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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. Tridentine

    Lets see every time gay marriage has gone on the ballot it gets beat.Christianity is what our laws are based on.Get over it.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Nare

      There are plenty of Christians that support gay marriage. The appropriate framing for the argument is gays vs. bigots.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • rlowens1

      The one silver lining to our current situation is that it cannot be blamed on atheists – they aren't allowed to hold public office in the US because adults with imaginary friends won't let them. Perhaps, the children should step aside and let the real grown ups take over?

      January 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • be

      Actually it is amazing the number of states that have voted in favor of gay marriage. Rarely have human rights (such as the end of slavery, women's vote, end of segregation) come for popular vote. Civil rights have historically been legislated.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, our laws are NOT based on any religious principles. They are based on the preservation of personal freedoms and protection of individual rights.

      Take a history class, you moron.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Every time slavery was on the ballot, was it defeated? Guess what? There are provisions in our Consti tution that prevent the tyranny of the majority where civil rights are concerned.

      Go back to class. Try to be sober this time.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  2. rlowens1

    Why must we constantly be on our guard against adults with imaginary friends trying to take over the world?

    January 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • bill

      god is not the problem – republicans are the problem. he does not ask for a vote or anyone to speak in his stead to judge others and impose their interpretation of his will...

      January 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • rlowens1

      Bill, of course, "God" is not the problem. How can something that does not exist be a problem?

      You see, "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 4:17 pm |
    • bill

      rlowens1 – while i disagree with you of gods existence, i respect your right to hold that belief. i would hope you would cosider the same for me and others.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  3. ja-coffalotte

    Hahahahahahhahahahhahaa, what a joker, does anybody really believe that fairytale about immaculate conception? Sorry Joseph, somebody hit that.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Yeah...Matthew's twisting of Isaiah's passage is one of the biggest and most telling lies in the entire Bible. The entire divinity of Jesus crumbles when that is exposed. All of Christianity becomes bogus without a virgin birth scenario. But the believers will never see or admit it.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  4. The Central Scrutinizer

    More fun with the Bible in the right friggin' place!

    God tells Moses and Aaron to smite the
    river and turn it into blood. This is the first of the famous 10 plagues
    of Egypt. Unfortunately, the magicians know this trick too, and they do
    so with their enchantments. Shucks! Just how the river could be turned
    to blood by the Egyptian sorcerers after it had been turned to blood by
    Moses and Aaron is not explained. 7:17-24

    The second plague is frogs. Frogs covered the land. They were all over
    the beds and filled the ovens. But the Egyptian magicians did this trick
    too. (Did they wait until the frogs cleared out from the last
    performance before doing it again?) After the frog making contest was
    declared a draw, all the frogs died and "they gathered them together
    upon heaps; and the land stank." I bet. But at least it was all for the
    greater glory of God. 8:2-7

    Plague #3 is lice in man and beast. This is the first trick that the
    magicians couldn't do. After this the magicians were convinced that
    Moses and Aaron's plagues were done by "the finger of God," and they
    gave up trying to match the remaining seven plagues. I guess lice are
    harder to make than frogs. 8:17-19

    The fourth plague is swarms of flies, continuing the frogs and lice
    theme. 8:21

    The fifth plague: all cattle in Egypt die. 9:6
    But a little later (9:19-20, 12:29), God kills them again a couple more
    times.
    The sixth plague: boils and blains upon man and beast.9:9-12

    The seventh plague is hail. "And the hail smote throughout the land of
    Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast." 9:22-25

    Eighth plague: locusts that are so thick that they "covered the face of
    the whole earth." (Even over Antarctica?) 10:4-5

    Ninth plague: three days of darkness. The darkness was so this that the
    Egyptians couldn't even see each other. But the darkness knew how to
    avoid the Israelites, and so "all the children of Israel had light in
    their dwellings." 10:21-23

    The Egyptians chased after the Israelites with "all Pharaoh's horses."
    But according to Ex.9:3-6 there wouldn't have been any horses, since God
    killed them all in "a very grievous murrain." 14:23

    God removes the wheels from the Egyptians' chariots. 14:25

    God divided the sea with a "blast of [his] nostrils." 15:8

    God stands on a rock and tells Moses to hit the rock. Then water comes
    out of it for the people to drink. God's such a clever guy! 17:6

    As long as Moses the magician keeps his hand up, the Israelites are
    successful in battle, but the second his hand falls, they start getting
    beat. So when Moses' arm gets tired, Aaron props it up so that the
    Amalakites get slaughtered. 17:11-12

    "The Lord has sworn [God swears!] that the Lord will have war with
    Amalek from generation to generation." So God is still fighting Amalek.
    I hope Moses can still keep his hand up. 17:14-16

    God tells the priests not to go up the steps to the altar "that thy
    nakedness not be discovered thereon." (Skirts on stairs are a problem.)
    20:26

    "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in a kid in his mother's milk." 23:19

    God has hornets that bite and kill people.23:27-28

    God has feet.24:10

    Six chapters are wasted on divine instructions for making tables,
    candlesticks, snuffers, etc. 25 – 30
    God decrees that priestly garments, girdles, and bonnets shall be made
    "for glory and beauty." 28:2, 20, 40
    Aaron must where a bell whenever he enters "the holy place" or God will
    kill him. 28:34-35

    God gives instructions for making priestly breeches. "And thou shalt
    make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even
    unto the thighs shall they reach." 28:42

    God instructs the priests to burn the dung of bullocks outside the camp
    as a sin offering. 29:14

    God tells Moses to kill a ram and put the blood on the tip of Aaron's
    right ear, and on his right thumb, and on his right big toe, and then
    sprinkle the blood around the altar. Finally, sprinkle some on Aaron and
    his sons and on their garments. This will make them "hallowed." 29:20-21

    God tells Aaron and his sons to take the rump, fat, caul, kidneys, and
    right shoulder of the ram and add a loaf of bread or two, and a wafer of
    unleavened bread. Then they put the whole mess in the hands of Aaron and
    his sons and they wave them before the Lord. This is a wave offering.
    29:22-24

    And whoever uses God's favorite perfume will be exiled. 30:37-38

    God's finger. 31:18

    Although God is too shy to let Moses see his face, he does permit a peek
    at his "back parts." (The divine mooning) 33:23

    God's name is Jealous. 34:14

    January 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  5. Tridentine

    It must be that love thy neighbor as thyself thing that really bothers those that try to bash the church.

    January 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • rlowens1

      No, it's the lies, the self-righteous, sanctimonious judgment, and the hypocrisy that bother me.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  6. Allen W.

    "We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate." Guess who said that, Mr. Santorum? Yup, your Republican's god, Ronald Reagan.

    January 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  7. Iqbal Khan

    A Betrayal of the Founders

    By Ray McGovern

    We have forgotten that the Founders risked everything for liberty, not for "safety"? http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30166.htm

    January 8, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  8. Steve

    Santorum is what you get when you let fundamental christendom determine the width of the gate.

    January 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  9. lynn

    In Arkansas a family of 7 kids is just starting. With 21 kids a family in Arkansas has (lost 2) all they use women for is breeding. The Catholic church even realizes birth control will be practiced, otherwise the world would be crushed by all those kids, there's no jobs for the ones graduating college now. Oh sorry, if the Repubs win there will be jobs for 100% of the citizens.

    January 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  10. NoGr8rH8r

    I can't wait to NOT VOTE FOR Santorum.

    January 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  11. Bob

    A choice quote 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 3:45 pm |
  12. Portart

    This country needs a pro-life president, We need to go back to God...more than 50 million aborted babies is just wrong...every life has to be respected.." Thou shalt not kill " says The Lord...

    January 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • BNB42

      But doesn't he also say....

      If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son ... Then shall his father and his mother ... bring him out unto the elders of his city ... And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die.
      - Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (AV)

      Isn't this a contradiction?

      January 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Bob

      According to the bible, god frequently ordered killing, and even raping of family members, and himself did genocide. You are on worse than shaky ground trying to push the bible, that evil book, as any form of a moral standard, since it is so brutal and so self-contadictory, and the Christian god is, according to the bible, such a murderous bastard.

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

      January 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Bob

      Thanks, BNB42. Not surprising that the content of our posts overlaps.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Shut up, and drink the koolaide. Please

      January 8, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Robert

      This planet is over crowded with people. A hundred million less or whatever is a good thing for you and everyone else.
      Who's to say those aborted babies wont be born to someone else at another time. That's what many believe in Eastern religions. Who knows for sure? I know for sure that you don't know.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  13. Ronald

    I'm Catholic but would never vote for a Republican. I agree with separation of church and state, that is very important. I disagree with candidates that use religion to push their agenda and garner votes. As a Catholic he should know better. Jesus said to spread the Gospel and love your neighbor, clothe the naked and care for the sick, all things that the GOP/Tea Party don't agree with if you look at what they push.

    January 8, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Portart

      Matthew 22:21 Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

      January 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  14. Micheal Deal

    It continues to amaze me that folks that call themselves Christian are willing to vote for a Catholic. You can't be Catholic and Christian. Catholics follow a priesthood of perverts.

    January 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Kay

      As an atheist, even I know your comment is pure nonsense.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Mike

      No True Scotsmen fallacy.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Janet

      Michael Deal, thank you for the lesson in intolerance and ignorance towards the Church. Catholic, translated means "universal" which means it's for everyone. When you say you're a Christian, you are a follower of Christ. I learned that from a priest, and not some tough guy on the Internet. I suggest if you have a question about Catholocism, I suggest you ask a priest and not the voices in your head. Monsters lurk everywhere. I went to a public school and they were there.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Thomas

      Wow. Just....just....wow. I'm no defender of Catholic priests or Christian / GOP hypocrisy in general, but you cannot be ignorant of the fact that Catholicism is far and away the largest sect of Christianity. All of the other denominations combined (Protestants, Anglicans, Baptists, Snake Handlers, Lutherans, Mormons, Ku Klux Klansmen) do not even come close to rivaling the numbers of Catholics out there.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Natalia

      Michael,
      With all do respect, please educate yourself before sending out comments such as this. Your lack of knowledge between the definition of Christianity and Catholicism is very obvious.

      January 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's "all due respect".

      January 8, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  15. J-Ex

    Wow, I'm impressed at how well balanced this story was....very refreshing CNN

    January 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  16. government spy

    What happened to the concept of free will in Christianity?
    If God felt that He didn't need to decide everything for mankind, and that people deserved to make choices for themselves, why do so many Christians feel the need to take those choices away and decide things for the rest of us? Do they feel they know what is best for me more than their God does?

    January 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      More fun with the Bible!

      God tells Moses and Aaron to smite the
      river and turn it into blood. This is the first of the famous 10 plagues
      of Egypt. Unfortunately, the magicians know this trick too, and they do
      so with their enchantments. Shucks! Just how the river could be turned
      to blood by the Egyptian sorcerers after it had been turned to blood by
      Moses and Aaron is not explained. 7:17-24

      The second plague is frogs. Frogs covered the land. They were all over
      the beds and filled the ovens. But the Egyptian magicians did this trick
      too. (Did they wait until the frogs cleared out from the last
      performance before doing it again?) After the frog making contest was
      declared a draw, all the frogs died and "they gathered them together
      upon heaps; and the land stank." I bet. But at least it was all for the
      greater glory of God. 8:2-7

      Plague #3 is lice in man and beast. This is the first trick that the
      magicians couldn't do. After this the magicians were convinced that
      Moses and Aaron's plagues were done by "the finger of God," and they
      gave up trying to match the remaining seven plagues. I guess lice are
      harder to make than frogs. 8:17-19

      The fourth plague is swarms of flies, continuing the frogs and lice
      theme. 8:21

      The fifth plague: all cattle in Egypt die. 9:6
      But a little later (9:19-20, 12:29), God kills them again a couple more
      times.
      The sixth plague: boils and blains upon man and beast.9:9-12

      The seventh plague is hail. "And the hail smote throughout the land of
      Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast." 9:22-25

      Eighth plague: locusts that are so thick that they "covered the face of
      the whole earth." (Even over Antarctica?) 10:4-5

      Ninth plague: three days of darkness. The darkness was so this that the
      Egyptians couldn't even see each other. But the darkness knew how to
      avoid the Israelites, and so "all the children of Israel had light in
      their dwellings." 10:21-23

      The Egyptians chased after the Israelites with "all Pharaoh's horses."
      But according to Ex.9:3-6 there wouldn't have been any horses, since God
      killed them all in "a very grievous murrain." 14:23

      God removes the wheels from the Egyptians' chariots. 14:25

      God divided the sea with a "blast of [his] nostrils." 15:8

      God stands on a rock and tells Moses to hit the rock. Then water comes
      out of it for the people to drink. God's such a clever guy! 17:6

      As long as Moses the magician keeps his hand up, the Israelites are
      successful in battle, but the second his hand falls, they start getting
      beat. So when Moses' arm gets tired, Aaron props it up so that the
      Amalakites get slaughtered. 17:11-12

      "The Lord has sworn [God swears!] that the Lord will have war with
      Amalek from generation to generation." So God is still fighting Amalek.
      I hope Moses can still keep his hand up. 17:14-16

      God tells the priests not to go up the steps to the altar "that thy
      nakedness not be discovered thereon." (Skirts on stairs are a problem.)
      20:26

      "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in a kid in his mother's milk." 23:19

      God has hornets that bite and kill people.23:27-28

      God has feet.24:10

      Six chapters are wasted on divine instructions for making tables,
      candlesticks, snuffers, etc. 25 – 30
      God decrees that priestly garments, girdles, and bonnets shall be made
      "for glory and beauty." 28:2, 20, 40
      Aaron must where a bell whenever he enters "the holy place" or God will
      kill him. 28:34-35

      God gives instructions for making priestly breeches. "And thou shalt
      make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even
      unto the thighs shall they reach." 28:42

      God instructs the priests to burn the dung of bullocks outside the camp
      as a sin offering. 29:14

      God tells Moses to kill a ram and put the blood on the tip of Aaron's
      right ear, and on his right thumb, and on his right big toe, and then
      sprinkle the blood around the altar. Finally, sprinkle some on Aaron and
      his sons and on their garments. This will make them "hallowed." 29:20-21

      God tells Aaron and his sons to take the rump, fat, caul, kidneys, and
      right shoulder of the ram and add a loaf of bread or two, and a wafer of
      unleavened bread. Then they put the whole mess in the hands of Aaron and
      his sons and they wave them before the Lord. This is a wave offering.
      29:22-24

      And whoever uses God's favorite perfume will be exiled. 30:37-38

      God's finger. 31:18

      Although God is too shy to let Moses see his face, he does permit a peek
      at his "back parts." (The divine mooning) 33:23

      God's name is Jealous. 34:14

      January 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  17. BNB42

    I was just in a 'quote war' with chrism.... and I came across this gem that I wish Mr Santorum would read:

    Whatever one's religion in his private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Consti.tution and all its parts - including the First Amendment and the strict separation of church and state.
    - John F Kennedy, Interview, Look, March 3, 1959, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

    January 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • SafeJourney

      lol, there were quotes and counter quotes and counter, counter quotes.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • BNB42

      had to use great self control not to use George Carlins......LOL

      January 8, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Bob

      Allow me, Carlin video at that.
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPOfurmrjxo.&w=640&h=360]

      January 8, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Steve

      You're one of those people who listen and remember. I doubt today's candidates would like you much nor is the conservative religious right likely to recruit you.
      I'm befuddled by the politicians who say we need to get governemnt out of peoples lives but want to insert religious beliefs and preferences into government and limit these same lives.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • SafeJourney

      Bob, That is great. As always.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  18. rob

    I'll never understand why Rethuglica¬n, conservati¬ve, right-wing¬, religious fanatics think they can force other normal people to accept their deviant views and lifestyle. They love to tell other people how to live their lives, while their own lives are in shambles. The Christian (esp. Catholic, Mormon, Evangelica¬l, and Southern Baptist) Taliban in this country are going to face a violent wake up call soon if they keep trying to spread their hatred, intolerant views, and intolerant actions on normal Americans. And it is patently unfair that gay Americans and their loved ones should suffer the devastatin¬g effects of discrimina¬tion while the bigots and their loved ones go about their lives as if nothing is wrong. Anyone coming into contact with Rick Santorum, or his loved ones, should take any action possible to harm them.

    January 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  19. Greg

    Chrism sure likes quotes taken out of context.

    I usually find that people who use quotes usually do so because they can't think for themselves.

    January 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  20. JMissal

    If Santorum wins the republican nomination, they are all but guaranteeing a second Obama term.

    January 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Greg

      Let's hope.

      January 8, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's a given. Santorum is no more electable than Donald Trump.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
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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.