Obama Fails to Seize the Opportunity of His Big Night
Deal W. Hudson
January 28, 2010
President Obama gave his first State of the Union speech last night.With his popularity in a steady decline for the past six months, Obama needed his speech to rekindle the enthusiasm for his leadership that elected him in the first place. Thus far, there is no evidence to suggest he was successful.
If his State of the Union had been a Broadway Show, the morning reviews would have closed the show in the first week.
One reason for Obama’s inability to reverse his popularity slide is his decision to ignore the fact that a majority of Americans do not support some of his key initiatives. In a Rasmussenpoll taken just before the speech, 61 percent want Obama and the Congress to drop health care reform and focus on jobs. But Obama ignored this widespread resistance and called on Congress to get the bill passed, saying, “We need health insurance reform.”
Simply renaming health care reform “health insurance reform” will not solve Obama’s political puzzle, nor the underlying problems of the legislation. But this is typical of the president’s approach to political obstacles — change the language, not the substance, and people will drop their objections.
The speech itself broke no new ground either in tone or substance. Obama continued to blame the Bush administration for his inability to rebuild the economy and the GOP for the lack of meaningful legislation passed (in particular, health care reform).
Most unsettling was Obama’s dressing down of the Supreme Court – who were all sitting directly in front of him — for their recent decision lifting the restrictions on corporate contributions to political advertising. This presidential faux pas elicited a wincing, head-shaking “that’s not true” from Justice Samuel Alito, which quickly became a popular YouTube video.
Alito’s response is already being called the “Joe Wilson moment” of the evening, referring to the South Carolina Congressman’s “You lie!” outburst during the president’s last speech to Congress in September. Needless to say, it doesn’t help Obama that such strong gut reactions became part of the media narrative of an evening that was to be the resuscitation of his presidency.
Other than stumbling over the separation of powers tripwire, the most awkward moment for Obama was the laughter, even from Speaker Pelosi, following his declaration, “Starting in 2111, we are prepared to cap government spending for three years.” Embarrassed by the laughter from both sides of the chamber, Obama awkwardly ad-libbed, “That’s how budgets work.” But his speech never recovered its momentum.
If Obama was trying to revive his popularity with independents, he chose a strange moment to announce the end of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the U. S. military. Passed by the 103rd Congress in 1993, this policy regarding homosexuals in the military was signed by Bill Clinton, a master of attracting and keeping the support of independents. Why Obama would choose to pay homage to his far-left base when he is hemorrhaging independents and blue-dog Democrats is inexplicable.
Some of the punditry following the speech was bizarre. NBC’s Chris Matthews made two contradictory statements. First, he called Obama’s speech “post-racial,” whatever that means, but then added, “Tonight, I forgot he was black.” What? If Matthews had ‘forgotten Obama was black,’ he wouldn’t have mentioned it at all.
Obama’s State of the Union will do nothing to help his popularity, nor will it dilute the potency of Scott Brown’s victory on January 19. The president should have spoken directly to the discontent that created an election environment where a Republican could win the seat Ted Kennedy held for 46 years. Instead, he chose to play the martyr to those ‘malevolent Republicans.’
Is It Time For a Catholic Tea Party?
Deal W. Hudson
Published February 10, 2010
Over 750 “tea parties” were held on April 15 of last year, protesting the excesses of the Obama administration — in particular, the pork-stuffed stimulus bill. Initially, the mainstream media tried to ignore the movement. They downplayed its size and influence, until the steady slide of President Obama’s popularity, the growing opposition to Congress’s health-care reform proposals, and Republican victories in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts forced them to acknowledge its influence.
Since then, the media strategy has been to portray the tea party as a gathering of disgruntled extremists, in spite of the fact that the limits on government spending they advocate would have been considered common sense in both political parties only a decade ago.
For American Catholics, the equivalent of centralized federal power is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The USCCB, the kind of episcopal conference authorized by Vatican II, has no canonical authority of its own. But its voice is considered authoritative by the media, and it is treated as such by those who applaud its lobbying efforts in Congress and the White House.
Criticism of the USCCB among lay Catholics, as well as many priests and bishops, has been a constant since its march to the political left in the years after its creation in 1966. Pastoral letters, including the ones on the economy (1986) andwar and peace (1983), created a clear line of demarcation between the liberal politics of the conference (aligned with the Democratic Party) and the Catholics, both lay and religious, who interpreted the Church’s social teaching differently (in a way inclining them toward conservatism and the GOP.)
The pro-life advocacy of the conference, along with its opposition to same-sex marriage, has always set it apart from other politically liberal institutions. Unfortunately, the USCCB’s choice of coalition partners and memberships often threaten to undermine the clarity of its witness.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the series of reports from the Reform CCHD Now Coalition. These reports show two things clearly:
1. Bishops have given Catholic money to organizations advocating abortion and same-sex marriage (two such organizations were defunded last November).
2. The bishops have joined coalitions, like the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, that also advocate abortion and same-sex marriage.
These reports differ from previous attempts to address the politics of the USCCB in two ways: First, their Internet links allow anyone to read the various smoking guns unearthed by the research. The second factor is timing — the reports come after both the 2008 presidential election and the furor surrounding Notre Dame’s decision to bestow an honor on a pro-abortion president.
The Notre Dame incident brought home to thousands of Catholics, in a way they had never understood before, that many venerable mainstream Catholic institutions were strongholds of dissent.
Yet the Notre Dame story might not have gone so far if many Catholics were not already furious with the role a bishops’ document played in the election of Barack Obama in the first place.
The 2007 version of the bishops’ “Faithful Citizenship” document, prepared in advance for distribution for the 2008 election, contained several passages that, if taken out of context, gave the green light to Catholic voters to ignore Obama’s aggressively pro-abortion stance. (Obama won the self-identified Catholic vote over Sen. John McCain 54 percent to 44 percent, though among religiously active Catholics he lost by 1 percentage point.)
That document did not emerge from the USCCB without a fight — a number of bishops opposed it; I am told that Archbishop Raymond Burke, then still in St. Louis, was literally shouted down when he tried to explain his opposition to the problematic passages. The best any bishop has been able to say to me regarding “Faithful Citizenship” is that “it was difficult, it was a compromise.”
But such compromises are brewing a tempest for a potential tea party revolution among the faithful. In some ways, the very notion of a tea party goes against the grain for Catholics, with their inbred sense of deference to authority. Those same Catholics, however, are beginning to realize that there are some matters where they can speak out without acting in disobedience to the authority of their bishop.
In response to my recent story on the USCCB’s membership in a pro-abortion civil rights organization, a Notre Dame alumnus from the class of 1965 sent me this message: “Is it time for us to start throwing tea bags at the USCCB?” This is a man who, ten years ago, would not tolerate a word uttered against either Notre Dame or the bishops. The times may be changing.
The Catholic Tea Kettle Continues to Boil
Deal W. Hudson
Published September 23, 2010
Over the past two weeks, I’ve had extensive discussions with a wide group of Catholic leaders about the state of the Church in the United States. The frustration and impatience among Catholics, which I discussed last February in “Is It Time for a Catholic Tea Party?,” continue to grow.
The occasions for this discussion were the Catholic Leadership Conference held in Philadelphia earlier this month, immediately followed by the Faith & Freedom Coalition Conference and the 15th Annual Partnership Dinner benefiting InsideCatholic, both held in Washington, D.C.
The broad background for this discontent is well known: Lay Catholics cannot understand why, over the past 30 years, more bishops haven’t taken a stronger public stand on Catholic politicians who openly dissent on life and marriage issues.
This level of discontent remained at a simmer until the 2008 presidential campaign and the election of Barack Obama as president — at which point it reached a boil. From parishes around the nation came reports of priests and lay staff making clear their preference for Obama, in some cases arguing openly that their support for Obama was offset by “proportionate reasons,” such as Sen. John McCain’s support for the Iraq War.
When the concerned faithful began to hunt down this “proportionate reasons” argument, they found it in the bishops’ own 2007 document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility.” Stunned Catholics wondered aloud how the bishops themselves could have provided Obama’s Catholic supporters the very argument they needed to rebut any concern about his advocacy for infanticide as a state senator.
In response to the outcry, a record number of bishops issued statements during the presidential campaign either seeking to clarify “Faithful Citizenship” or to correct misinterpretations of the Catholic faith set forth by Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Joe Biden. Yet none of them targeted the grassroots and parish-based campaign efforts of pro-Obama groups, like Catholics in Alliance, using the “proportionate reasons” argument to distract Catholic voters from Obama’s abortion record.
The one bishop to confront this interpretation of “Faithful Citizenship” head-on was Bishop Joseph Martino in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who famously interrupted the speakers to say, “No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese. The USCCB doesn’t speak for me. The only relevant document… is my letter. There is one teacher in this diocese, and these points are not debatable.”
Obama was elected with the help of the self-identified Catholic vote, though weekly Mass-attending Catholics slightly preferred McCain. Some Obama sympathizers publicly applauded his election given the history of racism in our nation, and although they never explicitly called this a “proportionate reason,” it was certainly treated as such.
President Obama’s record has, unsurprisingly, tracked closely to his record as an Illinois state senator. Immediately discarding the Mexico City Policy upon his election, he has undone, or sought to undo, every aspect of the “abortion reduction” policy put in place by the Bush administration.
Most importantly, he found a way around the Hyde Amendment by inserting a massive abortion mandate in his health-care legislation. With the passage of Obamacare and the inability of USCCB lobbying efforts to either defeat it or strip out its abortion funding loopholes, many lay Catholics have come to assume a Tea Party posture of “enough is enough.”
Many of them wonder why Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, is still in the good graces of the USCCB. It was Sister Keehan, after all, who neutralized the bishops’ opposition to the health-care bill and denied the presence of its abortion funding.
Sister Keehan has become a virtual symbol of what is wrong with the Church: There is no accountability, and no consequences for open dissent on the preeminent moral issues. Thus, when it came to light that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development of the USCCB has been funding organizations that openly support abortion and gay marriage, the reaction of the laity was a cynical “more of the same.”
Some of the leadership I spoke with cited examples of overall improvement in episcopal leadership, both in individual dioceses and at the USCCB, and warned of becoming too negative.
Attention to tone is always important, but the simple fact is this: Of the 97 Democrat Catholic members of the House, only 9 voted against a health-care billcontaining abortion funding, in spite of the fact that the USCCB and cardinals like Justin Rigali and Francis George spoke out clearly against it. (All 38 GOP House members voted against the bill.)
Something has gone wrong when those who publicly profess the Catholic faith feel no compunction about openly defying its teachings at the urging of their bishops. On top of that, a group called “Catholics United” announces it will spend $500,000 to reelect those same politicians, all Democrats — and not a single bishop makes any comment.
The Catholic tea kettle continues to boil, as the patience of many of the lay faithful is running out.
Why Does the Media Hate the Church?
Deal W. Hudson
Published March 31, 2010
It’s sad to watch the New York Times and the Washington Post, along with MSNBC, attack Benedict XVI. The story they concocted over the past few weeks, with the help of retired Bishop Rembert Weakland about Rev. Joseph Murphy, is risibly tenuous.
These once-great newspapers trivialize themselves by publishing front-page stories making obvious their chronic disregard of the Catholic Church and, especially, the Pope. Nothing else but a kind of seething hatred explains their willingness to ignore the canons of credible reporting and comment.
The Church’s staunchest defender in this country is Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, who has been countering this latest attack from the first blow. Donohue calls the New York Timesstory on Father Murphy the “last straw,” but no doubt there will be more straw to ignite Donohue’s flaming pen. (And it won’t be from the pages of the Summa Theologiae, which its author deemed as “so much straw” in the hours before his death.)
I asked Donohue, and a number of other experts, the question, “Why does media like the New York Times and the Washington Post hate the Church and the Pope – what’s the source of the animus?”
Donohue replied, “As I said in today’s New York Times op-ed page ad, it stems from three issues: abortion, gay marriage, and women’s ordination. So, when they can nail the Church on promiscuity, they love it. The goal is to weaken the moral authority of the Church so it won’t be as persuasive on issues like health care.”
Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, agrees the media wants to weaken the Church. He echoes what his friend the late Bob Novak used to tell me about the mainstream media; it is “the most secular, liberal group in the country. The Catholic Church stands for everything you and I believe (though I’m not a Catholic) and for practically nothing the media likes. But the media cannot ignore the Catholic Church because it is so strong, popular, and enduring. That leaves the media one avenue of attack: Jump on any mistakes or scandals involving the Church and don’t let go.”
Another Evangelical friend of Catholics, Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, wrote to me that the “lamestream media hates the Pope because he exemplifies the vibrancy and relevance of orthodox faith in today’s society, which many in the press find either alien or deeply troubling.” Reed also views the media as alarmed that for the “once divided Evangelicals and devout Roman Catholics, the Pope is a symbol of a faith-based constituency the media views as hostile to modernity and values-neutral ‘tolerance.’”
Some responses to my question were brief and to the point. Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Baker, OR wrote saying, “Deal, Jesus told us it would happen: John 15:18-19. Looking the passage up I found: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (NIV translation).
Another quotation from Scripture came from the founder of Wallbuilders, David Barton, who cited Romans 1: 28-30 to describe what happens to those who directly reject belief in God. “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil. . . . (NIV translation).
The philosopher Francis Beckwith, a recent convert to the Catholic faith, located the source of the media’s hatred in “the narrative of secular liberalism.” “The media doesn’t want to acknowledge that Catholics even have an “intelligent” point of view,” he explained. “This is why they don’t assess arguments, they seek out scandal in order to demoralize opposition. Given its status as an unquestioned first principle, secular liberalism can not allow a divine foot in the door.”
Russell Shaw, who used to deal with the press on a daily basis as communication’s director of the bishops’ conference, also thinks, “The people in charge in those places are secularist ideologues who believe they possess the right answers.” Shaw is not particularly sanguine about the outcome of the struggle: “It would be nice to think there’s a happy ending to this story, but I doubt it. Somebody’s got to win in the end.”
The recurring theme in the answers I received was that of two powers, two opposing moral viewpoints, competing for influence. The secular power of the media detests the traditional moral teachings of the Church but does not confront it directly, preferring coverage of scandal to argument. As Jim Bopp, Jr., general counsel to National Right to Life, wrote to me, “The Pope and the Church are the strongest force making people accountable to traditional moral requirements. It therefore must be destroyed by any means necessary, even though liberals are soft on pedophilia, they are prepared to condemn the Catholic Church for not dealing harshly with them.”
The poet Matthew Arnold wrote in “Dover Beach” about loss of faith that left us on a “darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight.” In this round of attacks on Benedict XVI we are witness to just such a scene. But, as Francis Beckwith reminded me, the Pope knows how to defend his faith. “This scares the crap out of the mainstream media, since it upsets the narrative: only dumb, ill-informed, people disagree with us. The narrative must be sustained at all costs, even if it means engaging in wicked defamation.”
The White House and the Congress Are Hurting the Church, and We Must Stop It
Deal W. Hudson
April 27, 2010
The present White House is having a huge impact on the Church in America. It’s typical to hear talk about the influence of the Church on politics, but at the present moment the influence is definitely in the other direction.
The pro-abortion forces in this country and the “social justice/seamless garment” crowd in the Church have been empowered by the new Congress and presidency. The reason the Church is so weak right now is the sudden power of groups like the Catholic Health Association, Catholics United, and Catholics In Alliance for the Common Good.
These groups, and their leadership, have straight lines of communication throughout the Church, through the USCCB, chanceries, parishes, and various Catholic associations. This is the network that drove the twisted interpretation of “Faithful Citizenship” through parishes nationwide in 2008.
They plan to do an even better job in 2012, unless we do something about it, unless we stop them.
Obama’s leadership, along with that of Pelosi, has strengthened the hand of the most anti-Catholic, anti-life elements of our culture, both here and in Europe, at the EU and the UN.
The threat of arresting our Holy Father on his upcoming trip to the UK should be a huge wake-up call for what we are up against.
The Church will eventually exert its influence, but for the present moment it is up to independent groups, like Catholic Advocate, to minimize the influence of the fake Catholic groups, especially the psuedo-Catholic groups funded by George Soros, liberal foundations, and labor unions. The media must be forced to describe them for what they are, as we did with Voice of the Faithful.
If we claim the role of Catholic lay expertise in politics then we can’t constantly be looking to the bishops to solve our problems. We should resist the impulse to ask the bishops to do all this work for us.
If we’ve made any mistake since the election it has been focusing on the bishops rather than training Catholics to be politically active and building a coalition of Catholics with other like-minded people of faith.
The only thing we should ask of the bishops is to rewrite the “Faithful Citizenship” document, which caused so much confusion in 2008.
We should not allow the defense of life to be treated as anything other than a Catholic effort, rather than a partisan one. Not only you and I are accused of being “shills” for one party as a result of our emphasis on life and marriage, but several of the more visible bishops as well.
We cannot wait for the Church to reform itself from within so that it assumes a commanding role in shaping our culture and politics. Instead, we must win targeted victories against the kind of leadership that strengthens the hand of the left-wing in the Church and the culture.
If we have another election like 2008, Church reform will be put off for many years to come.
The Supreme Court and the Battle of Hastings
Deal W. Hudson
Published April 14, 2010
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a case being called “The Battle of Hastings,” involving the right of a college or university to deny recognition to a student group that bans gays and lesbians. Christian Legal Society v. Martinez stems from 2004 when the University of California Hastings’ chapter of the Virginia-based Christian Legal Society changed its policy to exclude anyone who engaged in “unrepentant homosexual conduct.”
Applying its non-discrimination policy, the university decided not to recognize the group — called the Hastings Christian Fellowship — meaning the organization could not receive university funding, meet in university rooms, post on designated bulletin boards, or participate in the Student Organizations Fair.
The Christian Legal Society brought suit against UC Hastings represented by the Alliance Defense Fund. The Hastings’ case arrived in the Supreme Court after the 2006 decision by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruling in Hastings’ favor, saying its policy regulated conduct, not speech. White argued the policy did not regulate what the group could say about homosexuality, but it did bar them from discrimination.A 3-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge White’s ruling In March 2009.
To argue on behalf of the Christian Legal Society, CLS and the Alliance Defense Fund have recruited Michael W. McConnell, a former federal appellate court judge, who currently runs the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School. McConnell is arguing the case pro bono.
The justices will consider whether a law school at a public university with a non-discrimination policy can refuse funding to a religious student group because the group requires its officers and voting members to agree with its core religious beliefs.
The Supreme Court received 22 friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the Christian Legal Society. And among the almost 100 parties filing briefs in support of CLS and ADF there are 14 state attorneys general, including those from Michigan, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Alabama, Nebraska, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Louisiana, West Virginia, and South Dakota.
“Just as all student groups have the right to associate with people who share common beliefs and interests, Christian student groups have the right to be Christian student groups,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “Requiring leaders of a Christian club to live by a Christian code of conduct is no different than an environmentalist club requiring its leaders not to be lumberjacks.”
For Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defense Fund, the Hastings’ decision will have historic ramifications for religious freedom in our nation. As Sears wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner:
“As Christian beliefs stand in ever starker contrast to the campus culture, it has become academic de rigueur to punish the free association of Christian students and the free expression of their ideas on campus.”
The decision of the justices regarding Hastings, according to Sears, will determine whether “the Constitution protects the rights of private student groups to select their message and their officers.” The outcome of Hastings will also send a message to universities and colleges. Should they be training their students “to believe that it’s appropriate for government officials to coerce and ostracize private organizations in order to conform to the prevailing orthodoxy that rules most college campuses today.”
The Battle Over Who Controls the Internet Comes to A Head
Deal W. Hudson
Published May 16, 2010
The battle over who controls the Internet will soon come to a head. Is it the federal government, as the Obama administration is seeking to establish, or the many private companies who collaborated to create it and the millions of private citizens who use it for their entertainment and livelihood?
Soon we will find out if the federal government is going to take over the Internet. Under the Obama administration the Federal Communications Commission is seeking to force AT&T and Verizon to lease their Internet lines to rival companies.
Requiring Verizon and AT&T to share their lines, the FCC would effectively be putting the Internet under government control. Control of the Internet is precisely what the Obama administration wants with its support of “net neutrality” — the idea that there should be no restrictions or priorities on the type of content carried over the Internet by the carriers and ISPs.
Obama’s support of net neutrality means that all Internet traffic will be treated equally, regardless of where it originated or to where it is destined. “I’m a big believer in net neutrality,” President Obama proclaimed only a few days ago while reaffirming his backing of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The groups backing net neutrality are opposed to companies like Verizon creating different levels of service by charging a higher cost for faster service. Other groups have argued that this kind of tiered service could also lead to “discrimination” against religious content for two reasons: Verizon executives may decide to filter religious content they find objectionable, and religious organizations may not be able to afford the faster service.
Those opposed to net neutrality argue that an Internet kept “open” by government regulation puts families at risk, for example, allowing sex offenders and pornographers to have unfettered access to home computers.
A month ago, in a severe setback to the Obama administration’s push for “net neutrality,” a federal appeals court ruled the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to issue a 2008 citation against Comcast Corporation for inhibiting some Internet traffic from high-bandwidth file-sharing services.
The court ruled that the FCC had not been legally empowered by the Congress to regulate the network-management practices of an Internet service provider.
The White House and its allies in Congress, however, are moving ahead with their plans to take control of the Internet.
The plan is to insert net neutrality standards into regulations from the 1930s regarding landline telephones. In other words, by reclassifying the Internet as a telecommunication service the FCC will be given a green light to impose its will.
Groups like the National Taxpayer’s Union, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Center for Individual Freedom have strongly condemned the effort. CFIF has a petition for those who want the FCC and the Obama Administation to “keep their hands off the Internet.”
The Tea Party and the Religious Conservative Movement
Deal W. Hudson
Published October 8, 2010
A host of commentators on the Tea Party phenomena have mindlessly described the participants as exclusively concerned with fiscal issues. Anyone who has attended one of these events knows better.
Those who attend Tea Parties across the country are solid, middle Americans, from blue collar to white collar, all united not only by a concern for the profligate spending of the federal government, but also by the equally irresponsible social agenda of the Obama administration.
Here are the results of a major polling study of those who attend the Tea Party demonstrations. Called the American Values Survey: Religion, Values and the Mid-Term Elections; this poll was conducted in early September using a sample of 3,013 adults – that’s three times the normal sampling of a national survey.
Guess what? The survey showed that compared to the general population the Tea Party movement is “more supportive of small government, is overwhelmingly supportive of Sarah Palin, and reports that Fox News is the most trusted source of news about politics and current events.”
We didn’t need a survey to tell us that, but it’s nice to have it confirmed.
More importantly, however, are these findings:
Nearly half (47%) also say they are part of the religious right or conservative Christian movement.
Among the more than 8-in-10 (81%) who identify as Christian within the Tea Party movement, 57% also consider themselves part of the Christian conservative movement.
They are mostly social conservatives, not libertarians on social issues. Nearly two-thirds (63%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and less than 1-in-5 (18%) support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
I’ve always considered the Tea Parties to be a natural extension of the religious conservative movement I chronicled in my book, Onward Christian Soldiers: the Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States (Simon & Schuster, 2008). I think this survey proves it, beyond any doubt.
The media in ignoring the social conservative dimension of the Tea Party is, once again, trying to ignore the continued power of the people of faith in American politics.
Harry Reid Among the Catholics Who Vote
Deal W. Hudson
Published October 5, 2010
Recent polling shows the religiously active Catholic vote is trending strongly toward the GOP. Gary Andres summarizes the findings by commenting:
“While Republicans lost among Catholics in 2006 by 11-points and 13-points in 2008, they now hold a 7-point lead (39%-32%) among Catholics in general. Republicans also lead among Catholics who attend church once a week or more by 12 points.”
These numbers look back to the results of the 2004 presidential election when George W. Bush crushed the Catholic candidate, Sen. John Kerry, by 5% among all self-identified Catholics and by nearly 20% among Catholics attending Mass at least once a week.
This spells trouble for Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, in his race against Sharron Angle. Of the 78% of Nevada citizens who call themselves Christian, over half, 44%, are Roman Catholic. Catholics are the largest religious group in Nevada at 27% with Evangelicals at 13%. Catholic voters make more of a difference in Nevada than most other states. (Mormons who usually vote with other social conservatives are 13% of the population.)
Elections over the past 30 years have shown that when the religiously active voter is aroused then pro-abortion, socially liberal politicians like Reid become vulnerable. There is a strong correlation between both Catholics and Protestants who attend church regularly, or have children at home, with strong concern about a candidate’s position on social issues.
There is a long list of reasons why Catholic voters who care about the defense of life would vote against Senator Harry Reid. Here are just some of his votes over many years:
Reid voted “NO” to allowing Senate consideration of a partial birth abortion ban. Roll Call Vote #332 – 10/20/1999.
Reid voted “NO” on the motion to table the substitute amendment that would have weakened a proposed partial birth abortion ban. Roll Call Vote #335 – 10/20/1999.
Reid voted “NO” to requiring anyone receiving fetal tissue as a result of an abortion to disclose information about it. Roll Call Vote #338 – 10/21/1999.
Reid voted “NO” to barring funds for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) unless they have stopped activity in China or unless China no longer performs coerced abortions. Roll Call Vote #456 – 9/21/1995.
Reid voted “YES” to removing the Mexico City Policy language to the House version of a bill, which would require all groups receiving federal funding for overseas development from performing or promoting abortion. Roll Call Vote #561 – 11/1/1995.
Reid voted “YES” to tabling legislation barring federal funding for UNFPA unless it shuts down operations in China. Roll Call Vote #575 – 11/15/1995.
Catholics who understand the proper priority the life issues should have in their political participation will find Reid completely unacceptable compared to his opponent Sharron Engle who has been judged to be 100% pro-life by the Susan B. Anthony List and National Right to Life.
The aspect of the Catholic vote that Angle and her advisors should concern themselves about is Latino Catholics. Latinos constituted 15% of the Nevada vote in the 2008 presidential election, up from 10% in 2004. 76% of Latinos in Nevada voted for Candidate Obama in 2008.
The danger for Angle and the GOP, as Michael Sean Winters has pointed out, is that Angle’s strong push against immigration reform will also push the Latino vote strongly toward the incumbent. Indeed, pro-abortion Catholics in the Congress, like Representative Linda Sanchez (D, CA-39), have been stumping for Reid among Latino voters.
Latino voters are often described as natural social conservatives, which may have accounted for the strong support of George W. Bush in 2004, but the immigration debates of 2005 cooled their ardor towards the GOP.
Angle’s solid pro-life position should win her a majority of non-Hispanic Catholic voters. But the Latino Catholic vote may remain wedded to immigration reform for the near future regardless of Senator Harry Reid’s dismissive attitude towards protecting the unborn.