The Notable Thing about Evangelical Endorsement of Rick Santorum

I have not endorsed any candidate in the Republican primary, other than to say that I plan to enthusiastically support the guy who ends up running against Barack Obama. If any of these candidates are nominated (besides Ron Paul) I will be prayerfully and aggressively supportive of their candidacy. I have my own opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, and I have my own opinions about who has greater electability concerns, but at the end of the day, there is no reason to endorse when I am fine with any of the candidates besides Paul, and when these things are going to get settled soon enough.

With that said, a large handful of “evangelical leaders” made news a couple days ago by endorsing Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. I am fine with their endorsement, though frankly pretty confused. On one hand, they would have faced a lot of pushback had they endorsed Romney (due to the Mormon issue). And on the other hand, the serial adultery of Newt Gingrich (though repented of now) would have likely raised some eyebrows. However, what is confusing about this is what exactly they are trying to accomplish. Ummm, isn’t this endorsement a bit late? As many of these guys did four years ago with Huckabee, they waited until AFTER Santorum won (or nearly won) Iowa, thereby giving their endorsement no basis for credit in the success he has had thus far (obviously), and also assuring that their endorsement would be way too late to make any difference going forward. My personal opinion is that they wanted to show their constituents that they were doing something to stop Romney, but they didn’t want to do it in such a way that it stopped Romney. Regardless, many can debate if they should have endorsed Newt or Santorum (or even Perry), and I am sympathetic to their desire to be perceived as having influence (if they endorsed Perry and he continued at the bottom of the polls it would look really bad). The truth is that for reasons already mentioned, I don’t think any of this matters much, and after Newt’s performance in the debate last night, I expect that it is Newt, not Santorum, who has the last chance to stop Romney in South Carolina.

But I didn’t write this blog to say any of the above. I just wanted to point out to those paying attention that the big debate last week amongst these “evangelical leaders” (a high degree of which, I can assure you, are of a Baptist orientation) was whether or not to endorse the Roman Catholic, Newt Gingrich, or the Roman Catholic, Rick Santorum. And as previously stated, they elected to endorse Rick Santorum, a long-time devout, practicing Roman Catholic. I think this is fantastic. I do not believe it would have happened 10 or 20 years ago, and it would have caused dogs and cats to rain from Texas if they had done it 50 years ago. As one who values the orthodox truths of the historic Christian faith and believes those things ought to be the real source of our unity, this is a splendid development. I was never a Pat Buchannan fan (for purely economic reasons), but I can remember just 20 years ago the refusal of many to endorse him because of his Roman Catholicism (the right decision made for the wrong reason, as I see it). The reality is that Christendom in the public square is presently RIDDLED with Roman Catholics, and I am thrilled to see Protestant evangelicals accept this, embrace it, and function within it. Our Supreme Court only has four justices worth a hill of beans, and yet they are all Roman Catholic. Going forward, as it pertains to needed changes in culture and social thought, I love the idea that former Romeaphobes are locking arm in arm with our Roman brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, is THIS Roman Catholic (Rick Santorum) going to be the next President? I sure doubt it. But it is nice to know that the reason for that is not going to be a blind evangelical distrust of Rome that only hurts our causes in the public square.

P.S. – Would I vote for a Mormon in the general election? If a Mormon is the nominee and is running against Obama, then of course I would. But that is a whole different subject for a whole different day. I’ll address it if and when Romney wins the nomination. But yes, I would.