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.
Interesting perspective, ping!
The KKK act was written to protect:
“Catholics, Republicans and Negroes” in the Reconstruction South.
The writer is not completely accurate.
If the Catholics want to take credit for the mess we call the Grand Old Party, more power to them.
That is quite a stretch.
Actually, the DNC is pushing catholics out.
For a believing catholic, the Democratic Party is an increasingly hostile place.
Agreed. I trend towards Conservative. However, the GOP is far better than the Democratic party to which far too many catholics still subscribe.
The key, mentioned in the article, is that Catholic social and political conservativism is rooted in human rights and Natural Law. This is not exclusively the property of Castholics, of course; quite the contrary. It is exactly a Natural Law perspective that emphasizes that moral law makes “natural sense” and thus makes it politically defensible in secular terms.
“Actually, the DNC is pushing catholics out.”
The notion that the GOP is being Catholicized is hokum. Catholics have been a reliable Democrat constituency for decades, despite the justices and candidates cited by the author. Exceptions are not the rule.
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:
Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.
I would say, not so much that the conservatives are being “Catholicized”, but rather that the post-Vatican II mess was an aberration in the life of the Church. The Catholic Church is a naturally conservative institution, — think what you will of its theology, the Church’s sole objective is the preservation of the Deposit of Faith given the Apostles 2000 years ago. The reason American Catholics lurched to the left with J.F. Kennedy was transient and now we observe an almost instinctive correction. In one generation from now the Church might be smaller, possibly even driven underground, but she will be considerably more conservative.
You should try reading the article.
There weren’t a lot of Catholics in the antebellum South but there were some, especially in Maryland, Kentucky, and Louisiana. The one Catholic among the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and the one Catholic among the Signers of the Constitution were Marylanders. Chief Justice Roger Taney (from Maryland) was a Catholic. Jefferson Davis got some of his education from Catholic educators. There is a street in Macon, GA, named in honor of Pope Pius IX (Pio Nono). There is a Catholic Church in Edgefield, SC, that dates back to 1856.
**Six out of nine justices of the Supreme Court are Catholics, and five of them are Republicans.**
A lot of people don’t realize this!
Well, and Scarlett O’Hara was Catholic. ;-) “Fiddle-dee-dee! Obama and his HHS mandate! It’s ruined every party this spring!”
Where I live in Tennessee, whih is not a large city. There is an relatively impressive(at least by local standards) antibellum Catholic Churh downtown, nearby an Methodist and Presbyterian church of of the same period and size. so there was and continues to be an active Catholic presence then as is now.
The original KKK was virulently anti-negro rights, scalawags and northern carpetbaggers. If anyone who happened to be Catholics were confronted by the KKK, it was because they were in favor of the aforementioned. Their religious beliefs were inconsequential at this period of time.
I know what it says, and it can be found in any of the OLDER legal books.
But, of course, Lincoln, the first REPUBLICAN President, had this to say:
“Many of Lincoln's public anti-slavery sentiments were shown in the seven Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, his opponent who defeated him in the Senate race. Douglas criticized him as being inconsistent, saying he altered his message and position on slavery and on the political rights of freed blacks in order to appeal to the audience before him, as northern Illinois was more hostile to slavery than southern Illinois.
Lincoln wrote to Joshua Speed in 1855:
How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be take pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].[
If you insist that I locate the Preamble to the KKK Act, I can find it in print form at the local law library.
Many pieces of legislation have floor debate or written preambles attached to them, in older law books, as some form of guidance as to intent.
My point, of course, is that Lincoln and Grand BOTH were defenders of Catholics as well as Blacks.