There was plenty of good will and a few tears as six Republican presidential rivals gathered here Saturday afternoon for a forum in which they agreed more than they debated the role of government and religion in society before an audience of evangelical activists.

The atmosphere turned emotional in the second hour as candidates recalled personal challenges and failures, prompting at least two – businessman Herman Cain and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum – to cry.

The “Thanksgiving table forum” was hosted by the Family Leader, a Christian organization that encourages its members to consider their religious views in political decisions. Neither Mitt Romney nor Jon Huntsman, the two Mormons in the race, attended.

The first hour featured questions about hot-button conservative issues, and prompted a discussion among candidates about whether more religious citizens in the country have been marginalized.

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