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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. Stopthemadness

    Well I would say to h e double hockey sticks (can't spell the word they don't like it) But that is because they bear false witness.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  2. John P. Tarver

    I do not know what Primary the Author has been watching, but in this Primary Catholics have been voting for Romney and cross burners have beewn voting for Santorum.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Stopthemadness

      That's because Santorum called Obama an n word on television.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Rick Santorum

      I was trying to say 'negotiator'...really I was...but I refuse to use a teleprompter, and...well, I do love that other word.

      April 10, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  3. The Convert

    Where do religious conservatives go?

    You covert to Mormonism. The church of the Latter Day Saints has won. They will welcome you and your ancestors with open arms. To is time for you to see the light of the dominant faith.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Reality

      ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

      Putting the final kibosh on religion to include Mormonism:

      • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

      e.g. Taoism

      "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

      Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

      April 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • SciGuy

      I'm not concerned about Mormons accepting me, I need God to accept me.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • One one

      Well the words "faith" and "dominate" certainly seem to be compatible.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • sam stone

      SciGuy: Why?

      April 10, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  4. reason

    These people really need to learn the history of their superstitions before they force them on others.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg

    April 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  5. caesarbc

    Obama.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Dan

      ANYONE BUT OBAMA

      April 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Kool Aid

      DAAAAAAAAAAN

      DRINK MOAR

      April 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  6. lenr1

    Eat. Pray. Vote.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  7. Ken Margo

    Yo Air head Rhonda, lets see, The President saved the auto industry, killed Osama bin Laden, kept us out of a depression, 24 straight months of job growth. etc.. etc. Here's another fact for you. It costs over $225,000 to raise a child from birth to 18. If the parents can't take care of the kid, guess who pays. THE TAXPAYER. Birth control pills ARE CHEAPER than children. DO THE MATH.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  8. Liza

    I don't think Jesus would like Santorum.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  9. Gerson

    This is the end of the road for white evangelicals in politics. After hundreds of books, millions of sunday school classes, millions of bible studies taught against Mormons now they will have support and vote for a Mormon. They will have to tell their people that being Mormon is ok. Take that, payback from GOD himself.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  10. NJBob

    Those evangelical Christians were the most enthusiastic supporters of the immoral war in Iraq and the use of torture. There is NOTHING they have to say that I will listen to.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Reality

      Our War on Terror and Aggression:

      An update (or how we are spending or how we have spent the USA taxpayers’ money to eliminate global terror and aggression)

      The terror and aggression via a Partial and Recent and Not So Recent Body Count

      As the koranic/mosque driven acts of terror and horror continue:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles. 102,522 – 112,049 Iraqi civilians killed as of 9/16/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

      23) "October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. "
      Continued below:
      Other elements of our War on Terror and Aggression:

      -Operation Iraqi Freedom- The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles as of 09/15/2011/, 102,522 – 112,049 Iraqi civilians killed as of 9/16/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed mostly due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,

      – Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.

      – Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)

      – North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.

      – Northern Ireland is finally at peace.

      – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

      – – Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols escaped the death penalty twice because of deadlocked juries. He was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole,[3][7] and is incarcerated in ADX Florence, a super maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado. He shares a cellblock that is commonly referred to as "Bombers Row" with Ramzi Yousef and Ted Kaczynski

      – Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.

      – Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.

      – Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.
      – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

      The capture of Ratko Mladić: (Serbian Cyrillic: Ратко Младић, pronounced [râtkɔ mlǎːditɕ], born 12 March 1943[1][2]) is an accused war criminal and a former Bosnian Serb military leader. On May 31, 2011, Mladić was extradited to The Hague, where he was processed at the detention center that holds suspects for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).[3] His trial began on 3 June 2011.

      – the bloody terror brought about by the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

      – Bin Laden was executed for crimes against humanity on May 1, 2011

      – Ditto for Anwar al-Awlaki on September 30, 2011

      April 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Jim Marler

      Anyone that voted for invasion of Iraq should pray for forgiveness. We left the people and country in much worst conditions plus spending at least a billion dollars that could have been used here at hoem on healthcare, jobs, educations. All of it landed in the pockets of the GOP fat cats.

      God Bless American.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Hypocrisy

      Don't waste your beath Reality. Some will accuse you of being out of touch for holding religious beliefs while at the same time they deny what's right in front of them. They are just hypocrites and no amount of logic, facts or statistics will convince them otherwise, so they choose to embrace me instead of you. =P

      April 10, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  11. Bob

    dont vote, pray

    April 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • reason

      Because it worked the first time?

      April 10, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Jim Marler

      Yes...pray we don't get another Bush Administration.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  12. Ay Caramba

    These Damned conservatives....religion ad all. Not even Jesus can save this guy. I don't want your brand of religion controlling this nation. Religion does not belong in politics. You shall not make any laws respecting ANY religion...

    April 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  13. SciGuy

    If they were actually Christian, they'd have been supporting Ron Paul all along, the only candidate who is not a warmonger.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  14. Robert

    Perhaps Evangelical Christians should take Santorum's suspension of his campaign as a sign that they are much more of a minority than they thought. That doesn't mean they shouldn't voice their concerns but when their chosen candidate says something to the effect of "...we should not be moving towards the center but more towards the right..." it might be a good time to rethink their strategy.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • bob

      I agree, but with a twist: I was hoping the radical right would be successful in getting Santorum nominated so that he could be crushed in the general election. I don't know how else to get those people to realize that they are living in a world that doesn't exist.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  15. Dave

    Hopefully they will all go to the hell they believe in.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  16. NJBob

    I'd love to tell religious conservatives where to go!!

    April 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  17. Reality

    One more time:

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, Newton Leroy Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum (exit right), in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM.

    And the irony:

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

    i.e. If the Pill and male condoms were used properly, abortion would not be an issue and Obama would not be president.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Aezel

      What a hilarious and asinine post. Conservatives are the ones that are voting against teaching how to use condoms, birth control, etc in schools. If anyone is responsible for putting more women in the position of needing an abortion it is the right wing that lives in the dark ages and wants to teach abstinence only.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Reality

      The reality of contraception and STD control: – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

      Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

      The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

      : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

      Added information before making your next move:

      from the CDC-2006

      "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

      And from:

      Consumer Reports, January, 2012

      "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

      Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

      "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

      Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

      The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

      1a. (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
      1b. (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

      Followed by:

      One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
      Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
      The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
      Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
      IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

      Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

      April 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  18. reason

    Instead of finding another religious candidate these zeolots should be keeping their religion out of politics!

    April 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  19. Canadian

    Back to the Dark-Ages where their world views are relevant!

    April 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  20. dav

    All votes going to Romney. Except illegal aliens and those who abuse welfafe,they are for comrade obama.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Canadian

      wlefafe? lemme guess ..home-schooled?

      April 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • petemg

      I hope you are including the legals who are forced into depending upon the country.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Urmomstink

      "Except illegal aliens and those who abuse welfafe,they are for comrade obama." you forgot the Ron Paul supporters, remember Better the devil you do know than one don't.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Canadian? Lemme guess, Socialist pansy?

      April 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Gerson

      Do you mean by abuse welfare all the people in rural West Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia, Utah, Missouri. Did I say "white Republican America" oops. There are more white republican Americans taking advantage of welfare than any other group. Check your facts and go get some new denture you idiot.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
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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.