Skip to comments.What's wrong with Catholic voters? What's wrong with Catholics?
Posted on 11/10/2008 12:21:00 PM PST by rrstar96
Yesterday, according to the exit polls, between 53 and 54% of American Catholic voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama, despite the Democratic candidate's enthusiastic support for unrestricted legal abortion.
Nationwide, Protestant voters supported John McCain, by a solid 54- 45% margin. But the Catholic vote broke for Obama. Why?
Earlier this week the US Conference of Catholic Bishops released a helpful listing of the 50 American states [http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=997], with the proportion of population in each state. In 7 states, Catholics make up more than 30% of the population. Obama captured all 7 of those states on Election Day. In 8 states, Catholics account for less than 5% of the population. Seven of those states swung for McCain, and the 8th, North Carolina, is still listed as "too close to call" as I write this analysis.
To be sure, America's Catholic population is heavily concentrated in states that have a liberal political tilt. But is that a coincidence? Are those states hotbeds of liberalism despite the heavy Catholic presence, or because of it?
Yes, Catholics have traditionally leaned toward the Democratic Party for historical reasons. But why have Catholic voters remained doggedly loyal to a party that has come, in the early 21st century, to be wholly allied with the "culture of death" on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and embryonic stem-cell research?
The support that Obama won among Catholic voters is noteworthy because in the last presidential contest, in 2004, President Bush won 52% of the Catholic vote while his opponent John Kerry-- himself a Catholic!-- managed only 46%. Catholic support for the Democratic candidate rose markedly in this campaign, even though the Democratic contender was the most militantly pro-abortion candidate ever to win a major party's presidential nomination.
This trend is all the more remarkable because over the course of the past several weeks, dozens of American bishops issued strong public statements reminding their people of their moral obligation to vote in defense of human life. Those statements varied in candor and in quality, but their overall impact was remarkable. The 2008 campaign produced a seismic change in the attitude of the American hierarchy; the bishops as a group were far more outspoken, far more explicit, than in any previous election.
And still most Catholics voted for Obama. Again: why?
Before answering that question, let me cite one more vitally important piece of polling information: Among Catholic voters who attend Mass weekly, McCain won majority support: 54- 45%. Among those who do not attend weekly Mass, the margin for Obama was an overwhelming 61- 37%. Thus Obama drew his support from inactive Catholics. And unfortunately, most American Catholics are inactive.
In an interview recorded just before Election Day, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver explained that he had decided to take a prominent public stand on the obligations of Catholic voters because the "quieter approach to these things has not been effective." How right he was! He and many other prelates deserve the gratitude of loyal Catholics for their willingness to take a more energetic approach. This year, at last, the American bishops were clear and forthright in their teaching. Yet on Election Day it became evident that millions of American Catholics weren't listening.
Should we be surprised if Catholics ignore directives from the hierarchy? Should we be surprised that Catholics who do not attend Mass regularly-- thereby violating a precept of the Church-- ignore Church teachings on other issues as well? No, this result was predictable.
An entire generation of American Catholics has grown accustomed to dissent from Church teaching, and grown accustomed to seeing their bishops tolerate that dissent. In the 35 years since Roe v. Wade, Catholics have watched their Church leaders handle pro-abortion Catholic politicians with kid gloves, treating their moral treason as a minor annoyance rather than a public scandal. Yes, the bishops routinely denounced abortion; but at the same time they treated the public supporters of taxpayer-funded abortion with jovial deference. Puzzled lay Catholics concluded that the bishops didn't really take the issue too seriously, and the laity in turn stopped taking their bishops seriously. A few dozen statements from brave orthodox bishops in the autumn of 2008-- however clear, however compelling-- were not enough to undo a generation of damage.
Abortion is not an isolated issue. Lackadaisical American Catholics are not ignoring Church leadering on this issue alone, but on the entire range of Catholic teaching. Most Catholics skip Sunday Mass regularly. Most Catholics rarely if ever go to Confession. Most Catholics use contraceptives. Most Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence. Most Catholics no longer accept Church authority on any issue. Why should we be surprised, then, if on Election Day most Catholics ignore Church teachings on their moral obligation to vote in defense of human life?
For most of my life I have lived in Massachusetts, a state whose political culture was once thoroughly dominated by active Catholics. In my book The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture [http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594032114?ie=UTF8&tag=cwnewscom-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1594032114] I explain how that Catholic culture deteriorated, as the faithful drifted away from the Church, until today the political scene in Massachusetts is dominated not by Catholics but by ex-Catholics, thoroughly hostile to the teachings of the Church.
Are Catholics in other states following the same trend? Will the next presidential election see even strong support for the "culture of death" among voters who identify themselves-- inaccurately-- as believing Catholics? Regrettably, I see the same forces that corrupted Catholicism in my native state now active all across the nation.
To repair the damage, we must recognize that the problem is not restricted to abortion, nor to defense-of-life issues. Indeed it is not, strictly speaking, a political problem. To restore the integrity of the Catholic vote, we must first restore the integrity of the Catholic faith, and rebuild the foundations of a Catholic culture.
That will be my goal-- my crusade-- in coming years. I hope and pray you'll join me.
It will be interesting when the county-by-county voting maps come out. AFAIK, with a little work, it should be possible to match up voting habits with dioceses/bishops, and draw some conclusions re who's catechizing their parishioners poorly.
Also, I’d not forget that even if Catholics can make a good showing to pack a Sunday Mass... which many Churches can and do...
There is also the fact that there are so many Roman Catholics to begin with. Catholic means Universal too. I honestly hope they can get it together.
Someone put up the sponsorship of FOCA, what is there in Maryland, a Mikulski? Very bad if this is a (practicing?) Catholic with a Polish heritage. Quite a few other names are suspect to.
"Going rogue", Catholic-style.
I know a lot of Catholic Democrats, and a lot of Catholic Republicans. Hardly any of them use abortion as a litmus test for choosing political candidates. It’s just a minor issue to most people, not the end all be all that it seems to be to some people. Most people, Catholic or not, are a lot more concerned about the economy, taxes, the war in Iraq, etc. If you look at exit polls you’ll see that abortion is way down there on the list of priorities for most voters. Personally, I’m sick of hearing about it.
Nothing is wrong with Catholics. Nothing is wrong with Catholic voters.
Those Catholics in Name Only who voted for Obama have excommunicated themselves and are no longer Catholics in Good standing.
How about the Baptists, Methodist, Presbyterians, Lutherans, evangelicals who voted for Obama?? Why does everyone blame Catholics?
Evangelicals also voted for Obama.
We cannot judge everyone with such broad blanket monikers.
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 interest.
Obama Says A Baby Is A Punishment
Your comments betray a level of ignorance that amazes me. You know nothing of Catholic history, Pius IX condemned socialism for its godless stance. Left leaning catholics (note the small “c”) advocate social justice but they NOT the majority anymore than left leaning protestants.
I think you’re going to be proven right. Just as conservative Bishops have more vocations! By their fruits, (or lack thereof) ye shall know them.
“54% of Catholics”
Look closely at Posting #27.
***Those Catholics in Name Only who voted for Obama have excommunicated themselves and are no longer Catholics in Good standing.
How about the Baptists, Methodist, Presbyterians, Lutherans, evangelicals who voted for Obama?? Why does everyone blame Catholics?***
Because we are the standard bearers, Salvation. Even when excoriating us, they all look up to us. On Easter and Christmas, even the smug, surly, atheistic mainstream media look to Rome for their articles. Rick Warren or Joel Osteen don’t cut it when articling on Christianity.
We are Christianity. If we falter, we disappoint all men and even more important, we fall even shorter from the commandments of Jesus. We must be Christianity in action or we abdicate our responsibilities to our fellow man and to God.
The many Christian churches have a serious problem with the secularization of our culture. I have a family and enjoy a good life and my wife and I have done what we can to raise our 4 sons with a sense of what is government’s place and what is God’s place in our lives.
To so many, and this includes Catholics who I know, they have been consumed by secular things and have forgotten that we are truly accountable for what we do and what we stand for. Sometimes we as a people need adversity to remember where our secular place belongs and that our true source of life is far greater than any political cause or ideology. Blessings sometimes come in disguise - we will see. For now, I am at least at ease knowing my 2 college aged sons voted McCain. For all his mistakes Sen. McCain verbalized strong pro-life positions and lashed Obama quite effectively in the 3rd debate.
As a Catholic I am very saddened to see how our culture has shown itself in this election. I prayed for our faith and our country in mass yesterday.
OR it suggests that many people who don't really have a faith still refer to themselves as Catholic. Further, using your approach looking at county maps, Mormons are the best Christians.
Secondly, evangelicals are converting Catholics both in the US and abroad.
And Catholics are busy converting non-Christians.
Self correction to all:
I made the erroneous statement that pius IX condemned socialism. While he did condemn liberalism:
It was Leo XIII who actually condemned socialism in the Papal Encyclical Rerum Novarum. www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum_en.html
My apologies for the error.
So it’s not just the Jews...
xx% McCain, 23% Obama - White Evangelicals age 30-6411
75% McCain, 25% Obama - White7,10 Born Again5,10,12 Evangelicals1,8,10,12
xx% McCain, 32% Obama - White Evangelicals age 18-2911
65% McCain, xx% Obama - Weekly church-attending Protestants7
65% McCain, 34% Obama - White Protestants7,8
54% McCain, 45% Obama - Protestants6,8
46% McCain, 52% Obama - Non-Evangelical Protestants 12
xx% McCain, 67% Obama - Hispanic Protestants and other Christians11**, ****
xx% McCain, 94% Obama - Black Protestants11,13**,****
Why does everyone blame Catholics?
First, please take note that this "What's wrong with Catholics?" article came from a Catholic publication. It makes a number of good points re how Catholics voted (and why). IMO, I believe the reason that the Catholic vote has gotten so much coverage this go-round is because of the contrast between the strong, vocal pro-life stand that many bishops took (and many conservative Catholic FReepers with them) - and the overall Catholic vote skewing for Obama anyway. What's more, IIRC, I read that this was the first time in political history where the "faithful (i.e. weekly mass) Catholics" ended up supporting the losing candidate.
I wouldn't (and don't) "blame the Catholics" for Obama's win. If anything, I blame the Protestant and Evangelical churches for Obama's win, via the Hispanic and Black "Protestant" votes. Our congregations are (apparently) far more racially divided than 2004's vote let on. Hispanic and Black "Protestant" voters went for Obama in almost opposite ratios to White Protestants. That's not something the Protestant/Evangelical church should be proud of.
Elsewhere I've conjectured that IMO the faithful Church in America has shrunk so far as to lose (most) influence over morality and culture, and I won't repeat it here. In short, I believe that Christians in 2008 have lost ground, and are now too small a minority to sway elections in and of themselves. We have become strangers in a foreign land (Exodus 2:22, cf Jeremiah 5:19). That's the real story coming out of these election results, in my honest opinion.
It may be as gloomy as people say, or this election may be a bit flukey due to the economy.
Stand your ground everyone!
I was gonna mention that as soon as I saw your ping.
When we speak of the Catholic vote you speak of Hispanics as McC won White Catholics.
But this something wrong with Catholics, many were raised RAT just as they were raised Catholic and are reticent to change voting habits. And a “help the poor” mentality prevails. Of course we know it’s the dems who MAKE people poor.
And church views on abortion they often disregard.