Catholics “have a very clear choice” between Republican Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for the Catholic Association, tells Newsmax TV.
“There’s a very stark contrast between the two presidential candidates this year on issues of deep concern to Catholics,” Ferguson tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “And the foundational issues for Catholics are respect for life, respect for marriage, and respect for religious liberty.
Watch the exclusive interview here.
“It’s pretty clear what their two positions are on the right to life and marriage, but a lot of Catholics aren’t aware at how aggressively this administration, the Obama administration, has fought to undermine our religious freedom. So that’s what we’re really focused on at the Catholic Association is the issue of religious freedom and the pattern of attack on our religion – on people of faith – coming from the Obama administration.”
Established earlier this year, the Catholic Association seeks to “be a faithful Catholic voice in the public square and the public arena,” according to its website. The organization is “responding to the call of the Catholic Church for members of the lay faithful to apply Catholic teaching, wisdom and principles to the issues of the day.”
Ferguson, the former congressional liaison and spokeswoman for the National Right to Life Committee, is an elected County Committee Member in Union County, N.J. She also serves on the executive committee of the Susan B. Anthony List and is married to former New Jersey GOP Rep. Mike Ferguson. They have five children.
She was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2008.
The Catholic Association recently released a survey showing that 72 percent of churchgoing Catholics opposed President Obama’s mandate penalizing employers who are unwilling to cover birth control for employees. The issue will definitely affect how Catholics vote on Nov. 6, Ferguson said.
“The Church has spoken out very strenuously that this is really an unprecedented attack on our religious freedom. It’s in an economy when most people are more concerned about jobs and the debt. President Obama has, unfortunately, chosen to pick a fight with people of faith by mandating that virtually all employers give away things like abortion-inducing drugs for free.”
She noted Romney’s strong record of defending religious freedom, for which he and his wife, Ann, were recognized in 2008 with the Canterbury Medal from the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom. It is the organization’s highest honor.
“Romney vetoed legislation in Massachusetts requiring Catholic hospitals to pay for abortion-causing drugs,” she said.
And, as for vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who is Catholic, Ferguson notes his “absolutely stellar record on the pro-life issue, on marriage, on religious liberty.
“He’s got great appeal to Catholics — not only on these foundational issues, but on economic issues as well.
“He talks about if we really care for the poor, we need to take care of things like the federal debt, because it’s the federal debt that’s going to hurt the poor the most. And while Catholics have what’s called the preferential option for the poor, meaning a big heart for the poor, that does not necessarily translate into meaning we need a preferential option for big government programs.
“Congressman Ryan’s economic record has a lot of appeal to Catholics as well who are concerned about us helping the poor,” Ferguson added. “And the best way to help the poor is to grow the economy, to create more jobs — give people the dignity of a job — and address the issue of the federal debt which will hurt the poor the most.”
The association recently issued its “Religious Liberty Voter Guide,” which scores the presidential candidates on issues of interest to Catholics.
“We’re distributing over a million copies of this voter guide, and it lays out the pattern of attacks and undermining of religious freedom,” Ferguson said. “President Obama has repeatedly used this rhetoric, ‘freedom of worship,’ that we have freedom to worship, which is quite different than what the First Amendment guarantees.
“The First Amendment protects the free exercise of religion, that the Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. So this linguistic shift, while it may seem minor, it’s very, very troubling, because it has huge implications for changing the nature of religious liberty in this country.
“People of faith don’t just practice their faith within the four walls of their church or their synagogue. A free exercise of religion means being free to exercise our faith all week long.”
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