In the final days of what could be a make or break first test for his 2024 presidential candidacy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shared with EWTN News his belief in a “culture of life” and how his policy agenda is grounded in his own faith and family. 

Family is a key component of DeSantis’ presidential agenda and worldview, the candidate said in the interview, which was conducted by EWTN News President Montse Alvarado and aired on the Jan. 12 edition of “EWTN News In Depth.” 

“This country has a crisis of family disintegration. You have forces that are actively hostile to family, trying to undermine the rights of parents,” he said.

For example, DeSantis revealed that some potential financial backers of his candidacy have held back because of his principled positions on gender ideology.

“I’ve had folks say that they wanted to support me for president financially, but they didn’t like the fact that we battled Disney to fight against gender ideology,” he said.

In spite of this opposition, DeSantis reasserted his convictions.

“A 14-year-old would not be able to get a tattoo. A 14-year-old would not be able to sit at a bar and take a shot of whiskey, but yet somehow they could have their private parts taken off,” DeSantis said. “It doesn’t make any sense. It’s been very, very harmful, and we’ve taken a strong stand also with the schools.”

In addition to protecting minors from life-altering “transgender” surgeries through legislation he signed into law in Florida last year, in 2022 DeSantis also signed into law a measure that protects kindergarten through third grade public school students from being taught about gender ideology and sexuality in classroom settings. 

DeSantis said religious freedom in the U.S. is threatened both legally and culturally. 

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“What you have is elites trying to establish a religion of secular humanism, and they want that to govern society,” DeSantis said.

“I think the Supreme Court has done much better on these cases than they were doing 30 or 40 years ago,” he explained. “But there’s a lot more to do. And it’s not just the court. It’s also how you operate government.”

Just this month, for example, the Biden administration rescinded many protections for health care workers with religion or conscience-based objections to providing abortions, contraceptives, “transgender” surgeries, or sterilization. 

When asked about his personal religious beliefs, DeSantis shared his experience growing up as a practicing Catholic and the “power of prayer” he has experienced in the midst of the chaos of the political arena. 

“And you do have kind of a feeling, it’s kind of a calmness just to know that ultimately we’re in this world, but we’re not of this world,” he reflected.

“And every single day when you’re in this political thicket, they’re throwing stuff at you, shooting at you all this stuff, trying to kind of divert you off course by taking you away from that true north. And I think just being able to pray, being able to be in touch with the Lord, it just gives you a way to just know none of that stuff really matters.”

When his wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2021, DeSantis recalled, “the people that prayed for us over those weeks and months had a huge impact.”

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“I think my wife and I, we were more solid in our faith as a result of that,” DeSantis reflected.

Watch the full “EWTN News In Depth” interview with DeSantis below.