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Oct 01 2012

Obama Likely to Win Catholic Vote

Despite the clear efforts by the Catholic Church to get Republicans elected to office with this fake campaign to accuse Obama of destroying the church’s religious freedom, the polls are showing that President Obama is likely to get a majority of the Catholic vote in November.

The latest Pew poll, though, shows Obama bouncing back from a decline in support among Catholic voters. As Daniel Burke at Religion News Service notes, in June, the same poll found Obama barely leading Mitt Romney among Catholic voters, 49-47%. But in September, he’s pulled ahead, and now leads Romney among Catholic voters 54-39%. Pew’s comparison with 2008 exit polls showed that Obama’s current standing among Catholics is identical to the percentage of Catholics who voted for him in 2008. But Romney is behind where John McCain fared among Catholics—despite picking a Catholic running mate and taking the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ position on the contraception coverage and same-sex marriage. McCain got 45% of the Catholic vote, but Romney’s only drawing 39% among registered voters. The data—which is, should be noted, from registered, not likely voters—raises questions about whether Catholic voters were swayed by the Bishops’ “Fortnight for Freedom” or by any of the bishops’ worst rhetoric, such as that of the Archbishop of Springfield, Illinois, Thomas John Paprocki, who, as Right Wing Watch reported, said that Democrats support “intrinsic evil” and anyone voting for such a candidate puts their “soul in serious jeopardy.”

I think it just shows, yet again, how much the views of actual Catholics differ from the dogmas preached by the church leadership. Just as the vast majority of Catholics use birth control and don’t believe in literal transubstantiation, no matter how stridently their priests and bishops rail about such issues, they also don’t follow the church’s clear political positions.

15 comments

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  1. 1
    vmanis1

    Speaking as a non-Catholic, I find transubstantiation a lot easier to believe in than supply-side economics.

  2. 2
    wscott

    I think it just shows, yet again, how much the views of actual Catholics differ from the dogmas preached by the church leadership.

    Definitely true. Tho I confess it sometimes baffles me as to HOW that gap can be so wide. I can’t imagine continuing to affiliate myself with an organization that so clearly does not reflect my views, yet a majority of Catholics seem to have no problem. I’m not judging – I just don’t get it.

  3. 3
    Trebuchet

    @Ed:

    Despite the clear and illegal efforts by the Catholic Church to get Republicans elected to office…

    FTFY

  4. 4
    stuartsmith

    Which really invites the question, in what sense are they actually Catholic? Do they believe that the pope is actually the infallible mouthpiece of God? If so, they why are they disagreeing with his pronouncements? If not, then they deny one of the fundamental dogmas of their supposed faith.

    I can believe that fundamentalist evangelicals actually believe what they say they believe. I can even, by dint of some imaginative effort, conceive how they might think. I can kind of do the same with liberal Protestants, to whom the connection between God and church is pretty weak in any case. I don’t agree with them, but I can understand how they could hold the beliefs they do. By contrast, the idea of sincere Catholics honestly stresses my imagination past the breaking point. I have no idea how they can possibly hold the set of beliefs they claim to hold.

    I mean, a fair number claim to believe that they are committing acts on a day-to-day basis that would see them suffering eternal torture if they were to die before they make it to church and confess. And in fact, confessions are supposed to be accompanied with honest repentance – I’m pretty sure confessing with the fully formed intent to repeat your sin is itself a sin. I just don’t get it…

  5. 5
    cptdoom

    Definitely true. Tho I confess it sometimes baffles me as to HOW that gap can be so wide. I can’t imagine continuing to affiliate myself with an organization that so clearly does not reflect my views, yet a majority of Catholics seem to have no problem. I’m not judging – I just don’t get it.

    As a recovering Catholic, I think there are a few things going on here. The primary issue is the profound distrust felt by lay Catholics about the leadership of the Church. Because the leadership has never come completely clean about the sex abuse cover-up (and in some ways are continuing it) and no leader has been held accountable by the Vatican for the cover up (and no, giving Bernard Law a job at the Vatican that shielded him from US prosecution does not, to most Catholics, seem like the demotion the Church claimed it was), most regular Catholics simply ignore most of what the leadership says. It is rare to see regular parish priests and pastors taking these hard-line stances, and most Catholics see their local church and priests as the “real” church.

    Secondly there is a strong memory among Catholics of the discrimination our grandparents and great-grandparents faced in this country for their religious beliefs. The institutions created by the American Church – including hospitals and school – were created specifically because Catholics could not count on the “public” insitutions created by the Protestant oppressors (or so they were thought). In turn, the model of the Catholic politician is JFK, who explicitly rejected any influence of his Church on his politics – we don’t force others to live by Catholic beliefs any more than we wanted to be forced to live by Protestant beliefs. What the bishops are doing smacks of exactly that kind of interference.

    Finally, there is a huge elephant in the room about which no one is really talking. It is hard to hear someone like Paprocki talk about the “intrinsic evil” the Democrats allegedly support without simultaneously thinking about the cult member at the head of the GOP ticket. Although anti-Mormonism was not a strong theme in my upbringing, I do remember my mother carefully scrutinizing the first episodes of the “Donnie and Marie” show to be sure it was not a means of Mormon indoctrination and learning that there might be something subversive about the Tabernacle Choir. I also remember being taught, in a comparative religion class in high school, that Mormonism was a “pseudo-Christian cult” with no validity whatsoever. Now I don’t think a lot of Catholics are anti-Mormon bigots, but it certainly undermines the argument of someone like Paprocki to imply a Catholic should vote for a party that put a godless heathen at the top of the ticket.

  6. 6
    Chiroptera

    stuartsmith, #4: Do they believe that the pope is actually the infallible mouthpiece of God?…If not, then they deny one of the fundamental dogmas of their supposed faith.

    I’m not sure whether it really is dogma in the RCC that the pope is the infallible mouthpiece of God. Maybe when he speaks ex cathedra — I dunno the exact details about that — but since, to my understanding that has only occurred once or twice in modern history, it doesn’t apply to this case.

    At any rate, I’m not about to argue with a lay Catholic about what her beliefs are supposed to be, especially about her beliefs that she needs to follow all the official teachings in order to be considered a Catholic.

  7. 7
    wscott

    @ cptddom: Good points, thanks. I think I get that, and I know that historically most American Catholics have never paid much attention to what the Vatican says. But now with the US church leadership getting so much more aggressive and political… I still don’t understand why people would continue to support them.

  8. 8
    laurentweppe

    Speaking as a non-Catholic, I find transubstantiation a lot easier to believe in than supply-side economics.

    Amen
    (Too tempting)
    *

    Which really invites the question, in what sense are they actually Catholic?

    Only the worst Catholics/Muslims/Jews/Members-of-this-religion-I-don’t-like deserve to be called Real True Catholics/Muslims/Jews/Members-of-this-religion-I-don’t-like that way I can express animosity toward their group as a whole without having to aknowledge the human worth of any of its individual members: Behold my Superior Rationality!
    This habit needs to die in flame and have its ashes scatered in the vincinity of the small magelanic cloud.

    *

    The primary issue is the profound distrust felt by lay Catholics about the leadership of the Church. Because the leadership has never come completely clean about the sex abuse cover-up

    It’s older than that: in countries where the catholic church has been the dominant religion, the fact that its higher hierarchy has been joined at the hips with the aristocracy for so long has been a motive of distrust for literaly centuries.

  9. 9
    steve oberski

    @stuartsmith

    Which really invites the question, in what sense are they actually Catholic?

    In the sense that they provide financial and moral support for that all male gang of pontificating, paedophile kiddy fuckers preaching chastity and poverty while living in castles full of stolen art treasures, promulgating an active campaign of genocide in sub Saharan Africa, demonizing homosexuals and attempting to deprive women of autonomy over their own bodies.

    I think I covered all the bases there.

  10. 10
    naturalcynic

    @8: Add fascism to your final sentence.

  11. 11
    Sastra

    I think the Catholic Church suffers from the age-old problem of getting what you wish for: people who are so used to infusing their religion into their identity that they find it hard to think of themselves as anything else. What this can lead to is that the person still sees themselves as a “Catholic” (or a Muslim or a Jew or a Mormon) even when they don’t technically believe in some, most, or even any of the revealed truths which are supposed to be the whole raison d’etre.

    No, it’s a culture. It’s tradition. It’s community and lifestyle. It’s just basic normal life with bells and whistles. Sometimes you leave off the bells and whistles. By the time the holy creed and sacred tenets have turned into “bells and whistles,” then you’re a victim of your own success.

    I’m assuming that this survey was careful to control for race. A lot of Hispanics are traditionally Catholic. If Romney is in trouble with this group for others reasons, then the poll might be slightly slanted just enough to be statistically significant.

  12. 12
    eric

    I can’t imagine continuing to affiliate myself with an organization that so clearly does not reflect my views…

    Speaking as a US citizen, I can.

  13. 13
    gregorylynn

    I wonder how American politics would be different if American Catholics were allowed to elect their religious leaders.

  14. 14
    Michael Heath

    wscott writes:

    . . . I confess it sometimes baffles me as to HOW that gap can be so wide. I can’t imagine continuing to affiliate myself with an organization that so clearly does not reflect my views, yet a majority of Catholics seem to have no problem. I’m not judging – I just don’t get it.

    Andrew Sullivan does a good job explaining this. The following is my humble attempt to explain what I recall from his perspective.

    It comes down to a lot of Catholics thinking of the church as the collection of fellow Catholic believers, which happens to have a hierarchy which has lost their way. These believers perceive themselves as members of Christ’s church, where there is no other denomination to emigrate to if is to remain faithful to Jesus Christ. As part of the body of Christ they remain both loyal to their beliefs and have hope that in the long run, their hierarchy will find its way back from the metaphorical wilderness.

  15. 15
    dan4

    “…despite picking a Catholic running mate…”

    A rather silly line from the article writer, since Obama has a “Catholic running mate” as well.

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