul bin Bari bin Tari bin Jaari bin Maari

    I like this guy's comment below.......I wish Santorum's parents had used a condom..... ha ha ha ha

    January 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  2. NY Jew

    Secularism destroys our nation 😦

    January 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Chrism

      Amen. And these secularists are trying to deny free speech to anyone with the honesty to declare the basis for their moral values is God.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Greg

      Religion = intolerance
      Secularism = freedom

      January 8, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  3. Dr.K.

    "Men never commit acts of evil with such glee as when they do it in the name of religion"

    January 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  4. GAW

    Two sites to draw some balance on the atheist non-atheist debate

    http://www.cracked.com/article_15759_10-things-christians-atheists-can-and-must-agree-on.html

    About extremists http://www.lairdwilcox.com/news/hoaxerproject.html

    January 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  5. NY Jew

    I hate Atheism.... Being an Atheist mean Anti-American

    January 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      Being an American and being a non-believer have gone hand-in-hand for me. I love living in a country where anyone can believe anything they want without facing persecution from the state. Persecution from other Americans, specifically Christians, is another story... They'll flat-out tell you they hate you and that you don't belong in this country. But that's one of the reasons I'm not a Christian - too much hate coming from the followers of the Prince of Peace.

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

      Well, if you can openly state that you hate atheists, I guess it's ok to state that I hate New York jews.

      Oh, but wait, that's being anti-Semitic.....forgot about that double-standard you like to hide behind.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  6. Grog Says

    Grog no want to go back to dragging knuckles
    and riding dinosaurs,
    too painfull.

    January 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  7. Maaaaaa

    I love when Atheists gets mad and I love when they get ignored 😀 Go to church your losers

    January 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Grog Says

      Grog would choose athiest every day of week,
      and twice on sundays.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      No thanks. Too many people in church are just plain mean. I prefer to avoid mean people, but thank for the invitation!

      January 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Bill

      and i love it when you capitalize atheists as a proper noun. too bad we don't do the same for christians. evolve and with your hairy-backed friends, try to clamor for a place higher on the food chain. loser. : )

      January 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  8. Sheikh Abdul bin Bari bin Tari bin Jaari bin Maari

    The whole crux of the matter is, Islam is growing very rapidly ....and ....OIL...and ....Israel.....

    January 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      atheism much faster. That's good news.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  9. Dave

    Rick Santorum not crying after defeat in 2006? The $1.6 "earned" during 2010-2011 must have eased this pain. Get with it America, recognize him as a fraud and phony that he really is! I would love to know what kind of health care he uses for himself and his large family, the size of his Federal pension, or why the chicken-hawk never served in the military. Rick, thanks for the reminder why PA sent you packing in 2006 by a record electoral margin!

    January 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • What ?

      Exactly. Another fat cat Washington guy, who DIDN'T serve in the military, who wants to start a war. They will never nominate someone who LOST his last election, and plays with dead babies.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • galespoint

      Agreed, Santoram would fit the description of a false Prophet, proclaiming Jesus as he aserts to bomb those who oppose him. As well as Obama who continues to deny habeus corpus to all those fighting for their own freedom he bombs more countries then his fellow christian george bush. Anyone who claims to be christian and imposes warfare as a solution, is misrepresenting anything Christ like. He sacrificed his life for us. Nobody above has sacrificed anything for their fellow man. They lie and decieve to further the goal of their masters.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  10. Obama talks about Jesus and sing Christmas

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKNDVwYXk4A&w=640&h=360]

    January 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  11. Greg

    I wish Santorum's mom had used contraception.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Greg

      You said: "I wish Santorum's mom had used contraception."

      The problem is, there are a lot of "Santorums". We must fight to keep these religious nuts out of office.

      Cheers!

      January 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Grog Says

      Grog be right back, need to go Santorum.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Bill

      i agree with David Johnson. we have to be vigilant in keeping these whack jobs out of office. Frankly, i'm sick of religion. it has no place in an evolved society. Personal spiritualities are one thing. Whatever gets you through the day. But organizing a group's individual spiritualities collectively as a religion and using that as a political force is nothing short of fascism. If the collective Judeo-Christians become the ruling body with ONLY their religion as the defining standard for rule, we are lost as a species.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  12. NY Jew

    Why can't Atheists become presidents? Because they are uneducated, silly, psycho, were raised terrible, not healthy, hang out with bad friends, believes in devil and act like maniacs. Atheism is worse than cancer in our society.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Greg

      Hey troll, why don't you do some reading? Research has shown that atheists have a higher level of education AND intelligence than people who adhere to a religious ideology. Plus we're better looking.

      But nice try.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • bnb42

      Science builds airplanes
      Religion flys them into buildings......

      January 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Bill

      your argument would have more meaning if you could actually phrase it with correct grammar. As it stands, you leave yourself standing alone in a little corner which has its boundaries drawn with hate and ignorance. perhaps before you call someone uneducated, you should take an educated stance first. : )

      January 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • bnb42

      Flies*

      Bad spellers of the world UNTIE!..

      January 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Zen

      Hey, Jew, how was Sabbath yesterday? How many Palestinians women and children did you kill ?

      January 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Grog Says

      NY Jew

      Why can't REPUBLICANS become presidents? Because they are uneducated, silly, psycho, were raised terrible, not healthy, hang out with bad friends, believes in devil and act like maniacs. Atheism is worse than cancer in our society.

      Fixed that for ya.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  13. Darfur

    I am an agnostic but I disapprove the fact that Judeo-Christians demonize Muslims whereas violence is clearly denoted in the Xtian-Jewish scriptures and religious texts.
    ...hmmm.... maybe the reason could be that most Muslims are non-Whites....

    January 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      interesting comment. We know repubs don't like blacks

      January 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  14. Bill

    This creature scares me in his blatant disregard for freedoms. he wants to turn back the clock to a time when man walked on his knuckles and was afraid of the sun god. what an utter waste of space. if the american people elect him (and i'm sure they won't because i do believe they have some common sense still left in them somewhere), there will be blatant and widespread disregard for his leadership and the office of the President in general across the country.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  15. Greg

    I wonder what they will say is "god's plan" when he fails to get the Republican nomination? These people are idiots.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  16. David Johnson

    I think contraceptives are necessary. In case you haven't noticed, the countries with huge populations, have a very low standard of living.

    The answer to abortion is to give women options. Not to make it criminal to remove a clump of cells.

    Santorum won't be president. The Pope will run our country. How about that Evangelicals? You wanna be subject to the Pope?

    Cheers!

    January 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  17. michael

    God, my prayer: "please remove Santorum from this Earth. Lessons learned indicate we don't need another Hitler and mis-guided values."

    January 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • be careful

      As evil and atheistic as Hitler was he also had intelligence. Santorum can't be a Hitler.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @michael

      You said: "God, my prayer: "please remove Santorum from this Earth. Lessons learned indicate we don't need another Hitler and mis-guided values."

      It is times like this, that I wish prayer worked.

      Cheers!

      January 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  18. Greg

    These people should not be allowed to procreate. Their blind faith in an imaginary being will allow them to perform and defend unspeakable acts of cruelty.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • just wondering

      Like Stalin, Hitler or Pol pot?

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

      Hitler was catholic and referenced religion extensively in his writings and speeches.

      Stalin and Pol Pot never committed atrocities in the name of atheism – it was a by-product of their ideology.

      Just thought I'd help you learn these simple facts before you repeat these old, tired lies again. You're welcome.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • nympha

      So, somehow, your twisted logic says that saving unborn children is an evil act? I'm not sure what world you come from, but this world rarely has a Christian doing evil/unspeakable cruel acts.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Greg

      @nympha

      "but this world rarely has a Christian doing evil/unspeakable cruel acts"

      Thank you for that laugh – I'm still pulling myself off the floor!!

      Oh, just so you know: Hitler was a Catholic. Just sayin.....

      January 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Bill

      nympha's comment is outrageous in its ignorance. the crusades? the inquisition? christians, i believe.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      nympha, just right off the cuff here – ever hear of the pedophile priest problem? I could come up with a few thousand more examples if needed.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Clarify

      nympha is correct...
      Htlr made up his own religion. Historians agree on this. He was not ca tholic/chr istian. Just a very evil person.
      The cru sades were originally political in nature and not very different from our involvement in the middle east today.
      No chr istian condones the behavior of those priests who sinned. There are many, many non-believers who engage in such acts every day but it is only the believers who really mess up that are put to the fire.
      If you can explain away Sta lin and Pol Pot in avoidance, then all atheists should be allowed to do unspeakable acts with no consequence (according to your criteria).

      January 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      nympha is not correct in any sense. Just look at the number of christards in jail opposed to the number of any other belief or disbelief system. The Salem Witch trials were all christard based also; as was the Scopes Monkey trial, as was Galileo's 9 years of house arrest. Most wars are based on belief...you will not find a disbeliever starting a war over who has the right god and who doesn't...only believers do that garbage.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  19. 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 and sugar coat Christianity.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  20. Bla

    I hate religion. That includes atheism.

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

      Atheism is not a religion.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Holy Cow!!

      Atheism is NON religion. People are so indoctrinated that they cannot accept/understand NOT believing in a religion.

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

      I hate ignorant people who think atheism is a religion.

      January 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • bnb42

      If Atheism is a religion... than perfectly healthy is an illness!

      January 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Most atheist types don't even know what atheism is.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Grog Says

      Grog hate bla..............

      January 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Bill

      atheism |ˈāTHēˌizəm|
      noun
      disbelief in the existence of God or gods.
      ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from French athéisme, from Greek atheos, from a- ‘without’ + theos ‘god.’

      January 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Greg

      @An inconvenient truth

      Most people who go to church won't admit they're really atheists.

      January 8, 2012 at 2:28 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.