Religious Biography

Herman Cain

Born in Tennessee and raised in Georgia, Herman Cain grew up attending Antioch Baptist Church North, an Atlanta megachurch that belongs to the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. Inc. Cain’s parents – his mother worked as a maid and his father as a chauffeur, barber and janitor – joined the church after moving to Atlanta in the late 1940s, when Cain was a toddler. “That was the church I grew up in. … I’ve been in the church all my life,” Cain said in a March 2011 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. Cain currently serves as an associate minister at the church.

Following his graduation from Morehouse College, an all-male, historically black college in Atlanta, Cain worked as a civilian mathematician in ballistics for the U.S. Navy and earned a master’s degree in computer science from Purdue University. Cain subsequently held managerial positions with the Coca-Cola Company, Pillsbury and Burger King before serving as president and then CEO of the Godfather’s Pizza restaurant chain from 1986 to 1996. Cain married his wife Gloria in 1968. They have two grown children.

Our Founding Fathers recognized a higher power in the formation of this nation when they said in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal and that they are ‘endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights’. … America’s moral foundation does not need to be rewritten. It needs to be respected and taught to our children and grandchildren. It is the basis for our concept of freedom. … We are free because ‘In God Is Our Trust.’

– Herman Cain writing on his 2012 presidential campaign website

Cain drew national media attention in 1994, when, as chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, he objected to then-President Bill Clinton’s national health care proposals, warning during a Town Hall-style television broadcast that he would need to eliminate some employees if Clinton’s proposed bill became law. “Just before I stood up, and not knowing exactly what I was going to say, I mouthed the words of my favorite prayer, ‘Not my will, O Lord, but thy will be done,’ ” Cain recalls in his 2011 book, This Is Herman Cain!: My Journey to the White House.

Following his tenure at Godfather’s Pizza, Cain published several books on corporate leadership and worked as a consultant, public speaker and radio host. Cain writes in This Is Herman Cain! that the radio show, which was on the air from 2008 to 2011, “was God’s way of forcing me to understand the critical issues confronting our nation.” In 1996, he also released a gospel album titled “Sunday Morning,” according to CNN.

Cain ran briefly for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000 and campaigned unsuccessfully in 2004 for a seat representing Georgia in the U.S. Senate. In his 2005 book, They Think You’re Stupid: Why Democrats Lost Your Vote and What Republicans Must Do to Keep It, Cain wrote that his Senate bid “was divinely inspired,” adding, “this has been the case for every major career decision I have made in my life. Being on a God-inspired fast track of success and surviving the many things that could have gone wrong was no accident.”

In his March 2011 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Cain said that after he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006, God sent him a series of signs, including a hospital worker named Grace and a colon specialist named Dr. Lord. “I firmly believe that God kept me  for a reason much bigger than I ever would have dreamed or imagined,” Cain said. “Whether that is ultimately to become the president of the United States or not, I don’t know. I just know at this point, I am following God’s plan.” In a subsequent October 2011 interview with CBN, Cain said he initially “resisted” the idea of running for president, but after praying about the decision, he concluded that “you shouldn’t question God. You should just make sure that’s the message.”

In July 2011, Cain again drew national media attention when he denounced the construction of an Islamic center and mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn. “It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion,” Cain said of the proposed mosque, according to the Associated Press. “This is just another way to try to gradually sneak sharia law into our laws, and I absolutely object to that,” Cain added. When asked in a subsequent July 2011 interview with Fox News about communities in the U.S. wanting to ban mosques, Cain said, “Yes, they have the right to do that.” In a statement in late July 2011, however, Cain apologized for “any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution” and said that “Muslims, like all Americans, have the right to practice their faith freely and peacefully.”

Published on November 8, 2011
PHOTO CREDIT: © James Leynse/Corbis