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January 14, 2012

Does a Group of Evangelicals Risk Irrelevance by Backing Santorum?

A group of 150 leaders from Christian conservative organizations met in Texas this weekend. The goal was simple: coalesce around a single candidate who could defeat Mitt Romney (in the primaries) and Barack Obama (in the general election). Going into the meeting, the participants agreed that if they could decide upon a candidate, then they would all support him. After several rounds of voting, Rick Santorum won.

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Backing a single candidate could be a political gamble. Win, and they could become kingmakers. Lose, and they could risk irrelevancy.

For social conservatives, it was a bet worth taking. The Republican primary was turning into a lost opportunity. A majority of primary voters preferred a more conservative candidate to the frontrunner Romney, but social conservatives were splitting their vote among several candidates, allowing Romney to win. The gathering in Texas was a last ditch attempt to bring social conservatives together behind one candidate.

According to Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, there were three rounds of voting. Rick Perry, who was a favorite of many social conservatives last summer, failed to make it past the first round. In the final round, Santorum beat out Newt Gingrich by a vote of 85 to 29.

Those in attendance are expected to make statements supporting Santorum. James Dobson will publicly endorse Santorum this week, according to Politico. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is not expected to endorse a candidate, but he will discuss social conservatives in the campaign on C-SPAN Sunday.

Gary Bauer, president of Campaign for Working Families, endorsed Santorum last week and spoke in favor of him at the Texas meeting.

“The main 'pillars’ of Senator Santorum's governing philosophy—smaller, Constitutionally based government, lower taxes, a strong and confident American role in the world to keep our nation safe, a commitment to defending America's families and defending the sanctity of life—[are] exactly the blueprint to put America back on the right track,” Bauer said.

Time's Mark Halperin asked Santorum about the group's endorsement. "To my knowledge they've never done something like this,” Santorum said. “Hopefully this is the type of information that will encourage [voters] to do what maybe in their hearts they were already thinking of doing."

Santorum needs voters to be encouraged. According to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling, Romney is leading in South Carolina with 29 percent support among likely Republican voters. Gingrich is second with 25 percent. Santorum is currently fourth with just 14 percent.

The primary—the only poll that matters—will be held Saturday. That leaves less than a week for social conservative leaders to convince voters in South Carolina to back their newly backed candidate.

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

Comments

Evangelical pastors: “Pray to God about who to vote for, then vote for Santorum.”

With pastors like that, who needs God???

Mormons are never told who to vote for by their leadership. Politics are never discussed in an LDS church, nor are other religons bashed.

“The main 'pillars’ of Senator Santorum's governing philosophy—smaller, Constitutionally based government *promotes faith/promotes responsibility, lower taxes *promotes faith/promotes responsibility, a strong and confident American role in the world to keep our nation safe*discourages faith/shifts responsibility, a commitment to defending America's families and defending the sanctity of life *discourages faith/shifts responibility—[are] exactly the blueprint to put America back on the right track,” Bauer said.

FAIL Batting 0%. And with Santorum's poor record, the two positives are dashed leaving these folks batting a negative 100%.

Honestly, I have a hard time seeing God bless a Pharisee, regardless of what denomination they belong to.

The reason the church in America is declining is because we have become content to take the dominion of God and place it under the authority of Caesar. The actual Church has become a mere remnant while the American church is in decline.

Marriage is in collapse because we stopped trusting God to keep it, and decided that Caesar can do a better job than God. Clear idolatry, and God does not reward idolatry, therefore marriage as an institution is failing. Then we go and say because it's failing let's give Caesar even MORE power over marriage and it starts failing even faster and we wonder why, not realizing it's because we've lost faith in God and made Caesar into an idol.

The reason the American church is so blinded to this, is the seed of blasphemy planted in 1965 -- the 501(c)3 corporate status of churches, which has at it's foundation the twisted notion that government can tell God what He can and can not say from His own pulpits.

The American church is almost completely apostate now. The only way back is to reject 501(c)3 and reclaim divine sovereignty. Barring that, "Come out of her My children..."

When we ascribe the power and attributes of God to the government, that's blasphemy. When we grant the authority of God to the government, that's idolatry.

So here we are in America, the vast majority of our churches (as opposed to the Church) have at their foundation the seed of blasphemy in the form of the 501(c)3 corporation, and in practice we commit both blasphemy and idolatry by putting government in the place of God...and we wonder why the moral fabric of American society is unravelling?

I used to wonder and pray about how is this not obvious? That's when God led me to a deeper understanding of the 501(c)3 blasphemy. Because it is in almost all American churches, it creates a blind spot where parishioners are unable to see the blasphemy and idolatry.

We're in real trouble here. There is and will always be a remnant of course. I implore you all in Christ to pray on this. The churches in America are not right with God! Until we are, there is NOTHING we can do to reverse our moral decay.

I have trouble with all the "religious right are replacing God with politics." Trouble is, the current administration supports abortion on demand--even in the second and third trimesters, when the baby is torn limb from limb. They also equate fornicating and homosexual "unions" with real marriage. These are such horrid abominations that they can't be compared with the pro's or con's of various tax policies currently being debated. A Christian should vote against President Obama in November--and for Romney, Santorum, or whoever his opponent is--without hesitation and with a perfectly clear conscience.

Mani -- first and foremost abortion is murder. Murder is a crime. You don't have to legislate Christian doctrine to ban abortion.

Secondly, who is more powerful to sanctify marriage, God or Obama?

I say God is more powerful, and I have faith in His ability to keep His covenant.

Those who say Obama is more powerful than God to keep marriage sanctified frighten me, because that's blasphemy and idolatry.

And if you advocate government keeping marriage instead of God, then like it or not that's Obama.

I don't want government regulating baptism, because they will destroy it, just like I don't want government regulating marriage, as they are already destroying it right now.

If you want to save the institution of marriage, the most important thing we can do id get government out of it.

I'll even go further and say that the whole reason we have abortion on demand the way we do, is because we have injected Christian doctrine into the question of life, and asked the government to deal with it as such. Then, because the government is not equipped to deal with spiritual questions, they say "well, nobody can possibly know" and so they make abortion legal, since the spiritual point of life is 'unknowable' to the secular universe where Earthly government lives.

If instead you have government deal with abortion as a carnal matter, simply life and death such as murder, then the spiritual question never enters the picture and abortion becomes regular murder, and it can be legitimately stopped.

See, whenever you inject religious doctrine into government, it breaks both the religion and the government.

"My Kingdom is not of this world, if it were, My servants would fight."

Whenever you put government in the place of God, you violate the Kingdom, and whatever you are trying to fix, it just makes it worse.

Abortion is rampant specifically because we have asked Caesar to weigh the matters of God. Instead, back up the definition of life itself to 'conception' or more properly scriptural 'first blood,' and abortion automatically becomes regular murder, and so bans itself.

There's more to running a country than just being against abortion and gay marriage.
Sure, these things are against the Gospel and should be fought. But you also need a sound economic policy, a realistic foreign policy (such as: no unnecessary wars), and policies giving a fair chance to all Americans to get a good education and affordable health care, to name a few important issues.
Santorum is only strong on being against abortion and gay marriage. He fails miserably - as do most Republican candidates - on all other counts.
Whenever I hear an evangelical leader talk about cutting taxes as if it were a commandment from God, I want to scream. Taxes having been going down for 30 years!!! What's it gonna take for us to realize that it just doesn't work?

No, it is no risk to endorse Santorum, and I say this not because I am a Santorum supporter. The average evangelical Christian will vote whoever he wants to vote for without reference to endorsements from evangelical groups. Back in the 80's and 90's, when evangelicals were mostly democrats (which did not seem to bother liberal evangelicals at the time, which did not cause an outcry that evangelicals had sold their souls to the democrats), most voted democratic, not concerning themselves where candidates stood on abortion. Evangelical groups who tried to educate evangelical voters have remained relevant over the years. They have still been able to enact legislation in Congreess and in the states. Cases in point, the ban on partial birth abortions and successful ballot initiatives supporting traditional marriage.

Believe it or not, it is possible to love God and Jesus Christ and Christianity without being a Pharisee, and it's possible to hate Phariseeism without hating God and Jesus Christ and Christianity. Just sayin.

I won’t be voting for Santorum for a host of reasons, one of which is his position on immigration issues. I wish there a person who embodied both the beliefs and spirit of compassionate conservatism. It certainly isn’t Santorum. I’ll vote outside the party, or not vote at all, before I would support Santorum.

Perhaps the most compassionate thing would be to send back the illegal aliens who have broken the law to be here, and then, the close to 24% unemployed, legal citizens will have jobs and greatly decrease our unemployment rate and decrease the load on the welfare and unemployment rolls. Presidents like Harry Truman did the best thing for the nation, because he knew that after WW2 the men would need jobs, so he sent back the illegal aliens, under the plan called "Operation Wetback". Politicians no longer seem to care about what is best for the nation, it's all about pleasing the unions or the PAC's like the homosexual groups, etc.

The government of course, doesn't give the true statistics for unemployment, they don't take into account the people who have just plain given up, or the 80% of college graduates who are still living at home with their parents. In case most people haven't noticed, our economy is in the bucket thanks to obama. He has mainly increased jobs in places like China and India. He gives great speeches about creating jobs by "fixing" our infrastructure for example, and then he hires Chinese companies to do the work. So many of his policies have hurt Americans it's hard to believe he isn't almost doing it on purpose, this is in regard to the pipeline from Canada and his command to stop all American drilling, while allowing foreign countries to drill. He has also said he would like to do away with all coal production in our country. The people who stand up for him surely don't follow his speeches and his actions. We actually have huge amounts of oil in our own country, but have a president who won't use it, and has ordered the release of the oil that was in reserve in case of emergency. He also is making huge cuts in the number of military personnel, while China, Russia, and North Korea continue to expand. He also shares information about our best missiles with Russia, or actually, he gives it away to them, and we get nothing in return, except a more dangerous environment.

For the rest of us, we either came here legally, or our ancestors came here legally and became citizens. They came here for a better life and did not receive government handouts, free medical care, scholarships to universities, etc, they did it the old fashioned way by working hard and following the rules set by immigration. 1/3 of the prisoners in our prisons are illegal aliens. They should be sent back to their countries immediately. By allowing everyone to become automatic citizens you certainly send the message to everyone in the world that our doors are wide open. No nation has been able to stay a free nation without maintaining its borders. Is there anyone who can say they are better off now than before he became president? If you think you're better off, think about how much your house has depreciated and how high grocery prices are now. I don't know of anyone who is better off except for his rich banker friends. Per "60 Minutes" his justice department has not filed a single lawsuit against any of the big bankers, I wonder why? However, his justice department does take the time to do things like filing a lawsuit against a Lutheran church for firing a pastor. Thankfully, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against obama and his justice department trying to do away with the 1st Amendment.

As to the question, "do they risk irrelevance by this action?" the answer is certanly "of course they do".

What a decline since 1960 when John F. Kennedy defended his Catholic affiliation before a group of conservative Baptist pastors. In that speech, he firmly expressed his commitment to separation of church and state. Now, right-wing religious extremists have no quarrel with a militant Catholic politicia precisey because he shares their aversion to separation of church and state.

Who is third ... the "invisible man" from south Texas, Dr. Paul?

NO! That happened a long time ago!

At some time in the very near future (perhaps now?) evangelical 'leaders' may find out that nobody cares what they think. Sadly, their children may care the least about what they think. The days of the 'moral majority' seem to be over with, but apparently nobody told the people on their mailing list.

They better have some baggage handlers in the group, because any conservative candidate they pick, and in this instance Santorum, comes with some serious luggage. The lack of focus on biblical teachings of social justice is so evident among this group, and that, as much as anything, renders them irrelevant. Their damage, however, is in misleading so many of their followers on what is important in our mission.

It is sad to see so many Christians wasting their time and money on mean-spirited worldly politics with the hopeless goal of reforming society through legislation action. We've been called to more important matters than this.

Santorum is a social conservative but a fiscal liberal.

The answer to the question posed in the title of this article is simple: yes.

Who is "a group of Evangelicals"?

This group is/was irrelevant the moment they, whoever they are, took it upon themselves to meet in secret and anonymously to convene some sort of "Evangelical" consensus group. They are irrelevant because we don't know who they are, they have no standing in any church body, no representative status and they presumed to speak for a group larger than their own fenceline. As far as I know, this was the friends and family of Tony Perkins and James Dobson.

The only word to describe this is pathetic.

I am one evangelical who will happily vote for Mitt Romney. In my view, he has the personal character and intellectual ability to be an excellent president. I don't need so-called leaders who are merely celebrities to do the work that I should be doing. Moreover, I would much rather take my cues from Augustine than Gary Bauer.

I would say that they are not risking relevancy because they don't have any to risk when it comes to politics. On many issues, I think there is no single, evangelical position and I would prefer that these leaders would spend their time trying help us to live godly lives by explaining the Scriptures instead of trying to be my political representative.

I would say they lost any relevancy as serious Christians the minute they decided to meet in secret with the goal of becoming earthly kingmakers.

It is not the politics or powers of this world that gives followers of Jesus Christ relevance; it is the power that comes from sacrificially following and serving the real King, Christ Jesus.

President Obama is a Good, Protestant Christian. If Romney runs against President Obama, that would make President Obama the True "Evangelical" in the Race. Pray for our President. He is the True Christian Choice for those that want "Evangelical" and traditional Christians as President.

Irrrelevance is one way to frame this, though it suggests that Evangelicals are worried about outcomes alone. In fact, I suspect they are seeking some way to align an optimal outcome in the election with their genuinely-held beliefs, not matter what the electoral consequences. All that said, these leaders are not risking absolutely everything: if their man loses but Romney fails in the general election, they can say "we told you so." If Santorum takes the nomination but loses the general election, they can still claim to be a relevant and important force in the Republican party.

I think this group of evangelical leaders are relevant only to themselves. Why are these elders telling me who to vote for? Can they really keep their tax-except status if they do? As they are citizens of this land, these so-called evangelical leaders are entitled to their opinions. So is my 9-year-old son.

As far as I can tell, Obama is a fine man, a good Christian and has been a terrific president. He has helped steer our country through a near-disastrous economic recession and is turning swords into plow shares in two warring countries (Iraq and Afghanistan), as well as keeping our troops out of messes in the Middle East.

Good for him. Good for us. Four more years!

Irrelevance? Who cares?

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

The Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells badly hurt Christianity's credibility by mixing politics and religion, and these men are trying to do the same. As another person on this board said, they're relevant only to themselves. I don't look to any of them, or to anyone else, to tell me how to vote.

All I can say about this "endorsement" is bad move guys. God need no help in "ordaining" the "powers that be".

The work of the church is not to decide who gets elected to public office. If anything we are to ensure that only good men rise to spiritual office. We are to pray for our leaders not band together in an effort to elect them ourselves. What happens when we endorse them and they fail?

We are to "trust in the Lord and do good" and we are not to put our trust in man, any man!

Isn't that obvious? Newt just won the SC primary.