home
RSS
April 10th, 2012
04:33 PM ET

With Santorum suspending campaign, some religious conservatives wonder how to proceed

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Evangelical activist Michael Farris was not exactly surprised that Rick Santorum suspended his campaign on Tuesday. But that doesn’t mean that Farris, a longtime political organizer, knows what he’s supposed to do now.

“Right now my choice is to sit on my hands and do nothing or to actively try to find some alternative” to Mitt Romney, Farris said in an interview shortly after Santorum's announcement.

“Some of us just have a hard time supporting a person who said he was going to be more liberal on gay rights than Ted Kennedy,” said Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, referring to remarks Romney made in a 1994 letter.

Farris’ reaction is a stark emblem of the disappointment among religious conservatives over Santorum's announcement, and a reminder that Romney’s enthusiasm deficit among the conservative evangelicals who form the GOP’s base hasn’t gone away.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“There are two kinds of disappointment today,” said John Green, a religion and politics expert at the University of Akron. “One is felt by people who care a great deal about social issues, especially white evangelicals, who are uncomfortable with Mitt Romney.”

“And there’s another group who really liked Santorum,” Green continued, “and were quite excited about him not only because of the social issues but because they saw him as representing this positive role for faith and values in a society.”

The conservative and largely evangelical Family Research Council said in an email to supporters Tuesday night that Santorum's announcement "was clearly disappointing news for those looking for a nominee who understands and articulates the connection between the social and fiscal challenges facing America."

"His historical run for President achieved remarkable success because his campaign was based not on money spent, but on the pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-freedom message he carried," the Family Research Council email blast said.

Religious conservatives were the key to Santorum’s unlikely rise as a serious presidential candidate. Conservative evangelicals and Catholics were drawn to Santorum as much for his personal story – he is a conservative Catholic and homeschooling dad of seven – as for his outspoken advocacy against abortion rights and same-sex marriage as a U.S. senator.

While polls showed him at the back of a seven-person pack just weeks before January’s first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, Santorum won a plurality of Iowa evangelicals, who accounted for nearly 60% of the electorate. That support laid the foundation for a first place Iowa finish.

After Santorum’s primary loss in New Hampshire to Mitt Romney - and days before Santorum would lose to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina - conservative religious activists convened in Texas and congealed behind the former Pennsylvania senator.

With strong evangelical support, Santorum went on to win primaries and caucuses in 11 states, even as Romney racked up more than twice as many delegates.

Not all conservative religious activists are as dead-set against Romney as Farris, who is also chancellor at Patrick Henry College, a school for homeschooled youth.

“Barack Obama will unite conservatives and people of faith more so than any single Republican candidate can hope to do,” said Mat Staver, an evangelical Christian who leads the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel.

But Staver said Romney would have to work hard to excite social conservatives.

“He’s going to have to make some intentional steps to reach out to evangelicals and religious conservatives,” said Staver. “It would be a mistake to assume he has every vote from evangelicals and religious conservatives locked up.”

At the moment, plenty of other conservative activists say they’re still in wait-and-see mode about the primary season.

“It’s very likely that he’ll end up the nominee, but he’s not he nominee yet,” said Steve Scheffler, president or the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, about Romney. “He was never my first choice, but I’ll support him because the alternative is something we can’t live with.

“But I’m not ready to throw my support to him yet,” Scheffler said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Politics • Rick Santorum

soundoff (1,591 Responses)
  1. icons library

    P.S. Please review 24×24 Free Application Icons from michaelarcha36

    September 20, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  2. Diannez Seriff

    YouTube carries not only comical and humorous videos but also it carries learning related video clips.

    April 27, 2012 at 3:44 am |
  3. Yowzas

    If you can't vote Romney cause he's dishonest, and Santorum is gone, Vote Ron Paul.

    April 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  4. asmepdf

    i just want to get some standards for amse,api,astm. who can help me find some books,thank you. [url=http://www.standardarea.com]asme download

    April 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  5. reason

    How about you keep your religion out of politics.

    April 15, 2012 at 4:24 am |
  6. Mary Belle

    I think the real question is why did anyone ask Michael Farris for directions? His opinion is worth no more than anyone elses. Why does it matter what he does next? Who cares?

    April 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  7. Reality

    If the Pill and male condoms were used properly, abortion would not be an issue and Obama would not be president.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    =======================================================================================–

    April 13, 2012 at 7:53 am |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 13, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • what does prayer change

      prayer turned Santorum's campaign impotent.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • what does prayer change

      Prayer doesn’t not change anything; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      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! ~,~

      April 13, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Trolling, it is a kind of power rush or ego trip to be a troll. Being online is a place that is largely free of perceived consequences... an insecure person can get a sense of power online, without ever having to face someone directly. With the Internet being a world of imagination and fantasy for some, cowardly users can forge an alter ego for themselves, and act out their feelings of anger and inadequacy. It's sad and unfortunate that our advanced communications also brings out the darker side of many people.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • darius404

      Trolling changes things . For the worse .

      April 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      LOL, who was your scapegoat last week?

      April 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  9. view website

    I just could not leave your web site before suggesting that I actually enjoyed the usual info an individual provide for your visitors? Is going to be again regularly to check out new posts

    April 13, 2012 at 2:05 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.