Will Protests Hamper Obama II?

The article I cited yesterday from the Hill inspires two further comments. First, the author, Alexander Bolton, quotes Deal Hudson, a conservative Catholic convert who many readers will remember as the former editor of Crisis magazine, now defunct. Currently, Mr. Hudson heads the Catholic Advocate, an organization that describes itself as “a non-partisan community for faithful Catholics working to have a greater influence on policy in Washington, D.C.” To determine just how non-partisan it is, note that the homepage features an article titled “The Catholicity of Paul Ryan’s Budget” and videos like “10 Ways Catholic Voters Will Be Misled in 2012,” which shows photos of Vice President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Are they supposedly doing the misleading or are they among the misled?). Another video is titled “President Obama has failed to keep his promises at Notre Dame.” Then there is the non-partisanship of Mr. Hudson himself, who worked for the John McCain presidential campaign in 2008, and headed Catholic outreach for the Bush-Cheney campaigns in 2000 and 2004. Readers also ought to read Joe Feuerherd’s profile in the National Catholic Reporter, Aug 27, 2004; Mr. Feuerherd researched the piece for four months. 

Second, Bolton cites a study by the Pew Research Center, published on March 21, 2012 that shows a sizable shift of opinion among "white Catholics": 31 percent now describe the Obama administration as “unfriendly to religion,” compared with 17 percent in August 2009. FYI, all respondents in that same study have increasingly viewed the administration as “unfriendly” to religion, though by a smaller margin: 23 percent in 2012, compared with 17 percent in 2009, a 6 percent increase.


Among Catholics, though, party alignment makes a huge difference. Democrats and Independents have barely changed in their view on this point over the last three years (+1 percent and +3 percent respectively), while Republicans jumped by 18 percent. In other words, Republicans see religious liberty as a significant political issue, and religious protests could increase Republican turnout at the polls.

Now try to factor this in: 60 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Independents say churches should "keep out of politics." That makes me wonder whether the planned protests will change heads and hearts or simply preach to the Republican choir while providing the Republican campaign with photo ops. It is also possible that political protest about religious infringement could backfire politically among Democrats and Independents and turn them off--or mobilize them.

Karen Sue Smith


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Alfred Chavez
6 years 3 months ago
The ''religion should keep out of politics'' line is such a canard!  It's actually the other way around.  Voters have a duty to see that politics and politicians behave morally. Religion has much to say about morality-it must not be silenced in that regard.  Since when is doing the right thing (i.e., morality) been something that should be kept separate from politics and government?  Instead it is government that must not dictate to (i.e., ''establish'') religion, as per the first amendment.  The first amendment guarantees freedom of, not freedom from, religion.
J Cosgrove
6 years 3 months ago
Ms. Smith makes a good case that it is not religion that is behind one's politics for most people and in fact it may be irrelevant.  Politics trumps everything which is obvious for anyone reading this blog.  Politics is the real motivation for behavior and allegiance and attaching a religious argument to it is just window dressing.
Thomas Farrell
6 years 3 months ago
Those American Catholics who usually vote for Republicans will probably continue to vote for Republicans in the 2012 elections.

But those American Catholics who usually vote for Democrats will probably continue to vote for Democrats in the 2012 elections.

However, a small percentage of American Catholics should evidently be described as swing voters because they do not usually vote for Republicans or for Democrats. So will those swing voters be impressed with the theatrics of the bishops in the USCCB and their Republican supporters regarding freedom of religion and the contraception-coverage mandate? I don't know if they will. But I hope they will not be impressed with those Republican Catholics.
Rick Fueyo
6 years 3 months ago
I think these results are easily reconcilable. People don't like bullies that abuse power. When the first rule was announced, which included no "accommodation" it appeared the Administration was being the "bully." That perception reversed after announcement of the combination and some of the overheated rhetoric from the episcopacy, as well as Rep. Issa’s committee, the comments of Rush Limbaugh, etc. All of that kind of blend together into creating the perception of the proverbial "War on Women.”
That's why comments from Bishop Jenky are the best thing to happen for the Administration from a political perspective.  The comments are so obviously unjustifiable that it helps the Administration politically. The suppression of the LCWR will feed that narrative. If the Bishops appear to be the bully, it will be a winner politically Administration.
Even Cardinal Dolan, formerly a cheerful face, is appearing less so, with his embrace of Bill Donohue.  It appears that Richard Doerflinger is having an outsized influence on USCCB policy.  His positions are indefensible.  Most notably of late, he stated that the announced “accommodation” was just a Trojan Horse that had never been entered into law and that the Administration did not actually intend to enact that language, citing to the then current state of the Code of Federal Regulation. Anyone with a passing knowledge of administrative Law realized that there was no way it could be part of the announcement as quick as he thought it should be, as a matter of law. Then he pointed the absence of somehow brings the fact that the administration was being dishonest, when it was in fact he who was being so.  Instead of emphasizing the self-insurance issue, he just entered into a broad-based attack, and it appeared that Cardinal Dolan felt he had to follow him, after originally applauding the accommodation and saying he would give it a serious look.
It seems clear that Doerflinger are animated by the principle of “Ad Majorem GOP Gloriam” as they were during health care fight
J Cosgrove
6 years 3 months ago
Mr. Farrell,

''But I hope they will not be impressed with those Republican Catholics.''

When you or anyone else here can explain why the policies of the Democratic party are not basically immoral, I will continue to support Republican candidates though I recognize that many are very imperfect.  No one here or at anywhere else I have looked, has been able to defend the policies of the Democratic party.

I certainly know that many will not agree with my sentitment but I am still looking for a guiding light from anyone.  As I said none seem to be able to provide it.  And certainly none of the authors here, some of which are theologians.
Jack Barry
6 years 3 months ago
 Will protests hamper the USCCB?  
Protests beget counter-protests, routinely in the nation's capital.  If the bishops intend to lead their ''not contraception'' protests, some forethought should be given to the most obvious signs, symbols, and harmless objects for throwing that can be expected from counter-protestors.  
In addition, the bishops' religious liberty rallies are proposed to be held a few fortnights after the announcement of the CDF Doctrinal Assessment of nuns' leadership and US bishops' roles in the mandated reform of the LCWR.   The first of the two main needs identified in the CDF Assessment (p.7) is ''that greater emphasis needs to be placed … on the relationship of the LCWR with the Conference of Bishops…''.   Then (p.8),  “(i)n order to ensure the necessary liaison with the USCCB (in view of Can. 708), the Conference of Bishops will be asked to establish a formal link (e.g. a committee structure) with the Delegate and Assistant Delegate Bishops.”  
Consider the strength of prompt, widespread reactions objecting to the judgment and action of Church authorities against the LCWR and, by implication, its followers.  This may be an inopportune time for bishops to seek coherent Catholic action on religious liberty, which remains relatively poorly defined in the public square in contrast to the nun issue.  
Thomas Farrell
6 years 3 months ago
Mr. Cosgrove,

You do not name any specific policies.

However, for your information, I contend that the Roman Catholic Church should expunged and abandon its opposition to artificial contraception, its opposition to legalized abortion in the first trimester, and its opposition to same-sex marriage under the civil authority of the state.

So if you are misguided enough to hold one, two, or three of these ridiculous church's teachings, then you will make mistaken judgments accordingly regarding policy matters involving the U.S. government.
Carlos Orozco
6 years 3 months ago
A true Catholic position is neither Republican or Democrat. Nobody in their middle-age years can still believe that elections betweens these parties represent a battle for true change. The true holders of power are not affected by power shifts in Washington.

Have to-big-to-fail-banks been curtailed in any way? No, after 2008 they are actually much bigger and dealing their toxic derivatives scheme without any problems.

Have "preventive" wars that only benefit the industrial-military complex come to an end? No, Libya has been overtaken by "good al-Qaeda", and Syria and Iran have not been attacked because of Russian and Chinese intervention.

Have Constitutional rights returned to the American citizen after the power-grabbing Patriot Act? No, the Excutive's powers are almost tyrannical. The President can have any of us blown to pieces without trial because of "national security concerns".

Obama or Romney? Panem et Circences.
J Cosgrove
6 years 3 months ago
Mr. Farrell,

Thank you for clarifying what you believe in.

You have named three specifics which I disagree with you on and which I side with the Catholic Church and I would still side with them if the Republican party endorses what you advocate.  And that is just starters.  

I object to nearly every economic proposal the Democratic party makes because they have a track record of hurting the poor big time.  I suggest you consider Detroit and why it is like it is.  I object to their constant lying about the past.  Nearly everytime Obama blames Bush for something, he is lying.  The failed policies of the past are Democratic party ones not the ones of the Republican party.  But let it go at that because the list could get very long.
Rick Fueyo
6 years 3 months ago
"The first amendment guarantees freedom of, not freedom from, religion."

It actually does both. Here are two clauses, the Free Exercise and the Establishment clause.  The first is "of" the second "from."  And if you add the religious test exclusion in the body of the document itself, the Constitution, as a whole, actually tilts slightly towards the "freedom from religion" axis.


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