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NYSNYS NEWS: In Albany, presidential hopeful Santorum tells Christian conservatives to not give up on trying to change the state.
NYSNYS NEWS: In Albany, presidential hopeful Santorum tells Christian conservatives to not give up on trying to change the state.

By Kyle Hughes

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 17) Former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 Iowa caucuses winner Rick Santorum urged Christians holding a lobbying day here Tuesday to never give up the fight for conservative values in a state that is a liberal stronghold.

"I know that you can become discouraged," he told a rapt crowd of small-town church leaders attending the New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms lobbying day. "It's sort of natural when you are trying to articulate something and move your country, your state and your community in a certain direction and you feel like no one is listening or they are just not listening they don't even want to hear. In fact they are threatening you if you even speak up. That can be discouraging and intimidating."

"But I just want to share with you, we all know how it ends in the end, you know," he said, drawing sustained applause for the scriptural reference. "We all know where the victory lies. Your job is to be faithful His faithfulness requires your faithfulness."

Santorum, a Catholic, said he once met Mother Theresa: "One of her favorite saying was, God does not call on us to be successful. He calls on us to be "

"Faithful," the crowd responded.

Santorum is gearing up for a possible second run for president in 2016, when the lack of an incumbent and disenchantment with President Obama is expected to create a wide open race. He got a warm, enthusiastic welcome from a crowd filling the Empire State Plaza Convention Center for his address, which was preceded by hymn singing.

He told reporters afterward that having run for president before was a plus for any candidate. He had little to say about New York's most prominent Democrats, saying Hillary Clinton lost when she ran for president in 2012 and another possible 2016 candidate Gov. Andrew Cuomo "has his hands full" in New York.

Santorum said Christians in New York and elsewhere face daunting odds trying to influence a society where the biggest influence is what he termed the pornographic, violent mass media especially Hollywood films. He said the federal government is also trying to curtail religious freedom in cases like the Hobby Lobby health coverage case.

"Religious liberty is under attack in this country from the government of this country really for the first time in the history of our country," he said. "And it is accelerating."

He said he was making his first trip to Albany and talking to reporters and others, "I get the sense that I'm sort of this fish swimming in a different direction than the tide and they're not used to this 'Who are you? What are you doing here?' "

"We have an obligation to speak out and to try to influence that tide, that it was not always the way it is," he said. "One of the reasons that the tide is coming in the other direction is for far too long we have sat like the frog in the pot and we have simply just allowed the stove to be turned up and turned up. We have been silent. We have self-censored."

"We can point the finger at the governor, or we can point the finger at the Legislature, we can point the finger at the mayor, we can point the finger at the popular culture, we can point the finger at the news media, but ultimately ladies and gentlemen this is your country."

Santorum is staunchly anti-abortion and he said the pro-life movement is winning by focusing on birth-right centers and support for pregnant women rather than condemning them.

"This country is hurting," he said. "The culture lies to us. Our schools lie to us. We are being deceived in so many ways and we need to be the point of light and truth and love.

NYCF's program for Tuesday's legislative day identified the "core issues" of the day to be opposition to abortion, support for traditional families, religious freedom, and school choice and faith-based charities.