home
RSS
February 8th, 2012
03:08 PM ET

10 reasons religious conservatives love Rick Santorum

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - For all the attention paid to the clout of fiscally focused tea party conservatives and of the primacy of jobs in the 2012 election, Rick Santorum’s trifecta victories Tuesday night are a good reminder of the powerful role religious conservatives play in the GOP. They fueled Santorum’s wins in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado - and his earlier victory in the Iowa caucuses.

But why, exactly, do religious conservatives love the former senator from Pennsylvania? There are obvious reasons - his advocacy against abortion and same-sex marriage, for instance - but plenty of less obvious ones, too.

Here’s my list. What would you add?

  1. Santorum’s a family man. “He’s got this big, vibrant family and he left the campaign trail last week to go back and be with his daughter in the hospital,” says Eli Bremer, chairman of Colorado's El Paso County Republican Party, centered around evangelical-heavy Colorado Springs. Santorum recently returned to Pennsylvania to respond to a health scare involving daughter Isabella - the youngest of his seven children - who suffers from a genetic disease. “I spent time with him last year, and he’s constantly thinking about his family,” Bremer says of Santorum. “It’s not just a political stunt.”

  1. He’s not averse to getting politically incorrect when donning culture warrior chain mail. “So if the baby’s toe is in you can’t kill the baby - how about if the baby’s foot is in?” he famously asked U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, in a 1999 debate over a rare, later term abortion procedure that anti-abortion groups call a "partial birth" abortion.

  1. Santorum’s a homeschooling dad. His wife, Karen, is homeschooling or has homeschooled their seven children, making them a poster family for a movement populated largely by evangelical Christians and other serious believers. “It matters because it shows he’s a real part of our movement rather than simply someone who is politically sympathetic,” says Michael Farris, an evangelical conservative who leads the Home School Legal Defense Association.

  1. He’s a devout cradle Catholic. As a kid in Pennsylvania, Santorum the altar boy would spend Sunday mornings pushing hospital patients in wheelchairs to Mass. As a U.S. senator, Santorum attended Mass at St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill each day before work. That piety gets respect with religious voters, regardless of affiliation. “Evangelicals have made him an honorary evangelical,” said Richard Land, public policy chief for the Southern Baptist Convention.

  1. Santorum’s not Mitt Romney. Millions of socially conservative voters still distrust the former Massachusetts governor on the hot button issues - abortion and same-sex marriage. Some, though not all, are put off by Romney’s Mormonism.

  1. Santorum’s not Newt Gingrich. Many social conservatives, particularly those of the female persuasion, continue to be turned off by Gingrich’s two failed marriages and his admissions of past marital infidelity.

  1. Santorum doesn’t just talk about opposing abortion, he’s legislated on it. As a senator, he was an architect of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. He pushed the ban even in the1990s, when Bill Clinton was in the White House and the legislation stood nary a chance of a presidential signature. “He walked the walk,” Land says. “When no one else would carry our water in the Senate, he would.”

  1. Ditto on same-sex marriage. Santorum sponsored a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage at a time when many Republicans lawmakers didn’t want to touch such a hot potato.

  1. Santorum’s big on compassionate conservatism. Though he gets the most ink for controversial stances on issues such as homosexuality, Santorum has also been a leading advocate for funding to fight AIDS in the Third World and has led conservative responses to poverty. “A lot of people have a hard time getting Rick Santorum because they’re used to a debate between liberalism and complete free-market approach and he’s not either of those things,” says Michael Gerson, a Washington Post columnist and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

    1. Santorum isn’t afraid to challenge science, questioning the theory of evolution and dismissing global warming as “a hoax.” The former senator “confirms (social conservatives’) view of science as being at odds with a Christian worldview,” tweets Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Grove City College, an evangelical Christian school in Pennsylvania.

CNN Belief Blog co-editor Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Politics • Rick Santorum

soundoff (2,587 Responses)
  1. Cindy

    I am a firm believer in "Separation of Church and State." This is the #2 issue my church stands for. The President of the United States must represent all the people. The Republicans cannot forget their religion long enough to represent all. In fact they think everyone should be forced to obey their church rules.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  2. 1 Reason Liberals Love Rick Santorum

    He is totally unelectable in a general election.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • just sayin

      twice elected senator of a major state, the impossible can happen.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • LOL

      "twice elected senator of a major state, the impossible can happen."

      Yeah and in 2005 & 2006 he made the most corrupt senators list. LOL!

      February 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • livingston

      When he tried to run again we kicked him to the curb! If he can't win in his own state where people know him exactly what does that tell you? He couldn't be elected dog catcher in Pennsylvania!

      February 9, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • ManWithThe1000PoundBrain

      He lost in a landslide in his last bid for re-election! Would he even be able to carry his home state? Perhaps not!

      February 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  3. CJ

    Could someone help me understand why CNN has such a narrow range of commentary when it comes down to the Christian viewpoint. It is always a Catholic perspective. What makes matters worse, it is always the same catholic priest. I'm tired of listening to that guy. I'm not even going to mention his name. He gets too much air time. How about a Baptist preacher or a Methodist minister? Do you all hate Protestants?

    February 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • J.W

      I think I have only seen a couple of Mennonite/Amish articles. There should be more of those.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Cindy

      Yes, they should. They are a people that can practice their religion and leave everyone else alone.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • just sayin

      try driving where their buggies have been

      February 8, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Cindy

      Just Saying –
      Don't be ignorant. Look up Goshin College. You have a lot to learn about the mennonites.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • andboomgoesthedynamite

      aww snap somebody just name dropped my hometown of Goshen! Represent!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • ManWithThe1000PoundBrain

      Maybe, at least in regard to this article, it could be because Santorum is Catholic. Yah think?? And there has been a lot of news generated in recent years and days regarding Catholic issues. (the touchy-feely stuff and the recent healthcare/birth control issue).

      February 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  4. Alex

    Did you say "Santorum" and "compassionate" in the same sentence ? That Santorum who said that paying $900/month for presciption drugs is no different than bying an iPad ? I have never seen more cruel and poor hating person than him.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  5. Dexter

    I agree with most of the post, that this just shows how the ignorant, arrogant shriking religious conservatives care about notthing that really matters. They look to something "soft" to blame what is "wrong" with the state of this union. If either of these ignorant slime ball republicans gets elected, the country to turn back to where Bush was leading it to...

    February 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  6. GaryB

    I just don't understand how being anti-scientific research (i.e. intentionally ignorant) can be considered a plus. It's scientific research that has so far saved Santorum's daughter's life. He could show a little appreciation of the fact by taking the time to really consider the volumes of legitimate research regarding global climate change rather than putting his faith in right-wing radio talk show host and a couple of cranks that know almost nothing about legitimate scientific research.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i want someone to ask him while in a press conferrence... "why didn't you just pray for your daughter's ills to be healed? Would that have not worked? Or did you suspect god of wanting your daughter dead? If so, then why go against god's wishes?"

      it would be a lovely day indeed!

      February 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • JJC

      Absolutely, science is saving his daughters life. But he probably thinks it has to do with his praying. If he, and others like him, place science as second to "believing" then he should take his daughter home and "believe" she will get better. They only don't support science when it makes them look backwards, which they are.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Doug

      Well put. I am amazed how some wear ignorance as a badge of honor.

      His anti-science viewpoint also highlights the absurdity of his claim that his social conservative views are rooted in his strong Catholic faith. He follows Catholic teachings when it is convenient and appeals to his base. The previous pope repeatedly spoke out in favor of evolution, and argued that we should leave science to the scientists - the exact opposite of Santorum's view. Of course the pope also was a strong opponent of the war in Iraq, opposes conservatives hard-nose stance on illegal immigration, etc. It seems like the only place where Santorum agrees with the pope is in limiting women's access to birth control and abortion. Santorum uses religion as an excuse to shove his social views down our throat, but seems to forget his religion whenever the pope's views are inconvenient for Santorum's political goals.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  7. J.W

    Atheists hate God.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Really?

      Duh, you can't hate something that doesn't exist. Christians hate the tooth fairy. Now you could say Christians hate atheists.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Mary

      Wrong!! You can't hate what you don't believe in.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • sam

      Ok, but it's still too succinct. "Athiests hate God...and bathe in the blood of virgins!"

      February 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Nah.
      Though a lot of us hate those who deign to speak on His behalf.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Sure we do-NOT!! However it could be said that theists hate all gods other than the one in the buybull.
      Stephen F. Roberts sums up the situation very nicely:

      "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

      February 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • JJC

      J.W. hates logic and reality.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • J.W

      Yeah I think this one is better lol. Or maybe I could combine the two somehow. I will have to think about that.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • J.W

      After the initial post I don't have to say anything else right?

      February 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • hippypoet

      muhahahahahaha, love it!

      get em J.W.!

      February 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @J.W: You said, "After the initial post I don't have to say anything else right?"

      Right. You've already ruined this thread. I suggest you start fresh on the next one.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @TruthPrevails: The Stephen Roberts quote is pithy, but incorrect. Believers don't reject the other gods for the same reasons that we do.

      Our reason: "Zeus doesn't exist because the idea is silly."
      Their reason: "Zeus doesn't exist because the bible tells me there is only one god."

      I love the quote, but it displays flawed understanding.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • KC

      If you had said they hate those who do believe in God, you might have a valid discussion.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Thomas

      I get the joke, funny.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • Scotty

      It's a joke. Atheists don't believe in God.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Dave R

      Not true. I feel the same way about god as I do about the tooth fairly, the Easter bunny, and Santa Claus.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  8. Damian

    This overly social conservative religious wing nut is about the last thing this nation needs. Sorry Rick the bible is the number one best selling work of FICTION.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  9. hippypoet

    i smell something fishy!

    i sure hope the religious nuts jobs are at least intelligent enough in there own faith to get that pun!

    February 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  10. Christine

    This guy is obviously sincere in his beliefs and I respect his right to think this way. However, I disagree with him at every turn – these are moral choices, not things to legislate in a free society. I passionately believe this evangelical worldview is wrong for our country and will devote significant time and energy to defeating it. It's time to take our country back from the hateful and intolerant. The more I see of the alternatives on the right, the more I stand with the President.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Brian K.

      Your position is rather common, but one that fundamentally misses the purpose of government. The idea that our society can be radically distinct in issues of legislation and morality is, frankly, without any intelligible foundation. Even with the most libertarian of governments, there would still inevitably be issues pertaining both to morality and to legislation. Santorum has rightly pointed out, during this campaign and before, that the United States of America is at its core a moral enterprise. Read George Washington's inaugural address–look at what he, and the other founders, for that matter, mean by "the pursuit of happiness." It's probably not what you think, and I can guarantee you that it is not in line with the maxim that everyone should do whatever pleases them so long as it hurts no others; and moreover, I can guarantee you that an appropriate understanding of the right to pursue happiness is very much pervasive in the framework, personal and governmental, of this country.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Mary

      Brian,
      I'm not sure what your argument is regarding pursuit of happiness. But if your idea of the pursuit of happiness is to deny someone else the right to make their own moral choices, then we have the same right to make them for you. Men like Rick S. want to make all the choices for women, because...heaven forbid...we use our brains and make them ourselves...we might not agree with him. Sorry, your right to make your moral choices stops at my door. Legislating morality hasn't worked yet. Better we concentrate on making sure that American kids don't go to bed hungry or scared because of gunfire in their neighborhood, or because they don't know where theri parents are. There are a world of problems out there more important than some religious right-wing nut job telling me what I can and cannot do on a personal level regarding my medical needs.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • WILLIE FLOYD

      As a Christian I still believe in separation of church and state. I also think there is a difference in "Morality" and "Spirituality".

      February 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  11. Meanwhile, back to the article...

    Compassionate conservative? In whose universe? Santorum is on record as opposing even the most popular provision of the health care law, the restriction on pre-existing conditions. When asked about it, he said he was opposed to the provision even though he had family members with pre-existing conditions who would not be able to get coverage if the law was repealed. So much for all the family-man image and compassion.

    Santorum is obviously a medical miracle, as somehow his body manages to pump blood from his lungs to his brain without a heart.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  12. Greyman

    So once again, the deeply religious show they care more about what two gay people do in the privacy of their own home and the fate of some clump of cells yet to be a full person than everything else. Like the economy, the environment...you know, things that actually MATTER.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  13. wc

    I could think of only four:

    1. He's a zealot.
    2. He's not very bright.
    3. He's white.
    4. He's as intolerant as they are.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • anagram_kid

      I can add one, but you included it in all your reasons it is the word ‘he’.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  14. jaywing

    And the number 1 problem with Santorium is that he wants America to revert to a society based on a 2000+ year old, antiquated mythology. He does not want Americans to think independent thoughts. He does not want Americans to be educated and enlightened 21st century individuals. He does not want American women to be vibrant, fully-capable, independent people. He wants American medicine and health care coverage to fall behind the rest of the world's standards. He wants poor people to stay poor, middle class people to become poor. In short, he is the face of the American Taliban. Listen to his words - except for the nouns, is there any difference between the thrust of his verbage and that of any radical religious group who wishes to dominate others through non-rational, non-logical, anti-secular law, religious dictates? The man wants a theocracy, based on his personal religious belief system - not a democracy, based on the will of a people free of religious bigotry.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  15. sam

    See how his one hand is blurred in the photo like that? That's a sign of the devil.

    Or frothiness. Can't remember which.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • kells

      @sam, you are a cow, he moved his hands while the picture was been taken, thats why his hand appears blur.

      February 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • sam

      kells: you are a veritable fount of wit and wisdom; I never would have thought of that myself. I can't imagine what I would have done without you today. Perhaps I would have continued to labor under the unfortunate misapprehension that he really did have a devil hand.

      (Actually, it saddens me that you udderly failed to catch my sarcasm even though I specifically added the 'frothiness' comment. See what I did there? Udderly?)

      February 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Church of Suicidal

      His hand is moving because he's spreading the Santorum. Prayer may change things, but it sucks as a lubricant.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  16. J.W

    Jesus loves you

    February 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • J.W

      Ok this one maybe wasn't very good no one is responding to it. I will come up with a new thing.

      February 8, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • sam

      It's got to be something you wouldn't accidentally see here otherwise. Plus it has to have a twist.

      February 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • JA

      all ya gotta do is say "prayer changes things" and BOOOM! The friggin sky falls on ya lol.

      February 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • J.W

      Yeah JA but someone already took that one I need my own thing lol.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      You might want to go with something like, "Jesus loves you, unless you're gay or had an abortion."

      February 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • sam

      "Jesus loves you. Now take it. TAKE IT!!"

      February 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • J.W

      That is a good one Sean, but I wanna say something that I agree with, but will still get people riled up.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • fauxhawk70

      Jesus loves me? Is this where I sew a seed of $1000 dollars? Is there going to be an additional harvest added?

      February 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • fauxhawk70

      Is this where I reach deep down into my pocket book and take his hand?

      February 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Zeke2112

      No, he doesn't, but he thinks you have a GREAT personality.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  17. Jacob

    just abbreviate #8 to "hates gays" it's easier for the simple crowd to comprehend and get onboard with him.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  18. oops

    Funny how they forgot that Rick is also the poster child for corruption.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  19. Reality

    Only for the newbies:

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, Newton Leroy Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)
    And the irony:
    The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • ......

      hit report abuse on all reality garbage

      February 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Atheism is not healthy for... people who are afraid to take their minds out of the 18th century.

      February 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Nope

      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 8, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • J.W

      I am gonna come up with something to say everyday and make people respond to it I am just still trying to think of it.

      February 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • just wondering

      Jw how about you saying you were an idiot?

      February 8, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • J.W

      Why would I say I am an idiot?

      February 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • just wondering

      Well you wouldn't be lying

      February 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Zeke2112

      I pray to the sun, and I find it answers my prayers at the same rate as the Christian god.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
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 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.