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My Take: Why should Santorum decide who's a real Christian?
February 20th, 2012
01:03 PM ET

My Take: Why should Santorum decide who's a real Christian?

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

There has been much chatter in recent days about the reinjection of religious matters into the presidential campaign, with a focus on the increasingly bitter debate over Catholics and contraception. But Rick Santorum has just opened up a new and dangerous front in the culture wars.

We are now being asked to debate which of the Christians running for president is really a Christian. I am referring here not to questions about Mitt Romney, whose Mormonism according to many evangelicals is not the right theological stuff, but to questions about President Barack Obama.

In the past, the strategy on the right was to intimate that Obama was a closet Muslim (he is not.) It was too crass even for our crassest politicians to come out and utter this falsehood, so, when asked about Obama’s faith, the strategy was to say, “If the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.”

In fact, that is precisely what Santorum said in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday.

This “Obama is a Muslim, maybe” strategy was also on display in Lady Lake, Florida, in January when a woman in the audience called Obama an “avowed Muslim” and Santorum let her remarks pass unchallenged.

Santorum took things a step further on Saturday, however, when he blasted the president for adhering to a "phony theology." The context, oddly enough, was a discussion of oil drilling technology, namely “fracking.”

In an effort to explain why Obama was in his view dragging his heels on this new technology, Santorum said the president was not motivated by “quality of life” issues. “It’s not about your job. It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology,” he said. “Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology. But no less a theology.”

On Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation," Santorum tried to shift the conversation from Obama's faith to the "phony ideal" of "radical environmentalists." "I accept the fact that the president's a Christian," he said,  even as he insisted on questioning Obama's "worldview."

Later on Sunday, at a suburban Atlanta megachurch, he seemed to compare Obama to Hitler while comparing Americans' complacency about Obama today to complacency about the Germans during World War II. "Remember, the greatest generation for a year and a half, sat on the sidelines while Europe was in darkness," he said. "We think . . . 'This will be okay. I mean, yeah, maybe he's not the best guy after a while. after a while you find out some things about this guy over in Europe who's not so good of a guy after all."

I will leave it to theologians to explain to me what the Bible says about hydraulic fracturing, to lexicographers to parse the fine distinctions between phony "theology" and a phony "worldview," and to historians (or 5th graders) to distinguish between our president and Germany's Fuhrer, but my point is this: Santorum has crossed a line.

In 2008, he crossed a similar line, but he had not yet announced his run for president, so his remarks went largely unnoticed. In remarks at Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida, however, he said that our culture war actually a “spiritual war” and that “Satan” was on the march in America.

This “Prince of Lies,” as Santorum called him, was destroying universities, the government and popular culture. But he had also infiltrated mainline Protestantism, which in Santorum's view had ceased to live up to the name of “Christian.” “We look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is a shambles. It is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it," Santorum said.

All this language about the “phony theology” of the president and mainline Protestants is in my view a misguided response to the decision of the Democrats to get right with God after Senator John Kerry’s loss to President Bush in the 2004 election.

Up to and during that election, Republicans were able to cloak themselves in the mantle of right religion and tar the Democrats as the party of the secular left. After 2004, however, the Democrats spoke increasingly about God and the Bible, linking their public policies to longstanding Christian commitments to justice and the poor.

Today Republicans continue to attack Democrats for adhering to the religion of “none of the above,” but such charges are increasingly implausible. So the new charge is not that the Democrats are godless. It is that they are the wrong kind of Christians.

There is considerable debate about what the founders meant when they preserved religious liberty and disestablished religion in the First Amendment. About these meanings (and in my view they were multiple) reasonable people can disagree.

It is also worth debating how far the founders thought religious diversity might go in their new nation. There was some conversation about Muslims and Jews during debates over Constitution's exclusion of any religious test for federal office. Some questioned whether Americans really wanted to allow non-Christians to be president.

There is no debating, however, the fact that the founders insisted on amity among the Christian denominations. In fact, they saw such amity as essential to peace and prosperity in their new republic.

Now Rick Santorum is turning the tables on those 19th century bigots who excommunicated Catholics from the community of the Christian faith. Evangelicals apparently pass muster with him, but not liberal Protestants, who according to Saint Santorum are less Christian than he.

There are doubtless theological discussions to be had here. In fact, Americans have been having them since the Reformation. And if Santorum wants to address a Catholic catechism class about whether Protestants are going to heaven, more power to him.

I also have no problem with Santorum citing chapter and verse from a papal encyclical to explain why he thinks "artificial birth control" is “harmful to women” and "harmful to our society" (as he said in 2006).  You want to give Catholic reasons for your public policies? Knock yourself out. Just don’t expect non-Catholics to agree with them (or many Catholics, for that matter).

Santorum also has every right to argue (as he has repeatedly) that church and state have never been separated in the United States the way some strict separationists would like them to be. But there must be some distinction between what happens in a sermon on Sunday morning and what happens in a presidential debate.

Conservatives in the United States have long spoken on behalf of community values. One of the most venerable values in American public life is religious pluralism.

This tradition of agreeing to disagree in the public square about such matters as the Trinity does not dictate that you check your faith at the door. It does not mandate that we all become moral relativists or theological compromisers. It does insist, however, that we refrain from reducing God to a wedge - which is to say a tool –for our own partisan politics. As any real conservative will recognize, that is not our tradition.

When I look at the shape of politics in this country, I too see that it is a shambles. And when I look at Rick Santorum's recent remarks I see one reason why.

My question for the former Senator from Pennsylvania is not whether he adheres to the right kind of Christianity. My question is whether there is anything he will not say in order to become president. Have you, sir, no sense of decency?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Culture wars • Politics • Protestant • Rick Santorum • Uncategorized • United States

soundoff (796 Responses)
  1. JEBUW

    I ask you Republicans, is this really who you want leading your country? Do you really want a divide in this country over who is and who is not a "good enough" Christian? I know the right and left have been at each others throats for a pretty long time, now, but honestly, is this who you think will solve our problems? Please, Republicans, I beg of you, step back from the edge. Step back from these fanatics. Please start electing reasonable people for offices.

    February 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • rob

      Great generalization there! So glad to see your comments. As far as electing reasonable people for offices goes, ditto!

      February 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  2. Scholar

    The BIBLE itself has a word that describes Santorum accurately. It is to be found in Matthew 6:5 and excellent advice for Santorum himself in Matthew 7:2-5.

    February 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Joe T.

      I prefer what google says about Santorum.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  3. TSM

    Please do not lump all Republicans with the same mind frame. There is a difference between the Social Conservatives in the Party; and the Fiscal Conservatives. In the same way not all Democrats belong to "Move-on," or "Codepink." There are also many Independents that are "center of right." Sadly, it is just the vocal majority of the party gets the most media attention. This is the only way it can be explained that in 2012, the Spectur of Christian Social Values has surfaced again.

    February 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • MIJohn

      Yeah but you people actually let your extremists fill the parties leadership slots, what policies you push, and which names you put on your ballot. There is a big difference between a building full of lunatics, and a building run by lunatics. The Democratic Party has it's lunatics but they're kept out of sight and out of power – the GOP has openly embraced it's most extreme members and their "like us or against us" beliefs.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • balanceBee

      You are very wise, TSM. I may be registered in a different party than yours but I wish there were more people like you around and less people expressing terms like "you people"! (see below) oh, brother.

      February 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  4. Mke

    Better question: Why should Rick Santorum decide anything at all? This guy is truly a nut job. I would be interested in hearing what an alternative to Obama had to say. But this guy is the craziest of all the Republican candidates. What a joke! Really, people are considering putting this guy in charge of our nuclear weapons?

    February 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  5. Jerry

    The interesting thing about the liberal media is they pound the candidates with leading questions to trap them into saying something and then spin it out of context to use it for personal attacks. What ever happened to honest journalism?

    February 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Scholar

      The interesting thing about the candidates is their remarks when they speak their mind in response to such questions. That is really what they are thinking, without pausing to think first about the consequences of saying what they truly believe.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Mke

      How was Santorum trapped into comparing Obama to Hitler before the presidential primaries even started? And how is saying that comparing Obama to Hitler is an inappropriate way for a US statesman to conduct himself (because of the inflammatory nature, irrelevancy, and absurdity of the statement) a personal attack?

      February 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • JEBUW

      UGH. THis again. Really? When someone asks you what you think and then you say it, then it's reported, that's not slanted media. This man is not fit for office. Read my post above. Come back from the edge. You must know this man is not fit to lead.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • HonestAbe

      Honest Journalism? It's never existed.

      Luke 12: 13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?

      And Jesus said...? That dude could turn a phrase.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Ken Wahl

      All or most of the quotes in this article were from speeches Santorum has given, not from answers to questions from the press. Santorum is the one eager to turn politics into conflicts between different religions. He needs no one to egg him on.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Jim

      The only "trap" Rick Santorum gets caught in is his own narrow, little biased mind. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot escape it. Then, after he makes statements that are recorded, he denies he said them.....so much for honesty and integrity.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • JOEL

      ummm yaaa the liberal media yaaa thats the ticket...the liberal media. or he is jus as loony as Bachmann was or worse if thats possible.

      March 13, 2012 at 3:32 am |
  6. mdn

    I like Santorum's religious views. In fact I'd like him better if he was more to the right. I hope he wins the GOP nomination. He deserves it way more than that phoney Romney or Gingrich.

    Once the Dems know that the Repubs mean business, they'll head for the hills led by their "Great Satan". Then America will be white and pure and Christian (real Christian). The women can be at home having babies and waiting to service their men...the way God wanted it to be.

    February 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Jerry

      Troll Alert.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Christine

      Ah, Humor!

      February 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Helene

      I too would like to see Sanatorium win the nomination. Then we will have a great debate between a great Inquisitor and a decent, articulate President who will sail to re-election.
      Religion is ONE's own business and should be kept OUT of government.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  7. woodofpine

    It's still a long way to the GOP convention... I wish Santorum well – he demonstrates the problem with the present GOP (its obsessive love of rancor and devision... even in the name of Godly virtue = hypocracy).

    Just remember – Santorum is the FORMER Sen. of PA. He didn't retire. The good people of PA didn't want him any more. He lost his last election there...

    February 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  8. ChesterFester

    {{“It’s not about your job. It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology,” he said. “Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology. But no less a theology.”}}

    He is obviously referring to the comparison of radical environmentalism to religious fervor. This analogy is very common in conservative circles, mostly because the analogy is so correct.

    As a liberal, this kneejerk wouldn't get the reference, but I would imagine so much goes over his head unnoticed each day.

    For an explanation of the comparison, he should pray to Gaia for karmic enlightenment, or seek a chakra-releasing audience with Pope Gore, the Corpulent.

    February 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Scholar

      We must live on the Earth and not abuse it. If we are causing it harm, we are destroying the work of God by our actions. Genesis 1:1 was the birth of the Earth, Genesis 1:26 was the first mention of man, and genesis 2:15 was the custodianship of the Earth – to keep it.

      We abuse the Earth by ignoring what injury we do to it by ignoring the facts of global warming from our works, then we dishonor the Will of God. Santorum says that global warming is not occurring.

      WHAT IF SANTORUM IS WRONG ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING?

      February 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  9. Joe T.

    Santorum is a fracking idiot.

    February 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Helene

      Which is why he should be the nominee. Let's have a good entertainment for a change!

      February 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Joe T.

      I would prefer Herman Cain. Awwww shucky ducky! Ubeki-beki-beki-stani-stan.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  10. TomJx

    Santorum: But we're not here to serve the Earth. The Earth is not the objective. Man is the objective.

    Jews, Christians and Muslims: The objective is to serve God, and do His will. The foundation of Satanism is that man is first and foremost.

    I'm just sayin'....

    February 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • TomJx

      It appears that Santorum is a CINO: Christian In Name Only. Or a false prophet, as we were warned about.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Jerry

      Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mt 20:26-28

      February 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  11. vbscript2

    Oh, give it a rest. What Santorum meant was obvious when not taken out of context and it had nothing to do with questioning whether Obama is a real Christian, as the author of this article *ADMITS* that Santorum said. In other words, the entire proposition of this article is admittedly a lie. CNN, time to find a new writer.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Dr.Fritz

      You don't understand. The Neocon power elite have chosen Romney. It's that simple. CNN is just a tool.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • ForTheUnborn

      No doubt – another left leaning academic popping his head up out of a hole to demonstrate morons exist within all levels of our society.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • GT

      Mr. Santorum stated in his "explanation" that he was referring to what he called the president's "radical environmentalism" when it came to mining for resources in the United States. So just how does an individual, who is supposedly wrapped in religion, possibly confuse "theology" with "radical environmentalism"? He absolutely meant to ascribe some some sort of non-christian belief system to the Presdent (dare I say Muslim?) in order to whip his conservative followers into a frenzy.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • ScottCM

      I completely agree. The point of Prothero's article is that Santorum has without decency asked if Obama is really a Christian. Santorum did not question whether Obama is really a Christian – saying "If he says he is a Christian, then he is a Christian" is not synonymous with "I don't believe he's really a Christian" nor is answering a policy question rather than admonishing an ill-informed citizen for thinking Obama is a Muslim. The different theology remark is easily understood to mean Obama's policies are motivated by a belief that he and the government know what is best for Americans. Theology in this context may not be the most precisely accurate term but it being slightly inaccurate does not turn his remark into an attack on the sincerity of Obama's religious beliefs. This stretch is bad enough but what's worse is how Prothero's disdain for Santorum manifests itself repeatedly throughout the piece in a petty ad hominem like "Saint Santorum" and resurrecting the deliberating misleading conflation of Santorum's personal beliefs about birth control with his public policy stance. I am disappointed in Prothero because he has written well before with impartiality – this piece is anything but impartial and fair. And unfortunately, it is just the latest of attack pieces CNN.com has published against Santorum in the last 2 weeks like "Female 'emotions' worry Santorum" just to name one.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  12. Dr.Fritz

    What we need is a Mormon cultist in the White House. Someone who must never be asked about the star system KOLOB, where his god dwells with his many wives, since asking about that is taboo. We need creepy Mitt Romney in 2012!

    February 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Bill

      I'll take anything over a communist muslim pal. Funny you have no problem with that little scenario.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Helene

      Yes ! we need either a boring flip flopping Mormon or a Great Inquisitor who will bring us back to the 12th century!

      February 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • JOEL

      BILL BILL!!! dont say anything ok your not helping.

      March 13, 2012 at 3:41 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      I would like just one piece of evidence to show this.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • just sayin

      Prayer changed my life completely. One proof as requested.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Fheal

      Yes – you've only to do a internet search on "prayer heals".

      February 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @just sayin': that is not proof...that is only your word. Proof would be if numerous people can verify it to be accurate and all have the same outcome. You may wish to believe this but it still doesn't prove anything.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Please don't feed the Trolls!

      February 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Fheal

      Yes @I'm the Best – you've only to do a internet search on "prayer heals".

      February 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      One piece of evidence to show that it does something different than what meditation would do. No examples have been given so far

      February 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • just sayin

      Not true o one of obscuring Truth. You asked one proof. I responded with my personal testimony that prayer had changed my life. "liar" prevails jumps in from canada to demand more, O.K. dip stick every Christian who has ever accepted the Lord as their savior has had their life changed by prayer. That is into the billions. Prayer changes things

      February 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • fred

      Fheal, it's too bad our educational system failed so miserably that you don't even understand the difference between correlation and causation. Oh well.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ fheal
      In this search, will it come up with statistical anomalies, or well docu mented physical impossibility? Because statistical anomalies is not proof that prayer works. And unless the physical impossibility is well recorded, that is not proof either.

      This is the way science works.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Jerry

      @I'm the best: My brother had a growth on his thyroid. The clinic did two tests and determined the tumor was malignant. We prayed with him for healing just before surgery. They removed the growth and found it to be benign. Should have seen the doctor's face when he told us is was benign. That was about 15 years ago and my brother is still cancer free.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @just spewin: Wrong again...not every christard says that and there have been studies done as have been posted in the past that show how wrong you are. Your personal testimony is just that-personal...it is not based on studies of any form and we would expect most christards to agree with you-they have brainwashed in the same manner. In order to prove prayer works, please provide scientific studies that show this. Until then prayer is dismissed as a placebo for anyone who thinks in the real world.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ Jerry,
      I'm glad for your brother, cancer is not something anyone wants to go through, whether it's your cancer or someone who's close to you.

      But that isn't proof that prayer works, I'd be willing to bet that had no one prayed for him, this would have still been the same outcome. Since there is no way of knowing whether it was the praying that saved him, or just statistics saying it has to happen sometimes, this is no proof, just a good story.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ Jerry,
      your view is known as "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" which means "after this, therefore because of this". But this is where your thinking is wrong because, just because you prayed, doesn't mean that's what did it.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Jerry: My 17 year old was told she had a potentially cancerous tumor on her knee. People prayed for her and it turned out to be benign but I didn't give credit to prayer for that, I gave credit to the Dr's who prepared us for the worst case scenario. ..it was their hands that saved her knee (given the size of the tumor, she could have lost the knee/lower leg) and sciences medical advances that allowed them to catch it in time before cancer possibly did form. When someone prays for some other person's well being, they are only doing this for themselves...it has no true effect on the person being prayed for..it is a comforting tool, nothing more.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • just sayin

      God reveals knowledge to mankind in science and medicine because people have asked God in earnest prayer for knowledge. God is the creator of all things including science and medicine. All healing is a gift of God working with man.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • just wondering

      Does liar prevails have Tourette flairs?

      February 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Jerry

      Hey; believe what you want to believe. I saw it happen and so did the doctors. You choose.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Please all you brave, proud christians, google Followers of Christ Church. They are a faith healing sect that believes that going to a doctor is a sin, and that prayer and anointing with oil is the only cure. They have a cemetery full of children who were devoutly prayed for, but who died from health issues that could have been cured with a simple trip to a doctor. Prayer doesn't work.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • gctwnl

      Prayer helps? Like that prayer session held by Rick Perry to combat drought in Texas? Like the prayer of all the victims of brutality and mishap over the aeons? You know, how do you know it helps? There are so many instances (probably most) that prayer was not followed by what was prayed for. Probably more than the other way around. If there is any evidence at all, it suggests strongly that prayer does in fact not help, except it helps those that tell people it does (and then turn you into a donor of some sorts).

      Prayer to get something you want is like a 5-year old asking Santa. Now, if we were talking good values and setting the right example, like helping others, you know, the things that actually make the world a better place, you would have my attention as a christian. But just forcing others to behave in a certain way (which Santorum is an example of), well, that's more like Inquisition than living according to the values of Jesus.

      Being christian is not about praying and preaching. The parasites attached to christianity are.

      March 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • JOEL

      Jerry glad it worked out. I and a lot of others pray for no more death in wars. Lots of people pray for the Cards lots for the Rangers????

      March 13, 2012 at 3:57 am |
  14. Glen Heather

    What is really amazing, is that there are people who buy into the idea that Obama is an "avowed" Muslim, that a President of the United States, should dictate, the rights of people regarding Abortion, Gender preferences, the use of contraceptives, Women not in the Military, Women not on the Police Force, Women just staying at home, keeping house, home schooling, etc. One can only hope that the majority of Americans who Vote have the intelligence to discern the difference between being just nuts, and being not nuts. Otherwise, we can expect to see Christian Burkas, and those of us who have the ability to think rationally, will probably have to wear some kind of "Not the Right Kind of Christian" Arm Band.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • vbscript2

      Glen, you do realize that it is the Democrats who are trying to force their opinion regarding birth control, gender preferences, etc. on others, right? Republicans and Libertarians have no problem with people being able to do whatever they want in those regards, they just don't wanted to be forced to pay for it. No one is trying to prevent people from having access to birth control. Someone is trying to force a group who believe it is morally wrong to pay for it. And that would be the current President. Oh, and it's also illegal, per the first amendment.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Helene

      There are idiots, uneducated morons, bigots everywhere .... even in this country apparently.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Drew

      @vbscript Actually the insurance companies are now required to provide contraception free of charge, so no catholic has to pay for it. The fact is, your freedom of religion does not trump someone else's basic human rights

      February 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Against Warbecause they may be p

      Funny thing there... the claim is that some Catholics and religious people are upset because they may have to allow contraception to be available to people working in catholic universities and hospitals. The religious dont want their money going for contraception...but its perfectly ok that their money goes towards war, killing hundreds of thousands of people, making better weapons, and of course, the death penalty. Gosh...the layers of irony there! I dont want my taxes being spent on war at all. So, if we can choose what things our taxes get used for.... my what a different country we would have!! I would like to spend my tax dollars on education and Health care... for ALL people living in the States.

      February 21, 2012 at 4:40 am |
  15. Bo

    There are only a few things necessary to define a Christian. To belive that Jesus was divine, He was crucified, and rose from the dead. From that point the theology of Christianity disperses in many directions; a thing that delights atheists because it gives them many points to criticize believers. It also invalidates anyone else’s opinion of just what is a Christian, including Santorun”s, the Papacy; and atheists.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • momoya

      Just imagine if mathematicians or scientists could only agree on three things...

      February 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  16. Deist

    By accident Santorum brings up an important point: what is a Christian. For almost 2,000 years people who consider themselves Christians have been killing other people who consider themselves Christian but who don't live up to their understanding of what Christianity is. Look at the 30 Years War as just one horrific example in internal Christian slaughter of one another. This is because the Bible itself is so ambiguous. It's not even clear in the New Testament how salvation is secured. Does it involve belief or actions or both?

    As the American founder and Deist Thomas Paine made clear in his book on God, religion, Deism, etc., The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition, "The Calvinist, who damns children of a span long to hell to burn forever for the glory of God (and this is called Christianity), and the Universalist who preaches that all shall be saved and none shall be damned (and this also is called Christianity), boasts alike of their holy [revealed] religion and their Christian faith." He goes on to say the only possible word of God is the Creation itself that no man could have made and which no man can alter or suppress.

    Progress! Bob Johnson
    http://www.deism.com

    February 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  17. David Johnson

    Why should Santorum decide who should be a real Christian?

    Because that is what Evangelicals do. That is what they will do if they are allowed to create the Theocracy they so crave. Their Jesus will be the Head of State. They will decide if your Jesus is good enough. Their Jesus will whisper in their ear, what is right and wrong.

    Our nation is a secular nation. A nation of laws. Every religion, no matter which god they worship, is welcome. The law dominates. Not a god. Not anybody's god.

    The 2012 election is of great importance. It the Republicans get into the White House and take over the Senate, we will see the Christian Right's agenda come to fruition.

    Vote for the Dems in 2012. Send a message to the Christian Right, that they will not dominate this country.

    Cheers!

    February 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Ronald Reganzo

      Why do you think they are called "right"? President Santorum will need to take a hard look at your kind.
      Cheerio

      February 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Brian

      @Ronald

      "Right" and "left" wing date back to the French National Assembly. The liberals sat on the left side of the room and the conservatives sat on the right side.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • mdn

      Santorum is Catholic.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  18. thomas mc

    We're voting for a President, not a Pope. Santorum doesn't seem to understand that this is a secular republic, not a Catholic theocracy.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Ronald Reganzo

      You forgot the last word ....yet ! President Santorum will make a believer out of you !

      February 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Helene

      Sanatorium is the best thing since sliced bread! I never thought something like this even existed, even in the USA !

      February 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  19. jefflz

    Santorum makes a mockery of everything this country stands for. That he is considered a serious Republican candidate for President of the United States is proof positive that the GOP has outlived its usefulness as a party.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  20. Hypatia

    Ayatollah Ricky is bleached bone hypocrite who squalls about 'small government' but wants cameras in every bedroom and an inquisition for anyone who doesn't love il Papa.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
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About this blog

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