Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger (Pic by Gage Skidmore, via Flickr)

John Stemberger, the leader of an influential anti-gay and anti-abortion group in Florida, has announced his endorsement of Rick Santorum in the GOP presidential primary.

The New York Times reported yesterday:

John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Action, on Monday became one of the first evangelical leaders to switch his support to Rick Santorum after a meeting of evangelicals in Texas last week voted to support Mr. Santorum in his bid for the 2012 Republican nomination.

Mr. Stemberger was an early supporter of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, then recently he said that he believed Newt Gingrich had the best chance of winning the nomination.

Stemberger’s group, the Florida Family Policy Council/Florida Family Action, has already begun gearing up for the upcoming election by reaching out to religious voters. In November, Stemberger started “Project Active Citizen” to get as many religious voters to the polls as possible. In an email to supporters asking for donations to the project, he described it as “an effort … to help encourage thousands of pro-life and pro-family Floridians to register to vote.”

Stemberger has also begun to distribute voter guides specifically directed at pastors. Stemberger explains in the guides how pastors can legally influence voters.

Project Active Citizen is just one of a handful of campaigns or events that have come on the heels of Stemberger’s involvement in the Florida Renewal Project’s Pastors’ Policy Briefing. The “briefing” was held to involve churches and religious leaders in elections. Media outlets were barred from the event and a reporter was even escorted away from a meeting between presidential candidates Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich and pastors. Since the briefing, Stemberger helped lead a religious right get-out-the-vote event that took place in about 100 churches all over the country — including 34 in Florida.

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