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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. MP

    Lets see, in addition to nominating Romney how can the GOP further screw up what should have been a cakewalk ?
    I know I know, lets make Rick Santorum his running mate! Theres no excuse for this level of incompetence from the GOP. I am beyond disgusted.

    January 9, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • olive

      I bet you are ok with gay marriage

      January 9, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Panty Wearing Fairy

      I got my butthole reamed last night and will miss work today because my rectum wont close. The doo doo and brownGravy just keeps draining.

      January 9, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  2. Crazyhorse

    I know who I'm voting for now!

    January 9, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Panty Wearing Fairy

      Im voting for you and your big ole weiner!!

      January 9, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  3. William Demuth

    This man is a religious bigot, a zealous indoctrinated zombie and a pig.

    Where is the next Lee Harvey?

    January 9, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  4. SilverHair

    Keep religion out of my face. I have my God – He is private to me. It's best that all wingers and libs keep yours private from this country and me.

    January 9, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • rick

      God SHOULD be private.

      January 9, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  5. Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

    What people don't want to acknowledge is that natzi's were christians.

    And that hitler was a devout catholic carrying out the catholic agenda for the times. Take note: Vatican was never bombed, pope never stood up against hitler claiming he was sinning and, well just google, the pope and bishops in pics with hitler and clan.

    January 9, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  6. Time to be held accountable for crimes against humanity

    Yes, instead of letting them get away with cheap, as usual, apologies hundreds of years later.

    Many children committed suicide and others mentally ill due to the abuses. What did the catholic church do to help them? Nothing, instead to lobby to stop laws that would expose the truth. Catholic politicians helping the catholic church to, again, destroy the already destroyed child

    Not a single catholic dioceses across the US is free from abusing children, they all did. What would we do if this were a national day care center? There is no difference.

    Please everyone. Help the victims and their families. One mother I know, her son committed suicide. She lobbied to change laws only for a catholic politician to stop the law from reaching the floor for votes, denying her. That politician is friends with a catholic bishop who is a pe-d-0ph=ile. This woman cried to her death, as other moms did.

    All we need are Americans to stand up against this church and demand lawmakers change laws enabling these cases to come forward and to make those cases public. In the end, we will expose the truth. The truth is the greatest healer.

    January 9, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  7. ccl

    after reading way too much of this garbage, I can't help but to enlighten the ignorance and maybe ellivate some of the hatefulness that is spewing from the mouths of these commenters. First and foremost this country was built on religious freedom. we have the right to worship or not to worship as we wish. Seperation of church and state was to guarantee that right. Not take rights of speech and religion away from all who choose to worship, as it seems our rights are being trampled on everyday with the cry of Seperation of church and state. More over Santorium, Liberman, Teebow have a right to express their religious beliefs. We are told time and time again that if we find something offensive we do not have to listen or watch. So I suggest ot you people who are so hateful, to not listen and please keep your bigotry, hatefulness and plan ugliness to yourselves, No one of any kind of character or an ounce of brain matter would ever take you seriously...

    January 9, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • Mark Yelka

      It isn't that those who comment are hateful, it's that they recognize that we've gone from a country where our Founding Fathers despised religion in government to where the candidates are trying to wedge religion into government. Our freedom is at risk with religion being any part of politics. Think about the countries that have religious-dominated governments. Not so nice for those who don't profess to believe.

      January 9, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • mcp123

      Does his 'faith' give him the outright ability and forgiveness to lie to the publics face about whether he said "black" or not?

      No... time and time again I am amazed how republicans claim to be the party of family values.... liars...adulterers.... grifters every candidate except Romney has issues with "values" and Romney is a mormon. No one would want a kiss a** in office like a mormon...

      January 9, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  8. Reality

    Dear Ricky S,

    Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    January 9, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  9. gary

    Faith in a imaginary ghost in the sky is a delusion. The bible is twisted ancient folklore. If USA becomes a pawn of religion, USA will die. Contrary to god-nuts' insistance, religion is NOT needed to be moral, nice, wise, healthy, etc.Actually, religion is a hindrance to good qualities.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  10. JOE

    What's amazing about these rightwing christian conservatives is how they often bash American-Muslims for their faith but yet, they're running around this country trying to shove their religious beliefs down people's throats. These religious fanatics are nothing short of a bunch of pathetic obsesed lunatics who should be kept away from our government by every means necessary.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:17 am |
  11. thnkit

    For the last 2000 yrs, two religious groups composed of radical fundamentalists were directly reponsible for the most horrific acts of prejudice, murder, genocide, enslavement and destruction. Christianity and Islam may speak of peace and respect – but of proved with ruthless abandon that other faiths will forever be threated and should be always on guard.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • mcp123

      Well said.... and dead on correct.

      January 9, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • Nazmi

      So many good points came out of the deabte.I learn a lot of history by listening to Ron Paul.Unfortunately for him we cannot travel back in time and fix stuff that way.If we had a working time machine he would be my man.I somehow was out of the room when Michelle finished her answer about headship and being president.A man being head over a women, does NOT apply to her way of making business (work) decisions.Anyone who has read the Proverb of Lemuel on the Good Wife knows that.(It is a Hebrew poem that goes through the Hebrew alphabet stanza by stanza.)Found at Proverbs 31:10-31 a good wife can own her own business, run it herself, buy property herself, etc.Newt, as he pointed out, used to run the House of Representatives.He knows how to run it.Maybe he needs to be back IN the House because no one there seems to know how to run it anymore.Tim P. made me think of al Qaeda, in that they are BOTH tone deaf.(Not in any other way.)Either he's too this or he's too that.Doesn't he have a non-Yes Man around him to tell him honestly how he comes across?Herman Cain's mouth can be his best friend or his worst enemy.He's got a fine mind but a president needs to have his mouth in check 100%, make that 110% of the time.Jon (not JoHn) Hunstman clued me in that he used to be somebody.A sailboat in an unfavorable wind can tack back and forth and eventually get where it needs to go.I guess Jon could too.But can America afford to wait?Reply

      July 31, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  12. Mark Yelka

    John Adams, US President, 1797-1801
    "The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."

    Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 states
    "The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."

    January 9, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  13. Jesus was a space alien

    I guess he will be saying mass once again when he loses the presidential nomination. His chances are like a Hail Mary pass.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • SnotNOse

      And he'll discover once again that 'God has another plan for him."

      He's just not very good at figuring out what the plan is. The plan is for him to fade back into relative obscurity, and keep his nut-job beliefs out of government

      January 9, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  14. Jt_flyer

    It doesn't matter what I think. I doesn't matter that you think. It matters what our forefathers intended.

    "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.  This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose." Thomas Jefferson  1813 

    January 9, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Just a few more Thomas Jefferson quotes:
      1. "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man"- Thomas
      Jefferson

      2. "The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs." -Thomas Jefferson

      3. "It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one- Thomas Jefferson

      4. "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be clas.sed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."- Thomas Jefferson

      5. "There is not one redeeming feature in our supersti.tion of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites."- Thomas Jefferson

      January 9, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • Jt_flyer

      Truth prevails you've ginve me a few more great quotes to work with. I thank you.

      January 9, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  15. TruthPrevails

    Let these moron christards continue to fight it out...gotta love how so much dirt comes out about them and then they start the downhill slide. If the fight isn't about what god they believe in it is about who fooled around one their wife or who has been immoral in the slightest way...this republitard battle is more of a circus freak show than anything.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • gary

      Yes! Agree 100%

      January 9, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • Mirosal

      I just wish the circus would pack up and leave town already. All they are leaving in their wake is elephant droppings lol

      January 9, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  16. Mark Yelka

    Religion harms far more than it helps. The thought of a candidate who would bring harm, usually in the form of usually-intolerant ideologies, into a position where that power can be used is very scary. I would never vote for someone living their life under the delusion that there is some phoney-baloney god out there somewhere. But, in today's politics, everyone is on this bandwagon. The Founding Fathers included a large combination of atheists and deists (no active god), including Washington, Jefferson, and many others. They would never get elected today.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:39 am |
  17. Kay

    Religion and politics should NEVER mix! Our Founding Father wrote it themselves. Keep religion out of state affairs or else you'll end up with a religious state that will explicitly define "principles" and ALL social terms, aka a radial state (which is no different than those nations in the Middle East). As a Christian myself I am quite appalled at how radical the GOP have become. Religion is a private and intimate matter. I would NEVER imposed my personal beliefs unto someone else. We all have our own liberty.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Then you are least a respectable christian...unfortunately people like you are few and far between.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • Mirosal

      I'm starting to like Kay. Such a different atti'tude than what we normally see on here. I'm not sure on just how to take it lol

      January 9, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Kay doesn't sound like she's judging anyone on where they stand and unlike plenty of others on here, she is at least tolerable. She seems content to live her life without the need for a battle that no-one wins. She gets the respect she gives because she has earned that respect.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:58 am |
  18. Katie

    I don't want to hear about any politicians religious views. He's lost my vote because of it.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:33 am |
  19. Wabbajack

    The last I checked, the President answers to the American people and not some mystery man in the sky.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:24 am |
  20. Derek

    Does it scare anyone else that we consistently elect people to the most powerful position on Earth who believe in fairy tales and imaginary beings which dictate the vast majority of their decision making thought process?

    January 9, 2012 at 6:16 am |
    • Mirosal

      You're as'suming they HAVE a thought process.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • SRO

      YES. o_O

      January 9, 2012 at 6:35 am |
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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.