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The Catholic Vote:

What should it be?  What will it be?

By Patti Maguire Armstrong

POSTED: 10/23/12

(Afterword by Michael J. Matt)


(Special to The Remnant)

In 1960, presidential candidate, John F. Kennedy stated, "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute…where no Catholic prelate would tell the President--should he be Catholic--how to act...where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind.”

And then, he won the presidency thanks to the Catholic vote. According to George Marlin, Author of The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact (St. Augustine’s Press) John F. Kennedy, was saved by the Catholic urban vote in the rich electoral states of the Northeast and Midwest.  In these regions, he carried over 80 percent of the Catholic vote.”

Marlin, a political analyst, bestselling author of ten books, and chairman of the Philadelphia Trust Bank whose columns have appeared in The New York Times, New York Post, National Review, Newsday, and The Washington Times, said in an interview that not only is there still a Catholic vote, but it could decide the election next month.

Since1972, candidates who have won the presidency also won the majority of Catholic votes, which accounts for one-quarter of the electorate. The vote has become split, however, with cultural Catholics who don’t attend Mass regularly more likely to vote liberal and church going Catholics more apt to vote conservative.

 “Historically, Catholics have determined outcomes of national, state, and local elections, and they could determine who becomes president in November,” said Marlin.  According to him, it matters most in the swing states of Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Florida. With the exception of Florida, he refers to those states as the rust belt—industrial states with aging populations and a high percent of white, blue-collar, conservative Catholics. The Complete Catholic has published his in-depth analysis on those states at The Catholic Voter 2012.

During the last election, pro-abortion, Obama won with 55 percent of the generic Catholic vote over prolife McCain’s 45 percent.  “What happened,” Marlin said, “is that a lot of socially conservative blue-collar Catholics would not vote for Obama and didn’t like McCain, so they stayed home.”  Marlin pointed out that two years later, during the mid-term elections, Catholics changed direction and 53 percent voted Republican, allowing the GOP to retake the House. “

He said that Catholics could change the upcoming election in the rust belt states and in Florida in November. “The Hispanic Catholics in Florida are mostly from Cuba and 75% are socially conservative and believe in marriage,” Marlin said. “They have the ability to swing the election but the question is whether they will show up.”

He stated that while economic issues are important, it is the social issues that can ignite the Catholic vote this election. “The biggest problem is that many Catholic voters don’t fully understand the issues,” Marlin said.  For instance, he said he believes that many blue-collar Catholics don’t understand Obama’s HHS mandate, which forces religious employers to pay for contraception and abortion-causing drugs. “For them to understand the issue and get motivated, they are going to need to hear it from the pulpit,” said Marlin.  

While Cardinal Timothy Dolan and many bishops have made statements appealing to Catholics, Marlin said, it does not go far enough. “Making a statement is not the same as speaking in the parishes,” he said.  “Newspapers are not the standard of news anymore.  There is a political effort, and then there is the spiritual effort that bishops should be doing throughout their parishes.” 

Bishop Filipe J. Estevez of the diocese of St. Augustine, FL, said he agrees.  In September, he sent a letter to be read in all the parishes, which stated, “Catholics should not leave their faith on the outside of the voting booth.”

He wrote:

”We are called by Christ to be salt and light to the world, and to infuse the culture around us with the values of our faith.  And so I urge you to take your Catholic beliefs, values and consciences into the voting booth with you.

“I would not tell you how to vote or who to vote for, but it is my responsibility to remind you that, for us Catholics, some issues are simply never morally acceptable.  The taking of an innocent human life, whether inside the womb or not, and up until natural death, is always and everywhere intrinsically evil.  Such issues as embryonic stem cell research and attempts at human cloning are also direct attacks against the dignity and uniqueness of human life made in the image of God.  Finally, preserving the dignity of traditional marriage is of central importance and must never be undermined because marriage is a cornerstone of any stable society.  Any attempts to re-define marriage as something other than between a man and a woman, should be vigorously opposed by a Catholic as contrary to reason, the natural law, and the divinely revealed truths of the Bible.” 

Referring to John F. Kennedy’s famous speech on the separation of religion from politics, Bishop Estevez pointed out that today’s culture negates the message.  “In the early Sixties, religion and society were not hostile to one another as seems to be increasingly the case today in the United States,” he said.  “I suspect that President Kennedy never meant that our faith and beliefs should not have any influence on how we act or how we vote.” 

Physician Manuel Gonzalez and his wife, Adriana Gonzalez, the parents of seven children, were inspired to found Catholics Called to Witness (CC2W) through their own realization that many Catholics do not understand all the issues.  “I read an article in which Pope Benedict’ XVI said there are “non-negotiable” matters that are not open to debate,” said Adrianna, “so it became our mission to promote that message to Catholics,” she said.

A result of their desire to inform and inspire, they had the "Test of Fire" video made. It promotes the message using daunting music and the image of an old-fashioned blacksmith forging words representing the campaign issues. It ends with the message “Your vote will affect the future and be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire?”

The video was posted on a friend of the Gonzalez’s YouTube channel and received over 2 million views in just a few months.  It has just recently been made into two new versions, one for Evangelical Christians and another for Spanish-speaking Catholics.

 “If you take out Christianity, what is left? Something else is going to fill that void,” said Manuel. “Our Lord had a simple message. Don’t get confused, there are some issues we cannot disagree on if we call ourselves Catholic.”

Adriana added, “Whatever is happening in the political field, we want to affect our Catholic culture and encourage people to love the Lord enough to vote their faith.”

An Afterword

By Michael J. Matt

Despite widespread apprehension among faithful Catholics where presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is concerned, especially regarding the Governor’s positions on the so-called abortion “exceptions”, contraception, and American exceptionalism, we believe the above article makes several valid points for Catholics to consider.

Whatever one thinks Romney may or may not do if elected president, the fact remains that what we know about President Obama should induce every Catholic—the entire Catholic Vote—to vote against the incumbent, either by voting for Romney or abstaining altogether. 

Mitt Romney is far from perfect, obviously, but his support for home schooling, opposition to most abortions, and promise to repeal Obamacare has for many good Catholics tipped the scales in favor of justifying a vote for him. Whether you agree with them or not, where unanimous agreement is possible is on one essential point: As Barack can’t win without the Catholic Vote, our first objective as Catholics must be to make sure he doesn’t get it.  

On this we can all agree!

You think there’s no measurable difference between the two candidates, especially on foreign policy?  Fine!   We’re all tired of being bamboozled by the GOP.  But at least let’s agree that it will be tantamount to a fifth sin crying to heaven for vengeance if a majority of Catholic Americans cast their vote for a second term for the most enthusiastic abortion and sodomy supporter in the history of our country.

This need not be a divisive issue among faithful Catholics.  Even if we don’t trust Romney we can still appreciate the fact that some of our co-religionists have essentially decided to vote for a less sadistic warden on November 6, and they’re well within the bounds of moral theology to do so.  

Yes, the word “sadistic” is apropos. Let us consider the President’s position in support of just one of the moral issues on the table: abortion, and, in particular, partial-birth abortion.

The end result of any abortion (including partial-birth, obviously) is a dead baby and several mortal sins. Morally speaking, there isn’t much difference between the various methods of baby killing.  But what does it say about a nation whose people have become so corrupt, with consciences so numbed, that they would elect a man president who can stand over a partially delivered baby, look into her beautiful eyes, barely beginning to open; watch her struggle to take her first few breaths; witnesses her little attempts to squirm closer to the life-giving breast of her mother—and then stab that baby in the back of the head?  What sort of animal does this? What sort of barbaric nation allows this?  Do we even have a soul anymore? A conscience?  That remains to be seen.

Leaving aside the negligible moral differences between the various methods of aborting a baby, it is a sobering indicator of the drastic decline in the moral and psychological health of a nation, person or president who thinks it’s okay to insert a pair of scissors into a baby’s brain. There is a moral difference, not in the procedure, but in the sadistic mindset of men and women who would knowingly carry it out or who would vote for those who would approve of it.

There is at least some gray area (especially among non-Catholics who are not conversant in moral theology) with the other social and moral issues on the table this election season— including the morality of nation building, stem-cell research, contraception, opinions as to when life begins, immoral warfare, and a reckless U.S. foreign policy.  There are always going to be misconceptions involved with these discussions—ignorance, stupidity, reckless patriotism, whatever.  But stabbing a baby in the back of the head, or demanding that Americans pay for a woman’s right to do this to her baby—for this there can be no excuse or mitigating circumstances, which is why it is an issue that serves as a convenient barometer of the state of mind and soul of the candidates and the political parties to which they are affiliated.

Bottom line: a Catholic vote for the Planned Parenthood promoting, partial-birth aborting, Obamacare enforcing, homosexual ‘marriage’ backing Barack Obama will sound the death knell for the Catholic Church in America and for any hope of redemption for us and our children.

This doesn’t actually have all that much to do with Mitt Romney. He is who he is. But this has everything to do with us, our Church, our bishops, our national conscience, and our diminished capacity to be repulsed by open, outright and overt evil. The Catholic Vote simply must not go to Obama this year if America has any hope of survival. 

God promised to spare Sodom if Abraham could find just ten good men within that city’s walls. If the Catholic Vote goes against Barrack Obama in two weeks, who knows—perhaps God will spare us, too.  

You don’t like Mitt?  Fine! Don’t vote for him. But for God’s sake vote against Barack Obama. MJM

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