January 18th, 2012
11:20 AM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
Tune in Thursday at 8 p.m. ET for the CNN/Southern Republican Presidential Debate hosted by John King and follow it on Twitter at #CNNDebate. For real-time coverage of the South Carolina primary, go to CNNPolitics.com or to the CNN apps or CNN mobile web site.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (CNN) – You’ve probably never heard of her, but Cindy Costa’s tablemates at a Sunday prayer breakfast here hint at her influence.
Inside a hotel ballroom bulging with 400 socially conservative activists, Costa is seated with the headliners: White House hopeful Rick Perry and political operative Ralph Reed.
And when Rick Santorum and his wife Karen arrive at the Sheraton’s Ballroom E about 10 minutes into the program, they join her table, too.
It’s doubtful that many of the press photographers descending around Costa to snap pictures of Santorum and Perry, heads bowed in prayer, could identify her. But the power players seated around Costa know she’s a South Carolina Republican institution.
January 16th, 2012
10:24 PM ET
Editor's note: Listen to the CNN Radio broadcast on South Carolina evangelicals:
By John Sepulvado, CNN Radio
(CNN) - More than 150 influential evangelical leaders went to a ranch outside of Houston over the weekend to pick an alternative to GOP presidential front runner Mitt Romney. They emerged backing former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
But in the early primary state of South Carolina, with voters scheduled to go to the polls on Saturday and candidates working the state furiously this week, local evangelical pastors are using their influence to rally church members towards salvation, not electioneering.
"You won't hear me giving any political commentary at all," says Lexington Fellowship Baptist Pastor Don Bell. "I mean, I'll never say never, but God's word is where it's at."
January 8th, 2012
08:24 PM ET
By Peter Hamby, CNN
Greenville, South Carolina (CNN) - As he launched a last-ditch effort to rescue his flagging candidacy in South Carolina, Rick Perry made clear Sunday that he will make an aggressive play for Christian voters in a state where nearly six out of 10 Republican voters call themselves "born again" or evangelical.
Almost 100 people turned out to see Perry at the Beacon Drive-In, a greasy spoon in Spartanburg famous for its sweet tea and burgers.
It was Perry's first appearance in the southern primary state since his underwhelming fifth-place finish in Iowa last week.
Perry, in his shirtsleeves and joined by his wife, Anita, walked into the restaurant and promptly ordered the house specialty – a chili cheeseburger buried underneath a pile of onion rings and french fries.FULL STORY
January 7th, 2012
01:34 PM ET
By Peter Hamby, CNN
Greenville, South Carolina (CNN) – Despite lingering suspicions about his Mormon religion among some evangelicals here, Mitt Romney is embracing his faith in a new mail piece that began hitting South Carolina households on Saturday.
The glossy fold-out brochure, provided to CNN from a voter who received it, seeks to turn Romney's deeply-held religious convictions and his 42-year marriage into assets in a state where roughly six in ten Republicans call themselves "born again" or evangelical Christians.
"Meet Mitt ... Faith. Family. Country," the front of the mailer reads.
The flip side features a quote from the former Massachusetts governor: "If I'm President of the United States, I will be true to my family, my faith, and our country, and I will never apologize for the United States of America."FULL STORY
January 6th, 2012
11:22 AM ET
(CNN)– Rick Santorum surged in Iowa but now he has to convince GOP voters in the evangelical heavy South Carolina primary he can win and experts say he can't win on faith alone. CNN's David Mattingly reports.
November 28th, 2011
10:51 AM ET
By Jacque Wilson, CNN
Dorchester, South Carolina (CNN) - The fan by the window pushed humid air uselessly against the church pews.
Diana Martinez made small talk as Tommy Terry shifted uncomfortably in his seat. The man sitting next to Martinez cracked a joke. Nobody laughed.
A clock on the back wall ticked minutes away in a mocking cliché.Read the full story on the rural South's struggle with HIV/AIDS
October 13th, 2010
03:29 PM ET
From CNN South Carolina affiliate WMBF:
A national Muslim civil rights and advocacy group is calling on the FBI to investigate a message written in bacon at mosque in Florence.
Three chair members of the Islamic Center in Florence discovered the words "pig" and "chump" written in strips of bacon on the walkway along the mosque Sunday afternoon.
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