Skip to comments.How the GOP got “Catholicized”
Posted on 03/23/2012 2:22:38 PM PDT by NYer
An interesting perspective, from a writer from across the pond:
There was a time when the Republican Party was strictly for White Anglo Saxon Protestants. It was an alliance between Country Club Episcopalians and twice born followers of the Old Time Gospel, all firmly opposed to mass Catholic immigration from Europe. The nativism of the GOP drove Catholics into the welcoming arms of Al Smith, Jack Kennedy, Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Party.
But this year’s GOP front-runners are a Mormon and two Catholics — Rick Santorum (a cradle of Italian descent) and Newt Gingrich (a convert). Roughly one-quarter of Republican primary voters are Catholic. Notable Catholic GOP leaders include John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Christine O’Donnell, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. Six out of nine justices of the Supreme Court are Catholics, and five of them are Republicans.
The GOP is undergoing a quiet process of Catholicization. It’s one of the reasons why this year’s race has focused so much on social issues — and sex.
Republican outreach to Catholics began in the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon tried to entice blue-collar “white ethnics” to the GOP by taking a tough stand on abortion. Nixon told members of his staff he was tempted to convert to Catholicism himself, but was worried it would be seen as cheap politics: “They would say there goes Tricky Dick Nixon trying to win the Catholic vote. …”
Nixon genuinely admired the Catholic intellectual tradition and its ability to provide reasonable arguments to defend conservative values at a time when they were undergoing widespread reappraisal. That certainly made the Church an invaluable partner during the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s.
When the Moral Majority was established in 1979 to oppose things like abortion and homosexual rights, its evangelical founders did their best to include Catholics. Despite the organization’s reputation for being the political voice box of televangelists and peddlers of the apocalypse, by the mid ’80s it drew a third of its funding from Catholic donors. Leaders like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson consciously used the Moral Majority (and, later, the Christian Coalition) as an exercise in ecumenical coalition building.
Falwell and Robertson were fans of Pope John Paul II and his resilient anti-communism. But they also recognized, like Nixon, that the Catholic Church had a vast intellectual heritage that could be drawn upon when fighting the liberals. For example, when debating abortion, evangelicals had hitherto tended to rely on Scripture to make their case. Catholics, on the other hand, had been integrating the concept of “human rights” into their theology since the 1890s.
Under Catholic influence, the pro-life movement evolved from a zealous, theology-heavy rationale to one more couched in the language of human dignity and personhood.
Father Abram J. Ryan (1839-1886), a native of Maryland, is sometimes called the Poet Laureate of the Confederacy. His best-known poem is perhaps "The Conquered Banner." There is a high school named for him in Nashville, TN.
There is a town called Erin, TN, which I think reflects pre-Civil War Irish immigration.
There was a good deal of antebellum German immigration in Southern states--Missouri, Arkansas, Texas. Probably some of them were Catholics.
I remember reading about some Italians, maybe 5 in number, who were lynched in Louisiana in the late 19th century for being too friendly to the local black people. Or at least that is how it was reported.
Conservative Catholics like the late Bill Buckley of National Review and Father Neuhaus of First Things provided a lot of the intellectual firepower for the modern conservative and pro-life movements.
I meant that Lincoln and Grant, as well as Johnson, were Republican defenders of Catholics, Republicans and Negroes in the Reconstruction South.
——Catholics, on the other hand, had been integrating the concept of human rights into their theology since the 1890s.——
Or Francisco Suarez, give or take 300 years.
See the section on “Philosophy of Law.”
I KNOW what the explanation said, in the law books, (very old edition) that I used.
In my particular case, where I represented MYSELF, I did receive help from Jay Sekulow and other Operation Rescue attorneys, as to some points I should make.
I was not really a member of Operation Rescue, directly, so it made sense to handle my case separately. I was TOLD by attorneys in related cases, all of which were handled by the 10th Circuit at the time, to look up a particular reference to “Republicans, Catholics and Negroes” in a legal reference book.
I studied the “Force Acts” the “Civil Rights Acts” and the “KKK Act” extensively.
I know what I saw, I know what I read.
Perhaps this particular point was overstated, in the legal reference books I used, but I was pointed in that direction since I am a Catholic Republican.
You are a bit too sure of yourself, to the point of obsession.
I would remind you that I WON my case, on several different grounds.
I would suggest to you that I AM THE EXPERT as I represented myself, in the 10th Circuit, using the references I cited here, as well as other very valid legal and historical points.
There exists a legal reference book which CLEARLY mentions the “Republicans, Catholics and Negroes” phrase, in regards to the KKK act.
Your issue is with that legal reference book, not with me.
And? I last read this stuff shortly after the “Summer of Mercy” in Wichita, and I have to dig through my huge box of Court paperwork to locate the name of the reference book I cited.
It’s true in terms of intellectual firepower. See the SCOTUS, the presidential candidates, and Buckley/National Review.
The reason is the 400+ year natural law tradition. Sadly, as the beneficial effects of Catholic higher ed are being felt, Catholic universities have almost completely collapsed.
This does not bode well for the future.