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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. Richard Braswell

    Here's your sign Rick..

    "It may be a blessing in disguise. ... Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. Haitians were originally under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal. Ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other." –Pat Robertson, on the earthquake in Haiti that destroyed the capital and killed tens of thousands of people, Jan. 13, 2010

    Call Pat.....

    January 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

      that is toooo funny. Stupid religious lies of fear..

      As I've always said- without fear, religion couldn't survive. Deny it's fear, you could be the next terrorist.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • herbie, shut up

      here's your sign: you fail.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • newsreel

      Just wondering, you sounded polite, intelligent and sincere on your first question, that's why i responded. On subsequent replies, I only detected desperation. I am disappointed....and even more persuaded that religious are weak, irrational, not wanting to reasoning at all, just pure, simple, lazy belief.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  2. rmax419

    RICK SANTORUM DOESN'T HAVE THE AURA OF A PRESIDENT, MORE OF A PASTOR. What this country need is more of a leader and a manager. One who can work on both parties and come up with solutions. An extreme right leader will put this country into a lockup. Just like what is happening to Obama. No leadership and no compromise by the other party. MItt has the best credentials, in terms of leadership and management skills. More so, with his moral values, considering he is an LDS.

    January 8, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • be

      I think Romney is probably the best of the republican options.....unfortunately I fear that he too may be a victim of his dogma. He seems more balanced than most, but he hasn't convinced me that he has an open mind that would look at the logic rather than just the dogma with which he has been raised and indoctrinated.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  3. fsmgroupie

    I prayed to god to change the meaning of santorum's name but when I googled his name it still says"the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byprodut of an-al s-ex".
    prayer changed nothing once again

    January 8, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • GodPot

      Unless there are more people praying that that definition remains on Google since it more accurately depicts this religious buffoon's message splashing from his mouth.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer is the iron in the soul of the nation

    January 8, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Since posts fly by so quickly, I missed any answer you may have posed about the spectacular failure of prayer when it comes to healing. Did you ever look into the Followers of Christ church? Did you read about all those children who died from easily cured illnesses because their parents chose to pray instead of taking their child to a doctor? If prayers actually works, why are so many children dead?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      I wasn't even aware that souls needed ironing. I think mine must be polyester, and I'm thankful polyester don't need pressin.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      As for evidence of the efficacy of prayer, Duke University carried out one of the most extensive tests – it showed no effect.

      http://www.dukehealth.org/health_library/news/9136

      January 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • guest20

      Keep your religion to yourself!

      January 8, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • just sayin

      If the children of God keep silent the very rocks will cry out. Pray on bro.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • newsreel

      Atheism opens the mind. Prayers close it to a rigid (unproven, fake) ideology.
      Prayers have also been said for the crusades, the inquisition, and by the 9/11 bombers. So prayers in itself can be ralxing for you, but also deadly for others. Beware of the double edge before praising it, you are actually putting your religion down.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • just wondering

      i have never read a prayer said for the crusades the inquisition or 9/11 could you post them , this is the second time i have asked? You aren't just making up stuff to look impressive are you?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • herbie, shut up

      do it. shut up.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Bob

      "Just sayin", more typically, it's the "children of god" throwing the rocks, not the rocks weeping. You must have been hiding under a big rock, to not know that.

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

      January 8, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Rod from Indy

      Only to those who believe in such a thing. To the rest of us, it is strictly something that belongs in church – or at home. Religion has NO place in government.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      The quality of True prayer is not strained
      Prayer offers nourishment, health and life
      Prayer is communication with God
      God leads the faithful in all Truth
      With God is perfection
      With man is error
      Knowing God is knowing and acting on Truth
      Prayer changes things

      January 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • newsreel

      should have said: the one carrying out crusades, inquisition, 9/11 bombing also said their prayers during their "benevolent" operation. Prayers are good for believers, deeadly for the one receiving it. Beware.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • herbie, shut up

      you fail. shut up.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @just wondering, are you making the claim that there were no such prayers? That these religious men did not pray about their actions or to bless them?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • just wondering

      So bottom line newsreel you are just assuming that there were prayers . No actual evidence just your own pet theory with nothing to back it up but your own ideas. You really have no truthful knowledge of any of those events do you?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Merc

      I don't want your religion in a public office any more than you want my science being taught in your church. End of story.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @just wondering, I just want to get you on the record with this, so I'll ask again.... are you denying that such prayers were ever made, or do you yourself believe they were made?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • just sayin

      Why not bring science to Church? God gave science to mankind in the first place. Who do you think invented science?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • just wondering

      I am saying if you have knowledge of such prayers produce them or find other substance to your argument.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @just wondering, You either believe it, or you don't... Now you just sound like you're trying to slip out of a comfortable position by refusing to answer.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • newsreel

      The crusaders certainly received their blessings before going. The inquisitors certainly said their prayers before bed, after a productive day of torturing. The 9/11 bombers shouted their prayers before dying. Denying these is just childish, dishonest, unworthy of my discussions. Are religious all this bad when they are out of arrguments ?

      January 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • just wondering

      The guy posted a statement, let him produce the evidence to back it up. That is not a dodge or an unreasonable request.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • just wondering

      Newsreel you are still just assuming, you post your own personal opinion as evidence? It appears you really don't have a clue as to what you are talking about. You are a fraud.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Just sayin:

      "On the home front, all Christians were called to support the Crusades through prayer, fasting, and alms." http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=4461

      ...as if you are truly basing any of your beliefs on evidence.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @just wondering, As Newsreel says, it's dishonest and childish to make a post challenging something that you believe yourself to be true. For the record, we know that the a.ttackers on 9/11 said "A.llahu A.kbar" which is the Takbīr prayer. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/last-words-to-hijackers-wear-clean-clothes-and-seek-gods-forgiveness-671224.html

      January 8, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • newsreel

      Just wondering, you sounded polite, intelligent and sincere on your first question, that's why i responded. On subsequent replies, I only detected desperation. I am disappointed....and even more persuaded that religious are weak, irrational, not wanting to reasoning at all, just simple, lazy belief that does not requires thinking. Thanks for the confirmation.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Mortalc01l

      Prayer does NOTHING... Here's the proof:

      Of all the millions of people that have lost a limb, be it a leg or an arm... with all their prayers, with all the prayers of their friends, families, neighbors.... not ONCE in the history of Christendom has any ONE of those people EVER spontaneously regrown a limb! NEVER!

      Since the Christians think that God is all powerful and that prayers can heal anything, why do prayers NOT WORK for those that have lost a limb? Does God hate amputees? Does he not listen to their fervent prayer? Does he favor those with the Flu, or those who are Quarterbacks for the Denver Broncos? Is God more interested in helping someone win a football game rather than healing a good person and making their limbs whole again?

      If prayer WORKED, then true believers WOULD regrow their missing limbs on occasion... God if he exists WOULD at some point in the history of this planet have regrown a deserving Christian's leg, arm or foot... But it has NEVER happened...

      January 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  5. GodPot

    “The problems currently afflicting us reflect an impoverishment of the soul more than the pocketbook,” Santorum has said.

    Why aren't more people reacting to this statement like they would if he had said "The problem currently afflicting our school children is a rampant outbreak of cooties, we've just got to keep the boy's and girl's apart!"? There is more evidence to support the existence of cooties than of the existence of a soul, so why are some thinking of electing the president based on how he views the inner intangible feelings of America.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  6. TheRonin

    All i have to say is that everyone should BOOOOOOOOOOOOO this man. Last thing any country needs is a religious wack job running it.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  7. DKM

    people should be very scared about this religious nutcase who thinks his way is the best way....maybe he should tie a knot in it or put a plug in his wife's yahoo to stop breeding...7 kids...these people should be charges for destroying the earth because of overpopulation.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Mal

      Well in all honesty I don't see how having a lot of kids makes him a bad guy. After all, he clearly has a loving family and the financial resources to ensure that they live a comfortable life.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • jespo

      I wonder what his wife really thinks of living in a household where her daughters have no civil rights to their own bodies, nor she for that matter....might explain 7 kids and no tubes tied, or birth control....heck, she's still young enough to have 2 or 3 more and wouldn't have a say into the matter becasue she has to obey her husband.....wonderful little family there....

      January 8, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  8. TheRonin

    All i have to say is that everyone should BOOOOOOOOOOOOO this man. Last thing any country needs is a relgious wack job running it.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  9. Carl W. Goss

    There's no religious fanatic worse than a "devoutly religious" one. Santorum and his pietistic nonsense! The quicker he's defeated, the better.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Ole Grandad

      Carl drinks hot monky jis m.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • BNB42

      Somehow I think 'Ole GrandDad has the maturity level of a 13 year old boy.....

      January 8, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  10. Mal

    To all of you touting that freedom of religion means that religions should have no place in politics I don't think that is the case. Religious freedom allows for people to believe whatever they want and to let that effect their political views however they very well please. The point of democracy is to allow the people to choose how much of these views (among other things) we want to accept as law and policy. Don't like Santorum because of his religious views? don't vote for him, but don't expect everyone else to think like you.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • TheRonin

      He can run but anyone with a brain cell is not letting this candidate into office, its almost as bad as voting for Rush Limbaugh.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • newsreel

      And that is exactly what this article is doing. Letting the public know his agenda. By the response we've seen so far, you probably have your own conclusion by now. Yes, he is free to believe, and even run for office with his ideas. Let the public decide. Even in religiouos Iowa, the answer was a weak no, on to NH, and let see how big the no is. Thanks CNN, for calling a spade a spade, so the public knows, and vote accordingly 🙂

      January 8, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • GodPot

      Religious freedom means no establishment of religion, regardless of the majority. You can have 99% of American's vote for establishing Christianity as our national religion but you will still have to dismantle our founders constltution to do it and thus change us into another country, a Christian version of Iran. I don't mind elected official allowing the bible to guide their moral decision making, I don't see how anyone could who was raised with those moral foundations. But when you cross the line and begin supporting law making forcing your religion on others or curbing the rights of another religion, that is where it has to stop. How do you force it on others you sheepishly ask along with many Christian zealots. If my children are forced to observe holidays, prayers, intelligent design theory and my tax dollars are paying for it from a public school, that is forcing it on others. When the majority block the rights of two people who decide to dedicate their lives to each other in marriage based on their religions moral code, that is forcing your religion on others. When there is violent debate from the religion not only on abortion but the morning after pill and even condoms because they have personal moral objections, that is forcing your religion on others. No matter how many of you agree on something, to establish religious law you will have to burn the constltution and the founders ideals to do it, which would be about the most un-American thing I can think of and should be considered as treason.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • jespo

      Do away with civil, women's, and human rights in this country and what do you get?......Christian America/Islamic Whatever....different religion, same outcome....this is why we can't have an evangelical kooky dooky president like Sansscr-otum...

      January 8, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  11. sheil

    Why do these fundamentalist Christians always feel they need to shove their religious ideology at everyone else. They claim their rights have been violated which NEVER has been true. They have always been free to pray and play any way they wanted too. America has many different religions and they should not be made to believe any one way and the founding fathers always intended for their to be a separation of Church and State. You only have to go back to England during the early years to understand why they felt this way. Santorum has a right to believe whatever he wants too he just doesn't have to be so small as to make everyone believe in one God.....His! America doesn't want to be Catholic or Fundamentalist! We just want to be Free to Choose our own path! If Santorum gets his way there will also be NO BIRTH CONTROL. Don't doubt it for a minute.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Ole Grandad

      Shut up nig ger.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  12. j mann

    as long as he believes in the imaginary old man in the sky, and hears voices that tell him the old man wants him to be president, he is my choice.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Ole Grandad

      Shut up nig ger lover.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • herbie, shut up

      shut up, herbie

      January 8, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  13. Conrad Miller

    And the Founding Fathers roll in their graves. "Separation of church and state" is the hallmark of our republic. Fanatics of any stripe need not apply.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Goober Gobblin Fool

      Shut up your Ho~Mo mouth.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      Well stand aside Conrad, Tom Jefferson must be rolling at a fast paced 78 rpm because not only is Rick in it, he is a contender.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Is he really a contender? Or is that just wishful thinking by a Const.itution-hater?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      Check the results from Iowa, a close second. Sounds like a contender to me. Doesn't reflect on hating the const itution, it is just the electoral results,which one could say is the const itutional process at work. You do agree with the electoral process don't you?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Close second in Iowa doesn't mean national contender. It just means he didn't win in Iowa. Let's wait until a few more voters in a few more states chime in before declaring him a contender.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  14. Henry

    Ted Kennedy was a drunken lying fool who was also a murderer.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • herbie, shut up

      shut it, herbie

      January 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  15. mama2esb

    I left the Catholic Church because of deep intolerance towards others and their belief systems. In Catholicism, if you do not agree with the teachings word for word, you are considered a disobedient sinner. And you are not allowed to question or express any concerns over these teachings, especially in front of your children. You are building up a wall of belief for them, and if you disagree with anything, you are tearing down that wall and destroying your children. Our family has since joined a Non-Denominational Church and are much happier and closer to God. If Rick Santorum truly adheres to the Catholic teachings and rules, I will not vote for him as President. I prefer my politicians be somewhat tolerant and open-minded.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Henry

      You are goin to hell anyway.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • GodPot

      And Henry is going to Narnia if he doesn't shape up...

      January 8, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Henry

      Drink my pee.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • mama2esb

      I may very well end up in Hell. Better than having Santorum as President though.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • tom

      Henry, no one can do that until you take your penis out of your mouth

      January 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • BADGUY

      There is NO place for Religion in American politics. If we let it in we become a "Theocracy". People's civil rights come before ANY dogma of ANY religion, Muslim, Christian, Morman, etc. If Santorum plans to push Catholic Dogma as President, he will never win (Presidency or a 2nd Senate seat).

      January 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • newsreel

      Thanks Henry, for showing us the benevolent, peaceful way of catholics. You confirmed why ppl are leaving your faith. Keep it up, we want to see more how enraged and radical catholics are 🙂

      January 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      U are wise mama2esb.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  16. Henry

    RFK like suckin on MLKs nig ger D!CK.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  17. Henry

    JFK was just a phuckin nig ger lover.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • BNB42

      For a troll you seem to have a lot of hate.....

      January 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  18. _________________

    Any one of the Republican candidates could do a better job than Barack Obozo.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do you often suffer from delusional thinking?

      January 8, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • _________________

      Do you often go around identifying yourself as Tom Tom the Piper's Son?

      January 8, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • LinCA

      @_________________

      You said, "Any one of the Republican candidates could do a better job than Barack Obozo."
      Wrong. Even a cardboard cutout of Obama will do a better job than any of the Republicans.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Bob

      True. Although Romney is so bland and inactive that he could actually be mistaken for cardboard.

      January 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Given the improving economy and the end of our active participation in wars, Obama could beat any of the current GOP hopefuls with both hands tied behind his back.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  19. Mr Chihuahua

    "Santorum" sounds like a prison planet in a sci-fi movie lol! "Citizen KY-6969, you have violated Directive 2-B of the People's Code! You are hereby sentenced to 200 years hard labor! In the zorkonium mines on Santorum!!!" lol!

    January 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      lol, excellent, Mr Chihuahua!

      January 8, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  20. Carlin123

    Santorum is as dangerous as the religious fanatics he claims to hate.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:34 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.