In a cut-throat race to the White House, the remaining GOP candidates seem willing to play on any and all emotions held by their potential voters. The issues addressed by each candidate are no longer exclusively about government control and regulations, but now explore the role of faith in a secular government. To many, these issues should more appropriately be addressed in a church, instead of in government halls.

Rick Santorum, self-described “Champion of Faith and Family,” is perhaps the candidate who has most invested in the religious ticket. Santorum, who practices Catholicism with his wife and seven children, often exploits his religious beliefs to discuss topics of abortion and same-sex marriage. On gay marriage, Rick Santorum asserts that same-sex marriage is “politically fashionable” and that it has no real place in the government. Santorum believes marriage is sacred between a man and a woman because it creates life. He says, “These unions are special because they are the ones we all depend on to make new life and to connect those new lives to their mom and dad.” However, following this logic, a man and a woman that cannot conceive a child would be violating the sanctity of marriage with their inability to produce life.

Santorum has promised that if he becomes president, he would criminalize abortion. Santorum believes same-sex marriage and abortion are violations of the first amendment right to freedom of religion, what he believes to be the most important amendment, while some argue he purposely neglects other rights, such as a right to privacy.

While Santorum is losing steam in his run for the presidential bid, Mitt Romney has consistently been the leading candidate among voters. CNN’s reporting on the most recent Florida polls show Romney to have the support of nearly half of all Republican voters. Romney is a practicing Mormon, as well as his wife and their five children. Mitt Romney, who received criticism for drastically changing his views from a pro-choice governor to a pro-life candidate said, “I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.” Romney also says that his pro-life views stem from the belief that, “unborn children… are capable of feeling pain from abortion.”

Romney believes that people should not be discriminated because of sexual preferences but does view marriage as a “sacred institution between a man and a woman,” and believes, “marriage is first and foremost about nurturing and developing children.”

Newt Gingrich runs his campaign as a seemingly morally sound Catholic aiming to protect, “life and religious liberty.” However, recent allegations against Gingrich have painted him as anything but ethically pure. In an interview with the Washington Post, Marianne Gingrich, Newt Gingrich’s second ex-wife, claims that she was asked by her former husband for an open marriage. In her interview Marianne tells the Post, “He said the problem with me was that I wanted him all to myself.” Marianne then goes on to claim that when asked about his then mistress and now wife, Callista Gingrich, Newt claimed, “She doesn’t care what I do… In a few years I’m going to run for president. She’s [Callista] going to help me become president.” Callista Gingrich is the third wife of Newt Gingrich who is said to have cheated on both of his former wives. Surprisingly enough, Gingrich still defends marriage as a sacred entity and is opposed to “non-traditional,” same-sex marriage.

Gingrich also incorporates faith into his views on abortion, as do many of the GOP candidates. As a potential presidential contender, Gingrich would remove funding from programs such as Planned Parenthood that provide assistance to pregnant women.

Ron Paul is one candidate that can be seen as not overtly religious. He has said, “my faith is a deeply private issue to me… I want to avoid any appearance of exploiting it for political gain.” Paul was the only candidate to not sign the Marriage Pledge, a pledge that publicly commits candidates to oppose same sex marriage. He does pledge that he will neither support nor oppose legislation for the advancement of marriage equality. The National Organization for Marriage, who drafted the Marriage Pledge, warns conservatives to vote against Ron Paul , describing him as a, “non conservative.”

Paul, who is most popularly known as the candidate for individualism and personal responsibility, does, however, take a religious stance on the issue of abortion claiming that the government must have respect for a, “God given right to life- for those born and unborn.” Paul worked as an OBG-YN before delving into politics and claims his pro-life beliefs are based on science and medicine; Paul believes life begins at conception. Ron Paul has also made it publicly known that, as president, he would reverse the court case of Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion as a woman’s right to privacy, as well as removing funding from family planning programs like Planned Parenthood.

The 2012 presidential election cycle is viewed by many as one of the most critical elections in our nation’s history. The next president will likely be obligated to appoint Supreme Court justices that will shape what it means to have freedom and equality.

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