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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. Rick

    Seems like hating gays and trying to end abortion are the sole focuses of his "faith." Most Catholics I know don't hate gays and lesbians. Pro-life, yes, for sure. But it seems like he has some real person issues about his obsession with harming gay Americans. Very strange

    January 8, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • NeilPeart

      I know plenty of gay Catholics! Does elitist, out of touch Santorum shun them too?!

      January 8, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • warren b eigen

      I agree with waht you say. As a Jewish man I find taking civil rights away from any group of people is morally wrong. One has to practice the teachings of one religion, if not stay home and hate.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  2. JD

    Beware of the man who rides in on a white horse. He is dangerous to the free will that God allowed us to have.

    January 8, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • moroni

      That would be the fulfillment of moron, oops Mormon prophecy.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Free will does not come from a god b/c a god does not exist.

      January 8, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  3. SafeJourney

    "The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy." ~ George Washington

    January 8, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • TonyJustin

      Santorum supporters get nervous when you start quoting George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • just wondering

      What supporters would those be?You got a few names?

      January 8, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  4. nytw

    I wonder if he is going to support gay marriage since he is so concerned about government interference in people's lives.

    January 8, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Ronald Reganzo

      Why would a President of a Christian nation support perversion?

      January 8, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  5. Dan Jones

    The left seems to have no problem with atheists spouting their beliefs, with liars and thieves, with perverts and deviants, but they scream when people of character run for office. This nation was founded as a Christian nation with liberties for all, and it has always been it's Christian character that brought about those liberties. What end slavery? It wasn't atheism. What brought about racial equality? Have you ever listened to Martin Luther King?

    "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." That is what made America great.

    January 8, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • TonyJustin

      The "under God" was added in 1954, so that means that the USA helped win World War II without those words in the pledge. People have a right to be worried about a candidate who openly wishes to impose a state religion on the citizens. I don't think that reflects a high moral character, rather it reflects a perverse megalomania.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • RationalFew

      You need to read up on your American history and not the watered down public school version.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Your theistic bubble is shielding you from the facts. Don't feel bad...you're in the majority...for now.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • nooneknows

      Please stop repeating the LIE that this country was founded as a "christian" nation. It was not; it was founded precisely so that all religions were treated equally and so that religion and government were kept separate.

      Learn some history. "one nation under god" was not in the original pledge. It was added in 1954, less than 50 years ago! and should not be there at all (nor should "in god we trust" be on our currency; added in 1800's).

      January 8, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • nooneknows

      "... less than 60 years ago ..."

      January 8, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • captain america

      this steve guy keeps butting into American topics like he has some influence on America. News Flash he doesn't. Steveo is a canadian and all his opinions won't get him a snow cones worth of dog crap here. Send us tribute and shut the f up . There's your sign.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Here are some quotes by the Founding Father's proving the USA is NOT a christard nation:
      1. "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man"- Thomas
      Jefferson

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

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

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

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

      6. "Lighthouses are more useful than churches."- Ben Franklin
      .
      7. "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."- Ben Franklin

      8. "I looked around for God's judgments, but saw no signs of them."- Ben Franklin

      9. "In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it."- Ben Franklin

      10. "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in
      it"- John Adams

      11. "The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.'- Thomas Paine

      12. "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst."- Thomas Paine

      13. "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."- Thomas Paine

      14. "Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies."- Thomas Paine

      15. "All national insti.tutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."- Thomas Paine

      16. "It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.”- Thomas Paine

      17. "Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."- George Washington

      18. "The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession."- Abraham Lincoln

      19. "It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on
      one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfence in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. Trespa.sses on its legal rights by others."- James Madison

      20. "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."- James Madison

      January 8, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • RationalFew

      TruthPrevails – Thank you much for that great list of quotes. I'm going to mail that list to all the Glen Beck conservatives that I know.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • captain america

      This too is a stupid canadian they have a hard time realizing we do not need or want their BS opinions. I do not care how badly you screw up canada we don't need your crap here. Shut the f up about us, mind your own f'n business and send us your resources. There's your sign

      January 8, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • RationalFew

      The Canadians are like the South Koreans's. They're living next door to a crazy neighbor, they should be concerned. You know we did send our military to attack them once. It's not in our history books because they kicked our butts.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @CA: This is CNN not FOX news...go back to the network that cares about your type of stupidity! There's your sign and btw: we're still here!

      January 8, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Larry L

      Truth Prevails – Thanks for the great quotes. I don't see any rebuttals?

      January 8, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  6. Ernie

    Oh yeah.....this nut bag would set us even farther back in time if they elect him with his being a religious fanatic....remember the Spanish Inquisition on Monty Python? That b this nut bag

    January 8, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  7. NeilPeart

    Overly religious people can't think for themselves. It requires too much effort, and honest acknowledgement of reality.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • warren b eigen

      I agree what you wrote. If oner really believes in what religion they are members of, one would know that discrimination is wrong, that the real teachings of these religions is of acceptance and love. We are a nation of many religions ,or no tbeliving in anything, so stop forcing one religion on all of us.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  8. AMF

    There isn't one Republican candidate who is putting the best interest of America ahead of their own personal religious beliefs. Who cares what/who they pray to. Keep it to yourselves. America's best interests are the only things that matter, not these want-to-be' candidites religious self-serving interestes. Its pathetic to listen to them. Its embarrassing for this Nation with all that is goijg on in America and worldwide to listen to these candidates talk about "religion." Are they insane? Where is the interlect we need? Glad four of them have dropped out already...perhaps they saw the "light."

    January 8, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • warren b eigen

      You have said it correctly. Talk about the real issues, and help the country, instead of all the disrepect of the President ,and of the First Lady. Right from the beginning, the republican leadership said they will destroy Obama, so to the hell with helping the average person. Yet, these candidates talk about Christianity/ What fools do they think we are?
      ------Shalom-Warren----–

      January 8, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • RationalFew

      Their strategy is divide and conquer, developed by Karl Rove. The republicans no longer have the numbers to win election and run the country. So they divide us via controversial issues. they convinced gun owners that democrats were going to take away their guns to lock their votes. They went for the hard core catholic vote with the bogus anti abortion issue and vouchers to send their kid to catholic schools. They went after the racist vote by fueling the birther issue and they went after border state vote by fueling the hate for latino immigrants. And obviously they are fueling the extremist christian position to pick up the anit gay vote. These are issues so important to some people, they will vote for someone they don't even care for just to get that one important issue.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @canadian dude: ignore captain america...it only comes here to trash Canadian's and has nothing worthwhile to say about anything including the topic at hand or its own country (it is a christard without proper american values and has no right to an opinion on CNN...it belongs on FOX)

      January 8, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      oops...wrong posting on the wrong comment...sorry

      January 8, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  9. NeilPeart

    JESUS IS COMING... LOOK BUSY.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  10. RationalFew

    This guy make the pope look liberal. Better watch out!

    January 8, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  11. Knute

    Santorum on 911: "He just said it was God’s plan."

    January 8, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  12. TonyJustin

    I don't think that Rick Santorum believes in freedom of religion for people who are not Roman Catholic. My impression is that he will impose Roman Catholic law on US citizens if elected president, meaning: no birth control, no divorce, burning heretics (Democrats) at the stake, religious wars, etc. Life may get Medieval in the USA.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Knute

      Yeah, but the head mormon in Salt Lake has directed Ritt Mooney to impose Prohibition to the other 49 states. Maybe even US Possessions.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  13. Michael

    After checking the history books – I am thinking – keep the religion out of politics!

    January 8, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  14. nooneknows

    I was alive when Jack Kennedy was president, and Mr. "frothy" Santorum, you're no Jack Kennedy.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • RationalFew

      He's an embarrassment to us mainstream catholics. The majority of us are pro-choice and do use birth control. And have lots more fun in bed than christian conservatives.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  15. Deep North

    I'm Rick Santorum and I approve this message.......PaidforbytheRickSantorumforPresidentCommitee,RNC!

    January 8, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  16. Laurie

    Santorum offers the chance to bring goodness, truth, honesty and morality back to leadership. I don't know if that is possible at this stage, but it is absolutely necessary if America is to survive. Turning back to God is the only option. We can always pray that America does just that before it is too late.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • nooneknows

      So you would like to "turn back" to the middle ages where theocrats had lots of powers?
      Do the middle eastern types of government appeal to you?
      Because that's what Santorum wants - a Catholic form of Sharia Law.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • NeilPeart

      Wrong. Ethics and morality are NOT solely predicated upon, or reliant upon religion to be valid and flourish. One's moral compass can and often does come from love and respect for family and others, because we have to co-exist with one another. Humans learn to act this way, and also have this thing called empathy and compassion. You can have, and practice these things without religion.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • E

      Religion is not morality, in fact most of the divorced, strip club going, wife beaters of the world call themselves Christians. You can worship your Bible all you want in your own church, but keep it out of everyone else's business.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • J.R.

      You religious nutjobs are the reason we in the gay community have been harassed, assaulted, murdered and driven to suicide. The blood is on your hands!! True Christians love & respect us gays and know we are normal human beings who work hard, pay taxes, obey the law and just want equality under the law. Those Christians that don't, and want to impose "religious law" are just evil monsters using their faith as a weapon – and it's they who deserve to be prosecuted for it.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • canadian dude

      "Turn back to god" Are you kidding. BACK is the operative word here. Back to the dark ages along with the moslems and southern baptists. Religon has NO place in politics or the governing of a country!!!

      January 8, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • captain america

      If you are a canadian dude then you should know your opinion doesn't count in America. Send us your resources and butt the f out. There's your sign

      January 8, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • warren b eigen

      We are supposed to have seperation of church and state. Where does it leave us non christians , who are offended with leaving us out in the USA? Everyone are equal, whatever religion we are or if one is an athiest. I dont hear anyone in your party talking to us.
      -------Shalom-We jews have contributed aot to this country-wont settle for second class status.
      ---------–Warren-------

      January 8, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @canadian dude: ignore captain america...it only comes here to trash Canadian's and has nothing worthwhile to say about anything including the topic at hand or its own country....

      (it is a christard without proper american values and has no right to an opinion on CNN...it belongs on FOX)

      January 8, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Dave in Portland

      captain america – You make me ashamed to share a country. Go back to your trailer park, crak open a bud, beat your dog, and listen to some twangy music. You're obviously not very good at anything else.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  17. Louise

    Why would he drag his kids onstage when they're that upset?

    January 8, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  18. jnpa

    We do not need a religious fanatic in the White House. They are so good at telling everyone how to live their lives. The GOP wants less government involvement in our lives, but then try to dictate how we will live morally. They want to legislate morality and their views on religion. That is NOT governments responsibility. Keep your religious views out of government!

    January 8, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  19. Jilli

    This is 2012, and the United States is not a theocracy – perhaps someone should tell Mr. Santorum.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  20. nooneknows

    Santorum takes his cues from the pope and then advocates legislation based on those personal beliefs.
    That is _not_ separation of church and state!
    Kennedy had it right – religion "shouldn't" matter and should be private.
    Santorum wants a Catholic Taliban. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Kerry

      Agree. One reason our forefathers came here was to separate the two. Religion is fine as a personal matter, doesn't mix with politics.

      January 8, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Jeff

      I agree. Anytime you mix religion an politics together you start legislating your beliefs. Given the history of the Republican Party, Mr. Santorum would legislate his morality and pick Supreme Court members of his same beliefs. He would end a woman's right of choice, mandatory prayer in school and permanently allowing tax incentives to sending children to church schools.

      January 8, 2012 at 9:09 am |
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About this blog

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