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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. GIJoe

    I don't want the POPE sticking his nose in all my personal business or dictating healthcare (or lack thereof) to the women in MY family.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Shaved Taco

      The 60's are over, idiot.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • MayorAdamWest

      I don't want the government sticking their nose in my business! (Patriot Act, SOPA, Gun Control)

      Ron Paul 2012!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "I don't want the government sticking their nose in my business! (environmental laws, employee and consumer protection, civil rights, welfare)

      Ron Paul 2012!"

      There, I fixed it for you.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  2. Chris

    #10 doesnt even make any sense. Science,at least from our current understanding actually offers an alternative to the idea that everything was created by God.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Shaved Taco

      Wrong!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  3. Kevin

    The funny thing is, I put together a list of reasons *NOT* to vote for Santorum and came up with pretty much the exact same list....

    February 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  4. Fat Albert

    10. Santorum isn't afraid to show the world how ignorant he is.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Shaved Taco

      Go get your purple drank.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  5. dreamer96

    Conservative Religious organizations are against Gays and Birth control...So why do some religious mother's tell their daughters if they do not want children yet, then to make love to there husbands like a gay man???

    February 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Fat Albert

      Michele Bachman married a gay man.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  6. Erik

    Hahaha, not afraid to question science, but I suppose his beliefs regarding religion are unquestionable? When will humanity learn.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  7. Vivitar

    Lets review the list:
    1. and Obama isn't? Or is this code for anti-gay marriage
    2. Anti-Abortion, Anti-Gay
    3. Afraid that his kids will accept reality (over dogma)
    4. Shouldn't be relevant, but explains 3, 7, 8, 10
    5. Not "this", is not a reason for supporting Rick
    6. Not "that", is still not a reason to support Rick
    7. Anti-abortion (again)
    8. Afraid to accept reality (some people are gay)
    9. Hmmm... Wow, evidence of reason !!!
    10. Afraid to accept reality (over dogma) (again)

    February 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  8. Disko

    I dislike Santorum. It always makes a mess of my bed sheets.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  9. Hgrace

    Civilzation is not moral decadence, neither is science share nonsense. Our eyes are open and wise now to be given to Obama romance of words and no action
    Rick you are on the right part. You are God sent to this country.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  10. Lisa

    LAME.
    PRO CHOICE ALWAYS!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • MayorAdamWest

      Single issue voter?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • tessie

      Say it as it is – "Pro Death"

      February 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  11. Adrian

    I consider myself a moderate christian. I have no fundamental problem with that list per se except for No. 10. I'm also a Christian and I do not believe science is at odds with Christianity. As a matter a fact I think they are both complimentary of of each other.
    I never understood why both christians and non christians alike always seem to think if you believe in one you don't believe in the other. I've live most of my entire adult life believing in God/Jesus etc while at the same time working in enviroments that are highly scientific, theory based and analytical. Heck I even majored in ME at one time in college. I can tell you I have no conflicts at all believing in both!

    February 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Fast Fred

      That way you don't have to commit.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Adrian...what is "moderate christian"? Are you luke warm? (If you don't understand that second question, you need to revisit what you think you believe in.)

      February 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Adrian

      VanHagar – yes I know what luke warm is! and no when I say moderate I mean politically. at least compared to someone who think science is the work of the devil or who thinks dinosaurs doesn't exists.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • VanHagar

      And to clarify...I agree with you on the interconnection between science and faith–they are not mutually exclusive. My question was aimed solely at what you meant by "moderate."

      February 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Adrian...fair answer. Thank you.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  12. Celeste

    O.K. Folks! Look at the body language! Kind of resemble Warren Jeffs! He used the sympathy act to jump ahead of the game. He needs to be at home helping his wife take care of beautiful Bella! America, this man can’t look you in the eye when he talks, rant! He is trying to wiggle his lies out his mouth! Pray that he go home and help his family! Don’t lie about the birth control! Sanatorium, somebody knows you and your wife’s secrets!
    Bottom line, he can’t and don’t measure up to our President!
    Santorum followers get serious; you are looking for a Stretch and his brain has a limit! He is warning you that he is not the smartest person in the room! OK! Sperm donor, yes he can!
    I see another DAN Quayle! I see a used car salesman running for President!

    February 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  13. youngplaya

    who cares that he is christian or not? how long will everyone be dupped year after year with this Im a good guy crap. Who cares? Do what's right for the majority of the people in America then you're a good guy in my eyes. All these guys set their self up for failure talking about religion and how they love family, then it comes out that you been screwing your secretary and you have to apologize. This guy is a liar. I saw a video of him earlier saying that President Obama is systematically trying to destroy families in America...Are you serious?...A family man himself, is trying to destroy families in America? Im sick of contenders for the POTUS making up lies and painting the leader of our country as an ENEMY

    February 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  14. Dr.Fritz

    I hope this fellow will realize that it's time to stop having children. Seven is enough. Give your wife a break.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Shaved Taco

      Go eat a fetus, pig.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  15. Daniel Strausburg

    Is Santorum running for "Pastor in Chief"? What happened to the separation of Church and State? Seeing him in that Church, with people reaching out to him like he was Jesus was appalling. There should be no voting in Churches, no Caucusing, no campaigning. What if the Church were trying to elect a new Bishop or some other position, and they campaigned in public schools? Can you imagine the outcry? Jesus said: "My people are no part of this world (society, politics, etc), just as I am no part of this world." John 17:16, also At James 4:4, he said "do you not know that friendship with the world is emnity with God." (His Father) "Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is making himself an enemy of God." Why is this so serious? Because at 1st John 5:19 "the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one", and Jesus again John 14:30 referred to Satan as being "the ruler of this world'. So no matter what political faction you support, under whose control do you really become? At Psalms 146:3 it says "Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs." At Jeremiah 10:23, we read "I well know, oh God, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man even to direct his own step." Let alone the thousands of failed earthly leadership by people that we have seen, and the corrupt religions responsible for most of the wars, genocides, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Child abuse scandals, the Pope blessing Adolf Hitler in the Photos easily accessible on the net. And finally, when speaking of all of the false religions on this earth, led by Catholics, the Bible says at Rev. 18:24 "Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and all those who have been slaughtered on the earth." Save yourself, and stay away from politics and religion, and cling to God and truth. Do something the Churches fail to do, read their Bibles and follow it's guidance.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Shaved Taco

      Moron. Separation of Church and State was to keep the Government out of the Church, NOT to keep the Church out of the Government.

      Get off your boyfriend, and get a job.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "Separation of Church and State was to keep the Government out of the Church, NOT to keep the Church out of the Government."
      pity the supreme court disagrees with you.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  16. Emma

    Has the concept of 'Separation of Church and State' been completely forgotten???
    A politician should NOT run on a platform based off of religion OR make their speeches directed at religious groups. Focus on the actual issues in our country for once.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Shaved Taco

      Go hump a donkey.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • JUSTICE FOR THE DEATH OF ANASTACIO HERNANDEZ AT THE HANDS OF THE BORDER PATROL

      Shaved Taco – can you tell me where you will be performing your comedy act next? You are funny. Totally redneck, but funny.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  17. steve g

    rick santorum is the anti-christ

    February 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • ---

      Roger that

      February 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Fast Fred

      Can't be, their was no christ. It's fairy tale.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  18. MayorAdamWest

    Turn back now "Christians"! This candidate does not reflect the teachings of Christ!

    February 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  19. pat

    Nominate Dana Carvy as The Church Lady.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  20. clarke

    I do not want to lose my personal liberties or freedoms, so I will be voting for Obama. He lives by the Bill of Rights and the Consituation of the United States of America for the all the people, by all the people.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • MayorAdamWest

      Patriot Act? SOPA?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • BRC

      Patriot Act was enacted years before Obama even started campaining, and SOPA was dreamed up by a moron in Congress, and it was shut down.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Shaved Taco

      Are you drunk, or just a moron?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • brice

      No he doesn't protect your freedom. You can now be taken by the U.S. government for any reason, without warrant or cause. How is that following any personal liberties or freedoms. The patriot act has already been mentioned by my fellow Americans. Vote for Ron Paul if things like "freedom" are important to you. I know I will!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • MayorAdamWest

      So Obama had ended the Patriot Act. Until he does, he is complicit.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Ed

      Your reply tells me you know very little or nothing at all about this President!

      February 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Nick

      Ever heard of the NDAA? I remember him saying he wasn't going to sign but then voila! signs it on New Yeard eve when nobody even knew about it.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • JUSTICE FOR THE DEATH OF ANASTACIO HERNANDEZ AT THE HANDS OF THE BORDER PATROL

      Did SHAVED TACO just say "Are you drunk or just a mormon?" Taco, you are one crazy redneck. Good for you.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • tessie

      OMG, what is wrong with you? Wake up! Though I am not for any of the GOP's (yet), Obama is little by little taking away our freedoms! Can;t you see it? He needs to go

      February 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
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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.