As far as I know, Greg Hengler of Townhall was the first to shine the media spotlight on this poignant scene: a YouTube video of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, head bowed in prayer, standing as more than 100 Protestant pastors “laid hands on” him and prayed for him.
The moment occurred yesterday morning during a campaign stop at a small chapel in McKinney, Texas, where Santorum spoke candidly about his faith and his family. He spoke about his personal faith journey and how it affects his campaign, and he described himself as a man of faith and a man of reason.
“I’m willing to be very public about the role of faith in our society,” said Santorum. “It’s not because I want to be the pastor of the United States. That doesn’t mean I won’t stand and fight…for the moral foundation.”
Santorum, the most socially conservative of the candidates currently vying for the Republican nomination, has stood in opposition to same-sex marriage, adoption by same-sex couples, and abortion. “I know life begins at conception,” the candidate explains. “There’s no difference between that child in the womb and any one of us but time.”
Santorum also spoke about his marriage, how he began attending Bible studies and how he and his wife Karen had grown in their faith. That faith helped them through personal struggles including the death of their son Gabriel, born prematurely in 1996. “He was born alive, way too small to survive. We had a couple of hours with him.” But Santorum described Gabriel’s time on earth as “a life only to know love and then to be with Our Father.”
Daughter Isabella, or Bella, was also born with a life-threatening problem—in her case, a genetic disorder. The family brought Bella home from the hospital on hospice care, and then began celebrating her birthday every week. They hoped, Santorum said, that they would have as many weeks to live with and love Bella as they had had years with the other children. Speaking of his sweet daughter, Santorum said, “Bella can’t do much in the eyes of the world, but she can love. These children have a lot to teach us, yet we live in a world that wants to put them in the shadows.”
The pastors and supporters gathered around the candidate. Those closest to Santorum laid their hands on his shoulders and back; others bowed their heads in prayer. One pastor offered a prayer: “We pray You direct Rick’s steps as he runs for president. As Rick travels Texas and the country…we pray blessings on him…and goodness.”