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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. Rudy Gonzales

    Remembering our country was founded on separation of Church and State, the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer people and the concentration of power in stricter, less compassionate hands locally, one would have to realize Santorum has and will continue to show his true colors in future outings and debates. It's people like Santorum, who represents the TEA division of the TEA-GOP-Republican party, wanting to impose their skewed fringe concepts down on other people. If you don't like how the party of "NO" has held the Congress hostage, vote. If you are not registered – get registered­. If you didn't vote last cycle, get involved and vote. Take part in local and state level politics, because the Toxic Erratic Activist(T­EA) Party has taken over local and state politics. They want control of the federal level now. It is the extreme faction of the already skewed fringe creating mayhem in non-passag­e of jobs production legislatio­n. Any job legislatio­n sent to the Senate has enough poison pill attachment­s to make sure it never passes the Senate. Wake up America – get involved and take your country back from this fringe element.

    January 10, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  2. noteabags

    Separation of church and state is in the FIRST AMENDMENT. Everyone is always so concerned about the second amendment. How about the one preceding it.

    January 10, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Britannia

      Absolutely right! Religion should have no place at all in politics – if Santorum, Romney, Perry etc. are so set on stamping their individual beliefs on the American people then let them join the ranks of the priesthood, elders, whatever, of their chosen faith and try doing it from the proper pulpit. What works for them doesn't necessarily work for all!

      January 10, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  3. Michael McCarthy

    Luckily we won't have to hear anything more about Santorum after the NH primary. He's a very ignorant man who may have infused all his decisions with his Catholic faith, but seems to have forgotten the one basic concept that makes Christianity Christianity... love. He's a big-time hater and no amount of "love the sinner but hate the sin" is ever gonna cleanse his soul of that. I'd love to hear him try and defend himself to St. Peter on that one.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  4. serana

    Pro-life is not a religious issue just like opposition to murder is not a religious issue. While I believe in freedom of religion, I am against moral corruption and activities that shake the fabric of our lives and family structure.
    Unfortunately Biblical law has been severely influenced and corrupted by humans. For example if the bible said Moses was the son of God, Christians would be believing that. It is the bible that has taken the place of God for them.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • richunix

      Quote:
      “Unfortunately Biblical law has been severely influenced and corrupted by humans. For example if the bible said Moses was the son of God, Christians would be believing that. It is the bible that has taken the place of God for them.”
      First mistake, is anyone taking the “Bible” as truth. It was written and inspired by men for mankind, nothing more.

      The folly of man, is the fool that lies within each of us…… Richard
      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      January 10, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Britannia

      You know I certainly don't believe everything I read/hear/see in the media, so why the blind faith in what's written by third parties in this form of ancient media?

      January 10, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • LinCA

      @serana

      You said, "Pro-life is not a religious issue just like opposition to murder is not a religious issue."

      It is a religious issue when you restrict the choice based on religious grounds. While you have the right to not have an abortion if that goes against your religious beliefs, you have no right whatsoever to restrict anyone else from having one based on your beliefs.

      When it comes to abortion, there are two lives at stake. The anti choice crowd tends to disregard one of those to the extreme, while the pro choice crowd tries to balance the two. There are very few people who would advocate for allowing abortion during the entire time of the pregnancy.

      Santorum's anti choice stance is extreme when it comes to everyone, except his wife. So, in addition to being a religious fanatic, he's a hypocrite.

      You said, "While I believe in freedom of religion, I am against moral corruption and activities that shake the fabric of our lives and family structure."

      Your religious freedom gives you the right to live according to the morals of your religion. Everyone else has the right to live according to theirs. Everyone has the right to be free from your religion. Inclusion of freedom from religion is an absolute requirement to have freedom of it.

      You said, "Unfortunately Biblical law has been severely influenced and corrupted by humans. For example if the bible said Moses was the son of God, Christians would be believing that. It is the bible that has taken the place of God for them."

      What your bible says, or what you think it says, is entirely irrelevant to anyone but those that claim to be christian. Your biblical "laws" have no place in a secular society. You, as an individual, are free to adhere to it, but you have no right whatsoever to impose any of it on anyone else.

      If we don't have freedom of (including from) religion, who is to say that your particular flavor is the one being enforced? So, unless you are willing to accept your daughters from being excluded from education, your sons from being forced to pray to Allah, or Thor, or Zeus in school, women being second class citizens, women being sent to prison for adultery after being raped, etc., you may want to consider what it truly means to have freedom of religion.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  5. Jimmy CrapCorn

    JFK enjoyed eating his own doodee muffins.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  6. KMW

    I know I am in the minority on this post, but I hope Rick Santorum wins. I love what he stands for and he is not afraid to say it. It is about time we stopped promoting gay marriage and abortion rights. The majority of the country is against abortion but you would never know this by listening to our liberal media.

    Rick Santorum has my vote.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • MarkinFL

      He has my vote too. Of course in November, its Obama.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • rick

      The country does not get to vote on other's civil rights, no matter how much this offends you.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • rick

      You have no authority to speak for the rest of the country, KMW.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Current polls show 49% for choice, 45% against choice. And that is a growing trend.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • HellBent

      @KMW,

      Actually, this country is quite evenly split on abortions, with a majority supporting it in at least some cases. About half of your fellow Catholics fall into this bucket. And more than half of your fellow Catholics actually support the 14th amendment, unlike yourself. You're going to be on the losing end of history, as are most people who try to deny others equal rights.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • KMW

      This is my second reply. CNN for some reason did no post my reply to Rick and Hellbent. Hopefully they will this time. (Maybe a bit of bias?)

      I still believe in Rick Santorum and I hope he wins. Unfortunately, I don't think he will this time but he is young enough and will try again. I am donating to his campaign because he is right on target.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • KMW

      Please forgive a few of my misspellings. I become so passionate about this that I get carried away.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • fred

      KMW better to put your money in a BMW than to flush it down the crapper with Prick Sanitarium's chances. He really is unelectable. He even got tossed out of a much more minor office by the voters.

      Ron Paul has the best chance against Obama, but not much of one.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • KMW

      Ron Pauil is off his rocker. I'll stick with my principles and vote for RS.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • tallulah13

      @KMW

      So you actively promote discrimination against women and minorities? Those of us who support equal rights for all citizens of this wonderful, secular nation disagree with you. I truly hope that you find yourself discriminated against someday, and I hope it pains you enough to teach you compassion. That seems to be the only way "good" christians like you learn humanity.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Greg

      tallulah13 you get my vote but what does your name mean?

      January 10, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • J.W

      Huntsman would really have the best chance against Obama. But on the social issues really a majority of Americans would rather see everyone have equal rights. I think the abortion laws should probably always stay about where they are now, but I think in my lifetime at least half of US states will have legal gay marriage.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • LinCA

      @J.W

      You said, "I think in my lifetime at least half of US states will have legal gay marriage."
      If the California Prop 8 case makes it to the SCOTUS, odds are it'll be legal in all 50 during your life time (I hope you have a few years left).

      January 10, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • J.W

      Yeah LinCa I am in my early 30's so I think I should have some years left. But I think evidence is that the younger generations are more supportive of gay rights, and the courts already seem to be so, so you could very well be right.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • LinCA

      @J.W

      You said, "But I think evidence is that the younger generations are more supportive of gay rights, and the courts already seem to be so, so you could very well be right."
      It is encouraging to see the younger generations increase their acceptance of equal rights (I abhor the term "gay rights" as it conveys a subtext of their rights being in any way different or special). Acceptance is required to make the issue go away. While are are very few, if any, legal objections to same sex marriage, it is only broad acceptance that will push the issue out of the national debate.

      I hope that within a generation, or so, the issue is seen as race equality is today. While there probably will still be bigots around, no reasonable person would seriously consider discrimination to be morally correct.

      January 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      If it weren't for modern extended life expectancies, the balance would have already shifted. Frankly, I'd say the fight will have been won within a decade.

      January 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      @Tallulah13. Until you support rights of the unborn you cannot claim to support rights for all citizens and have compassion as you stated. Practice what you preach. True compassion would be to stand up for the rights of those that have no voice to be heard especially when they feel the pain of their life being snuffed out before they can even take their first breath.

      January 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Different definition of a person. A fetus, though human, is a POTENTIAL person. If I become brain damaged enough to be in a persistent vegetative state (ain't waking up) then I ask for the same rights as a fetus. Terminate when ready, prefer immediately by my choice, but leave it up to those with decision making capabilities. (Not an easy decision, and of course it should not be taken lightly). But at that point I have already ceased to exist as a person.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      MarkinFL, calling a fetus a future person may be a clever way of dehumanizing the issue but it's innacurate. One minute it's a fetus and then moments later it's a person. That's not even medically sound nor logical but convenient for those who want the power of lthe life of another. If you don't want the child there are those who would gladly love them in your place. That action would at least save their life, preserve their dignity and expression compassion.

      If a pregnant woman gets murdered and her fetus dies, is the fetus a person then? If not, then why are laws contrary to that when murders are prosecuted for double murders? You can't have it both ways. A fetus in the womb is just a human being in the early stages of life. Is a plant that grows under the surface not a plant yet? If one digs it up they may find that it was growing beneathe the surface but was clearly alive.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • boocat

      If you are against abortion as you say you are why don't the you and the rest of you "pro-lifers" offer to take these unwanted children? To me, you're all hypocrites because once that fetus comes to term and is delivered, you're the same people that want to deny it housing, education, food and good health coverage. Not to mention, the majority of you are pro-death penalty and pro-war. Explain that.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      Boocat, what gives you the impression that I am pro death penalty and pro war? I believe that every human being has the right to life as stated in the declaration of independence. There are plenty of people that would accept those babies if unwanted including our family but why should they be unwanted? I prefer contributing money that will save their life and sustain them than having portions of my income used to destroy them. Of course charity is voluntary but federal taxes are not. Hmm.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Well, then you better get down there and start the adoption process since you are behind by thousands of of children. Get cracking!

      BTW, personhood is a huge gray area. Thus we should err on the side of caution and place restrictions on abortions. However a fertilized egg is no more a person than my left toe. Both are human but that is as far as it goes.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      MarkinFL, the fact that your left toe is human is a very gray area and scary. At the end of nine months, your left toe is still a left toe unless you cut it off and throw it in the trash.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Never claimed my toe was a potential person. However it shares the same level of personhood as a month old fetus. None.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  7. Phillip Bunnell

    People that use religion to further their own ends are pretty slimy, don't you think? Whoever put that definition of santorum on Google was pretty much right on the money.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  8. SNAPPA

    I'm sorry but this man and his family and about 85% of the worlds population are simply ignorant or mentally unstable. This is what I believe, Religions of the wolrd make absolutley no sense there is no evidence whatsoever to claim a "God". Santorum is mentally unfit for president. People claim that science doesn't have all the answer and nor does it need to, science has given us MANY, MANY, MANY answer where religion gives none. The device your sitting in fromt of was given to us by science not "god" I tend to ask a lot of questions to people who "believe" and it disgusts me when they say "I don't know" well if you don't know how can you argue against something you know nothing about??

    January 10, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  9. Kenneth

    JFK is in hell right now trying to chase down Princess Di and suck her D!CK.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • boocat

      Did your mother have any children that lived?

      January 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  10. Rod in Texas

    This is why there is a separation of church and state so an imaginary person isn't controlling our government.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Greg

      Need a lot more of you in Texas dude.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  11. Ed

    If Santorum actually get in, I have one word for him: Antichrist.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Rob

      Does anybody remember 'separation of church & state"?

      January 10, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  12. TheGranTorinoGuy

    The Christian Taliban are at it again...

    January 10, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  13. Jesus was a space alien

    I was raised Catholic, however, I don't want any religious nutcase in the White House. Let's keep separtion of church and state. There is a good reason for having it.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • leslie

      Raised Catholic as well but if not a pious definitive I prefer the term superstar. I do agree however that religion and the state should be separate. If it be ethical principles that are common to all religions then those principles are what is actually important and might best be our focus. Leslie Lox on http://www.rdwins.com

      January 10, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  14. firebird9999

    Santorum can take his religious beliefs that he's trying to shove down my throat and shove it somewhere else. His kind of thinking that everyone else should be bound by his beliefs is more along the lines of fundamentalist Islam than I would ever have believed possible. He is an absolute danger to the 'freedom of religion' concept that we are supposed to adhere to in this country. We are not Afghanistan. Or are we.

    January 10, 2012 at 6:21 am |
  15. jim harrigan

    As a man that had 17-years of Catholic education (Augustinians and Jesuits). I feel well qualified to state: Santorum is an ass that gives politicians a bad name...if that's possible.

    January 10, 2012 at 6:13 am |
    • Mirosal

      How can you tell when a politician is lying? When he opens his mouth. I also have a Jesuit education (12 years). ALL of the candidates are idiots.

      January 10, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • SPA Knight

      Fidel Castro had a Catholic Jesuit education as well and he turned out to be of of the world's most brutal dictators. Based on that, your educational background doesn't qualify you to define Rick Santorum's character who happens to live out his Catholicism I believe.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  16. kamana

    Religion is just another form of gangsterism, mankinds oldest organized criminal activity. Politic’s, too, is another form of gangsterism, an integral part of the military-industrial complex.

    The Gangsters of Politics and the Greedy One Percent are two sides to the same coin. Beware, therefore, of the GOP.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:45 am |
    • Erussell

      There are 20 Democrats on the top 50 richest members of Congress and most are in the top 10 worth over 20 mil including your alien leader Pelosi. If you think they give a crap about you and would give themselves a tax hike you are mistaken. Next time do your research and dont be so ignorant.

      http://www.rollcall.com/50richest/the-50-richest-members-of-congress-112th.html

      January 10, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • Mirosal

      ok, 20 out of the 50 richest members of Congress are Democrats ... now, just WHO are the other 30?? What political party might they belong to?

      January 10, 2012 at 6:01 am |
  17. bnb42

    It's funny how Rick Santorum is against Gay Marriage yet wants to Marry 2 things that are not a man and woman

    I now pronounce religion and politics man and wife

    (Poof the world just ended)

    January 10, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • bnb42

      err...* Faith and Politics (I was close at least) =)

      January 10, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • MarkinFL

      In that marriage you can guess who gets scr3w3d...

      January 10, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • rick

      in that marriage, both do. we do not need preachers in office any more than we need politicians in the pulpit

      January 10, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • fred

      For that matter we don't need pulpits, at all. Ka-Chinggggggg!

      January 10, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  18. marvalea

    Religion + politics = Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt, etc. Plenty of reasons NOT to "marry" religion and politics! The "Evangelical Right" is just as dangerous to our "free society" as the Taliban. Freedom of Religion is a fundamental right of all Americans – the right to practice the faith of our choosing or NOT to practice any faith. Each of us is judged by HIM on judgment day and how we conduct ourselves in THIS life is determinant whether we are permitted to walk alongside HIM through eternity. This nation was founded upon the principle that no one suffer persecution by virtue of the practice of their faith. The Bible tells us "judge not lest thee be judged thyself". The Bible doesn't tell us WHICH faith, be it Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, or Muslim, is the "correct" faith. Personally, I learned from a young age that he who must continually TELL all around him that he is Christian is not necessarily truly Christian ... the Christian is known by all around him by his acts, by the manner in which he lives his life and treats all whom he meets – NOT his vocal assertions.

    January 10, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • fred

      Spoon in mouth. Spoon in mouth. Gobs of it.

      January 10, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  19. 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

    Some of the references used:

    o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.
    2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
    – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–
    30-60 CE Passion Narrative
    40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
    50-60 1 Thessalonians
    50-60 Philippians
    50-60 Galatians
    50-60 1 Corinthians
    50-60 2 Corinthians
    50-60 Romans
    50-60 Philemon
    50-80 Colossians
    50-90 Signs Gospel
    50-95 Book of Hebrews
    50-120 Didache
    50-140 Gospel of Thomas
    50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
    50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
    65-80 Gospel of Mark
    70-100 Epistle of James
    70-120 Egerton Gospel
    70-160 Gospel of Peter
    70-160 Secret Mark
    70-200 Fayyum Fragment
    70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
    73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
    80-100 2 Thessalonians
    80-100 Ephesians
    80-100 Gospel of Matthew
    80-110 1 Peter
    80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
    80-130 Gospel of Luke
    80-130 Acts of the Apostles
    80-140 1 Clement
    80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
    80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
    80-250 Christian Sibyllines
    90-95 Apocalypse of John
    90-120 Gospel of John
    90-120 1 John
    90-120 2 John
    90-120 3 John
    90-120 Epistle of Jude
    93 Flavius Josephus
    100-150 1 Timothy
    100-150 2 Timothy
    100-150 T-itus
    100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
    100-150 Secret Book of James
    100-150 Preaching of Peter
    100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
    100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
    100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
    100-160 2 Peter

    3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
    – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
    4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
    5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
    6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
    7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
    8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
    joezias.com/HealthHealingLandIsrael.htm
    9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

    January 10, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • richunix

      Dude, your using reference from a source that long been proven to be unreliable or outright story fabrication.

      Here some examples:

      Here are examples of these inconsistencies found in your Bible. Pick one (anyone) and please explain to the reader how this is the word of GOD and therefore extant.
      Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
      (a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
      (b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)
      In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
      (a) Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) One million, one hundred thousand (IChronicles 21:5)
      How many fighting men were found in Judah?
      (a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)
      God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
      (a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
      (b) Three (I Chronicles 21:12)
      How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
      (b) Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)
      How old was Jehoiachin when he became king of Jerusalem?
      (a) Eighteen (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Eight (2 Chronicles 36:9)
      How long did he rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Three months (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9)
      The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?
      (a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:8)
      (b) Three hundred (I Chronicles 11: 11)
      When did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? Before defeating the Philistines or after?
      (a) After (2 Samuel 5 and 6)
      (b) Before (I Chronicles 13 and 14)
      How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?
      (a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)
      (b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)
      When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?
      (a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4)
      (b) Seven thousand (I Chronicles 18:4)
      How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?
      (a) Forty thousand (I Kings 4:26)
      (b) Four thousand (2 chronicles 9:25)
      In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die?
      (a) Twenty-sixth year (I Kings 15:33 – 16:8)
      (b) Still alive in the thirty-sixth year (2 Chronicles 16:1)
      How many overseers did Solomon appoint for the work of building the temple?
      (a) Three thousand six hundred (2 Chronicles 2:2)
      (b) Three thousand three hundred (I Kings 5:16)
      Solomon built a facility containing how many baths?
      (a) Two thousand (1 Kings 7:26)
      (b) Over three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5)
      Of the Israelites who were freed from the Babylonian captivity, how many were the children of Pahrath-Moab?
      (a) Two thousand eight hundred and twelve (Ezra 2:6)
      (b) Two thousand eight hundred and eighteen (Nehemiah 7:11)
      How many were the children of Zattu?
      (a) Nine hundred and forty-five (Ezra 2:8)
      (b) Eight hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:13)
      How many were the children of Azgad?
      (a) One thousand two hundred and twenty-two (Ezra 2:12)
      (b) Two thousand three hundred and twenty-two (Nehemiah 7:17)
      How many were the children of Adin?
      (a) Four hundred and fifty-four (Ezra 2:15)
      (b) Six hundred and fifty-five (Nehemiah 7:20)
      How many were the children of Hashum?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:19)
      (b) Three hundred and twenty-eight (Nehemiah 7:22)
      How many were the children of Bethel and Ai?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:28)
      (b) One hundred and twenty-three (Nehemiah 7:32)
      Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66 agree that the total number of the whole assembly was 42,360. Yet the numbers do not add up to anything close. The totals obtained from each book is as follows:
      (a) 29,818 (Ezra)
      (b) 31,089 (Nehemiah)
      How many singers accompanied the assembly?
      (a) Two hundred (Ezra 2:65)
      (b) Two hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:67)

      I’m not against anyone who believes in some sort of “deity”, it is part of their lives and they wish to share it. But when they trout it off as “Truth”, then I have issue. The “Bible” has been re-written, added to, subtracted from so many times that you are unable to separate truth from fantasy. No one is challenging that the Nazarene could have existed or there was a sect within ancient Judaism that wanted to believe as the Greeks/Romans did “Reincarnation”. It just the story has a life of its own, written in a time when stories didn’t require any proof or even basic scientific exam and if you did question the truth. The Elders, answered with confinement or death.

      The folly of man, is the fool that lies within each of us…… Richard

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      January 10, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • Reality

      richunix

      You might want to read the updated Apostles' Creed again but this time very carefully.

      January 10, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Muneef

      Hmmm. 🙂

      As it seems with every Holy Book that came up to us mankind we face the same problem that been foretold in these verses;

      It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise – they are the foundation of the Book – and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah . But those firm in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding. (3:7).

      January 13, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  20. NJBob

    All these religiously insane candidates make me sick. They're a national embarrassment.

    January 9, 2012 at 11:59 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.