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. Paula

    To me their reasons for supporting Santorum is the typical Repub response, Everything has to be Our Way!! You can't be different or have a different opinion. If you don't tow the line...then you're not American or a Republican. There is no room for growth or individuality in the Repub party. There is no room for choice, unless you choose to agree with them.

    A part of America's appeal is about freedom to choose for yourself and in turn respecting a person who makes a different choice than you.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Mike

      lol, you're funny

      February 9, 2012 at 1:09 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 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Jeff

      Prayer: How to do nothing at all and still think you're helping.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  3. George

    We all shake our heads and look at countries/people who try to make all follow strict fundamental shia law and think we are better than that, how primitive, how barbaric, never here.... But when you allow ANY religion to force upon all others (believers and non) you are traveling down the dark evil road. I can't help but see similar ideology of fundamental shia and those who label themselves "Ultra-Conservative".

    February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • George

      meant Sharia

      February 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  4. Mike

    "Santorum isn’t afraid to challenge science"

    Umm ... really? That's not good.
    If science can't prove something and so you turn to religion, that's one thing. But if science has proved something and you choose to ignore it and use religion to explain it, then .... that's not good.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  5. stan

    K, to all of those that consider themselves based on 'science' do please explain the fusion of 2 chromosome. Don't understand the question? There is a reason only idiots make definitive statements while 'unknowns' are known to exist. 'God' could very well have been little more than a visiting superior intellect to our planet that performed a bit of genetic enhancement on two species of great apes. You know, like the Sumerians wrote happened to our species several thousand years ago. You anti-religous nut jobs are just as fanatical and deluded as the bible-thumper nut jobs.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • anthony stark

      The Sumerians who were watching God do this? I hate when people try to equate fact to nonsense. Atheists are religious nuts too! –No they're not. People who believe in science are just as crazy as people who believe in talking snakes! –Wrong again, because if science suddenly points back to two naked kids in a garden and a talking snake, people who believe in science will just say gee, I guess that crazy story was accurate.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "'God' could very well have been little more than a visiting superior intellect to our planet that performed a bit of genetic enhancement on two species of great apes."

      in which case god would not be the supreme all powerful universe creating deity of the religious then would he?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  6. anthony stark

    The main difference between science and religious belief is that science isn't afraid to be wrong. In fact, there isn't really a wrong or right, there's just evidence. Religion on the other hand is irrefutable. You can present proof of something contrary to a person's religious beliefs and they will simply assume you are on the side of the devil. That being said, Rick Santorum "not being afraid to challenge science" is silly. Good for you, but science doesn't need the help.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  7. Carol

    Outside of loving Santorum because he is part of God's world, I can think of no other reason. The man is backward, and ujpside down.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  8. rec

    REPUBLICANS ARE NOT GOING TO GET EXCITED ABOUT VOTING FOR A CATHLIC!

    February 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  9. Frustrated Independent Voter !

    The republicans can't be trying to win this election because this years cast of candidates is just plain awful ! Even republicans don't like them ! Obama is the only logical choice in this election !

    February 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  10. DC

    I would love it if Santorum was the GOP nominee then Obama would be guaranteed re-election. Santorum is a bigot he hates gay people and tries to push his conservative beliefs on others. Whatever happen to separation of Church and State and since when is a person only fit for the Presidency when he has religious convictions? Shouldn't he be practicing his family man values and take care of his dying daughter. We wonder why America is in a decline, stupid people get to vote. Bravo America!

    February 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • sharky

      Stupid voters....Explains where we are now quite easily. Welfare = paid voters = Obama win & America loss.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  11. Obamajoe

    no,,,,he got emotional in debating,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,not a good sign,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,for a leader of a great country,,,,,,,,,,,,

    February 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  12. Katie

    It bears repeating: Santorum's wife had a late-term abortion, with his blessing.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  13. rec

    A REAL CONSERVATIVE IS NOT IN THE RACE. SANTORUM IS A TAX AND SPEND LIBERAL. A LOBIEST. GIVE ME A BREAK! ROMNEY IS A LIBERAL.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  14. Max

    So much for separation of church and state. Just what we need, some religious, fundamentalist, lunatic in power.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Leslie

      Conservatives don't want the government telling them what to do, but they sure want to tell us what to do! They are such hypocrites!! Just like abortion, they want to tell women what to do with their lives, but they don't want to help them raise that child after it is born! AND this foolish argument over birth control and healthcare ins., if you don't want to take birth control you don't have to, no one is making you, but let women decide if they want to or not and be covered by their ins., there will be less abortions that way!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "Conservatives don't want the government telling them what to do"

      they would try to claim that it isnt the government telling them what to do but god instead.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  15. SurelyUjest

    Santorum represents failed education from home schooling. Often times home schooled children end up with these narrow and very twisted (by religion) views of society and how it should work. Rather than look at real history and real socialogical evidence he chooses to look in 1 book written by scribes from stories handed down generation after generation. Avoiding the absolutely irrefutable scientific evidence of evolution and global warming should show anyone the man is not a man of thoughts he is a man of the cross not a leader of this nation. I am not christian and I am white and middle aged, my views are my own and are very sacred to me. Santorum would have my religion wiped off the map if he had his way. (I am not islamist either)

    February 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Glades2

      Done right, home schooling is 10x better than what is offered in public schools – my nieces and nephews were home schooled for grade and middle school and sent to a Catholic high for the final 4 years, after the oldest one was beaten in his middle school, and his sister was given "magic rocks" by her teacher...

      February 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  16. Glades2

    The problem is that of all who can vote in America, a large percentage of those under 35 vote for money, vote for freedom to do things that are morally wrong, so even if the nominee he's going to have a hard time...

    February 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  17. Jeff

    " The former senator “confirms (social conservatives’) view of science as being at odds with a Christian worldview,”"

    Why is that a good thing?

    February 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      it is good only to the Christian haters out there.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • LeRoy_Was_Here

      Cuz all them pointy-haeded scientest fellers are fulla hoo-ha, that why! Buncha Darwan ape-man monkee bizness noncents! Tellin' are kids they came from monkees, or pooped outta some camel's behind, is why's ya got humpin' each other like bunnys, write their in the schoool hallway! It sick, is what it is! Then they tries to tell us the world is red-hot at the middle! Baloney! I been down in caves, and it gets colder, not hotter! And their ain't no sucha thing as ATOMS, niether! Wood is wood is wood, no matter'n how much ya chop it up! Ever chopped up wood til ya got down to ATOMS? HA! Case closed! The world ain't spinnin' round like a top, either! Iff'n that was true, we'd a all go flyin' off! Them stuped sicnetest fellers trys to tell us the world is billlions of year=s old! Noncents! Their ain't been enough TIME fer that!

      Rick would have us start teachin' are kids REAL Sceince, like in the Holey Bibble!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      LOL, Leroy. Excellent!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  18. Robert

    Interesting how they call this the "Belief Blog" instead of the the "Knowledge Blog". Merely "believing" and "hoping" that something is true is not enough. You have to KNOW in order to make a correct and informed decision. It is possible to know God and his will. But it takes a leap of faith most people are not willing to make.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Kevin

      Oh, huh, interesting. So what's the difference between "believing" and "taking a leap of faith?" Also, can you tell me God's favorite color?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      you cant use faith as a determination that you know something, thats an oxymoron

      February 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """It is possible to know God and his will. But it takes a leap of faith """

      Geez, man, read this aloud to yourself. What an absurd twist of rationale this is.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  19. Phil

    Funny how CNN isnt running anything bad about Santorum. Obama would blow him out of the water. Yet anyone else that stands a fighters chance, they are running anything bad under the sun they can find.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      there are no GOP candidates that stands chance

      February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  20. mmaxum2002

    No way would I vote for him! If he becomes the nominee, I would vote against him just as I did in '08 against Palin. Is this the best the GOP has to offer?

    February 9, 2012 at 1:02 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.