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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Christian Leaders Vote to Support Rick Santorum as Republican Nominee

An influential bloc of Christian conservative leaders have backed Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, as their choice in the Republican presidential race. 

Rick Santorum could now surge as he did in Iowa.   Photo: REUTERS
From The Telegraph
By Philip Sherwell

The support of the group of 150 evangelical power-brokers is a major boost for the prospects of Mr Santorum, who nearly snatched a surprise victory in the Iowa caucus.

The decision is also a setback for the prospects of a quick victory in the nomination battle for Mitt Romney, who has emerged as the Republican frontrunner after his narrow win in Iowa and comfortable victory in the New Hampshire primary.

Mr Romney is a Mormon, a faith that is viewed as a cult by many evangelicals, and he has struggled to win the support of social conservatives after once supporting abortion rights and gay rights.

The Christian leaders who met at a Texan ranch on Friday and Saturday had not been expected to settle on one candidate – a split outcome that would have been ideal for Mr Romney.

The result was also a significant blow to Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who is currently running second in the opinion polls to Mr Romney in South Carolina, the next primary state to vote on Jan 21.
Mr Santorum could now surge as he did in Iowa if social conservative voters, who dominate the electorate in South Carolina, coalesce behind him.

Supporters of Mr Santorum, Mr Gingrich, Rick Perry, the Texas governor, Ron Paul, the maverick libertarian, and even a handful for Mr Romney had made the case for their candidates at the Texas summit.

After two rounds of voting, 115 of the 150 present backed Mr Santorum in a third ballot.

"What I did not think was possible appears to be possible," said Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council and a spokesman for the group.

"There emerged a strong consensus around Rick Santorum. While there was not a lot of hope that we could reach consensus around one candidate, that was achieved."

Mr Perkins emphasised that there would be no calls for Mr Santorum's conservative rivals to drop out to clear the way for him. Nor would there be a co-ordinated official campaign to support him, he said.

But the imprimatur of such a powerful group will clearly be a major boost for a candidate long considered a rank outsider in the Republican race to challenge Barack Obama for the White House.

There will be an immediate test of the impact in South Carolina where about 60 percent of voters in 2008 described themselves as evangelical Christians.

Mr Gingrich has consistently polled ahead of Mr Santorum in the state, but Iowa demonstrated the scope for late changes of momentum.

Mr Perkins said that some Gingrich supporters at the Texas meeting switched their allegiance to Mr Santorum when it became clear that he was the most popular candidate.

The motivation, he said, was a fear of repeating what many social conservatives viewed as a disaster in 2008. John McCain, an unpopular figure with many Christian leaders, won the Republication nomination that year over a divided field of rivals who had tried to win evangelical backing.


kkollwitz said...

I'm curious to know the 150.

Anonymous said...

This makes me sick that Evangelicals did not do their research and could support this wolf in sheeps clothing.
Such a sad day. However, we have been trying to tell folks that what they believe to be true of their church leaders, is not what they will find if they seek and search for the truth.
I am sure this gives the Vatican some pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Christian or Catholic?

Daniel J. Cassidy said...

To My Anonymous Commentators:

For obvious reasons, you have not wanted your names associated with your bigoted and ignorant comments. But each of you, in your own way, have made crystal clear the root of your opposition to Senator Santorum.

This blog seeks to build up the political, social and cultural bonds that unite the people of God. A search of our archives will yield scores of stories about Orthodoxy, Protestantism and Catholicism. We believe in and seek to promote the unity for which Our Blessed Lord prayed. We do so in recognition that the evil arrayed against Christians in this life does not discriminate among sects, rites and denominations. The awesome Majesty around which we are united is far greater than anything which divides us.

This proud papist has never voted for a Catholic candidate for president, nor has that disturbed me. Indeed, my first choice for the presidency in this cycle was a former Baptist minister from Arkansas. I have never been instructed or urged to vote for any particular candidate by any Catholic leader, and I only regret that most Catholic leaders have not spoken out in the clear way that my Evangelical Protestant brothers did today. I have decided to support Senator Rick Santorum because I believe he is the most consistent, experienced, principled, conservative Christian in the race. I am sure the Vatican would be pleased with any pro-life, pro-family, defender of traditional marriage who might take the place of a Marxist who has demonstrated contempt for the God's law placed in the hearts and minds of us all.

The bigotry you have displayed creates division and darkness. Saint Paul's letter to the Corinthians tells us: "He who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit." He is also one, imperfectly, with all other members of the Body of Christ. Perhaps that explains why Christ-centered Evangelical and Catholic churches are vibrant and growing, while those focused on division and the doctrines they reject are withering away.

For nearly five years this blog, written from a Catholic world-view, has experienced very little of the bigotry inherent in your comments. But because our mission is to strengthen the bonds among people of good will, build up the Kingdom of God, and renew our Christian culture, we will no longer post anonymous comments like yours.

kkollwitz said...

That's reasonable. Most, if not all, cultural-political sites I frequent do not allow anonymous posts.

Tommy said...

Well said, Daniel. Your thoughts and sentiments in your comment response echo my own.

As someone who grew up Catholic in South Carolina, I often had to answer questions about our faith, correct teachers in school, face teasing from friends, etc. etc. There is always the presumption by a small minority that we are not Christians - something that my Northern relatives would not understand. When you are a Catholic in South Carolina, there are times that you just know that you are a minority - though it seems to be fewer and fewer. That's why it is interesting to see so many evangelical Protestants rally around Rick Santorum as the monst consistent Christian conservative in the race. As a Southern Catholic, it's actually a point of pride. The fact that Santorum's particular denomination of Christianity is not really an issue is a welcome development. Catholics have become mainstream not only in American political life, but in many ways within Southern life as well. I am consistently impressed by the number of evangelical Protestants I know who want nothing more than to come together with Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ to advocate for pro-life, pro-family, pro-faith values in the public square. I can't help but think there must still be some fundamentalist Protestants in and around an area like ours who will not support Santorum because he is Catholic - but maybe those are the people who are the minority now. In all the press accounts I have read about Santorum competing in our socially conservative state for votes, it is a welcoming sign to see so many evangelicals and Protestants dismissing Santorum's Catholicism as not an issue for them - to them, he is "one of us" as a Christian and a pro-life, pro-family conservative.