Skip to comments.What Happened to the Catholic Vote?
Posted on 11/06/2008 8:43:41 PM PST by Alex Murphy
CHICAGO, Illinois, NOV. 6, 2008 (Zenit.org).- More than half of U.S. Catholics voted Tuesday for a presidential candidate at odds with the Church's stance on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, despite the urging of more than 50 heads of dioceses to support pro-life candidates.
Brian Burch, co-founder and president of the Catholic-based think-tank Fidelis, spoke with ZENIT about the results of the election, and why he thinks a majority of Catholics voted for Democratic candidate Barack Obama, an admitted supportor of abortion rights.
Burch also comments on the success of CatholicVote.com, a voter education effort launched by Fidelis to encourage Catholics to vote for candidates supporting life, faith and family.
The site included a short video, as well as resources to help voters research candidates, statements issued by individual bishops, and an invitation to prayer.
Q: An estimated 54% of Catholics voted for Barack Obama, despite the strong stand of over 50 heads of dioceses against candidates who support abortion. How did Obama successfully win the majority of the Catholic vote?
Burch: The notion of what constitutes the "Catholic vote" is widely debated. While Obama won the Catholic vote overall 54% - 45%, among Catholics who attend mass every week, McCain won 55% - 43%. Clearly the main reason Obama succeeded overall was the fact that Catholic voters echoed the concerns of the rest of the electorate in citing the economy as their top issue.
They concluded that Obamas economic policies would benefit them more, and ignored the teaching authority of many bishops who explained that concerns about the economy do not justify a vote for a pro-abortion candidate.
Q: Did the strong stance of the episcopate have any noticeable affect on the election? What could the Church have done more of?
Burch: The results of the election seem to indicate that, for the most part, Catholic voters ignored the guidance of their bishops. The results simply do not show any dramatic shift away from the larger trends seen during the past several election cycles.
One area of concern was the document "Faithful Citizenship," which was used by many organizations to improperly justify support for pro-abortion candidates. The shortcomings of the document forced many bishops to issue their own pastoral letters, leaving many voters confused. Regrettably, I believe the net effect of "Faithful Citizenship" was more confusion than clarity.
We must also remember that the bishops can only do so much. The teaching of the Church is clear, and the laity must be equally dedicated to pastoral efforts in this area. The task of evangelization is most effective, where possible, person-to-person, in a spirit of charity.
You probably have heard the saying that all politics is local. In the same sense, the moral witness of individual Catholics, in their families and in their parishes, will likely do more good than any teaching document from our bishops.
Q: Was the selection of Senator Joe Biden, a Catholic, instrumental for Obama in garnering support from the faithful?
Burch: I dont believe Senator Biden's Catholicism had any significant impact on Obama's success. His faith was mentioned early on after he was selected as a running mate, but the campaign quickly dropped the references after his misguided statements on Meet the Press in order to avoid a public debate with Catholic bishops and controversies over his support for abortion.
The impact of Biden on the ticket in all likelihood may be felt down the road, as the Catholic bishops must now wrestle with a vice president who publicly disagrees with his Church on several fundamental issues.
Q: The good news is that three state constitutional amendments defining marriage as only between a man and woman passed: in California, Arizona and Florida. Is this an encouraging sign for Catholics?
Burch: This is a very encouraging sign, and represents one issue at least that transcends party lines among voters. For example, some polls suggest that as many as 65% of African American voters support traditional marriage. Thus the large turnout for Obama may have helped these marriage protection efforts. The marriage issue is a uniting issue, and should be celebrated as such.
Q: You launched CatholicVote.com to urge Catholics to vote for candidates who are pro-life, pro-family and pro-faith. You said in a commentary on the site Tuesday that the initiative has been a success. In what ways?
Burch: CatholicVote.com recorded nearly 4 million visitors in just 8 weeks. The 3:30 minute film was the primary reason people flocked to the Web site. In our film, we tried to convey the teachings of the Church in way that not only was educational, but inspirational.
Many Catholic voters continue to ignore the teachings of the Church because of political party or family loyalties, or even distrust of the Church over the past several years. We wanted viewers of our film to not only understand the authentic teachings of the Church, but to rejoice in them! If we want to effectively reach Catholics, we must appeal to their intellects, but also their hearts.
Secondly, we tried to connect the "foundational" issues of life and marriage to the larger social justice issues. Too often Catholic voters who affirm life are accused of being "single-issue voters," when in fact it is the very defense of all human life that allows us to honestly address the issues of poverty, health care, and the economy.
The images of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and other graphics in our film were not phony political ploys, but instead attempts to connect the priority of the issues of life and marriage to the great number of concerns that require our attention in protecting the common good.
Q: What is CatholicVote's mission and role now that the election is over?
Burch: Like all those who were involved heavily in this election, right now we are focusing on getting more sleep and seeing our families again. We do however have some big plans for CatholicVote.com, and will be making them known in the weeks and months ahead.
The new political climate requires that Catholics be engaged like never before to demand that the dignity of all human life be respected. Our educational mission will continue to make sure that Catholics and all people of good will understand what the Church teaches, and why they must be engaged in public life. Stay tuned!
Q: What are the issues on which the Church and President-elect Obama will be able to work together?
Burch: One of the promises made by Senator Obama involved his pledge to assist women in crisis pregnancies. I am hopeful that he will follow through on this pledge without succumbing to the inevitable demand by pro-abortion groups for more taxpayer money.
Catholics also have a keen interest in a workable immigration solution that respects the dignity of the immigrant, and favors the reunification of families while also creating an environment in which the rule of law is upheld.
Finally, I am hopeful that the new administration will recognize the charitable contributions of Catholic organizations and faith based programs, while respecting their religious identity. During the campaign, Senator Obama expressed a willingness to work with religiously affiliated agencies, and many people expect there to be new funding for social service organizations of this type.
Because of the huge contribution by Catholics in the areas of education, health care, and concern for the needy, I expect a number of new programs will be created that could benefit those involved in this important work.
Again, I am hopeful that the religious identity of Catholic organizations, particularly the rights of conscience of those involved in these organizations, is respected and protected in any new programs undertaken.
75% McCain, 25% Obama - [White7 Born Again5] Evangelicals1,8
65% McCain, xx% Obama - Weekly church-attending Protestants7
65% McCain, 34% Obama - White Protestants7,8
62% McCain, 35% Obama - State of Utah3
55% McCain, 43% Obama - Weekly mass-attending Catholics 6,9
54% McCain, 44% Obama - Weekly church-goers1,4,7
54% McCain, 45% Obama - Protestants6,8
51% McCain, 49% Obama - White Catholics1,7
xx% McCain, 53% Obama - Monthly church-goers4**
45% McCain, 54% Obama - Catholics1,4,6,8,9
xx% McCain, 59% Obama - Semi-annual church-goers4**
38% McCain, 61% Obama - Occasional churchgoers1
37% McCain, 61% Obama - Non-weekly-mass-attending Catholics6
xx% McCain, 67% Obama - Hispanic Catholics8**
xx% McCain, 68% Obama - Don't attend church4 **
21% McCain, 78% Obama - American Jews2,8
** No source provided voting percentages for the other party.
1 The Awesome Blue God -- How Obama Forged A New Faith Coalition
2 Exit polls: 78% of Jews voted for Obama
3 Utah's red loses some of its luster
4 Obama's Religious Appeal: Still Missing Evangelicals - which TIME renamed as Obama: Bringing (Some) Evangelicals In
5 The Evangelical Electoral Map
6 What's wrong with Catholic voters? What's wrong with Catholics?
7 Evangelical Voters Favor McCain by Wide Margins
8 Catholic voters heavily favored Obama, analysis shows
9 What Happened to the Catholic Vote?
All numbers cited are the first ones reported in the press. In cases of multiple reports, some percentages cited were not exact. However, the number was within 2% of all the other sources, lending credence to the general number & placement overall.
It was high, but to be fair Palin was on the ticket. I know a lot of Protestants who are PINOs who voted for marxist slavery and the destruction of all religion.
It is those who value someone else’s money over human life.
It appears to be an epidemic.
They are stupid as well as immoral.
They vote in the very ones that make them POOR.
Catholics simply don’t listen to their pontiffs much and disregard their instructions
where i grew up Catholics were usually more liberal than Southern Baptists, Southern Methodists, Presbyterians and Pentecostals
they seemed to just be going thru the motions more.....communion and some litrugies and out the door
it’s hard to get away that easy in a serious Southern conservative nomination....consternation is an eveready shadow
Catholics were like UCC and Episcopalians
maybe it’s that easy forgiveness for doing bad things you guys have in the confessional we serious Prods lack
we both have shame though, the Christian flip side to Jewish guilt and angst
i’m not surprised but it may be more about the race and ethnicity of catholics....latinos for example...than the religion(?)
To be fair, the crash has been caused by a Republican administration that fell in love with the weak dollar, and a Fed which allowed it to happen. The blame properly belongs to the Chaimen, but most people don’t understand that the Chairman of the Fed has more power over the economy than he does. Still he appointed a virtual Democrat, a trader whose seems to know little about wealth creation.
Now what can happen is that Obama made decide not to follow the strong dollar path taken by the previous administration but to adopt some mix that would allow a liberal Congress to have the goodies it wants. He’s got to adopt a moderate economic policy or disappoint a lot of liberals.
It looks like you forgot one “small” thing...the stupid social engenenering...you know, Freddie and Fannie and all the give aways. That kinda..sorta had something to do with Dems, dontcha think?
What happened to Catholics?
Ot’s an open thread. I don’t understand.
I read your post. It is a valid point. (All the repetive postings amount to what is called “Catholic Bashing” by the moderators. Yes, it [catholicbashing] is a keyword! LOL!)
That’s why I said I didn’t understand why your post was removed since it was posted on an open thread.
Sadlt, some don’t even realize that they are not being good Catholics, or good Christians (for my former Catholic friends). My girlfriends are all pro-choice. Shocking. They don’t understand the Church’s view, nor do they care, because religion has been presented as just another lifestyle, not the Way and the Truth.
Are you the RM?
I think we are all sinners. You are just humble enough to know it and say it. God bless you abundantly, FRiend.