Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Is There a 'Catholic Vote'?
Is There A ‘Catholic Vote’?
For many election cycles in this country candidates had to be concerned about the “Catholic vote.” Who would win the “Catholic vote?” pundits wondered. Would the “Catholic vote” swing an election? Well, it would seem those days are over. However, might it be the case that Barack Obama can bring them back?
Catholics are as mainstream as they come in American life these days, and generally speaking, that’s not a good thing. By and large we fit in perfectly with the modern American culture, which is largely based on hedonism and materialism. In the last Presidential election, the votes cast by Catholics broke essentially as the national average did.
Of course, those numbers can be rather deceiving. For the first thing, Catholics make up by far the largest religious group in the United States, but that simply counts all people who identify themselves as Catholic, including those who are lucky to see the inside of a church twice a year, which sadly is a monstrous number. I don’t say that as a way to cast judgment on anyone; it’s just a fact, and a major factor in our mirroring of the culture at large. President Obama, for example, actually lost among practicing Catholics in 2008.
There are segments of the Catholic community that are seeing a great resurgence of faith and devotion, and which are fruitful ground for vocations and evangelization.
However, that being said, inactive and former Catholics still make up an incredibly large segment of the population in the United States and the so-called “Catholic vote” will include us all.
So why do some people think President Obama may definitively lose the “Catholic vote” in 2012? In short, it comes down to the indefensible, immoral contraception mandate (which includes sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs) he is inflicting on the American people, which is designed to particularly violate the rights and freedoms of the Catholic Church.
If it hadn’t come before, the time for outrage is certainly here now. Mr. Obama seems to think he can violate the most sacred rights and freedoms of all Americans, those of conscience and religion, simply because it suits him. He seems to be targeting the Catholic Church specifically with this mandate perhaps to drive her from health care altogether, which would be a huge step forward in the push for socialized medicine that he has championed in the past.
But this issue goes far beyond health care. It is about the freedom of every American to follow the dictates of his conscience, and the freedom of the Church to live according to the principles given to her by Jesus Christ.
Will the average Catholic stand up and take notice? Will we let Mr. Obama know that he is not a totalitarian dictator with our votes? I think there are signs that we might. The USCCB has tried very hard in the past not to be partisan or to seem as though they are endorsing a particular candidate. The statement put out in 2008 about responsible voting, though true to Catholic teaching, seemed a bit tempered to have likely had much effect on most people. I don’t say this as a criticism. It is up to us to form our consciences properly (the bishops have an important role to play in that) and then apply those well-formed consciences to our civic duties. We shouldn’t need or ask the bishops to tell us what to do in that regard.
However, the bishops are being anything but tempered now. They are speaking out strongly in defense of the rights and freedoms of their flock as any father should. Some have spoken quite clearly that in this election year we Catholics need to take a stand to protect our religious freedoms and the rights of the Church. Much media attention has been paid to this issue and there have even been some rather partisan Democrats that have publicly scolded the President for this shameful act.
Mr. Obama has even taken a play right out of China’s playbook by censoring the military archbishop’s statement on the mandate. The archbishop, it seems, was being seditious for daring to criticize the President and defend the rights of his people.
It seems now that the President has seen the writing on the wall, and he’s begun backpedaling faster than a New England Patriots cornerback, but this is not the time for us to be stupid. He has clearly shown us his face, and what he thinks of us and the Church. We have every reason to be terrified about what he will do if he doesn’t have reelection concerns to deal with.
There is no question that if Barack Obama wins reelection this November Catholics will be fighting for their religious lives in this country. The time for us to be concerned about appearing partisan is over. We put our trust in Jesus, not in any political party or candidate, but we also have a duty to do what we can to ensure that once again there is a “Catholic vote” in this country and that come November it speaks with a very clear voice.