My Take: Santorum’s right, JFK wrong on separation of church and state
The author says that President John F. Kennedy got the separation of church and state wrong and that Rick Santorum gets it right.
February 29th, 2012
11:14 AM ET

My Take: Santorum’s right, JFK wrong on separation of church and state

Editor's Note: R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

By R. Albert Mohler Jr., Special to CNN

Even Rick Santorum’s most ardent detractors have to concede this much - the former senator speaks his mind. Recently, Santorum has been speaking his mind on questions of church and state, and the political left has responded with disbelief and horror.

Over the weekend, Santorum told ABC's "This Week" that reading the text of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association made him physically sick: “I almost threw up.”

As it turns out, Santorum had made similar statements about Kennedy’s speech before. But, as Santorum quickly learned, he had dared to criticize a speech, and an argument, that the left has long considered the equivalent of settled law.

Kennedy addressed the Houston Baptist pastors at a crucial point in his campaign for the presidency. He was facing claims that a Catholic president would be unduly influenced by the Vatican and Catholic authorities, and Kennedy sought to calm those fears. In one sense, the speech was something of a political necessity. In an even greater sense, it established what amounts to a political orthodoxy on the political left.

Explaining what made him almost throw up, Santorum pointed to a statement Kennedy made early in the speech: “I believe in an America where separation of church and state is absolute.”

Santorum retorted, “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”

Santorum should have avoided gastrointestinal references in his comments, and he clearly missed some of the careful nuances of Kennedy’s speech, but his criticism of Kennedy’s argument is both timely and essentially right. Furthermore, it is high time that Americans understand that the ideas Kennedy espoused in that speech have led us to an impasse in current debates.

There can be no “absolute” separation of church and state. Such an absolute separation would, in theory, prevent any conflict or controversy between religious bodies and government. As just about any edition of a major newspaper makes clear, these conflicts occur over and over again.

Much of Kennedy’s speech would be noncontroversial, including his plea for an end to religious intolerance and his assertion of religious liberty. But Kennedy framed his argument with assertions that simply cannot be sustained. The central problem was Kennedy’s insistence that religion is a purely private affair with no public consequences.

Kennedy argued the church he believed in should not be a matter of public concern “for that should be important only to me.” Later in the speech, he said: “I believe in a president whose views on religion are his own private affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation, nor imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.”

Those two crucial assertions - Kennedy's insistence that his church “should be important only to me” and his description of a president’s religion as “his own private affair” - create the problem.

The moral and political battles of the last half-century demonstrate that religious convictions cannot be merely a “private affair.” The reason for this is simple: If religious beliefs mean anything, they will affect other beliefs. Human beings are composite creatures, and there is no way that authentic religious beliefs can be safely isolated from an individual’s total worldview.

The potential for cultural conflict increases when religious beliefs are held strongly and when they are deeply integrated into an individual’s thinking. This is why Kennedy sought to affirm that he could serve as president without his Catholicism carrying any real significance at all.

That argument worked for Kennedy in 1960 when he was running for president against anti-Catholic prejudice. It does not work when we have to engage in the hard process of establishing public policy.

Kennedy’s line of argument set the stage for the hugely influential effort of intellectuals such as John Rawls, Jurgen Habermas and Robert Audi. The secular left is deeply committed to their idea that public arguments must be limited to secular reason, with religious beliefs and arguments ruled out of bounds.

This approach has also led to the secularization of vast areas of public life, marginalizing citizens with deep religious convictions. The coercive power of the state has forced the secularization of charitable work, leading to such tragedies as the closing of religious charities that refuse to secularize their ministries.

Santorum is surely right when he spoke of these things as “absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”

The very fact that, in 2012, a presidential candidate from one party can create instant headlines by arguing against a speech made by a presidential candidate of the other party, more than 50 years ago, should be enough to convince any fair-minded American that we still have much work to do as we try to reason with each other about these questions.

As we get about that task, we need to speak to one another with care, courtesy and full conviction. Massively difficult issues loom before us, but this nation is sufficiently mature so that we can have this conversation without losing our lunch.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of R. Albert Mohler Jr.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Opinion • Politics • Rick Santorum

soundoff (351 Responses)
  1. GodPot

    If 100 years ago America had built an amusement park on public grounds and paid for its operation with tax dollars called "Bible Land" that featured all the bible stories and exemplified Christs teachings we could say that amusement park was founded on Christian principles, It is a Christian amusement park. Now, 100 years later, as demographics have changed, Christians still want everybody to pay for their amusement park, and those non-Christians who pay their taxes don't want to financially support it based on their own faiths want the bible removed from "Bible Land". But what would Christians do? Likely scream at the top of their lungs that this is a Christian Park founded on Christian principles and to remove it is an attack on their faith. No one is saying you can't have your Christian amusement park, we are saying WE DO NOT WANT TO PAY FOR IT!! Whether this was or was not a Christian nation at some point is completely irrelevent, we were a slave owner nation too, does that mean that was right for our nation? No. The sane Americans would never want to roll back the clock to our "Christian" roots that allowed so much hate, bigotry and corruption to take hold of our elected officials for so long, not that they have rid themselves of it entirely, and it even seems to be on the rise again within the republican party.

    Saying I don't want my tax dollars to be spent on any religion, on any religious memorial, any tax exempt Church status, any faith based group education programs is not an attack on religion, it is an expression OF religious freedom. But when you attempt to make the rest of us pay so you can have your exclusive Jesus club with special privilages passing morality legislation it is YOU who are attacking religious freedom. And this pius pundit makes it clear when he says "This approach has also led to the secularization of vast areas of public life, marginalizing citizens with deep religious convictions. The coercive power of the state has forced the secularization of charitable work". I mean "marginalizing citizens" is all Christians do, most often the ones with "deep religious convictions" that just don't happen to be Christian religious convictions. Can anyone say NY Mosque? Why don't you just come out and say it, you don't want religious freedom, you want Christian freedom.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      Now I wish I wouldn't have made that large donation to Dollywood.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Colin

      Good post

      February 29, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  2. 0G-No gods, ghosts or goblins

    Evreyone is free to believe and advocate (peacefully) for whatever they want.

    As soon as any law is enacted because "some god says the law (for everyone) is ...," the politicians enacting the law are guilty of violating the const!tution.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      And wouldn't it be hilarious if Santorum did win the nomination? Obama would have some serious fun running against him.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • William Demuth

      The Central Srutinizer

      Being of German heritage, I warn you be careful what you wish for.

      Herr Hitler was laughed at by most, but was in fact duly elected.

      From my perspective, being a candidate is one thing, but being the nominee would be WAY too close to history changing crazy for me. An unexpected market crash, or a bad miitary development at the last minute, and we could have an extremist in power.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Nonimus

      William Demuth,
      Congrats! you are today's winner of the Godwin award. Enjoy!

      February 29, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  3. The Central Srutinizer

    If you look in the Bible, there are an amazing number of people that God wants his followers to murder. For example, in Exodus 35:2 God lays down this commandment:

    For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.

    Think about that how many people work on the Sabbath - all the employees of Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, Linens & things, grocery stores, convenience stores, power plants, airlines, hospitals, emergency services and on and on and on. Don't rabbis, priests and preachers work on the Sabbath? God wants all of them dead.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      Then look at Deut 21:18-21. It says:

      If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place.

      They shall say to the elders of his town, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. So you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid.

      That is a whole lot of teenagers that we need to kill.

      Gosh, sounds like the bible was written by uneducated primitive people in the miiddle east! Oh, it was!!

      February 29, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      Then there is Leviticus 20:13:

      If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

      All h.o.m.os.e.xuals need to be killed. What about this:

      If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.
      That's a lot of people who need to be killed.

      If we actually listened to what God says, we would need to kill at least half of the people in America.

      After all, Isaiah 40:8 says, "The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever."

      The word of the Lord tells us to kill half of the U.S. population.

      So why aren't you good Christians out there mowing people down??

      February 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • William Demuth


      You overlook the commitment of the Christian God to return and annihilate BILLIONS of people, not to mention the eternal damnation of TRILLIONS more.

      With freinds like Santorums God, we have ne need of enemies.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      Excellent point as usual William.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Matt

      I'm sorry, I don't like to comment much, but you are horribly misinformed about the Bible. When Christ came to earth, died and rose again in accordance with the Scriptures, he expanded on the Law of God. The Law was to make us aware of our sin/imperfection and ultimately showed that we needed saving. After Christ made full payment for sin, man could be reconciled to God. Jesus now says that the Sabbath is INTERNAL. When a person accepts the free gift of God (see Romans 6:23) he receives a new Spirit (the Spirit of God). This is turn, gives us a COMPLETE rest EVERYDAY, not just once a week. Jesus died for your sins and my sins and fully made payment for what the Law showed us we deserved, DEATH. This was God's gift because of His LOVE for us.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      The answer to all your above questions is Jesus. Under the law (Old Testament covenant), the consequences for sin or payment for sin required a blood sacrifice. Either a designated animal or the sinner, as the case may be. Under the new covenant brought about by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, his blood paid it all. It pays for the sin today, yesterday, and forever for the believer. For example, adultery was a sin punishable by death, but Jesus told the people if you look at a woman with lust in your heart you have committed adultery. The point is that the flesh is sinful by nature whether in thought or deed. No one is good. We all need forgiveness.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      Well now that is just silly. But thanks for agreeing with me the the bible is nonsense.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      There are plenty of contraditions in the NT we can look at:

      Matthew and Luke give two contradictory genealogies for Joseph (Matthew 1:2-17 and Luke 3:23-38).

      They cannot even agree on who the father of Joseph was. Church apologists try to eliminate this discrepancy by suggesting that the genealogy in Luke is actually Mary's, even though Luke says explicitly that it is Joseph's genealogy (Luke 3:23).

      Christians have had problems reconciling the two genealogies since at least the early fourth century. It was then that Eusebius, a "Church Father," wrote in his The History of the Church, "each believer has been only too eager to dilate at length on these passages."

      February 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • jdubz

      There are no contradictions. The problem is with the reader who has reading skills of a five year old. Heli is the father of Mary, which would be Joseph's father in law. They never coined the term father in law 2000 years ago. It was just father. Each book of the gospel was a separate and personal testimony each written from years to generations apart. Nobody got together and agreed upon the validity of their testimony before it was written. If i could have seen a contradiction in the main message of the four gospels, then I would question my faith. But what do ya know, all four have the same message. It's easy to cherry pick when you have no idea what you are talking about.

      February 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Chris

      @jdubz – Congrats on over-generalizations and making yourself sound like you have no idea about the Bible that you defend. The pivotal, perhaps most pivotal, story in the Bible, of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, is rife with differences between all of the accounts in the Bible, especially the Gospels. I was going to list some of the big ones, but there's plenty of places online that discuss the discrepancies. Yeah, some of the details don't matter, but enough of them sure makes the-event-that-Christianity-is-based-upon seem a little suspect...

      February 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • jdubz

      so chris, show me exactly what the difference between your comment and mine. I think i just heard an echo. Like i said there are no contradictions, only different and personal testimonies. All with the same message. When you have something to argue about, make sure you do not agree with me, or else it is not an argument at all.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • frespech

      Your half hearted quotes of the bible only indicate that you have no understanding at all or if you do then you are trying deliberately to mislead.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  4. GodsPeople

    There should have never been a separation of church and state. Allowing that is what's caused 95% of the problems we have in this day and age. If the Church had been part of Governance all of this time, we wouldn't have 3/4 of the insulting amendments and genocidal immigration policies we have today.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Heh

      As long as it's YOUR church, eh what?!

      February 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • momoya

      So the founders of the nation were wrong to seek a different life and escape from the combined churchstate of England? They should have just gone along with the English church/state that was the law where they lived?

      February 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Oy..the atheist chew-toy is back.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      95% ?? 3/4 ?? Where do you get this stuff? This is not your make believe world, many of us insist on facts if you are to be taken with any seriousness.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      People, this post is that of an obvious troll. I think we went through this with 'George' a while back. Someone out there is very bored and likes getting a rise out of people.

      Don't feed the troll.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      Actually, they should have named the Orthodox the official Church. Due to the fact that it's the original Church of Christ, and stands as the only true non profit, for the people church.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      The writer of this article is correct that if you consider that people should forget their beliefs when making public policy, and if you consider that to be an absolute, then using the word absolute there is problematic. But Kennedy was talking about the promotion of religion by government to the point that a candidate must pass a religious test to be elected.

      When taken in this context, the absolutism of our separation of church and state is clear, and is crucial. And it will be better for believers and non-believers if it stays that way.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Exactly what problems do you mean?

      We have the most succesful economy, culture, society and military on the planet.

      We are the envy of the world, and the brightest beacon of hope that has EVER existed.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      GP, how can you call yourself a "real" Christian, whatever that means, if you don't follow the teachings in the biible? I think you are a very dissapointing Christian indeed.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      Actually William, you're wrong on multiple points. Canada right now has a more successful economy than the US does. The US currently has over 10% unemployed (this includes the amount no longer eligible for benefits), whereas Canada has 7.1%.

      What culture? The only legitimate culture in the US is white European culture, but that's being eliminated by the government. The genocidal policies in place (affirmative action, the 14th Amendment, etc) are eroding and eliminating our true culture from this country.

      Our society is failing. Just look at Detroit and California. Look at Southern Arizona and New Mexico, or the border towns in Texas. Hell, look at el paso. Our society WAS the most successful, now we're the biggest shambles.

      We're not the envy of the world anymore William. Once, yes, we were a shining example of white civilization. Now, these days, our country is falling apart down around our ears and there's nothing we can do about it. Now people just hate us.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • GodsPeehole

      We are a Christian nation! Get used to it! So what if you don't believe, we want what we want! Oh the joy if only we could go back to the early 1800's where a good honest white land owner could head to town any Saturday and buy a whole new pack of n e gros to take home so he could help with the building of his new Church... And don't forget ladies, you are meant to be seen, not heard, and don't you dare be so immoral as to let your ankle show...Now get back in the kitchen!!

      February 29, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      Point to the part in the consti.tution or any of the ammendments that state that the USA is a Christian nation.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • William Demuth


      You are joking correct?

      In fact, I believe it is feasible we might actually BUY Canada at some point in the future.

      I love the Canadians deeply, but I have NEVER met one who would even entertain the idea that they had comporable power in ANY venue that is quantifiable.

      Besides they are more secular than we!

      February 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Once, yes, we were a shining example of white civilization."

      It really is hard sometimes to be the peace loving pacifist when faced with such outright racist rhetoric. Someday you will understand that you are just "people" and your "Gods" have really just been the lie you keep telling yourself to excuse your inexcusable behavior, your hate, your discrimination and your greed.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • J.W

      Unemployment is only one measure of the economy, and certainly not the main indicator of whether an economy is successful or not.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      @HawaiiGuest: Please point to where I said that. Although since the original pilgrims were Christians, I do believe it.

      @William: I believe we should pay back the trillions we owe China, first. Right now, they own us. They own our debt, they own us. Canada doesn't have that issue, either.

      @GodPot: It's racist to speak the truth? What, you gonna try to "beat me up," oh mighty keyboard commando? Bring it.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      True Christians are white and white is right. When will you people get this? The non-whites have their place in our society, servicing the whites. Our biggest mistake was giving them rights and you can see where that has brought us.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      Someone stole my nickname and posted the above. I don't believe any of that nonsense, I believe non-whites belong in their own countries just like we should have our own.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      To further clarify non-whites also have their place in Heaven, or outside of Heaven I should say.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      I didn't say that either. That's entirely up to God, not me.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • GodPot

      I'm sure it makes you feel like a big man to attack the unarmed pacificts who do nothing more than show you a mirror so you can see your violent hate filled murderous ignorance. Is it the best defense? No, lots of pacificts have been killed and abused at the hands of the religious zealots like yourself. You just keep on lying to yourself to excuse your dishonorable conduct, and if your God existed he would be ashamed of you and would spit on your grave for doing so many reprehensible things in his name.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      But then again I did say it

      February 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      @GodPot: What the h-e-l-l are you babbling about, you f-c-k-t-a-r-d? You're the one who thinks the truth is racist, you're the one who said it's hard being a "peace loving pacifist" when confronted with truth. You're the one saying all of this. All I said is, if you think you're gonna "beat me up," then bring it. Once you're in the hospital in a coma, I can move on with life. I won't touch anyone who doesn't attack me first, but I will defend myself with up to lethal force, and have no moral qualms about it.

      You want to accuse someone of something? Make sure they're guilty of it first, gene pool reject.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • William Demuth


      If you understood economics a little better you would laugh at yourself.

      Our debt is owned by us citizens, the Chinese only own between six and eight percent, and we pay near zero interest to them.

      In fact we are playing them for fools.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • wow

      "@GodPot: What the h-e-l-l are you babbling about, you f-c-k-t-a-r-d? You're the one who thinks the truth is racist, you're the one who said it's hard being a "peace loving pacifist" when confronted with truth. You're the one saying all of this. All I said is, if you think you're gonna "beat me up," then bring it. Once you're in the hospital in a coma, I can move on with life. I won't touch anyone who doesn't attack me first, but I will defend myself with up to lethal force, and have no moral qualms about it."

      You should seek professional help for your low self-esteem issues.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • J.W

      GodsPeople seems to be Mormon.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      Now that CNN's decided to follow the law and I can talk...

      @William: 10 of 14.7 trillion in debt is owned by China. Right now, they own us. All they have to do is call in the debt, we cannot pay it.

      @Wow: suicide is your option. Go have fun.

      @JL: Orthodox actually.

      February 29, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • GodPot

      "10 of 14.7 trillion in debt is owned by China. Right now, they own us. All they have to do is call in the debt, we cannot pay it."

      Not that correcting morons does any good, heII, some idiots still think the world is flat, but here are the real numbers:

      "As of May 2011 the largest single holder of U.S. government debt was China, with 26 percent of all foreign-held U.S. Treasury securities (8% of total US public debt)."

      Someone needs to go down to your work and slap the penis out of your mouth and send you back to school. With a high school education you might actually get off your knee's and be a productive member of society instead of just sucking them.

      March 1, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  5. IslandAtheist

    Rick's last name makes me want to vomit.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      That's because (1) you are immature (2) get too much of your info from the internet (3) have no real life experience to fall back on

      February 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  6. myweightinwords

    Faith is a highly personal thing. It necessarily informs and affects the actions and desires of those who believe.

    Everyone is ent.itled to their own faith, or no faith, as they are given to believe, however, that person's right to their faith ends where the next person's right to their own faith begins.

    Thus, we can have elected officials with strong faith in whatever religion, as long as that religion does not impact the way that they do their job. We can not legislate morality. Our laws do not create morals, they reflect the morals common to the majority of our society.

    The separation of church and state must be maintained. The government has no right to dictate the beliefs of the people or the governance of any religious body. No religious body has the right to dictate law.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • J.W

      So you said you are not atheist right? You must either be agnostic, pagan, or Buddhist.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      Funny how you just assume that someone with intelligence is an athiest.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      J.W, I most commonly identify as Pagan, though will admit to bouts of agnosticism. Out of curiosity, does that affect the way that you view my comments?

      CS, thank you for the compliment.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • J.W

      I think that Damian and I are intelligent and we are not atheist. Brad is intelligent too. I am sure there are some others. Those are the ones that I agree with the most though.
      MWIW No it doesnt really matter as far as how I view your comments. But I thought you were an atheist based on your comments before, but you said you were not atheist, so I was just curious.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        Fair enough. I have to admit that this would be the first time I've been mistaken for an atheist.

        February 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  7. fernace

    The reasoning of our forefathers behind the separation of church & state was because they had 1st hand knowledge of the corruption a government run by a King & his religious whims of the moment, can do to a country & its people! Our government was set up in a democratic fashion "of the people, for the people"! The people are free to worship in the religion of their choice & the government can't set up a state religion which we all must adhere to! Likewise the government is not allowed to make policy based on Biblical tenets, but based on law! It's more important than ever to uphold this amendment, due to the various religions in this country & due to what we're seeing now! Catholic leaders who want to control womens healthcare needs under the guise of "religious freedom"! It is not any1's religious freedom to deny another person full insurance coverage!! Are these some of the reasons why the "fundamentals" want to recind separation of church & state; to impose their personal opinions? They wont succeed!!

    February 29, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  8. Helen Van der Brock

    I am a member of the Episcopalian Church & have a very deep & abiding faith.
    That being said, I CANNOT & WILL NOT SUPPORT ANY CANDIDATE WHO INTENDS TO CRAFT LEGISLATION BASED ON HIS OR HER'S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS!!! As soon as Santorum started beating his bible, he lost my vote.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ Helen – I totally agree. As a non-denominational minister, I find this crop of GOP Bible-thumpers is getting down-right frightening. I did not vote for Mr Obama the first time, but he sure will get my vote in the next election!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      Thank you both for the common sense. It comforts me (in all seriousness).

      February 29, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      If that's how both of you feel, then NEITHER of you are real Christians. A responsible leader would HAVE to be guided by his conscience, which SHOULD be ruled and fueled by his faith.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      It's intolerant, close-minded, self-righteous people like you that have always pushed people away from the church. Thought proccesses like yours are what started some of the crusades to purge "heretics".

      February 29, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • J.W

      Yeah when the church had much more power that power was abuse. It was good that the reformation occurred because that divided up some of the power.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ God's People stated, "If that's how both of you feel, then NEITHER of you are real Christians. A responsible leader would HAVE to be guided by his conscience, which SHOULD be ruled and fueled by his faith."

      God's People, you are not judge and jury when it comes to deciding who is, and who is not, a Christian, nor one who is qualified to examine my conscience or my faith. If you feel you are qualified to do so, you have tripped and fallen over your own ego.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  9. Rev. Rick

    Quoting from the article, "This approach has also led to the secularization of vast areas of public life, marginalizing citizens with deep religious convictions."

    Marginalizing citizens with deep religious convictions? Seriously? It seems to me most of the GOP candidates are all citizens with "deep religious convictions." Do they seem marginalized to you? They seem well-funded and very popular to me! As a "former" Southern Baptist myself, Mr Mohler, would you be disagreeing so much with President Kennedy's speech if our current crop of GOP candidates were Hindu, or Buddhist? Or would you be stressing how their beliefs need to be kept out of the political arena? I'm just asking...

    February 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • sarah

      Good question.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • GodPot

      They claim they are being "marginalized" because they are playing the victim.

      "Now there is a very important thing that you must put into consideration when dealing with people who play the victim role which is that any attempt to show them the truth will be opposed by great resistance. After all the person might have been acting like a victim for years in order not to feel inferior and he won't just give up right away if someone tried to show him the truth.

      Its very common for a person who plays the role of a victim to not believe you if you confronted him with such facts and to even devalue you if necessary just to keep protecting his ego.

      When dealing with a person who plays the victim role you need to be patient until you deliver him all of these facts and until he realizes that he was living in an imaginary world designed solely to protect his ego.

      Once he becomes aware of this facts its time to help him set new goals and reach them in order to rebuild his self confidence without relying on such defense mechanisms." – M.F Radwan MSc.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  10. Dan Rosicky

    I quess I'm a little out of touch, I thought this one was settled in the West a while back. Two questions: which Church ? and how does that Freedom of Religion thing work for the other Churches if there is no separation (or do they just wait for their turn to run the ship)?.

    Sorry if these are dumb questions but I'm from Europe.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      Hi Dan, welcome to Western I r a n!

      Freedom of religion means freedom for the Evangelicals and Catholics to create a theocracy and tell everyone in the country how to worship, when to worship, what they are allowed to do with their own bodies, etc. You know, freedom! That should clear it up for you.

      Policies will then be based on a religious book rather than the Const.i.tution. So soon we can again enjoy slavery and a return to s.e.xism and government sanctioned bigotry. You might want to stay in Europe.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • sarah

      It really makes no sense no matter where you're from. Baptists, Lutheran, Catholic, Methodists, Mormans and so on are all Christian religions and they're also very different from each other in many ways. I don't see how imposing Catholic laws on Lutherans would ever be considered ok. And Baptists? No dancing, no touching, no drinking. How about Mormans? Calling the US a "Christian Nation" doesn't narrow anything down. The only reasonable solution is to keep the two ideas separate.

      Besides, even God doesn't force people to obey him, so why doesn't his faithful follow his example and let people make their own choices? Human laws are what we enforce on Earth, not God's. That's his domain.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  11. sarah

    If you have a problem cooperating with people who may not agree with your personal religion and recognize that they don't have to submit your church's dogma, you have no business in the national or state government.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Todd

      If by "cooperate," you mean "sit down, shut up, and keep your opinions to yourself," then I disagree. Democracy means all voices should have a place at the table. Unfortunately in our current political and cultural climate, those who claim to be the most tolerant are actually the most intolerant when confronted by someone who advocates a morality that differs from their own. The only ones ruled out-of-bounds anymore are those who dare rule an action out-of-bounds. This is the height of hypocrisy.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  12. Reality

    Dear Mr. Mohler,

    A prayer just for you:

    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

    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.

    (references used are available upon request)

    February 29, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • .....

      Reality offers nothing but copy paste bull sh it. Hit report abuse every time you see a reality heading

      February 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  13. J.W

    The church should be focused on spiritual guidance. There is no reason to bring the church into politics. It distracts from what the church is there to do.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      I think there's a yes and no reply here, JW. It's not as clear cut as that. Do I believe that the CHURCH should be making policy and laws? Absolutely not. We're not a theocracy. But do I believe that people have a fundamental right to express their opinion and change laws? Without question.

      Things such as abortion and the death penalty often come down to ethics. When is a fetus a baby? When should someone die for the crimes they've committed? These are not questions of science and logic, but they have to be made according to morals. Some people believe at conception, a baby is a baby and killing it is wrong. Others believe that there is a certain period along in pregnancy that we should consider it a baby. Some people view that killing another person should forefit the life of the person doing the killing. Others view the death penalty as barbaric, expensive and too extreme due to the fact that there could be mistakes. But these are all opinions, not based on facts.

      This is a government for the people, of the people and by the people. People have a right to vote according to their conscience, and that includes BOTH sides. And then we make laws based on what the majority want. Once that's done we make sure such laws are legal and Consti.tutional.

      How long have gays been without rights? California is STILL arguing over Prop 8 where the majority (albeit a slim majority) voted to deny gays the right to marry. Why? Mostly, it's an emotional response. But that's how the law has been passed. Now they have to fight it in court.

      All of this to say, I agree, that the church shouldn't be making laws. But that doesn't mean the attenders of the church shouldn't vote and agree with a church's doctrine.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • J.W

      Well I can agree with that. We do vote with our conscience. We just need to make sure that the church does not become power hungry. There is much argument on here over what is the dominant religion, which religion is growing or declining faster, which has the most political power, etc. I do not know why any of that matters. I can see how things such as abortion and the death penalty might not be as black and white. But things like gay marriage that is solely based on religion.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      I agree. The whole gay rights issue is absurd. There's no reason to deny them rights other than religions saying so.

      Where the main problem I see is this. The religious are a big group in the United States and they are all voting according to their conscience. That's not the problem. The problem is that the minority is being denied rights by the majority (and by not much of a majority, at that!) That is where the problem is.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  14. Atheists views only work for their own.

    This a Christian Nation.

    God Bless America!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Yeahright

      "This a Christian Nation."

      Only in your delusional mind. This is a Republic! We have separation of church and state for a reason because Christians are the most judgmental intolerant people on the planet!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      This is a secular nation. It will always be. Christians are tolerated. If you don't like it, move somewhere that shares your views, like Iran.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Woody

      "This a Christian Nation"

      The US Consti-tution is the backbone of our government. It's the law of the land. Nowhere in the docu-ment will you find the words "Christ", "Christian" or names of any other alleged deities or their followers. The USA is a secular country. Deal with it.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I agree that this is a nation chock-full-of-christians. But the luckily for me, the government is secular, and people with religious views like yours are currently unable to control my life. Hopefully we keep Christians with Santorum's degree of insanity out of the white house, and it stays like that.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  15. TheRationale

    So really the only way to have a president whose religion doesn't get in the way of his decision making would be to have an atheist president?

    Besides, religion is purely based on faith, not reason. You can't have that sort of logic running a country. Calling it religion doesn't make it any less than what it is.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      To me it is very simple. Religion should not be an "issue" Don't tell me about your religion, tell me about your policies and your plan for the country. I don't care what religion you are. An athiest should be able to run for office on his or her political platform, not religion. It is all a big embarrassing circus right now. Keep religion out of politics period. Issues, not religion please. Obama 2012

      February 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  16. Greg Lammers

    Policy decisions must be based on reasons, concerns, and evidence from the real world. Policy proposals argued from and driven by faith are necessarily fanciful, divisive, exclusionary. Religionists who want more of their own particular mythologies to rule us are not struggling against some secular left but against the real world full of real people.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  17. Robert Brown

    Separation of Church and State is the wrong name for it. Read for yourself, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…” Congress cannot make any laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting it’s free exercise. Congress can’t pass a law helping or hindering any religion. It should be named Congress can’t tell me how to worship.

    It does not say a politician can’t express his or her beliefs, as a matter of fact, freedom of speech is next after the above quote. Personally I want politicians to explain what they believe because I want to elect someone with whom I agree. Or, as is the usual case, I want to elect someone I disagree with the least.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Linda

      Agreed, the government (Legislators, Executive, Judicial) should not tell us how to worship. This is what is most troubling with Santorum, Perry, Gingrich and the far right. I don't care if they are Catholic, I applaud their strong beliefs. Please let other Christians worship and live in accordance with their firmly heald beliefs.

      To all politicians – please stay out of my bedroom, stay out of my doctor's office, stay out of my house of worship.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 29, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Good. I pray that you go away.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Jesus

      -The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      Proven (no need to thank me) Welcome to Ground Hog Day. Again.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • just sayin

      Don't study studies, studies are misleading, study God

      February 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Don't study studies, studies are misleading, study God"

      It's been proven to be a waste of time.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  19. JustIn

    I'd like to get behind Rick Santorum and give him my solid support, but until he's more open about all the stimulus that has gone into his package, we won't know for sure that he's a real Republican and a true evangelical Christian like the rest of them, no matter how oral he gets on Romney.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Mary

      Personally I can't see myself supporting Santorum when he's so frothy. I just don't have that in me.

      I did learn a lot about him using google but the present race he is in has a strange mixture and Obama hasn't even entered the situation yet. Santorum would be pretty exposed if he got that far.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  20. William Demuth

    Idiots travel in pairs.

    Lets see if you feel the same way in 20 years when a Muslim is running.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Brad

      I suppose Mohler would say that the very reason a Muslim should never be in office is that his opinions and judgments would be informed by his beliefs.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • RIRedinPA

      There's two of you here?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • MissusPowell

      EXACTLY! He already doesn't like what Kennedy said in 1960 and to this day and forevermore will not be open to any other thought than his own. Sure we can all be mature about it. The majority of people do not believe in your, nor Santorums beliefs. When he speaks about all the laws he would change and then add more if her were the President, based on his beliefs and NOT open to the fact that this country is based on BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE ()that means EVERYONE), so he isn't PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL. So the answer is NO, thank you very much.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:26 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.