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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. awasis

    “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.”

    So it's God's plan for Ricky to be a loser twice.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • Mirosal

      It seems that this "god" is telling a lot of people to run. But, to how many did 'god' say they'll win? The more they say "god told me" .. the more they need to be locked in a padded room wearing a strait-jacket.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:06 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Mirosal: Can we possibly build a big enough room like that to house them all (including Chad; CA; HeavenSent; Chrism; Fred; Rainer; JW)? Seriously if we as Atheists thought we heard voices from some imaginary murderous monster, they would lock us up but in this case they call is christardation....kind of goes hand in hand with the republitards. Oh well, these republitards can fight amongst themselves while Obama looks forward to another term.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Mirosal

      The Republitard party is so fractured that the Demo-cruds are sure to win. It's just like the election of 1912. Taft and T. Roosevelt had the party so split that Wilson creeped in and stole it from them. As far as a "room" for the trools you mentioned .. might I suggest a small island in the Pacific? The U.S. still has many under its jurisdiction, and they'll be far, far away from the mainland, with no internet access 😉

      January 9, 2012 at 6:44 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Mirosal: An island would work...no access to the main land unless they wish to swim amongst the fishies.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:48 am |
  2. NJBob

    Could all these candidates please just shut up about religion and keep their myths to themselves?? They're an embarrassment to themselves and the country.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:06 am |
  3. Ferris Bueller

    We're being given a choice between a Catholic, and Mormon, and Muslim who says he's a Christian... or as we call them back home, two cultists and a Jihadist.

    Got Ron Paul?

    January 9, 2012 at 4:47 am |
    • Cameron Fry

      Ron Paul is over 72 years old and a career politician. It's over for him. Get over it already.

      January 9, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • mcp123

      Ron Paul.... a racist... and a liar. I'm not even black and I know that.

      January 9, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • Primewonk

      Who is the Muslim candidate?

      As far as I know, there isn't one.

      But if there was, so what?

      Or are you saying that Article VI, Section 3 of the Consti tution is no longer valid?

      January 9, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • 0-0

      Gingrich is a Muslim?

      January 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • KL

      Sorry, there weren't any "evangelicals" to run this time, or as we call them back home, redneck trash baptists.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Derek

      His "muslim who says he's a Christian" candidate is aimed at Obama.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Start your day with prayer
    And the word of God
    Pray without ceasing in 2012

    January 9, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • Mirosal

      your record is still stuck in that same groove I see, Is your 'god' omniscient? yes .. or no .... that's ALL you need to answer.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:44 am |
  5. JohnRalph

    Obama's brand of socialism, which is an amalgamation of the Nationalist and Communist varieties despises America.

    Except Islamic America, which is an excellent example of both types since it is a religion that through Sharia Law controls every aspects of one's life. Virtually enslaving the believer.

    National SOCIALIST German WORKERS Party, referred to in English as the NAZI Party (Hitler's socialism for the German 'Teutonic' Race). In reality though no different than the left's socialism.

    Like Stalin, for the white Russians, or Pol Pot, for the Khmer Rouge, or Ho Chi Minh, for the Viet Minh, or Mao, for the Han Chinese.

    Socialist Gods that brought death and misery to tens if not hundreds of millions of humans.

    Let us not forget our SOCIALIST God, Mein Lord God High Führer Obama, for America’s liberal elite, Muslims, OWS and welfare voters on the dole.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • midwestrail

      Delusional nonsense.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:57 am |
    • Gatewall

      You realize that the Nazis were right-wing, and the Communists left, yes?

      January 9, 2012 at 5:44 am |
  6. Gaunt

    Be warned, if Santorum ever gets elected, the first thing curious international leaders will do is google him, and they will then discover what his name really means. Is that what we want as our leader?

    January 9, 2012 at 4:08 am |
  7. Asbackwards

    I don't trust Santorum. He is too radical to lead our country. From what I have seen, I don't think he could pass a psych test get a job as a Border Patrol Agent. He's the type that makes decisions based off emotions without clearly thinking things through. He also seems to hate freedom too.

    January 9, 2012 at 3:16 am |
  8. government cheese

    Liberals are scared to death! LOL

    January 9, 2012 at 2:45 am |
    • ChristineO'Donnell will be drafted at the Republican Convention, because the way things are going, they have nothing to lose by trying a little witchcraft

      Scared to death that conservatives will stop fielding these total nincompoop losers who can be counted on to imploded. Okay, not really scared to death, more like scared a tiny bit . . . no, not scared, but laughing our derrieres off, because conservatives have not fielded anything but freakish jokes instead of real candidates.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • Christine O'Donnell will be drafted at the Republican Convention, because the way things are going, they have nothing to lose by trying a little witchcraft

      Scared to death that conservatives will stop fielding these total faceplant losers who can be counted on to imploded. Okay, not really scared to death, more like scared a tiny bit . . . no, not scared, but laughing our butts off, because conservatives have not fielded anything but freakish jokes instead of real candidates.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:37 am |
    • Mark

      "Government Cheese" LOL were you trying to be clever? Scared? really, is that the pablum they feed you? I am not even an Obama fan any measure – but I'm not blind either, numbers are tilting in his favor, partly because of such a weak field of opponents. Your deluding yourself.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:39 am |
  9. Revjim

    Santorum rails against radical Islam while he preaches radical Christianity. Is there a difference? Our founding fathers recognized that most of our first immigrants came to this country in search of religious freedom. Santorum in his demand to return to the ideology of our founders should remember. He could be the leader of America's Taliban.

    January 9, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • Rhonda

      Radical Islam is based on violence and hatred. There is nothing radical about Catholicism.

      January 9, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • Sophia

      huh? are you drunk? or have you even been educated the difference bet practicing radical Islam and practicing the tenets of Catholicism? Look at the results! Radical Islam causes death and destruction. Practicing Catholics builds hospitals, orphanages, free feeding programs etc. There is nothing violent in practicing the true tenets of the Catholic faith! So your comparing him to the Muslim taliban shows how IGNORANT or rather IDIOTIC you can be.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:22 am |
    • Mark

      Perhaps the use of the term American Taliban is throwing off the real argument. The separation of church and state is clear and unambiguous. And Rick wants to reverse that, he has stated as much that he wants the law of the land defined by biblical law – and for that I will not vote for him.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:43 am |
    • Rick

      Sophia: Don't forget the part about harboring pedohiles

      January 9, 2012 at 5:42 am |
  10. Patricksday

    The Conservatives do all they can to save the child from Abortion, but when it grows up in terrible poverty, they have no problem putting them to Death on Death Row. Pro-Life or Pro-Death? I know they need those poor children to grow up and work in their McDonald's, WallMart, the US Armed Services, in nursing homes and hospitals dumping bed pans and cleaning up their elderly, or to work as Nanny's or Gardners for slave wages.

    January 9, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • redhaven14

      You do realize that one of the main ideas behind Christianity (and I'm not saying all Christians are Conservatives, and I'm acknowledging the fact many Christians are hypocrites) is to help those in need? Do you have any idea at all how many Christian groups spend time serving the poor? There are Catholic "Monasteries" set-up in some of the most violent parts of the country, and they do everything they can to serve those in need. So take a second and think about what you're saying and think about the facts.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • JP0

      In my experience, the biggest hypocrites are usually those who proclaim their faith the loudest. It doesn't make much sense to me that the Republicans want to reduce regulation of businesses but increase regulation of what goes on in private bedrooms. I want freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

      January 9, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • CN

      redhaven–yawn. more professions of good acts. the hamas provides for the poor on the gaza strip. are you going to say they are an organization for good.

      lastly, good acts do not prove a religion true. it is a non sequitor. bill gates donates huge amounts of money to charity, that doesn't make atheism "right."

      January 9, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Mark

      Red, by all means Churches have done great things. I will not accept the argument that religion is "bad". But I do not want your religion in my life, in any form. I cannot trust Rick to maintain the separation of church and state.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:46 am |
  11. redhaven14

    Santorum sounds like a true man, not a typical Washington politician. It's hard to say without ever having met him, but from everything I've heard or read about him this seems to be true. He lives his life by following a moral code that many politicians seem to lose sight of. I'm not Catholic, but through my university I've had to learn about Saint Augustine among other religious leaders, and any true follower of Augustine is as good of a man as they come. My professor was an Augustinian monk in his youth, and he is an excellent and inspiring professor. Furthermore, as religious as my professor is, he is far from being a pious fool and certainly not an extremist like Reverend Wright. He's straightforward and honest. From everything I've read and everything I've heard him say, and if he's the same type of man my professor is, I think Santorum is the right man to set Washington straight and getting this country back on its feet.

    January 9, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • redhaven14

      Sorry the English crashed a bit at the end there...

      January 9, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Patricksday

      Too bad he wont make it to election day in November, he is too out of touch with the majority of Americans who arent Dedicated to the Rule of the Catholic Church that has betrayed the children entrusted to these "Holy Men" who scared them for life and ended their connection with God in the process of their Evil Deeds.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Larry L

      Not an extremist? How did the dead baby thing sit with you? You don't see that as extreme?

      Remember, the POTUS has his finger on thousands of nuclear weapons. This is the flake you want with that job?

      January 9, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • redhaven14

      Yeah the whole thing with the Catholic priests is horrible. But you have to realize those corrupt men do not represent all of Christianity, not even close to it considering they were Catholic. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church has never been known for it's integrity, dating back to the Dark Ages. And Santorum is more in touch with America than most of these candidates, do you know anything about his background?

      January 9, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • redhaven14

      That did strike me as being a little bit interesting, but it was his child. Santorum and his family loved the child as much as if it had been born healthy. Where is the crime in that? And you really want the control of the US's military in the hands of a man who attended the services of Reverend Wright?

      January 9, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Mark

      Red, he has had the finger on that button for three years, and last time I checked the sky is not falling; trying to use the old Rev Wright argument failed in 2008 – and it will fail again in 2012. I'm very neutral so far, haven't chosen who I will vote for – but I have no problem voting for him at all. Sorry, but I don't get the hatred and paranoia about him, too many dim witted radio talk hosts.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:51 am |
    • rosestool

      yes, and when his leadership will have failed and our country is not back on its feet, santorum will say "oops, perhaps god have different plans for us".
      catholics ( and christians, and muslims, and jews, etc) found a very convenient excuse for own failure, "it's god's will" they say.
      there is no way i am giving my vote to a person who claims guided by some fairy tale character.

      January 9, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  12. Kebos

    I hope god makes a pllan change and writes Santorum out. Any religious crackpot like him is not welcomed in the Oval Office.

    January 9, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • bajadelmar

      So the xian crackpot limit was one, DUHbya?

      January 9, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  13. ddblah

    Sounds like a compassionate conservative to me, a lot better than those hypocrites.

    January 9, 2012 at 12:05 am |
  14. Matt

    I feel bad for children growing up with nasty atheist parents... they will grow up retarded with no faith, no friends, no culture, no fun holidays and no nothing other than being misrable !

    January 8, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • bajadelmar

      Matt, you might want to grow up and step out of the close-minded xian zealot bizzaro world you're living in and into reality.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Mirosal

      Looks like "Matt" is a typical, ordinary, bigoted, hypocritical by-the-'book' Chris-tard. What was it that the moldy book says about judging people? oh, yea I remember now....

      January 9, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Larry L

      Let's see... My son is a well-paid scientist with a great family, a beautiful home, and an active life of interesting work and exciting travel. The grand kids are well-adjusted and happy, making great grades in a public school while enjoying a diverse variety of friends. I'm financially secure and spend my retired years fishing, hunting, and working to help President Obama get re-elected. We're atheists and seem to adhere more closely to the teachings of Jesus Christ than the religious folks I see making hateful comments to these ads. We are enjoying our lives now – and don't worry about a mythical afterlife where we can experience perpetual bliss while we honor an imaginary diety.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • voodoo4u

      Your ignorance is as profound as your statement is bankrupt, Matt. Obviously, with your venom, you did not grow up and embrace the understanding that faith is about love, compassion and tolerance.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Mark

      Matt, Matt, Matty, oh you angry, bitter, hateful Christian...bad on you, but sadly you DO represent the worst of Christianity and thankfully not the majority.

      January 9, 2012 at 3:54 am |
    • Rick

      Atheists have no morals?

      Tell us about the growing up with parents that tell you that god is angry at you and will roast you forever if you don't play witgh his boy?

      January 9, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • TR6

      @ Matt:” they will grow up retarded with no faith, no friends, no culture, no fun holidays and no nothing other than being misrable !”

      Funny, I was raised by Christian parents and suffered all the afflictions you mentioned until I became an atheist

      January 9, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  15. Fitta

    atheism is disgusting and unhealthy belief..... Jesus: "Love your enemies". Atheists are our enemy.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • bajadelmar

      WWJD ignorant hypocrite???

      January 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Rick

      Fitte: How are atheists the enemy?

      January 9, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • TR6

      @Rick:”Fitte: How are atheists the enemy?”
      In exactly the same way that truth, honesty, reason and logic are the enemies of all religion

      And atheism is not a belief just like bald is not a hair color

      January 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • J.W

      Atheism is a belief it is just not a religion.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  16. Meho

    I love when atheists here complain how bad and terrible and brainwashed Christians are... then next day at work they work with their Christians friends, hang out and eat lunch together 😀

    January 8, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Kebos

      You make no sense. We are all humans first.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Larry L

      So do you have lunch with your atheists friends? Would you expect them to hate you? Don't worry... atheists aren't the people who hate... You good Christians have that practice to yourselves.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • TR6

      “then next day at work they work with their Christians friends, hang out and eat lunch together ”

      Just all part of not discriminating against the mentaly handicapped

      January 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  17. AJ

    I trust someone who does good on his own accord, rather than trust in words in some weird freakish fiction book. Anyone who says "the only thing keeping me from snapping is because of these words in this book" isn't fit to be president.

    January 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  18. Militant Nigra Beast

    Tom Tom a sissy craka! I gots a pipe fo yu, boi!

    January 8, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'll bet. Is it between your thighs and about 1" long?

      January 8, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  19. Reality

    Only for the "newbies":

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Newton Leroy Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    (The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.)

    January 8, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • .........

      hit report abuse on reality bull sh it

      January 9, 2012 at 4:28 am |
  20. Agnes N

    I was at the local mall today here in the Bible Belt and some random people asked me what church I go to... I told them none... They looked wiered on me as if I killed someone :S

    January 8, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't blame them.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • bajadelmar

      Kind of ironic, since their kind do most of the killing, raping and robbing in this country.

      January 8, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Larry L

      I understand your concern. I also live in a red state and sincerely wish I could find a way to move all of my friends and family to another location. The American Taliban don't understand how ntrusive their evangelical probing can be in a population of people who have evolved beyond the need for a mythical protector. Just make up something that sounds exotic and they'll leave you alone.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:54 am |
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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.