Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why Evangelicals Like Rick Santorum

This article has been making the rounds in the blogosphere of late.  Matthew Franck, a conservative political scientist, explains why a conservative Catholic is winning the support of evangelical Christians in the south.

Any historian can see the irony. Who would ever have thought that evangelicals would line-up behind a Catholic?  It is clear that the battle lines have shifted over the last fifty years.

Here is a taste of Franck's piece:

First, some people are scratching their heads over the fact that Romney has polled better among Catholics than Santorum has.  Why can’t Santorum do better among his own co-religionists?  I suspect we’d get our answer if the exit polls drilled deeper into people’s churchgoing habits.  To be “Catholic” in America often means little more than that one took the sacraments long ago, and reflexively identifies with the Church when asked by a pollster, or perhaps falls into the “Christmas and Easter” gang that crowds the pews the rest of us are in every Sunday.  I’d be willing to bet that Santorum is handily winning those Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly, remember to eat no meat on Lenten Fridays, comfortably say “consubstantiation” now, and mark the holy days of obligation on their calendars.

Second, Santorum beat Romney handily among women voters, especially married women, in Mississippi and Alabama.  So much for the fabled “war on women” of the Republicans (and the Catholic bishops).  As the party’s most conspicuous faith-and-family conservative, and the most cogent critic of Obamacare on behalf of every family’s freedom to control its own health care choices, Santorum has probably benefited from President Obama’s egregious over-reaching in this field.  And although he hasn’t talked about it a great deal (and should start doing so), Santorum is probably the candidate preferred by many voters upset by the Obama administration’s assault on religious liberty in its HHS contraception mandate.  The issue fits him like a glove, and voters can see that it does.  The fact that many Southern Baptists have chosen to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Catholic bishops on this issue is no small help to the most “evangelical” of the remaining candidates.

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