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. stevensb

    Don't know about anyone else but I don't want a " preacher in chief " in the white house ... I want a leader who is responsive to all Americans , not just those fanatics that claim to worship the same god .

    February 9, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Jon O

      The Christian Fundamentalists want to turn America into a society that practices Sharia Law in all but name.

      For all their fear-mongering about the evils of Islam the policies they seek to implement and the words that come out of their mouth are just as evil, oppressive, hateful, barbaric, uncivilized and ignorant as anything a fundamentalism Muslim says.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  2. Jon O

    I think its pretty clear – because he's the only candidate remaining with openly hateful, oppressive rhetoric concerning a variety of ethnic or minority groups including Muslims, gays and women.

    Fundies love that stuff.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  3. Jt_flyer

    Thomas Jefferson has a list too. Just a few Thomas Jefferson quotes on the subject:

    1. "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man"- Thomas
    Jefferson

    2. "The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs." -Thomas Jefferson

    3. "It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one- Thomas Jefferson

    4. "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be clas.sed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."- Thomas Jefferson

    5. "There is not one redeeming feature in our supersti.tion of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites."- Thomas Jefferson

    6.  History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.  This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose.  Thomas Jefferson

    February 9, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Some of these might be repeats of the ones you have posted but none-the-less, here goes:
      1. "Christianity is the most per.verted system that ever shone on man"- Thomas
      Jefferson

      2. "The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs." -Thomas Jefferson

      3. "It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticism's that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one- Thomas Jefferson

      4. "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be cla.ssed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."- Thomas Jefferson

      5. "There is not one redeeming feature in our supersti.tion of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites."- Thomas Jefferson

      6. "Lighthouses are more useful than churches."- Ben Franklin
      .
      7. "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."- Ben Franklin

      8. "I looked around for God's judgments, but saw no signs of them."- Ben Franklin

      9. "In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it."- Ben Franklin

      10. "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it"- John Adams

      11. "The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.'- Thomas Paine

      12. "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst."- Thomas Paine

      13. "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."- Thomas Paine

      14. "Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies."- Thomas Paine

      15. "All national inst.itutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."- Thomas Paine

      16. "It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.”- Thomas Paine

      17. "Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."- George Washington

      18. "The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession."- Abraham Lincoln

      19. "It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interference in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespa.sses on its legal rights by others."- James Madison

      20. "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."- James Madison

      February 9, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  4. not that fred

    To anyone who supports this man, I ask this question: What is it about Sharia Law that you do not like?

    February 9, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Bill, Bloomington Il

      Nothing. Until someone tries to invoke Sharia Law in the court system which does not and should not be allowed just as catholic law is not allowed in the court system.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  5. Moi

    santorum is a religious zealot. the last thing we need in the white house. he may be a wonderful family man (?) but that doesn't mean that he could run the country and why would anyone think it's really relevant?

    February 9, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  6. Scott

    Any idiot can challenge the science of evolution and global warming if he or she is not concerned about facts. Santorum stands out as the idiot-in-chief, even in the extraordinarily fact-challenged GOP.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  7. street smart

    Every politician has to have a base & Santorum is no different Ever since Ronald Reagan saw the advantage of appealing to the Jesus Crispies demographic the GOP has always included their interest whenever they would campaign for office. Reagan went thru the motions which is understandable. I mean he needed their vote but Reagan knew them for the whack jobs they are and knew there were more important issues to tackle than the religious whack jobs baztardization view of what their Lord expects from Man. ie Gingrich thought if he gave a billion to Ken Starr to sniff thry Monicas dirty clothes hamper and produce dirty clothes with Clintons "love stains" on it to show how immoral Clinton was it would score points with the religiously misinformed. he was right of course but the rest of the country didnt think so and now Newt has been trying to get into public office ever since. Santorum like most Politicians on the right has got it backwards. You dont go after the religious right vote by going overboard to please them. You do what reagan did, that is you throw them a bone & go after the Independent & Moderate Dem vote because theyre the ones that can vote either way not the religious whack jobs, They hate Romney, consider his religion to be a cult religion but if he becomes the GOP Pres candidate the whack jobs will vote for him. thats why Santorum will lose. Hes concentrating too much on the whack job vote & not enough on the swing voters. whack jobs will always vote GOP because they will never know better. Can I get an Amen on that 1 brothers & sisters?

    February 9, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Scott

      Amen and hallelujah!

      February 9, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  8. Bernard Webb

    We are witnessing the death throes of the god-forsaken republican party. The Tea Party and the Taliban in the religious right have killed it dead. Good riddance!

    February 9, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  9. person

    Homeschooling is the ultimate form of indoctrination.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Jared

      It also seems to get better results than public school in many respects.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • westward

      And segregation.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  10. bernie

    Oh so the crazy religious right, who back in 1960, had a huge problem w/ Kennedy, now want to vote for a Catholic? Hysterical. They now accept worshiping the invisible man in the sky the Catholic way ok now in 2012?

    February 9, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  11. Ronald

    Anyone running for office that uses religion or God to promote their political ambitions is taking God and religion to a place that it was never intended to go. They are playing on the emotional and religious beliefs of people to gain favor with those voters and I don't read anywhere in the Bible about Jesus running for office. Religion is a right not a platform or wedge for getting elected and those that use it are going against God and what he wants. Love thy neighbor not push all their religion buttons to get votes, feed the hungry and clothe the naked not scare people about how the government is taking away everything you own. Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is Gods! Leave God and religion out of politics, it doesn't belong!

    February 9, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • cashmeremafia

      Ronald – very well written, couldn't agree more!!! 🙂

      February 9, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • Winker

      People use their faith as a tool of convenience not to be followed when it doesn't suit them. Faith is always used in a fear context and it's strange those who profess to have faith preach hatred against those who disagee with thier views.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  12. Godless

    Earlier, Z wrote:

    "People are clueless as to what this mans really said. He essentially wants to remove all forms of birth control in the US and censor what he deems inappropriate. He's for taking away women's rights towards their bodies and talks of rewriting all the laws to be based on 'religious law'. Folks call it what it is, it's a 'christian' version of Sharia law, and if this guy gets elected the US will become just like Afghanistan. Do some research and stop relying on the 'right' to tell you the truth, he openly admits it."

    In a weird way, I kinda want Santorum to win and to move ahead with his Christian Taliban agenda and try to force Biblical law on the USA. That might finally be the straw that broke the camel's back and really start to push non-believers to speak up and get religion out of government for good, and maybe even speed up the decline of religion altogether, at least in this country.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Don in Albuquerque

      I think it would be good for the Christian right to remember who they are backing, which is the GOP. You know when you oppose warfare more than you oppose welfare, you just might be on the road to becoming a little more "Christ Like."

      February 9, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • Zargoth

      I understand your point, but a pretty dangerous thing to wish for...

      February 9, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • miscreantsall

      WELL SAID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      🙂

      February 9, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  13. Jesus was a Socialist

    I believe Santorum can return this country to what it once was...an arctic wasteland.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  14. westward

    Hilarious article there.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  15. den b

    Santorum and his fellow fundamentalist holier than thou followers want to impose their version of social values upon everyone else. They claim they are for less government but what they want is more government in the personal lives of everyone. A virtual christian theocracy. Keep religion and government separate.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  16. Don in Albuquerque

    I feel we should all thank organized religion for a great many things. The Crusades (which still and will cause hatred till the end of time), The Inquisition, absolute terror of women, Salem, on and on ad nauseum....Yep, the GOP has learned one thing. If you want to start a war, nothing will add real horror too it like a good mix of religion.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Funny I find none of those things in the Bible or the Apostles teachings, nor the Bible or the Apostles teachings in those things.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  17. mickey

    easy. the faithful are stupid and so is santorum.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Sadie Boyd

      amen

      February 9, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • westward

      Exactly. If we haven't learned by now that 'evangelical' is nothing more than a code word, there is no hope for us. And yes – a vote for Santorum is for anything but love and peace.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • Don'tForget

      Don't forget corrupt too. LOL!

      February 9, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • rick

      i don't think Frothy Mix is stupid. he knows what buttons to push to get people to believe his drivel

      February 9, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • 2+2=5

      Amen.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  18. edgarx

    The faithful like samtorum because he wants to throw us back to the Stone Age, where is just where they belong.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  19. Hubert39

    Their has always been hate between differnt religions. Why? MONEY and POWER. The religion that has the most members gives the most money to the church leaders. Around 95% of all religions believe in God.
    It's the my God is better then your God thing that gets me. It will alwsy be this way. Thank "God" most voters don't go long with Santotum. He and the right wing radical crazies will try and use religion to get votes.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • Jared

      It actually goes more to origins. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all trace their roots to the same family fued.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  20. Thomas

    I have always found the similarities between religious fundamentalist and conservative Republicans to be interesting. Each believes he alone holds the truth and anyone who even questions the truth is damned for all times. Each believes that he as a guardian of the truth is a special person who is constantly under attack by evil outside forces. Each uses these beliefs to justify any action, however destructive, as being necessary to save the truth and each uses fear as their main tool to control and influence others. I was a dues paying Republican for nearly thirty five years. I did not leave the party, it left me.

    February 9, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • RINO2

      You have a lot of company. My measure of retribution is voting (regularly) against such candidates. That pretty much means a cross-party ballot these days. I used to feel mildly guilty until early in Bush Jr's 1st term. Been cured ever since. Given the slate of choices this time around, no change in course.

      February 9, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • cashmeremafia

      Same with me

      February 9, 2012 at 8:55 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 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.