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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. Ed Sr of Dallas Tx

    Religion and politics are OUT! They cannot be "married" unless you are an idiot!

    January 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • maniacmudd

      An intelligent Texan is a wonderful thing, ED.., Thanks for your insightful post!

      January 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  2. Brett

    Santorum, besides being a bit of a nut, will always put faith and religion before country...and we need a president that puts the country first. It doesnt work the other way around. And the idea that in order to have a good solid moral foundation in life you must have religion is crazy. There's no way his believe system will translate to a general election. If he becomes the nominee, Id expect another overwhelming defeat.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Aveda

      The free world has moved beyond subjugating gay people. The stranglehold that the church had on their lives is finally loosening. Rick would do well to drop his psychotic fascination with this subgroup of Americans. Isn't it enough that we stomped on the rights of gay people in the past who went from the cradle to the grave without knowing true love or having their human worth recognized? Move on Santorum. There is nothing left to curse in my gay household.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  3. realitybites

    Will he creating a new Whitehouse post of Secretary of Faith to make sure we follow the LAW. Maybe Joel Osteen? Naa, too busy making millions off of the gullible and desparate. Since he has a church buddy in the Supreme Court (Clarence Thomas) maybe he do the job from the bench. Don't think this isn't too far fetched. Anything is possible. No one thought that Europe would go through the horror it faced at the hands of desparate, deeply religious, easlily led people less than 100 yrs ago. Cambodia was a quiet, peaceful place until Pol Pot intentionally dragged it kicking and screaming into the dark ages. Poliitical Ideolly can be used to replace religious ideology w/ the same zeal and destruction. Both together can be just as bad. God gave you a brain, use it. Having an original thought is nothing to be afraid of, it doesn't mean that Satan has corrupted you, just that you finally grew up enough to break past 2 K yrs of social construct and control engineered by the Catholic church. Evangelists scream about all sorts of problems they have w/ the Catholic church but, the Catholic church built most of the foundation for the Christain faith they hold so dear. Constantine would be proud.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Donny

      Secretary of Faith? I finally see a position for Tom Delay or Bill Frist.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • maniacmudd

      secretary of faith...aww, it's gotta be Pat.... he already knows who the pres is gonna be...

      January 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • FormerMarineSgt

      Secretary of Faith – isn't that going to be about the same thing as the Saudi Religious police who answer only to the Imams? That beat women for daring to show an ankle, for daring to speak to a male unrelated to them? Who beat men for daring to wear thier hair incorrectly or violating ANY of the religious laws? Let's just call it like it is. He's proposing RELIGIOUS POLICE to enforce the evangelical Christian version of God's law. BE AFRAID – BE VERY AFRAID.

      January 9, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  4. MaxNatoma

    The problem with this is that we are not all of the same faith. This is a religiously pluralistic country. Attempting to legislate one set of beliefs is discriminatory.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Slim

      Attempting to legislate ANY religious belief is discriminatory and gay Americans are always the target when conservatism marches into the White House.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Ricky

      Marrying faith and politics is called Dominionism. Gay and female Americans lose out dramatically in this conservative Utopia.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  5. xvet

    At least JFK had the common sense to separate his religious beliefs from governing. Santorum is in sync with the churches stand against birth control, and gays. How long before we are all back to practicing the rhythm method and doing our own vasectomies?

    xvet

    January 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  6. ATLmatt

    if santorum wasnt anti-gay, he could have won Iowa. There are more than eight gay men and women in Iowa.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Vaughn

      Silly rabbit! He almost won Iowa because he IS anti-gay. Not the other way around.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • ATLmatt

      maybe i am just a dumb bunny but small limited government shouldnt care about whether a citizen is black or white or gay or straight. if he had kept his mouth shut, then he would have won Iowa. in my humble opinion...

      January 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Harry

      It would have taken more than just keeping his mouth shut. It would have meant discarding his legislative record and interviews as far back as 2003. You must be new to politics or Rick Santorum. Iowans are not new to him and celebrate his brand of Republican discrimination.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Barry Goldwater – the founder of the modern Conservative movement – was a strong and early supporter of gay rights. His support flowed exactly as you have stated – from core Conservative principles demanding that government remain unintrusive when it comes to the personal lives of its citizens.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  7. Mary Beth

    As a Catholic, I am horrified by Santorum and his very narrow interpretion of our common faith. Unfortunately Catholicism has been represented by people like him who doesn't actually seem to understand his faith beyond the "Thou Shalt Not" decrees. The Catholic Church embraces the teaching of Evolution, but Santorum did not claim to accept the theory when asked. The Catholic Church has embraced social justice but Santorum denources that teaching outright. The Catholic Church, in addition to denoucing abortion also denouces capital punishment, but Santorum's pro-life stances doesn't extend to death row. He has embraced Catholicism in it's simplest and most intollerant form. I cringe at the thought that people would judge me or my faith by this man. There is a lot to criticize Catholism and the Church for, but we are not this bad. Thankfully, he is just the non-Romney flavor of the moment and will be out of the race after Super Tuesday. A man with such a limited view of his own faith, let alone the world, should never be in a position of national influence.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Good post. Agree 100%.

      And I think he'll be out of the race within a week.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Gretta

      As an atheist, I am horrified by Catholics.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • KMW

      As a practicing Catholic, I am horrified by atheists.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  8. ATLmatt

    jesus told his followers to leave everything behind and follow him because the lord would provide. he was the first true socialist working towards communism. he took the loaves and fishes and redistributed them to the masses. if jesus existed, then he was the furthest thing away from a republican. help the sick. help the poor. not cut taxes on the richest 1%. I think its time to buy some needles, line some republicans up and push them through the eye of the needle. good times.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Serita

      Their love of life makes them celebrate capital punishment.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  9. billgme

    Rick Santorum is the real deal. His Catholic faith is an anchor for him. Perhaps some of thge liberaql idiots morgaging our children's future should listen to him.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Amy

      Still in denial about how Bush got us into a mess that will take 20 years or more to repair?

      January 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • ATLmatt

      i got three words for you George W. Bush. He was the one in the white house when the economy tanked. the first outrageous bailout of wall street was with his treasury secy Hank Paulson. They probably wouldnt think of themselves as liberal.... but believe what you want.... claim its faith so you can justify it.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      They'd have to wade through your creative spelling first.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • KMW

      I am with you Bill. I am fed up wth these liberal politicians and feel Rick Santorum is very refreshing. You know what I think, people are jealous of him. Mark my words.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Yes, please do everyone a favor and vote for Santorum in the primary.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  10. jjames

    You sir, are no Jack Kennedy.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • ATLmatt

      wiser words have never been spoken.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  11. Tony from Oakland California

    Republicans believe they can play divisive Politics within the Christian base for political gain. However, Catholics (also Christian) primarily vote Democratic. republicans ignore this fact. And each year, it substantially contributes to Republican losses. The far right Christian Republican base remains hypocritical because they have always compensated compassion for the poor with the RICH........................

    January 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Serita

      ...and as hard as Republicans try to play "who is a better friend to Israel", Jews still vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Gays are snug in the pockets of Democrats too.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  12. Religizz

    Santorum's rise in the polls has ended. He will be going home again in disgrace. People are just too weirded out by him, and he's not at all likeable.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Vaughn

      Let it be so...

      January 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  13. Thatguy371

    Funny the twisting out of control of a few concepts with these ultra conservative types... legislate morality, separation of church and state, hard time for pot smokers... yet they want tax breaks for the rich, as if that whole fairy tale of trickle down economics works. And people actually vote for these power junky loons.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  14. Nookster

    Santorum literally doesn't have a prayer. Newt is obviously scandalous in every way. Romney is owned by corporate powers and would sell his mother for the presidency but Santorum is insane and the lowest bottom feeder running. Ironically the only sensible candidate is Huntsman and he's not wacked out enough for the teavangelicals. Huntsman is the only guy who can get disenfrancised democats and independents. But those meatheads would rather have Obama for 4 more.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • c

      Huntsman comes from a power family that sells, chemicals, egg and other containers. When he was Ambassador to China he made sure his family's company got contracts from the Chinese- this caused Americans to lose jobs. The company emplys over 12 ,000 people world wide; only 2000 are Americans. He is a crook

      January 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  15. Big_D

    Why is Santorum always obsessed with coming in behind?

    January 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • ATLmatt

      the answer can be found by a quick google search of santorum, grasshopper... 🙂

      January 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  16. c

    Following the revelation of the charge that a Penn State graduate assistant spotted Sandusky allegedly anally raping a young boy in a shower and then told head football coach Joe Paterno, Santorum defended Paterno, who did not inform the police of the alleged incident.
    Despite Santorum’s surge before last week’s Iowa Republican primary that enabled him to virtually tie with Mitt Romney in first, the establishment media has uniformly failed to highlight how his sponsorship of Sandusky underscores Santorum’s hypocrisy when it comes to “family values”.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Not that I like Santorum, but "Santorum defended Paterno," is not the same as "sponsorship of Sandusky".
      However, if you are talking about the Congressional Angels in Adoption, I think that was back in 2002, well before the allegations against Sandusky were public knowledge.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  17. Spagati

    I hope his 4 sons all end up as qu33r as a three dollar bill.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Big_D

      You should look at Santorum himself, think of the words self loathing when you do.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Five. Don't forget his new campaign partner, Gabby the Meat Puppet.

      January 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  18. John N Florida

    Part of Jack Kennedy's promise to America was that Rome would not hold sway in American politics. Since Santorum doesn't hold with the JFK Promise, the question needs to be asked again; Senator, what part will the Roman Catholic Church play in American politics and American Law? Will you abide by the will of the people or will you bow to the authority of the Church and it's doctrines?

    January 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Jim in PA

      We're talking about a guy who would like to outlaw contraception. Take a wild guess who he would bow to....

      January 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Bryan

      I will bow to the authority of the church and it's doctrines. Next question?

      January 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  19. Jim in PA

    Sounds like you've turned into what you claim to despise.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  20. Michelle

    7 children...put a sock on it!!!!!!!!

    January 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Amy

      Thank you!!! The Duggards were in Iowa backing Santorum the other day. That made 26 children just for two families. Are they not familiar with global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer, rising seas, the elimination of natural resources?

      January 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.