Catholic Leaders Failing to Lead

Friday, 26 Oct 2012 03:27 PM

By Richard Viguerie

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There are two Sundays left until the November 6 presidential election. To date, Catholic Church leaders have been AWOL in a campaign that will determine whether Obama’s anti-Catholic assault on religious freedom will continue for another four years or be stopped at the ballot box.
 
It doesn’t have to be this way.
 
As one surveys today’s political scene, it is impossible not to compare the effect of Obama’s gratuitous attack on freedom of conscience at Catholic institutions — through the Obamacare abortion coverage mandate — with Jimmy Carter’s attack on evangelical Christian schools during the late 1970s.
 
When Carter’s IRS administrator issued an order stating that any religious school founded after the 1952 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court school integration ruling was presumed to be created to circumvent the ruling, and integration, the response from religious educators of all faiths was swift opposition — but it set off what amounted to an atomic bomb in the middle of the hitherto apolitical evangelical community.
 
Jimmy Carter’s unprovoked attack on evangelicals brought millions of new conservative Christian voters into the Republican Party. It helped propel Ronald Reagan to victory in two national elections, led to the near-destruction of the Democrats as a national party in the Bible Belt and made Carter a one-term president.
 
If Catholic voters were galvanized in 2012 the same way evangelicals were in 1980, they could decide the election in Mitt Romney’s favor and end Obama’s assault on Catholic freedom of conscience once and for all.
 
However, because the efforts of Catholic Church leaders have been a pale imitation of what evangelicals did in 1980, as we discuss below, Obama is poised to capture enough Catholic votes to win re-election. 
 
Consider the following chart of the Catholic population and poll numbers in the “swing states”:
 
NV — 32.3% (Obama +2 in Rasmussen poll)
 
WI — 29.5% (Obama +2 in Rasmussen poll)
 
PA — 28.4% (Obama +5 in Rasmussen poll)
 
NH — 24.3% (Romney +2 in Rasmussen poll)
 
MI — 21.9%   (Obama +7 in Rasmussen poll)
 
OH — 18% (Race tied in Rasmussen poll)
 
IA — 16.7% (Race tied in Rasmussen poll)
 
CO — 14.6% (Romney +4 in Rasmussen poll)
 
FL — 13% (Romney +5 in Rasmussen poll)
 
VA — 8.3% (Romney +3 in Rasmussen poll)
 
NC — 4% (Romney +6 in Rasmussen poll)
 
Can it be that after gratuitously attacking one of the key doctrines of the Catholic Church — the sacredness of human life — Obama is winning four of the five swing states with the heaviest Catholic population?
 
Of course there are other factors at work. One national pollster has suggested that Romney’s root problem is that he has not been able to close the deal with blue-collar Catholic voters. The 6 percent undecided in the national polls are predominantly white working-class Catholics who dislike Obama, but can’t bring themselves to cozy up to Romney. And without their support, Romney can’t capture the 270 electoral votes required to win in November.
 
Another pollster’s focus group shed some light on their ambivalence about Mitt Romney. They told the group that they “are personally and severely affected by the economic downturn and their primary concern is their own economic well-being.”
 
Hence, they are very negative about their personal financial plight and “view the national economy as dismal.” As they struggle to make ends meet, “they see the poor and unemployed as taking advantage of their hard work by collecting welfare.”
 
Even with these center-right views, these blue-collar Catholics have been reluctant to commit to Governor Romney because they believe that rich people like Romney play by different rules. Those McLaughlin focus group respondents said that rich people like Romney “are getting richer at their expense.”
 
But more importantly, most of these voters were not familiar with the effects of the Obamacare mandate on religious institutions.
 
That’s right; these Catholic voters didn’t understand that the Obama administration was perpetrating a real attack on their faith.
 
What this tells us is that unlike 1980, when the leaders of the Evangelical churches came out strongly in opposition to Jimmy Carter’s gratuitous attack on their faith institutions, the Catholic hierarchy has yet to deliver the same kind of message about Obama’s attack on Catholic freedom of conscience.
 
Some Church leaders have spoken out — Back in June Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice (Florida) did just that by sending a letter to Catholic parishes encouraging parishioners in his diocese to rally against the Obamacare mandate and over 2,000 people turned out.
 
After the vice presidential debate, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called Joe Biden out on his lie in the debate about Catholic institutions being exempt from government control. Michael Sheridan, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs, said that the pro-abortion Biden shouldn’t receive communion — at least in his diocese.
 
But that kind of real leadership from the pulpit has been hard to come by.
 
The Obamacare abortion and contraception mandate will only be repealed if Barack Obama is defeated. Church teaching in opposition to the policies of the Obama administration is clear; there’s no need to wait around for further word from the hierarchy.

Individual Bishops and parish priests can and should be preaching about what is at stake in this election and be at the forefront of vigorous public campaigns in favor of the right to life and in opposition to the Obamacare contraception and abortion mandates.
 
There are two Sundays remaining between now and the November 6 presidential election. So far, Catholic leaders have been MIA in this campaign. They have only one course of action before them to end the assault on Catholic freedom of conscience and religious freedom: they must do what evangelical faith leaders did in 1980 and lead from the pulpit.
 
Richard A. Viguerie pioneered the use of direct mail in politics. He made it possible for candidates and causes to raise money from millions of small contributors rather than from a few “fat cats.” Read more reports from Richard Viguerie — Click Here Now.



 
 

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