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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. Rey

    I can't take any christians seriously who ignore all but one verse of Leviticus.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • MashaSobaka

      So...you can't take *any* Christians seriously, then?

      January 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  2. anonymous

    everything that I am reading and hearing about Santorum is scary and/or creepy... taking your dead premature baby home for your other children to visit? his extremist views on birth control - that it is harmful to women....

    he seems more like a member of the Taliban than any other affiliation....

    January 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Siestasis

      very creepy

      January 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  3. IronDitka

    Religious psyhco!

    January 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Leslie

      By voting for Santorum in such large numbers, Iowans proved that they don't give a rats patootie about gay Americans either. Their actions in lifting this man up will harm the spirit of gay adolescents for decades to come. As if they didn't have enough to worry about.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  4. Burbank

    Someone puched this guy in the face so hard his nose is completely off to the side. I wonder why? I'd like to punch him myself. Arrpogant, smug, judgemental Christian that wants to impose his beliefs on everyone. And they are worried about Romney being Mormon? At least he doesn't think the rest of the world should march to the tune of his religion. Rick Sanctimonious = righteous right Taliban.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • ATLmatt

      "Arrogant, smug, judgemental Christian"

      I agree and must say that this redundancy at its finest...

      January 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  5. TheMovieFan

    Back in 2006, Santorum was the first senator to lose his set that day. It was great. It was also nice to see Brit Hume practically crying.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  6. ATLmatt

    Santorum – buttjuice meets sweater vests. i really hope he somehow gets the republican nomination.

    Obama 2012

    January 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Jack

      Me too. The American people will never stand for this fanatical ideologue who wants to form a theocracy in America.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  7. CommonSense

    >>He just said it was God’s plan.
    Sure. If you win it's God's Plan, if you lose it's God's plan.
    Is the Separation of Church and State, God's plan? Sounds like "God's plan" is an excuse for everything.
    He hates Democracy and prefers a Totalitarian Christian dictatorship. We see that. He has lots in common with the Radical Muslims who want sadistic brutal relgious Theocratic rule.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • ATLmatt

      have you read the old testament? this god smote people left and right and then says thou shall now kill. talk about the need to practice what you preach... jesus.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Mother

      Would someone please send Santorum a one-way ticket to Iran so he can get a good look at the infrastructure of a theocracy, the harm of blasphemy laws and the lunacy of one religious party force feeding millions their own brand of religion.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  8. Peter

    Jack was certainly not a model man to be a standard for how one sould lead or follow their religious life. As a child growing up on the Cape I adored him, as did my family. As an adult I recognize he was an abject failure as a family man, a president (placed on on the verge of nuclear war, Bay of Pigs failure, getting us into Vietnam) and easily disavowing his Catholic/religious grounding. He may have had a great smile, and a wonderful wit, we would not remember as we do if not for a beautiful wife loved by all who committed hmself to her family, his young chldren who captured our hearts and for Bobby who had the brains and compassion that Jack lacked. Jack is a fairy tale story and to compare a real man still living with a fable is quite insincere and superficial.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Jack

      No. JFK was not a fairy tale. He faced some real crises during his administration. I was born and raised Irish Catholic and what I admired most about him was he kept his personal religious beliefs out of his duties as president. He got a lot (A LOT) of flak from Christian Protetant's who hated "papists." He assured the country that there would be separation church and state. Somehow now, we got it all confused. Now we have candidates runnign around who want to establish a Theocracy in America. It is good to have deep relgious faith but keep it out of politics. I don't want anyone, of any religion telling me what is right & wrong or how or when or if I should pray. That is my concern.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • J. Crobuzon

      Fairy tale? We were about to be told that we were staring down enough nuke missiles to kill us all, right next door in Cuba, and that it was time to put our hands up and surrender to Russia at gunpoint. JFK called the Russian Ambassador in and told him it was on, and that win or lose, our nuclear missiles were about to destroy Russia while he and JFK watched. The Russians frantically called it off and began removing their missiles. That's as real as it gets, buddy; he stopped a nuke war by starting one, and they never tried us again after that.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  9. Mark

    KEEP GOD OUT OF GOVERNMENT.
    KEEP GOD OUT OF POLITICS
    Keep religion out of Politics

    I am sick of all these politicians running on the "god' ticket. I am sorry god doesn't vote, people do!

    January 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Peter

      LOL...that is very funny . Which person comes to office without some form of belief system? There is a word for people who dictate how others should lead their lifes and it covers BOTH people of faith and those of not. The voting process, by the way, allows us to choose if we wish to elect someone of faith or not. Do you have a problem with that?

      January 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      I have no problem voting for someone "of faith". I have a HUGE problem voting for someone that believes our government/laws must follow HIS faith. When his faith is so extreme that it requires him to do eerything he can to fight what I believe in then guess who I will not vote for?

      January 10, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • J. Crobuzon

      I don't want someone who thinks imaginary sky people control the earth to make decisions for me. Luckily, most 'Christians' just use church as a social club and could care less about dogma. I could see being openly religious being downplayed pretty soon, though; people are sick of tebowing candidates.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  10. Burrke

    Would you please leave God out of all these secular matters??? He may be or may not be in them but surely he Knows everything. Would God be pleased with a prejudiced person like Santorum? He wants to get elected. It's as simple as appealing to the majority and he's not doing that. If he's Christian, that's his choice but don't force it on everyone. We all know that someone religion's dead when they are not fervent about but your religious fervor will hardly earn you voters in country like America that is full of secular if not atheistic tendencies.

    Rick Santorum: My advise to you is DON'T BE PREJUDICED, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT ABOUT SENSITIVE ISSUES LIKE ROMNEY BUT THEN AGAIN IF YOU DO THAT, YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE A BASE TO PANDER TO...ON YOUR WAY TO THE NOMMINATION

    January 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Distopian

      Right! .... Whaaa :~

      January 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • J. Crobuzon

      Santorum fails to love his fellow man, and so he's not much of a Christian.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  11. Reality

    Dear Ricky S,

    (only for the newbies)

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references are available at your request)

    January 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  12. me

    Santorum says Iran can't have nuclear weapons because they are "a theocracy that has deeply embedded beliefs that the afterlife is better than this life"

    January 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Hmmm... Why does that sound familiar?

      January 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  13. BNB42

    Why can't we have more Presidents think like this:

    "Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious insti.tutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.
    We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries."
    – Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320. This is his second kown use of the term "wall of separation," here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter. This wording of the original was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause: Reynolds (98 US at 164, 1879); Everson (330 US at 59, 1947);

    January 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Jack

      And there you have, folks. Wall of Separation. There shold be nothing more to say on this subject.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  14. KMW

    When JFK was running for president, there was a lot more anti-Catholicism than there is today. II stress A LOT more. I know people who had been Democrats their entire lives but would rather have died than to voite for a Catholic. Things have changed. Just look at the number of marriages between Catholics and Protestants.

    I think that what is really driving the intense dislike of Rick Santorum is coming from anti-religious people. Those of us who believe in a God/higher power do not mind his mentioning his belief in s Supreme Bing. . It may not always be popular but I truly admire Rick Santorum for not caving in to these hatemongers.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • KMW

      Correction from KMW :

      Supreme Being is what I mant to write.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      I live in the South, where the locals think Catholics are all going to hell. None of my neighbors will vote for a Mormon or a Catholic or a Black.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • ChuckB

      One reason that anti-Catholicism has decreased is that JFK honored his pledge to keep his religion separate from his duties as president. Someone like Santorum could end up reviving it.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • KMW

      What is their level of ecucation? Fifth grade. The South as a lot of White Trash.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • KMW

      I meant to tell Bible Clown that the South has a lot of uneducated White Trash roaming around.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Luiz

      Your remarks are more than just a comon sense.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Bing Crosby

      @KMW,
      Awww... I thought you were talking about me.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • sam

      KMW, at this rate, you're going to be in confession all fcking day.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • KMW

      Sam,

      You sound as though you are White Trash. Only they would talk like that. For the record Sam, I am a Caucasian. That means white person in case you did not know.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • sam

      Hey, you can be as caucasian and catholic as you want – that doesn't change the fact that you're obviously also a delusional, grade-A a.sshole. White trash is identified by behavior, and you are providing us with a stunning demonstration. Keep it up; you are amusing as hell. Get to confession early this week, though, sweetcheeks.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      I call troll. I mean...I'm hoping it's a troll.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  15. bob

    I love that he's antiabortion, but when it comes to his wife, he's fine with it. She was in her second trimester and was given a choice to take medication that could kill her fetus as a side effect. Guess what she did. She took the medicine.

    Hypocrites of the highest order.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Nonimus

      hmmm... Did you read the article?

      "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."

      January 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  16. SHAIARRA

    In 1773, the Rev. Isaac Backus ,
    the most prominent Baptist minister in New England, observed that when "church and state are separate, the effects are happy, and they do not at all interfere with each other: but where they have been confounded together, no tongue nor pen can fully describe the mischiefs that have ensued." REMEMBER THE INQUISITION AND THE HOLOCAUST OK

    January 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  17. vel

    religion is a great way to relinquish your responsiblities. Everything just becomes "God's will" and you can wash your hands of it. children starve, it's god's will. people die in disasters, it's god's will. Rick Santorum is just one more Christian who wants a theocracy where his version of Christianity and god are the only ones to be worshiped. This one just answers to the Vatican rather than some megachurch protestant pastor or a group of old white men in Utah.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Michael T Murphy

      I agree with you totally . But I think the real scary thing is his beliefs on birth control, typical Vatican teaching, unscientific.
      Any person who subscribes to a religion that has no greater love then to let someone die because they are a woman should not be president of this country.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Peter

      I cannot believe you would take full responsibility for such a stupid statement. Did the Devil make tyou say it? 🙂

      January 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  18. Merc

    Just like Romney would be loyal to "The Prophet" Thomas Monson, Santorum would be loyal to "The Pope" Joseph Ratzinger. Neither one would be loyal to the American people.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • jbcal

      They said the same thing about JFK and it wasn't true then either.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Not if they honestly take the oath of office.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Unlike JFK or Romney, Santorum has declared his belief that his god's law is above our national law.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  19. Marie Rehbein

    Believing that losing the congressional election means you are meant to be president is really, really weird. Grandiose.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Paranoiac ravings of a deranged mind.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • JDinHouston

      I have never been elected to any office, God is saving me for the presidency. When I run, you will want to vote for me, it will be your duty to God. Just wanted to make you aware as it will be so much easier than all these pesky debates and stuff.

      January 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      JD, thanks for the heads up!

      January 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  20. Jimmy

    So if Santorum is president and we get invaded by China he will just be like "Well I guess this is Gods plan, it's his will". What a choadmonkey.

    January 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • TR6

      Oh no. Growing up in a catholic environment filled with priests he has been taught that when invaded he should turn the other cheek

      January 10, 2012 at 2:34 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.