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By Kathleen Gilbert and Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 4, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum last night urged leaders of the conservative movement to turn their resources towards countering the deluge of liberal pop culture, a front he considers more critical in the long-term than specific political battles.

“I will assure you that the vast majority of the American public has very little idea what is going on in the halls of Congress right now, as far as who's speaking on the floor of the Senate,” said Santorum at the 2009 Paul Weyrich Awards Dinner Thursday evening.  “But I can tell you millions are watching TV shows tonight … hundreds of millions, and we are absent from those screens.”

Santorum suggested that influential conservatives have been too focused on political maneuvering, as well as economic issues, giving “short shrift” to the effects of popular culture on America's conservative roots.

“We have always had this idea that we can shield ourselves from the popular culture, that we can protect our family from the effects of Hollywood, from the effects of the mainstream media, from the effects of the university, we just have to be careful,” said Santorum.  “Well, the bottom line is media is so pervasive, it is virtually impossible to do so. 

“Virtues that we all as Americans honor, like integrity, honesty, courage, perseverance, these are great messages,” he continued.  “But they're no longer being passed on in the stories told on the front porch.  They're being told by other people coming into your home, who you wouldn't let walk in the front door if they knocked, but you let them in every single day when you turn on that television, when you press that button to turn the computer on.”

Santorum suggested that more funders should turn their generosity towards organizations that engage the culture directly, rather than beginning with politics. ”Culture is upstream from us,” he said.

“Coalitions understand the damage being done to our families.  The problem is, the conservatives that have the money don't understand.  They'd rather give to a political cause … But to invest in the culture, somehow they feel dirty when they do that, even when it's clean,” he noted.  “Somehow they feel: 'Well, that's just not what I do.' 

“It had better be what you do, because if you don't, you won't have the opportunity to see generations of Americans raised with the values you believe in,” he said.

“At the heart of conservatism, at the heart of any successful conservative government, is a strong family, is a strong faith community.  Without those two things, freedom as we know it in America simply cannot exist,” he said.

While stressing the cultural battle as more fundamental, Santorum also emphasized the need for a stronger political strategy than what conservatives will rely on in the 2010 election cycle.  “If the conservative movement is going to survive, we cannot count on the incompetence of our opponents to win elections,” he said.

Following the dinner Santorum stressed to LifeSiteNews.com that conservatives “do a lousy job of financing the cultural movement.”  “We are an entertainment information culture, and if we just focus on the politics, we focus on just a very small sliver of American life,” he said. 

“That's where America is, and if we don't meet them there, we're not going to meet America.” 

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