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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. Dave

    Did anyone really expect this to be presented as a pro Santorum piece? Really? On CNN?

    February 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  2. AAAAA

    Obama's last 4 years was just trying to get re-elected...he needs 4 more years to carry out his main goals...lets get out of his way!!!

    Complete Socialism! Oh yeah....work is getting boring and honestly I dont want to wait until I am 65 to retire...I say tax at 90%...get rid of rich and we all get gov't checks...We should all be equal...no more favoring the rich...Tax Tax Tax...

    February 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • StuckInTX

      I was about to respond to the same post you made below.. "Socialism" is a dirty-word (along with "liberal") thrown out by the right when they have nothing constructive to offer. I have no fear that Obama is going to turn this into a socialist country. We're already there in certain areas – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment, etc.
      No, I'd bring back the New Deal plans where the unemployed (for longer than 6 months) work on rebuilding our infrastructure 3 days a week and look for career positions the other 2. I reserve the right to enter public housing and if I find a Escalade parked out front, or an HDTV or XBOX inside – out you go! If you put $120 sneakers on your kids, you have no business receiving food stamps, you should be getting free financial literacy classes – with tests. (no pass, no stamps). Sound conservative enough?/ Even so, Santorum will not get my vote.

      February 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  3. KindMoralAtheist

    Belief in ancient myths and deities, demons, spells, etc is .... stupid! It's the 21st century! And still the delusional small minds mumble to a pretend ghost in the sky. We do not want a POTUS that does that! We need s smart one, one who understands and believes climate change, the need for birth control and abortions, the need to talk to enemies not make war first. Santorum is the worst of the remaining fools of the GOP running.

    February 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Dave

      And yet the more we learn (able to recreate) from science, the more science supports intelligent design.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • go4it

      Dave,
      Not in our world (the world of reality), it doesn't.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Dave

      go4it, it requires one to think beyind their little box. Think much broader, and what we have learned and done with science, and you just might start to see it. It is one of areas where you will see it only when you start to believe it, and not the other way around. If you refuse to believe, you will never see.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • go4it

      Dave,
      What do I need to believe BEFORE I can see it? And what is IT that I will see? If you guys could just be clear, those of us who require evidence would helplessly believe.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Actually @Dave, the more we learn about our bodies and the bodies around us, the less science supports intelligent design. Some examples are how the eye is built backward forcing nerve endings to cluster creating a blind spot in the eye. It is also quite incapable of seeing 99% of the light spectrum. The detour made by the laryngeal nerve (which is totally absurd), as well as the route of the vas deferens are more human body examples of "oopsies" that no intelligent designer would ever engineer. There are so many other "mistakes" in the human body. The more you know about biology, the more you can see how many things don't make sense and could be greatly improved on. This also applies to the plant/animal kingdom at large as well. If you do not look at the world and expect it to be in it's most perfect state, then these errors become glaringly obvious.

      February 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Dave

      ashrakay, what have our most intelligent people be able to create, replicate, and/or re-create? What have these same individuals been able to see/observe in all of scientific studies evolve from one species/life form into a complete different/new species/lifeform?

      Our most intelligent people have been able to create amazing things. The idea that the complexity of life form evolved from some fluke of nature is a bigger leap in faith than intelligent design.

      February 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Dave, Stating that our most intelligent people can't reproduce something only points that something is more complex than our brains or technology. It does not say there is a designer. Naturally the eye has evolved over billions of years. It shouldn't be at all surprising that it outpaced our intellect which has only evolved over thousands of years. You could counter-state that nothing in nature has ever naturally produced a interplanetary space vehicle, cell phone, combustible engine, or light bulb. This means the standard of intelligence is always relative. Lungs seem very intelligent until you try to use them under water. The same, incidentally applies to the eye. Likewise, gills are wonderful things, but fail miserably on dry land. If your measurement of intelligence is survivability, then roaches, rats and viruses are the smartest of us all.

      February 9, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @Dave, Incidentally, most scientists do not believe life began as a "fluke" as you put it. The conditions for life were right on this planet, therefore it began. We know that it did begin and we know that it did evolve by way of natural selection. We do not know HOW it began yet. Though if you read more modern scientist and physicists like Lawrence Krauss, you will find that the maths are there to support the idea that, as Krauss states, "something will ALWAYS come from nothing" because "nothing is unstable." To point to a designer should be a final conclusion, not a first one. This very method is what has led to every invention around you. Had we been content with the view that the earth is flat, the center of the universe (which is static), and disease is an act of god, we'd be living in a very different world today.

      February 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  4. Nin

    I hate religion, including Atheism....

    February 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • wcl

      You know atheism is a non-belief, not a belief. You are an atheist as well. Unless you believe in every god that was ever thought up.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  5. Lillian

    Kind of man that I would love to see as leader of the free world. President Santorum as a great Ring!!! Great role model for our children. What a wonderful first lady Mrs. Santorum would make or Will Make!!!

    February 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  6. judith

    Rick Santorum is a religious zealot and is exploiting the fears of the gullible that Obama is going to "crush" religion. If he gets the nomination, Obama wins in a landslide.

    February 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  7. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    February 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • gary

      god is pretend; just myth. NO more real than leprechauns or dragons

      February 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Lillian

      I will PRAY for you and hopefully you will someday know the Love of God.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • !

      OMG not you again.... I hope you get heartattack!!!

      February 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Lilly

      I will PRAY for you and hopefully you will someday know the Love of God.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Lilly

      uMM, It goes back to you and sticks with glue...??? Gosh I haven't said that since Kinder anyway.........I 'll pray for you more fervently.... There's nothing you can say to ever stop me from wishing you eternal salvation. Peace & Love & Hope

      February 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Peter

      why dont you prove it for yourself. howd you find ron in the first place who gave him to you? And do you rlelay believe he is fighting anything or is that just the appearance. seems to me the people that rlelay fight seem to disappear. what ever happened to cynthia mckinney. hey wake up. lol the fact is youll be here in four more years reading a new book. of the new fighter of freedom. lol yep americas ready to be taken over flouride, chemtrail, dumbing down is a success. lol GO RON!

      April 2, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  8. gary

    Santorum is a delusional god-nut, hearing invisible beings, believing ancient myths. Whackos of "faith" should not be running the USA. He hasn't the education to know climate change is real; he calls it a hoax. Anyone who belives ancient myth and not today's science is totally unfit to be POTUS

    February 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  9. StuckInTX

    What we really need in this country is jobs. We need a group of people in charge who are willing to do what's best for the country. If that means lowering corp. taxes or providing some options to employers to lure labor and manufacturing back here, so be it. Right now, due to greed, etc. it goes to the lowest bidder. We have the best politicians money can buy!
    We have major corporations sitting on mountains of cash, not making any moves due to the uncertain political climate, US financial state and other non-US instabilities. We need a period of stability that will allow us time to fix the mess.
    Voting in a GOP POTUS will not provide that, as it will another stalemate with the Dem controlled Senate. The GOP needs to be REAL careful (with the clowns it has on candidate parade right now) that – given the lower than average GOP voter turnout so far – that they don't lose control of the House and the POTUS. The Rel. Right is not large enough to make that big a difference in the vote.

    February 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • AAAAA

      What about Socialism though?

      February 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • StuckInTX

      Not sure what point you are trying to make or question being asked !

      February 9, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  10. Kahpo

    < 2% are atheists in the USA..... I say get over your nonsense 'godless dreams' and SHUT UP

    February 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • go4it

      Can you explain the nonsense (godless dreams ???) we atheists need to get over?

      February 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out about his anal habits.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • KindMoralAtheist

      actually, I think the majority of USA citizens are atheist. But too many are afraid ro "come out". The more I talk it up, the more I find hiding, fearful of Xtians vandalizing their cars, etc. Atheists make up a vast number of the populace. Xtianity is about done.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Sorry to scare you, but a BBC poll in 2004 puts those who don't believe in god in the US at 9% and growing. Soon, we'll be coming for you. BOO!

      February 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • cls

      The number of athiests is not that relevant. How many people attend religious services on a regular basis (practicing)? How many are Judeo-Christians?

      I think the numbers summarized here are more interesting:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States

      February 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  11. Tex71

    I love Santorum because someone who is deranged enough to deny the scientific discoveries of the last 100 years has not a snowball's chance in Hades of being elected POTUS. I love him also because his unabashed misogyny and medieval social values will only serve to alienate voters from the feudal-theocracy ideals he represents. There are nations that operate according to Santorum's values: Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Pakistan are a few of them. We will have to degenerate to their level before electing a Santorum.

    February 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  12. Celeste

    To The Prince of Peace,
    Please help us Lord Weed out the Problematic People of the Republican Party! Please help us and them reform the unusual ways that this particular group use your name to do and say the most evil combination of things against people, groups, families, associates, colleagues and our great President for the reward of Power and more Greed. Lord, we know if they were honest Christians, they would first follow the 10 commandments, but they are false prophets using the name of God in vain! Lord, if they were real Christians, they wouldn’t lie every time they open their mouth. Please Lord Guide the path of Newt, Rick, and Mitt safely back to their homes and Ron Paul back to the nut farm. Please open their eyes where they can see that they are evil and not the best person for or to run our country! Lord, please teach them that all people matter and that this world needs peace. We need Christian Republicans to stop their constant chaos and stop taking the tax payer’s money and not working for it! We ask that they try and be honest for just one day. In Jesus name!

    February 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  13. Celeste

    This letter is written to The Prince of Peace,
    Please help us Lord Weed out the Problematic People of the Republican Party! Please help us and them reform the unusual ways that this particular group use your name to do and say the most evil combination of things against people, groups, families, associates, colleagues and our great President for the reward of Power and more Greed. Lord, we know if they were honest Christians, they would first follow the 10 commandments, but they are false prophets using the name of God in vain! Lord, if they were real Christians, they wouldn’t lie every time they open their mouth. Please Lord Guide the path of Newt, Rick, and Mitt safely back to their homes and Ron Paul back to the nut farm. Please open their eyes where they can see that they are evil and not the best person for or to run our country! Lord, please teach them that all people matter and that this world needs peace. We need Christian Republicans to stop their constant chaos and stop taking the tax payer’s money and not working for it! We ask that they try and be honest for just one day. In Jesus name!

    February 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • AAAAA

      TAX TAX TAX!!! SOCIALISM!!! Who wants to work anyways...?????? You honestly want to work???

      February 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  14. AAAAA

    Obama's last 4 years was just trying to get re-elected...he needs 4 more years to carry out his main goals...lets get out of his way!!!

    Complete Socialism! Oh yeah....work is getting boring and honestly I dont want to wait until I am 65 to retire...I say tax at 90%...get rid of rich and we all get gov't checks...We should all be equal...no more favoring the rich...Tax Tax Tax...

    February 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • StuckInTX

      Obama has been in office for 3 yrs (it will be 4 in Jan 2013) and with the current crop of GOP "clowns" running, he's VERY LIKELY to get another 4 in NOV!

      February 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • AAAAA

      I know!!! Do you think he will carry through with full on Socialism???

      February 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  15. Jew

    Remember what our national motto is? IN GOD WE TRUST........ just want to let you know.
    God Bless!

    February 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • go4it

      Which god? Just want to know what it will take to be an American.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • william

      Right, since 1954. How in the world did we manage those other nearly 200 years without it?

      February 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • gary

      god is pretend. I cross out 'god' on every $ bill i get. Motto-smotto .... Atheism is myth understood.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Herpy McDerp

      I'm not American, and I don't know if this should make me laugh at America or weep for Americans who have a functional brain.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Just want to let you know, "In God We Trust" comes from the Quran. (Quran 7: 89)

      So do you believe we are a nation under islam?

      February 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Dave

      Amen

      February 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Dave

      Go4It, That is the great thing about America, the God you trust is for you to decide. The truth behind the statement is their is someone/something greater than the government. A power much greater than the government that gives all humans rights, and that no government (especially this one) can truly take away those rights.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  16. AgrippaMT

    Catholic males love to brew up big batches of santorum. The priests do it all the time with their altar boys.

    February 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Maybe this isn't appropriate, but he's such a dnahsome guy. Really enjoyable to watch him. Of course, that has absolutely nothing to do with why I would vote for him. He could look like the grinch and I'd still admire, respect, and vote for him.

      April 3, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
  17. Celeste

    Did you say Rick was a one term Senator?

    February 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  18. ashrakay

    The Democratic party sincerely hopes Santorum is the nominee for the Republican party. It's almost as good as Michelle Bachman.

    February 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  19. Bye bye America.....

    If we don't elect a non-Christian president by 2016 I'm moving out from this ""secular""" & ""'fredom"" nation. I had a bumber sticker that said 'Good without God' and every other car honked on me and pointed the finger to me. At the local mall parking lot, my car got scratched and somebody removed my sticker 😦

    February 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Dave

      Well, I would start you planning to move now. What country are you going to?

      February 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • ashrakay

      I mo.ved to Ja.pan 5 years ago, and hav.e not reg.rett.ed i.t once.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • william

      I think it simply embarrasses people.... pushes their noses in the fact that they "believe" things that can't be proven, written by persons unknown decades or hundreds of years after the events allegedly occurred. Kind of like how the catholic church used to torture, disembowel, and/or burn alive the "heritics" who dared question the church's teachings.

      February 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  20. Jeff

    Simply put, people vote for him because he's the best match on values to their own. And the attack ads haven't caught up with him yet. Global Warming as a catch phrase, has come to mean so much more than just an increase in the average temperature; it brings in a raft of why and what should be done about it. It is highly political. I doubt Rick is saying that there is not a recent increase in the average temperature; more likely; he's refuting the idea that man made carbon emissions can have a serious effect on the trend; which is more germane. And on that point I agree with him, and the data does too.

    February 9, 2012 at 5:07 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.