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April 10th, 2012
04:33 PM ET

With Santorum suspending campaign, some religious conservatives wonder how to proceed

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Evangelical activist Michael Farris was not exactly surprised that Rick Santorum suspended his campaign on Tuesday. But that doesn’t mean that Farris, a longtime political organizer, knows what he’s supposed to do now.

“Right now my choice is to sit on my hands and do nothing or to actively try to find some alternative” to Mitt Romney, Farris said in an interview shortly after Santorum's announcement.

“Some of us just have a hard time supporting a person who said he was going to be more liberal on gay rights than Ted Kennedy,” said Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, referring to remarks Romney made in a 1994 letter.

Farris’ reaction is a stark emblem of the disappointment among religious conservatives over Santorum's announcement, and a reminder that Romney’s enthusiasm deficit among the conservative evangelicals who form the GOP’s base hasn’t gone away.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“There are two kinds of disappointment today,” said John Green, a religion and politics expert at the University of Akron. “One is felt by people who care a great deal about social issues, especially white evangelicals, who are uncomfortable with Mitt Romney.”

“And there’s another group who really liked Santorum,” Green continued, “and were quite excited about him not only because of the social issues but because they saw him as representing this positive role for faith and values in a society.”

The conservative and largely evangelical Family Research Council said in an email to supporters Tuesday night that Santorum's announcement "was clearly disappointing news for those looking for a nominee who understands and articulates the connection between the social and fiscal challenges facing America."

"His historical run for President achieved remarkable success because his campaign was based not on money spent, but on the pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-freedom message he carried," the Family Research Council email blast said.

Religious conservatives were the key to Santorum’s unlikely rise as a serious presidential candidate. Conservative evangelicals and Catholics were drawn to Santorum as much for his personal story – he is a conservative Catholic and homeschooling dad of seven – as for his outspoken advocacy against abortion rights and same-sex marriage as a U.S. senator.

While polls showed him at the back of a seven-person pack just weeks before January’s first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, Santorum won a plurality of Iowa evangelicals, who accounted for nearly 60% of the electorate. That support laid the foundation for a first place Iowa finish.

After Santorum’s primary loss in New Hampshire to Mitt Romney - and days before Santorum would lose to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina - conservative religious activists convened in Texas and congealed behind the former Pennsylvania senator.

With strong evangelical support, Santorum went on to win primaries and caucuses in 11 states, even as Romney racked up more than twice as many delegates.

Not all conservative religious activists are as dead-set against Romney as Farris, who is also chancellor at Patrick Henry College, a school for homeschooled youth.

“Barack Obama will unite conservatives and people of faith more so than any single Republican candidate can hope to do,” said Mat Staver, an evangelical Christian who leads the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel.

But Staver said Romney would have to work hard to excite social conservatives.

“He’s going to have to make some intentional steps to reach out to evangelicals and religious conservatives,” said Staver. “It would be a mistake to assume he has every vote from evangelicals and religious conservatives locked up.”

At the moment, plenty of other conservative activists say they’re still in wait-and-see mode about the primary season.

“It’s very likely that he’ll end up the nominee, but he’s not he nominee yet,” said Steve Scheffler, president or the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, about Romney. “He was never my first choice, but I’ll support him because the alternative is something we can’t live with.

“But I’m not ready to throw my support to him yet,” Scheffler said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Politics • Rick Santorum

soundoff (1,591 Responses)
  1. Pipe-Dreamer

    Pry open your eyes you masses of obedient slaves to rancid ideologies! Gather your votes insecrecy before the next election comes and when it does stuff the hell outta the ballot box! And your next King for awhile is,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    April 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  2. Nodack

    "Farris, who is also chancellor at Patrick Henry College, a school for homeschooled youth."

    Chancellor at a college where everybody stays home?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      The founding of said school which probably cause poor Mr. Henry to spin rapidly in his grave!

      April 10, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • AGuest9

      In Tennessee, if you don't want your child exposed to nonsense as "science", you WILL have to home-school them.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  3. Pipe-Dreamer

    The King of the grand ol' U.S.A.! Who will be next in line for the Kingship's mansion?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  4. Pipe-Dreamer

    Predisposed are humanists' dispositionaries,,,, get the latex outts here! While your at it shuffle the kotex wrappers and don't forget your pill my darlin!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • skarphace

      Er .. I know you are just trying to sound smart, but 'dispositionaries' is not even a word.

      Perhaps you meant 'dispositions'? It wouldn't help your post make any more sense, but at least it is a word.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      skarphace,,,,,

      Tell me please,,,, "Where do words originate from?" A dictionary? "Where does a dictionary come from?"

      Those who cannot fathom the very idea of tranmutabilities in word venacularations is but a "kemt" puppet on an ever enstricted string along phonecian like slaveries!

      April 10, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
  5. leralph

    Where should the ultra-conservatives go? How about away, or at least stay home on election day

    April 10, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  6. kanoodle

    QUESTION FOR EVANGELICALS

    Hey Evangelicals, what religious book would Romney place his hand on when taking the oath if he were to become president?

    April 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • skarphace

      Mormons use the Bible.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Throbin Hood

      "Sperms of Endearment" ?
      "White Men Can't Hump" ?

      They must be religious works. They are filled with people saying "Oh God!!!!!!!!!" OH GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

      April 10, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • kanoodle

      The Book Of Mormon

      April 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • skarphace

      The Book of Mormon is the Bible with a few more chapters added on for good taste (those 'found' by Smith).

      April 10, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • kanoodle

      Mormons differentiate the Bible from The Book of Mormon. They mainly follow the Book of Mormon as their
      chieve religious teaching while only using the bible for some teachings. You are wrong scarphace. I know you want to
      tyy to act like you are intelligent, but do your research. The Book of Mormon contains the changes by Smith and the Book
      of Mormon is their main religious text. The bible is secondary. I don't care what book he would place his hand on but scarphace you need to educate yourself before you make your posts.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • kanoodle

      Romney would take the oath with his hand placed on the Book of Mormon

      That is just fine with me 🙂

      April 10, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Kev

      I wonder if MA governors when they're sworn in use a Bible and if so did Romney place his hand on a Bible when he became governor of MA?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  7. ug

    Well now we hope they will do the same for Romney...we need them...

    April 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  8. watash

    George Herbert Walker Bush is the only Republican since Eisenhower that was anywhere close to being qualified to be President and he had to cow tow to the Reagan fanatics in order to get elected, Like Carter, he was ineffective because every Evangelical put pressure on him to be like Reagan. He was basically an honest person like Carter but was a fish out of water without his party's support. That is what did Jimmy Carter in with the help of the Kennedys. Ronald Reagan was a joke.He let his wife and the astrologists make his decisions with the help of the bankers on Wall Street.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Stan Himself

      While I agree with the sentiments you put forth, I don't agree with your getting so many facts wrong. Better start over.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Even Ronald Reagan was not allowed to act like Ronald Reagen, and for those instances that he did, like raising taxes and frequently bypassing due process, has been conveniently swept under the carpet by the Neocons who only want people to see the Reagan they believe existed, but no evidence shows that this fictional character did. His characterization of George A. Custer in "Santa Fe Trail" bears more resemblance to reality than the current Republican image of him bears to what he actually was.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Reagan indebting us to Ja.pan (destroying their economy) and China? Pushing the "service sector" (want fries with that) economy? Trickle-down economics? Ketchup counts as a vegetable for school lunches? Is any of this ringing a bell?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  9. Jose Antonio

    Remember God is the creator of all things. He is the author and the finisher. He writes our lives and he is the all knowing. This is part of his plan for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Book of Revelations tells us the signs towards Armageddon. In Matthew 10:21-22, brother against brother. All these bad things has to happen. There will be the collapse of economy from all countries. And chaos will start, famine and death follows. Then war of all wars will begin. If you value your votes and can't chose a politicians to trust your future. Then, don't vote. The one thing we can do now, is pray for our salvation, because the end of age is coming.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Aezel

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

      April 10, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Remember also that we labour together with God and He is our hubadndry while we are His buildings,,,,,,,,,,,,

      1Cr 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • skarphace

      So the Bible says that the world will end when America elects a minority as President?

      I ask because I see no other reason for the 'end of world' predictions I hear from Teavangelists. We are at one of the most peaceful periods in history. We are at one of the most productful periods in history. We are at one of the highest cost of living periods in history. We have more countries where people are free and have a say in their governments than any other period in history.

      What, besides Obama being President, is so bad that you think the end of the world is coming?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Jose Antonio

      Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

      Blah blah blah.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • skarphace

      Jose: that actually made more sense than your original comment.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Nodack

      The end of the world again? What's the latest date this time around? Must have been a Santorom supporter.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • TR6

      No matter what happens, christians see it as a sign that jesus will be returning any day now, just like they have said for the last 2000 years

      April 11, 2012 at 4:45 am |
  10. Pipe-Dreamer

    You humanists make me want to puke up the hot dogs I'm going to eat later tonight!,,,,,,,,,,,

    April 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Vegetarian Zombies Want To Feast On Grains

      Enjoy your phallic dinner

      April 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Aezel

      "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."- Ben Franklin

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

      April 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  11. Gfoos

    GOD! 0 for 3! Didn't you personally tell Michelle Bachmann, Newt, and Frothy Ricky to run? If I difn't know any better, I'd think you WERE NOT a Republican at all!!!

    April 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • skarphace

      You are forgetting Cain and Perry. Teavangelists are 0 for 5. And against a Mormon to boot. Cracks me up!

      April 10, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Aezel

      Yes this leaves us with only a few possibilities and none look good for God:

      1.) God couldn't get his guys elected, in which case he is not God.
      2.) God was just messing with all 5 of them, in which case God is an a**hole.
      3.) God didn't talk to any of them, and all 5 are liars.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • skarphace

      4) God did not talk to any of them. Some of them are liars (Gingrich, Cain), and the others are merely delusional (Perry, Bachmann, Santorum).

      April 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Nodack

      All signs point to #3. God told me also.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • momoya

      Aezel nailed it.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  12. Brian

    Religious conservatism has no place whatsoever in American politics.

    If we wanted a Theocracy, we would return to the Dark Ages when religion ruled.

    In this country, we have the separation between church and state for a reason.

    Religious freedom means I get to chose whether or not to be religious and if so, how. It does not mean that I get to impose my religion on others.

    I respect my religion and the religion of others, I just don't try to force it upon everyone else.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Gee, Brian, don't you realize that this country was settled by people who were not allowed to impose their religion on others back in England? The Pilgrims and Puritans came here because they could not force the rest of England (about 97% of the population) to worship the way THEY wanted.
      Of course, my personal favorite bit of Irony is the Baptist Church was founded by Roger Williams in his attempt to ensure that there was separatation between Church and State, unlike in Massachusetts Colony, that kicked him out for spreading such heretical thought. Now, the Baptist Church is the strongest advocate for uniting Church and State. Poor Roger is spinning in his grave over that.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  13. Stan Himself

    Religious conservatives have shot themselves in the foot so many times there ain't nothin left of their legs a-tall.
    They don't have a leg to stand on. They've never known how to proceed in the first place. That's how they roll.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  14. Andre Mutabeli

    CNN,

    You are a bias network. I noticed that your work here is to advance the agenda of Obama and Liberals. As a conservative, I find your forum very disturbing and certainly did not feel welcome. It's in my considered opinion that your agenda is to promote Obama and his bad policy. I also noticed that your moderator tend to agree more with the liberal views only.....which means he accept contents that are inline with the liberal views. Also I have learned that folks here have no respect for other posters. Simply there's no civil discussion. It's you who is bad and I am right on the issues.

    I hope CNN, you will look into this matter. People can disagree without insulting each other. Therefore, I expect your network to do a better job than what you are currently offering now.

    Thank You for aloowing me to participate in your belief forum for today,

    Andre Mutabeli

    "English is everyone second language ..only few master the language...so, don't insult anyone for making a mistakes. Professional make mistakes. I do too.

    April 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • skarphace

      I hate to tell you, but the 'moderator' is a bot just searching your post for any word that is 'banned'. It causes some problems, however. For example, you can't say "Consti tution" all in one word becuase it has the word "ti t" embedded inside it. It is a pain, but there is no human moderator with "liberal" bias.

      So sorry to burst your bubble.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Vegetarian Zombies Want To Feast On Grains

      Is there a translator available?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Jon

      It's a little hard not to be slightly biased when one side of the political spectrum is filled with a group of fanatical evangelicals whose highest achievement was passing the 4th grade.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Nodack

      CNN is the least biased of all of them. I can't even post on FOX. I don't know if they have bots or monitors, but I was banned after one post. CNN only blocks banned words, not politics. FOX bans non Republicans. That's why most people seem to agree with each other there. No other opinions are allowed.

      I doubt you had a problem with FOX and found them to be 100% unbiased since you probably agree with anti Democratic remarks 100% of the time.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 10, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Rick Santorum

      It was a big fail for me

      April 10, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • skarphace

      Why don't you pray the gas prices down, then, instead of just complaining about them?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • TR6

      Apparently not for tricky Ricky

      April 11, 2012 at 5:38 am |
  16. skarphace

    Poor, poor Teavangelists. Now they will have to choose between a minority and a Muslim come November.

    Oh, you don't plan to vote at all? That is ok, we understand.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  17. Volodya

    Hmm...what will they do. They've hated Romney's Mormonism since Day One, but they probably won't vote third party and definitely won't vote for President Obama. Either they won't vote or they'll end up voting for Romney anyway. I don't see why they're complaining...

    April 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  18. Norman

    sorry bigots-your candidate never had a chance. And Romney can't win either-the Mormom cult is just too strange for most to embrace. Obama will win in a landslide. God has done his duty-expelling hateful religfious bigots to the dust bin of history

    April 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  19. Leigh2

    We go shopping. I'm being facetious. of course. We have to have a sense of humor. It helps in times like these. Lousy choices for president. Now will have to decide which is the lesser of two evils.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Norman

      Obama you imbecile-you know, the one who caught Osama, battled the worst depression, tried to get health care for millions of the poor, imp[roved world views of the US

      April 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • skarphace

      Normon: you are forgetting the very worst part. Obama is not lily-white. If he were, he would be guaranteed to win. As it stands, it will probably be a very close race.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  20. john

    If Mitt Romney were a Democrat candiate, I would vote for him. Republican candidate? nah...

    April 10, 2012 at 9:55 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.